Justice Dept: High School To Stop Racial Preferences In Selecting Homecoming Courts
August 4, 2012
The U.S. Justice Department has reached an out-of-court agreement with the Escambia County School District in Alabama to end the use of race-based selection criteria for homecoming courts and other student activities in two of the district’s high schools.
Escambia County High School in Atmore permitted students to elect two homecoming queens and two homecoming attendants from each class, one African-American and one not. Another school, W.S. Neal High School, had a similar longstanding practice of using race-based criteria for election of students to its Valentine’s Day courts.
To resolve the U.S. Justice Department’s concerns over these practices, the Escambia County (Ala.) Board of Education voluntarily adopted a district-wide non-discrimination policy for extracurricular activities. The policy will end the use of race-based election and selection criteria in all student activities. The agreement requires the district to fully implement and enforce its new non-discrimination policy, to notify parents and students of changes to student election practices and to provide compliance reports to the department for at least one year.
“This Board policy may change certain past practices or procedures relating to the election or selection of students to extracurricular positions,” Superintendent Randall Little said in memorandum to parents.
“We commend the Escambia County Board of Education for acting swiftly to abolish the use of race in student activities and to ensure that no student is denied participation in any extracurricular activity based on race,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez said. “It is time for the once common practice of segregating students by race in school activities to come to an end.”
The use of race-based selection and election criteria in public schools’ extracurricular activities, including homecoming courts, proms and similar activities is prohibited by Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars public school districts, colleges and universities from discriminating against students on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion.
Pictured: Escambia County High School Freshmen Maids during the school’s homecoming parade last October. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.