ST. MARTINVILLE, La. (KLFY) — A federal court has ruled that a plan to desegregate St. Martin Parish schools can go forward, which includes the creation of two magnet schools and the partial reopening of Catahoula Elementary.

District Court Judge Elizabeth Foote ruled that the predominately white Catahoula Elementary School can reopen, but only for students in pre-K through first grade, with older students attending a different school. 

“Reopening Catahoula as a PK–5 school is not a reasonable, feasible, or workable remedy to eliminate de jure segregation,” the ruling read.

She ruled second through fifth graders in that attendance zone must attend St. Martinville Primary School.

Despite requests to gain unitary status, which means it would have eliminated the effects of past segregation to the best of its ability, the district remains under the supervision of the Department of Justice and the federal court.

The school cannot reopen before the 2024-25 school year, after two magnet schools programs are created and launched at the Early Learning Center and St. Martinville Primary.

That means students zoned to attend the Early Learning Center for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year will continue to attend that school. 

Foote said in her ruling that she’ll monitor the implementation of the new student assignment plan for at least three years and that the earliest the St. Martin Parish School Board could file a motion for unitary status would be in July 2027.

“On or before September 13, the Parties will update the Court regarding the status of
their negotiations. If the Parties reach an agreement on new high school attendance
zones and the Board votes to approve that agreement on September 6, the Parties will
submit an updated proposed consent order with accompanying materials,” the ruling read.

Read the full 97-page ruling here:

Read a summary of the ruling here: