Justice Department Rejects Pitt County School Board Changes

The U.S. Justice Department says a proposal to change the way board members are elected in an Eastern Carolina school district would hurt minority voters.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez says the plan would have reduced minority representation on the Pitt County School Board, which currently has three black members.

The state legislature passed the change in the final days of the session last June and then submitted the plan to the Justice Department for approval. It would have reduced the number of school board members from 12 to seven, with one at large member.

A state legislator who introduced the measure said he did so because he believes smaller elected bodies have less rancor in decision-making.

But Perez was critical, saying the manner in which the changes were adopted was a complete departure from normal procedures.

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