A federal judge spent most of the school day Thursday touring five of Calhoun County’s 17 schools.
Judge C. Lynwood Smith requested the tour before he decides whether to approve the construction of a new middle school in White Plains.
Smith originally had scheduled a courtroom hearing for Thursday as well, but decided to delay the hearing to make sure he had ample time for his site visits and travel.
He has not yet set a new date for the hearing.
The Calhoun County system remains under a 1970 federal order to desegregate its schools. Provisions in the order require that all facilities be equal regardless of the school’s racial makeup and that a judge approve any new school construction.
Court records show construction on the new White Plains Middle School began June 21. The county petitioned Smith to approve the school Sept. 17 but did not notify him until Nov. 2 that construction had already begun.
Smith asked to tour White Plains, where the two schools have a 5.7 percent black enrollment, and Saks, where the zone’s three schools have a 32 percent black enrollment.
“We were glad to have Judge Smith visit in our schools today,” Superintendent Judy Stiefel said.
“We hope the tour was helpful to the judge in reviewing our petition for the new school.”
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