Williams v Fairfax District Decided

Charleston Daily Gazette
November 17, 1898

Judges Say

That Colored Schools Cannot Be Discriminated Against

Two Points Decided

By the Supreme Court of This state - Interesting Opinions Handed Down.

Judge Dent, of the State court of appeals, handed down a couple of opinions yesterday which settle several very nice questions of law. They cases are interesting inasmuch as the points decided have often been raised in and out of courts.

The first case deals with the question of discrimination against the colored race in regard to school privileges. The circumstances are that Carrie Williams, of Tucker county, sued the board of education of Fairfax district in that county for three months' services due, amounting to $120. From the records it seems that the people of the district had previously voted for eight months of public school in a term. The board of education arbitrarily determined that the white schools should run eight months, but the colored school should cease at the expiration of five months.

The defendants, the board of education, make a weak plea, and Judge Dent appears to have opined wisely in his ruling. A minor claim of the board was that the apportionment of the teacher was not in writing, as required by law. The court says that after the service has been rendered in a satisfactory manner to the patrons, and the board recognized and approved it by receiving her monthly reports and paying her five months' salary, that it is too late to object because her appointment was not in writing.

The teacher taught out the legal eight months, although the board notified her to stop at the end of five months. She refused and the school was concluded satisfactorily to the patrons, and Miss Williams will secure her $120 salary due. Judge Dent says in his opinion:

"This distinction upon the part of the board is clearly illegal and a discrimination made merely on account of color should be treated as nullity, as being contrary to public policy and good morals. The law of this State does not authorize boards of education to discriminate between white and colored schools in the same district as to the length of term to be taught." Lower court affirmed.

African Americans

West Virginia Archives and History