When Penn State University professor Erica Frankenberg graduated from high school in Alabama, there was only one school district in Mobile County.
Now, over 20 years later, it is one of four districts. In the past decade, three communities have splintered off to create their own districts, and, in doing so, they have exacerbated segregation in the area.
The process is called school district secession. Around the country, it's changing the nature of school segregation.
A new study, conducted by Frankenberg, Virginia Commonwealth University professor Genevieve Siege-Hawley and researcher Kendra Taylor, looks at school secessions in the South with an eye on how new school district boundaries affect patterns of school and residential segregation. The study, which looks specifically at seven counties in the South where 18 new districts have formed since 2000, found that the practice increasingly sorts students into separate districts by race.