May 16, 2012 6:03 PM by Erin Steuber
It's official, Evangeline Parish Schools are fully desegregated after nearly half a century, a historic day for the school system. Nearly 48 years later, Evangeline Parish won their case in Federal Court gaining unitary status, eliminating all aspects of segregation in schools.
"It puts the ball back in our court," said Wayne Dardeaux, Evangeline Parish School Board President. 'There is no more federal oversight and hiding behind the judges coattails."
For decades they have been trying to prove desegregation in six different aspects.
"Student assignments is one. Extracurricular activities, transportation, school facilities, like i said, student and teacher assignment," said Dardeaux. "All of those have to be met before you can get out of federal oversight."
Board members say they never thought this day would come. The case started in 1969, but has become extremely active in the last decade.
"Since 1997 it's been a very active case," said Superintendent Toni Hamlin. "Many things, and many hurdles that we've had to go through. We're very, very pleased with the outcome."
It wasn't just a proud day for board members. An alumni of Evangeline Parish School's has been playing an active role in the case, as the Desegregation Compliance Officer.
"It's awesome as a student who grew up and attended the schools in Evangeline Parish, to come and see this day where we are we've been rid of all vestiges of segregation, it makes me very proud," said Darwan Lazard.
The school system met with the Federal Court in 2009 and gained partial unitary status. At that time major improvements were requested for Ville Platte High School and the further desegregation of students and staff. In total Evangeline Parish spent nearly $6 million to improve facilities at Ville Platte. They will continue to make improvements, parish wide, for students and parents.