Desegregation case closed

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

FRANKLIN—A nearly 40-year-old federal desegregation case against the Franklin School Board is now closed.

City Attorney H. Taylor Williams IV received notice over the weekend that U.S. District Judge Rebecca B. Smith had entered the order dismissing the case on Friday.

Williams was notified by Attorney Carter Glass IV of Troutman Sanders LLP in Richmond, who is handling the case for the school board.

According to Glass, the effect of the order will &uot;end all obligations of Franklin under the original 1970 order, as well as the 1989 settlement agreement with the Justice Department.&uot;

For example, he said, that &uot;the school division no longer needs to obtain approval of changes in grade assignments among its schools, no longer is barred from allowing non-residents to attend Franklin schools, and no longer must report information to the Justice Department regarding such transfer students.&uot;

The &uot;agreed order of dismissal&uot; stated that the city school board had &uot;fulfilled its affirmative desegregation obligations under the Fourteenth Amendment and other applicable federal law, entitling defendants to a declaration of unitary status and termination of this litigation.&uot;

Glass said that the school board is still obligated to operate in a non-discriminatory way as required by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.

More of a formality, the schools, having been desegregated all these years, were just getting the court order off the books, something that has been happening all over the country over the last few years.

&uot;The case was put in inactive status in 1975,&uot; Glass

said of Franklin’s suit during an interview in May.

&uot;The court order was no longer requiring (the city) filing with the Justice Department and the judge had essentially closed the file.

&uot;It was technically open, but not active.&uot;

According to Glass, the Franklin suit was one of the last still &uot;technically pending&uot; in Virginia.