A nearly five-year-old legal fight that has caused political and racial rifts in Fayette County may be coming to an end. The county school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to settle its part in a legal dispute with the NAACP and a group of black residents over how county government leaders are elected. The school board agreed to settle and adopt a new district map that calls for four voting districts and one at-large district, an obvious compromise toward the county’s ongoing push to bring back at-large voting. The county currently has five election districts. “This compromise settlement is in the best interest of the school system and the public,” the school board said in a prepared statement. “It allows for the continuation of some at-large seats, and eliminates the school district’s potential exposure to payment of over $1 million of attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs’ lawyers if the case were litigated further, which would have led to more appeals.”
The county commission, which meets Thursday at 7 p.m., must now decide if it will follow suit — a move that could bring to an end the ongoing fight that was ordered into mediation last October. While Tuesday’s decision was unanimous on paper, satisfaction with the decision among board members was mixed.
“Given the legal obstacles we were faced with, this was the best we could do,” school board member Barry Marchman said.”It’s not the outcome most of us wanted but I hope our community can move forward and begin the process of healing and work on issues that reunite us.”
School board member Leonard Presberg, an early proponent for settling the case, said Wednesday “I’m happy that the school board unanimously was able to come to a settlement that allows our county to move forward in the spirit of equality and inclusiveness.”