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The Latest: Leaders attack lawsuit over schools for blacks

Southern Poverty Law Center senior staff attorney Will Bardwell, explains the specifics to the lawsuit filed on behalf of four African-American mothers with children in public elementary schools during a news conference in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Mississippi is denying good schools to African American students and violating the federal law that enabled the state to rejoin the union after the Civil War, the Southern Poverty Law Center alleged Tuesday in a lawsuit trying to strengthen constitutional protections for education. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a lawsuit alleging that Mississippi is breaking federal law by providing unequal schooling to black students (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Mississippi’s top two elected officials are rejecting the claims of a lawsuit that accuses Mississippi of breaking federal law by providing inferior public schools to African-American students.

Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov Tate Reeves, both Republicans, say Mississippi’s education system is progressing under their leadership.

Bryant accuses the Southern Poverty Law Center of seeking to raise money by filing the federal lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of four parents of black students.

The SPLC says Mississippi is discriminating against black students and thus breaking the law that readmitted Mississippi to the union after the Civil War. That law says the state must never deprive citizens of “school rights and privileges.”

Reeves says it’s “almost laughable” that the SPLC criticizes education of black students, but is pursuing another lawsuit against Mississippi that seeks to block the Legislature from its current method of financing charter schools.


10 a.m.

Mississippi’s leaders are being sued again over unequal schooling, this time by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of four black public school students.

This lawsuit says Mississippi is failing to meet requirements of the federal law that readmitted the state to the union after the Civil War. That law says the state must never deprive any citizen of the “school rights and privileges” described in the 1868 constitution.

The SPLC argues that Mississippi has repeatedly watered down its constitutional protections for education ever since as part of a white supremacist effort to prevent the education of blacks. The lawsuit asks a judge to force the state to honor the promise of that document, written nearly a century and a half ago.


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