Hed: Justice Department OKs Nettleton school lines

Hed: Justice Department OKs Nettleton school lines

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

NETTLETON – The U.S. Justice Department has approved a redistricting plan for the Nettleton Line School District, clearing the way for November elections to fill all five school board seats.

Under the approved plan, five members will be elected in November to staggered terms running from one to five years, school district attorney Jeremy Eskridge said. Thereafter, one member will be elected to a five-year term each year.

The school district extends well beyond the Nettleton city limits, encompassing about 35 square miles in south Lee County and 60 square miles in north Monroe County.

In the initial election, the 1st District winner will serve one year, the 2nd District winner, two years, and so on.

All will take their seats on Jan. 1, 1997.

In November of next year, 1st District residents will vote again, electing a board member for five years. District 2 will have another election in November 1998, and the process will continue in each succeeding year thereafter, Eskridge said.

The district has been entangled in an effort to draw individual districts, including one with a black majority, for six years. Before 1988, voters on the Lee County side of the split school district elected two board members at large, while voters on the Monroe County side elected three at large.

The last school board elections were held in the late 1980s.

The school board produced a five-district plan in 1989 based on 1980 census figures, but it was stalled by a federal-state dispute over a 1989 legislative amendment to the state’s line-district law.

The plan sat, basically forgotten, until 1994 when the Justice Department inquired about progress in the reapportionment effort.

In August 1994, the boards of supervisors in both counties appointed a biracial committee to devise a new plan based on 1990 census figures and late last year both boards approved a school board plan.

Under the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act, all redistricting plans in Mississippi must get Justice Department or federal court approval to be implemented.

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