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Senator Bodi White kills proposed school zoning bill that some say was racist

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CENTRAL- Students in the Central School System will stay put a while longer. At the Capitol, a controversial bill is all but dead after a hearing in the House of Education Committee.

The pushback in the committee led the author, Senator Bodi White, to voluntarily defer the bill. Senate Bill 189, would have changed the boundaries of the school district.

His decision to defer the bill came after he realized the committee was not going to advance the bill following pointed criticism.

"It is blatant racism," District 5 EBR metro councilman, Darryl Hurst said.

The bill would have barred new students who live west of the Comite river from attending the Central school system. An amendment added to the bill, before it was deferred, allowed kids already enrolled to stay enrolled.
Any siblings of those children would be grandfathered in.

"As you heard, the small portion Senator White is trying to carve out is 69 percent black," Maxwell Ciardullo, LA Fair Housing Action Center, said.

White said he wrote the bill to alleviate overcrowding in classrooms. State Representative Patrick Jefferson,pointed out that another subdivision was on the drawing board which could add more students to the school system. Dozens of people spoke in favor of killing the bill, two said they supported it.

"Our school numbers have grown from 3,051 in 2007 when we began as a school system, to the current enrollment of 4,737," Sharon Browning, Central School Board member District 7, said.

"This bill is important because who oversees the development," Kimberly Powers, Central School Board member District 4 said.

Central homeowners who spoke against the bill described it as unfair and hurtful.

"I was there in 1994-1997 when central needed African American students to attend, I lived in Glenn Oaks, I was literally bussed to Central Middle on Hooper road," one man said.

"Residents in this two square mile area were solicited by then-Rep. White personally, along with members of the Central school board to join their schools and now 16 years later, Senator White decided they have no use to him," Nick FaKouri from tower Capitol corporation, said.

What happens next is up to Senator Bodi White.


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