[L]ast May, Judge Debra Brown ordered Cleveland’s middle and high schools to consolidate, in keeping with a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice motion “to enforce the previously-entered desegregation orders governing the district and compel the district’s compliance with federal law.”
This meant combining the mostly African-American East Side High with the racially mixed Cleveland High. Yet the demographics of Cleveland schools are due to parent choice, not forced integration, and occurred naturally. The government’s intervention is heavy-handed and far-removed from the reality of life in Cleveland.
The DoJ has resurrected a 1965 case, Cowan v. Cleveland School District, to impose its faraway will on local schools, ignoring the district’s efforts to integrate the education system since the 1960s through school choice instead of government force.
“East Side has an award-winning and highly respected principal—who happens to be white—and many white teachers who prefer teaching there over teaching at Cleveland High,” said Michael Carr, a public defender in Bolivar County and graduate of Cleveland High School. “CHS had a black student body president last year who won top awards at the MS High School Mock Trial Competition and got a full ride to Ole Miss. It’s not just ‘us’ and ‘them.’ We are all mixed up here. And that’s on purpose and how we want it. This lawsuit has just brought race to the forefront when it really was not headline news in our town.”