LOUISIANA (KLFY) – A Federal District Court issued a ruling on Friday in the Thomas v. School Board of St. Martin Parish desegregation case. 

According to the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), the court ordered the St. Martin Parish School Board to adopt proposals put forward by plaintiffs. LDF and co-counsel Gideon Garter of Baton Rouge represent the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit. 

The court’s ruling implements a previous 2022 decision from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the school board had failed to comply with a settlement designed to eliminate racial discrimination in teacher hiring and recruitment, student discipline and access to college preparatory courses.

“We commend the Court’s decision to put forth a course of action to address racial disparities and provide quality and equal educational opportunities to Black students,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Kevin Jason. “This ruling is an important step toward finally remedying the district’s past and present discriminatory practices.”

“We encourage the School Board to work with the plaintiffs and Black community to follow the court’s order,” added LDF Assistant Counsel Katrina Feldkamp. “The School Board has a legal and moral obligation to make St. Martin Parish equitable for all of its students.”

 “We are optimistic that this order will assist the district in fulfilling the promises of Brown v. Board and the settlement that the District agreed to seven years ago,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Joseph Wong. “Black students have the right to receive the same quality education and treatment as white students in the district.”

The court’s order largely reflects the recommendations of LDF’s clients and experts, who advocated for desegregation and equitable education in the district.