St. Landry

Mar 28, 2011 11:49 PM by Shawn Kline

St. Landry Parish earns "unitary status"

A federal judge awards St. Landry Parish Schools what's known as "unitary status." It ends a desegregation case nearly five-decades-old.

50 years ago, Palmetto Elementary was divided down the center; blacks to the left, whites to the right. Principal Pauline Vidrine says, times have changed.

"We have doubled in student number and we have doubled in staff," Vidrine says of the last two years.

Palmetto Elementary played a critical role in ending a 46-year-old desegregation case; merging both Melville and Morrow Elementaries into its zone in 2009.
At the time, the move was controversial.

"Parents were concerned about the distance the students would have to travel." Vidrine says, "they were concerned about the space here."

"No one really knew what to expect," Denise Rose said.

Rose taught at Melville Elementary for 10-years. Now, teaching at Palmetto.
She says the decision to consolidate the schools was a step in the right direction.

"We've come a very long way in St. Landry Parish." Rose says, "I'm not saying we're there yet- we may have a little ways to go but I think it's helped to improve the racial diversity in the parish."

An improvement that would help end federal oversight for the first time since 1965.



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