Why We Are Suing the State of Nebraska - Omaha School Segregation

You may have heard recently of our decision to join a lawsuit filed against the State of Nebraska because of its plan to re-segregate public schools in and around the city of Omaha. For well over 50 years, the accepted law and practice of this nation has been to honor the principles of Brown v. Board of Education. Naturally, we are very concerned about any legislative action that would attempt to bury the progress we've made as a nation and return our children to separate and unequal systems of education.

History and research tell us that over 40% of African American public school students nationwide attend school where more than 75% of the students are poor. Additionally, schools with high concentrations of minority and low-income students are more likely to employ inexperienced and/or non-certified teachers. In Nebraska, 70% of African American public school students are educated in Omaha Public Schools. Keeping them in separate and unequal schools denies them the quality education they deserve.

The State of Nebraska recently passed Legislative Bill 1024 ("LB 1024"), a law we believe threatens quality public education for all students in three important ways. First, LB 1024 orders the division of the Omaha public school district into three racially identifiable school districts. Second, LB 1024 in effect could foreseeably decrease fairness and equity in public school funding. Third, the law erects barriers that, left unchallenged, could deny students the positive benefits of integration.

The NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit challenging the segregation plan based on its unconstitutionality and its attempt to retreat from the law and legacy established by the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. The plaintiffs in the case are the Omaha Branch of the NAACP, the African American Achievement Council and the families of a racially diverse group of Omaha students.

Our lawsuit is specifically asking the courts to enjoin the State of Nebraska from creating three racially separate and distinct school districts and breaking up Omaha Public Schools. The State of Nebraska does not have the right or authority to intentionally further racial segregation in its public schools. Legislative Bill 1024 denies Omaha Public Schools students of color the equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution.

The NAACP will continue its firm stand in the pursuit of social justice and equal opportunity while opposing any and all forms of social inequity and racial discrimination. In Nebraska, we will continue to fight for the rights of all students to benefit from a fair and equitable quality education.

For more information on LB 1024, visit http://katrina.naacp.org/r/233/91290


Michael T.S. Wotorson
National Director of Education


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