Houston County Consent Decree

By: Rayne McKenzie
By: Rayne McKenzie

The Houston County board of education is ready to face the court system in an attempt to end court supervision of its schools. The system has been under the court's watchful eye because of desegregation problems. This has been an issue for more than 40 years.

Just six years ago the Houston County school system attempted to have the motion lifted, but did not meet all the requirements.

In June, the system will again present its case to the courts and await the decision that could grant the school system more local control.

In 1963 when the civil action lawsuit Lee vs. Macon was filed, the Houston County Board of Education was put under a consent decree. The decree simply pushes for equal rights for all parties involved in the school system.

Houston Co. Superintendent, Tim Pitchford said, "It's complicated, but simply but it is to be fair. Be fair in recruiting in hiring, in testing for special education, in extra curricular activities, just be fair."

Different minority groups have argued that the school system is not doing enough to promote equal rights throughout all aspects of the system, especially in the area of hiring minority teachers.

Dothan Area NAACP President, Wade Morrison said, "You have less than 10 percent of black teacher and more than 50 percent black students."

In 2000 the Houston County board of education was released from part of the order, recognizing their efforts in the area of equality in transportation, facilities, and student assignment between school, but the courts said the system had not accomplished enough to be fully released the decree. School system officials say they are working to offer more to all students.

"All I’ve been asked to do for two years in office is to be fair and that's not an unreasonable request," said Pitchford.

A hearing has been scheduled for June 21st at 1:00 at the court house in Dothan to determine whether or not the motion by the board of education should be granted. The hearing is open to the public.

Forms to voice your opinion about any objections and comments about this decree are available at the central office of the board of education and at all Houston County system schools.

All comments must be filed no later than May 22.


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