- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Renewed efforts to desegregate three nearly all-black elementary schools and recruit a diverse faculty and staff are part of a new agreement between a south Louisiana school district and the Justice Department in a federal court case that dates back to 1965.

If all of the agreement’s requirements are met, federal supervision of the schools in St. James Parish could end in three years.

The 27-page agreement was approved by a federal judge Monday and announced in a Justice Department news release Tuesday. It’s one of numerous federal desegregation cases in the South dating back to the 1960s, some of which have taken decades to resolve.

The agreement requires the St. James district to implement a new assignment plan to desegregate the three elementary schools.

The district also agreed to revise its code of conduct to ensure fairness in disciplinary matters at all schools, recruit a diverse pool of applicants for faculty and staff vacancies, take steps to encourage all students take part in extracurricular programs, and “guarantee racially diverse panels of judges” for students trying out or auditioning for after-school activities.

“We are pleased to have worked hand-in-hand with the schools to ensure equal and fair treatment for the students of the St. James Parish School District,” Tom Wheeler, the Justice Department’s Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, said in a news release.

St. James officials did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

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