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Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 4:00am

Valdosta Settles Desegregation Terms

Valdosta City Schools have agreed to terms of a court-ordered desegregation plan.

School officials have worked for four years to balance how many black and white teachers are working in various schools.

Federal officials allege, one middle school in Valdosta is violating civil rights laws by having five too many African-American teachers.

Superintendent William Cason says, other laws, like those requiring teacher certifications, make it hard to distribute instructors at schools across the system based on race.

"It's been a jigsaw puzzle, and once you're in compliance it's really difficult to stay in compliance because you want to hire the best qualified teachers regardless of race and we still are very successful in doing that," Cason says.

Cason says, parents and students get upset when teachers have to transfer.

Last year, district officials moved about 11 teachers to meet the court order.

The US Justice Department sued the district in 1970 to eliminate racial disparities.

Cason says, the agreement reached Tuesday means, the lawsuit could be nearing an end.

"I am relieved because I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel," Cason says. "We've been working on this very diligently since I became superintendent four years ago. It's something that I wanted to see happen for the district."

The district has agreed to work through transfers and hiring practices to balance the school's black and white faculty ratio.

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