Civil rights groups settle suit over Emanuel County school board maps



Civil rights groups announced a settlement Friday with Emanuel County officials over allegations the county school board drew district maps that diluted the power of African American voters.

Groups including the Georgia NAACP and the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sued the county in February over the maps, which took effect in 2012. The suit alleged the maps violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Emanuel County has seven school board districts. The groups claimed in the suit that the maps were drawn make one district predominately African American, while the voting-age black population in each of the other six districts averaged only about 23 percent.

Close to half of the students in the county are African American, but the groups said there has never been more than one African-American elected member on the school board at any one time.

Under the agreement, the county would create a second district in which African Americans are a majority. The change will need sign-off from the state Legislature. The county school board has agreed to pass a resolution seeking that approval.