By Charles L. Patin, Jr.

The recent enactment of House Bills 974 and 976 may conflict with and/or impair or impede the ability of school systems in school desegregation cases to implement outstanding orders of the court.

Where orders are outstanding regarding the hiring of teachers, for example, the provisions of House Bill 974 may give rise to a conflict. The voucher provisions in House Bill 976, for example, may either result in a financial burden leading to insufficient funding to implement court orders or may adversely affect a school system’s ability to desegregate its schools.

School districts under federal supervision are well situated to file pleadings to add the state superintendent of education, the Department of Education, and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as defendants to assert a claim seeking to enjoin provisions of both pieces of legislation which conflict with outstanding court orders or which may serve to impair or impede the school board’s ability to faithfully implement such orders. This approach is available to virtually all school boards which are still a party to a school desegregation lawsuit.