Forty years after a court order desegregated Rome City Schools, the Justice Department has granted the system unitary status, announced Rome City Superintendent Gayland Cooper during the monthly school board meeting on Tuesday night.

“Children don’t see differences in our school because we are so diverse, and I think that teaches tolerance,” said Cooper, adding that the court order has proven “cumbersome” and “unnecessary” in recent years.

For the past 40 years the system has been required to send in data detailing racial distribution of students, staff and administrators to the federal government.

“I think it’s just good to have this behind us,” said Rome City Schools Chairwoman Judy Sims. “In reality we have been celebrating diversity in this schools system. We are a microcosm of society.”

In 2006 Rome City Schools’ attorney first approached the Justice Department and asked to be removed from under the court ruling’s jurisdiction. Cooper explained that there were between 30 and 40 other school systems that also petitioned to be removed from the court ruling at the same time.

Rome News Tribune