FLORENCE, SC (WBTW)- After discussing dismissing a 48-year-old desegregation consent order last month, the Florence School District One passed a dismissal of the order.
The order was issued by the Department of Justice in 1970.
“This is a big step for the district,” said School Board Chair Barry Townsend. “This has been a cloud over the district for decades.”
Community Activist with Lifeline Plus, James Williams, said he was disappointed, but not surprised by the board’s decision.
“They’re taking, pretty much, the attitude that they have ever since 1970, and 1996 when they actually went under the consent order,” Williams told News13. “That is a position of abstinence pretty much.”
Williams said he still wants the board to take measures to integrate schools even though the board voted to lift the consent order.
“We should have all of our schools integrated to the greatest degree possible,” Williams said. “The same demographics that existed at north Vista when they said it could not be desegregated existed at Royall, and they desegregated it.”
Williams said he would like to see reconfiguration of schools to integrate them.
“If you’re going to reconfigure, reconfigure so that it will be conducive to as much of the entire population as possible.”
The school board chair said the district will continue to take strides towards integration.
“In no way does it suggest that we don’t or won’t continue to focus on equality, and ensure that all of our students get an equal opportunity for a great education,” said Townsend.
Townsend said it’s a big step for the district to dismiss the nearly 50-year-old consent order.
“We’ve essentially been in a lawsuit for four decades, and so this will be the dismissal of that, and so from a very practical standpoint, you don’t want to be engaged in a lawsuit for decades,” Townsend said. “We could move forward, and learn from our past, and move forward to a brighter future.”
The United States Department of Justice will have to approve the motion before it can be fully removed.
“We’ll make the motion, and submit it to them to dismiss,” Townsend explained. “They’ll complete their studies, and will rule on it one way or the other.”
Townsend said the board’s motion will be sent to the Department of Justice this week.
You can read more about the desegregation order here.