Latest News

63 Years After Brown, Segregated Classrooms Persist In One Mississippi School District

More than six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregated schools unconstitutional, one Mississippi school district has largely segregated classrooms — some all-black, some majority white.

That continuing segregation is made possible by an informal “parental request” policy that allows parents to ask for specific teachers for their elementary-aged children at the 2,800-student Brookhaven School District, a 65 percent black district in southwest Mississippi.

The news comes at a time when many of the nation’s public schools have begun to segregate again. Since 2001, the number of highly segregated public schools in the U.S. has more than doubled.

U.S. Department of Justice files obtained by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting show that Brookhaven School District administrators for several years have routinely carved out all-black classrooms while grouping the majority of white students together under a handful of teachers.

The reports, filed each fall as required by the district’s ongoing 1970 federal integration order, show no all-white classrooms, but all-black classrooms, or classrooms with black-to-white ratios far above the schools’ racial makeup, are common each year at Mamie Martin Elementary School, Brookhaven Elementary School and Lipsey Middle School, which cover kindergarten through sixth grade.