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Posted on: December 9, 2022

Board of Supervisors Authorizes Plan for Studying the Impacts of Segregated Schools in Loudoun

Image of Douglass High School with text about the study of the impacts of segregated schools

During its December 6, 2022, meeting, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to study the county’s history of segregated schools and consider ways to reconcile the impact of that history on Loudoun alumni, faculty, staff, their descendants and the greater community. The study is intended to produce recommendations for future actions that the county and the community may take to help the community healing that is needed as a result of the past operation of segregated schools in Loudoun County. The county plans to engage The Center for Race and Public Education in the South (CRPES) at the University of Virginia to help facilitate the two-phase, multi-year project. 

Study Phase

The first phase of this project, which is expected to begin in January 2023, will result in a comprehensive study of the historical and current impacts of segregated education in Loudoun. CRPES experts will be charged with documenting and calculating the economic, social and educational impacts of segregated schools, assisted by a Study Task Force, which could include local historians and scholars. CRPES will analyze the history of segregation in Loudoun, gather documentary evidence, meet with localities that have had similar experiences, consult with the task force, and provide a comprehensive report to the Board of Supervisors. 

Community Reconciliation Phase

The second phase of the project will address the task force report through a Reconciliation Task Force composed of individuals representing Loudoun’s historic African American villages, Douglass High School and Carver School alumni, and descendants of the County Wide League of Black PTAs, which purchased and conveyed the Douglass High School property. This task force will examine lingering educational inequities, conduct community listening sessions for impacted individuals and their descendants, and recommend reconciliation measures to the Board of Supervisors.

Background

The estimated cost of consultant services for both phases of the study will not exceed $250,000, as approved by the Board of Supervisors. The Board’s Finance, Government Operations and Economic Development Committee is scheduled to consider actual funding for this project later this month. 

The approval of the schools segregation study project plan follows a September 2021 decision by the Board to study the harm caused by Loudoun County’s past discrimination against Black students and to seek out ways to rectify disparities.

The Board also approved in September 2021 a review of the forced sale of eight acres of property in 1940 by the County Wide League of Black PTAs, a group comprising the parent-teacher associations of all the Black schools in Loudoun County. The league raised funds to purchase land for a Black high school and had purchased property in Leesburg for $4,000. In December 1940, that property was conveyed to Loudoun County for the nominal sum of $1 for the purpose of building Douglass High School. The Board requested the identification of possible recommendations for addressing the injustice contained in that property transaction.

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