The ACLU of Georgia and the law firm Troutman Pepper filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of Georgia on behalf of current and former Effingham County School District (ECSD) students who, along with other Black students in ECSD, have experienced pervasive racial discrimination, violations of their freedom of speech, and a hostile educational environment in the District. In the complaint, the plaintiffs explain how their complaints about racist acts and racial discrimination fell on deaf ears for years. The actions and lack of response by the District and its officials violate the students’ First and Fourteenth Constitutional Amendments, as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
The lawsuit highlights the District’s long-standing racist history, including the delay to open schools’ doors to Black students until 16 years after the Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board Education in 1954. The District has maintained a Confederate Rebel as the high school’s mascot, the waving of Confederate flags at sporting events, and the playing of “Dixie” at school events despite previous protests from Black students, the community, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).