WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) — The U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement with the Pickens County, Ala., school board to eliminate racial disparities in its system, the department said.
Under terms of the agreement, the board, working with state officials, will develop policies and programs to eliminate racial disparities in student discipline, grade retention, graduation rates and post-graduate scholarships, the Justice Department said Monday in a release.
The settlement also obligates the board to step up its efforts to recruit minority applicants for faculty and administrative jobs, and to ensure staff assignments don’t perpetuate racially identifiable schools.
The agreement also said the state will establish and operate an early-learning center to provide free educational services to 4-year-old children in Pickens County, the Justice Department said. The state also agreed to provide training and educational expertise to help the board carry out its requirements under the agreement as well as its overall desegregation obligations.
“Equal access to educational opportunities is a fundamental civil right,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights Division, said. “This creative and comprehensive remedial plan will enhance educational opportunities for all students and puts the Pickens County School District on a path to unitary status.”