The Integration Report, issue 26

June 9, 2010

This issue of TIR provides a brief overview of recent events in Walthall County, Mississippi. The district has been accused of racially segregating students through the use of transfer policies and classroom assignments.

Mississippi’s Walthall County school system, situated roughly 80 miles north of New Orleans, has been under court supervision for nearly forty years. The supervision may have been in name only, however, with lax oversight resulting in district noncompliance. After requesting data from the district two years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion in the District Court of Lower Mississippi in December 2009 alleging that Walthall County School District (WCSD) was in blatant violation of its 1970 court order.1

DOJ’s motion alleged the district was employing two methods of segregating students by race. First, Walthall County district officials approved hundreds of transfers, mostly to white students, which promoted and sustained the development of two racially identifiable schools in the district, one majority white and the other predominately African American. Second, district administrators clustered together disproportionate numbers of white students in three elementary schools, which in turn resulted in a number of segregated, all-black classrooms at each grade level.2

Walthall school officials declined to file a response to DOJ’s allegations, and the court subsequently found the district to be in defiance of its 1970 order. Today, to comply with the court order, the district must deny student transfer requests unless an applicant meets a rigorous standard of need (for example, health or safety issues). Transfers that promote racial diversity – instead of detract from it – will also be permitted.3 In terms of the racialized classroom configurations in elementary schools, the district has been instructed to implement a randomized software assignment program. Only rare exceptions (again, for health or safety reasons, or a specialized program assignment) should be granted.4 The court has also ordered Walthall School District to regularly submit data to the Department of Justice illustrating its compliance with the directives.

The Walthall district case, beyond representing a local redress for civil rights violations, is an important example of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division taking a more active role in monitoring the nearly 200 desegregation cases that remain on its docket (see TIR, issue 24 for further discussion of the Civil Rights Division). As the division reviews these cases, it should proactively ensure that districts remain in compliance with long-standing desegregation orders.

Renewed scrutiny of DOJ’s desegregation docket also came on the heels of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s March 2010 speech in Selma. Secretary Duncan promised to revive the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) equity and enforcement activities.5 In the same speech, Duncan also pledged to issue new federal guidance clarifying the legal parameters for school districts and higher education institutions seeking to promote “equity and fairness.”6

Both the Department of Education’s OCR and the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department bear responsibility for the content of the new guidance.7 Guidance from the two agencies, in this case dealing with the federal government’s interpretation of legally permissible avenues for pursuing racial diversity in K-12 and postsecondary institutions, provides a strong signal regarding the government’s positioning on an issue–in addition to carrying the possible weight of enforcement activity. Its issuance in the area of racial diversity measures remains a vitally important task for the two agencies, particularly in light of the Bush Administration’s 2007 “Dear Colleague” letter unduly interpreting the Parents Involved decision as entirely restrictive of the use of race in voluntary integration plans (see TIR, issue 24 for further discussion).

That the Bush-era guidance on K-12 voluntary school integration still stands – remaining on the Education Department’s Web site – is a source of consternation among civil rights groups and advocacy organizations given its incomplete and distorted analysis of the meaning of Parents Involved8. For example, the “Dear Colleague” letter published by the Office for Civil Rights never mentions that for the first time a majority of the Supreme Court found that avoiding racial isolation is a compelling state interest. John Brittain, former chief counsel and senior deputy director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and currently a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia, says, simply, “The record speaks for itself. The Obama Administration has been in office for 16 months and still has not replaced this misleading Bush Administration guidance which undermines voluntary integration efforts.” Brittain described a “paralysis of analysis,” explaining that the “government is having a hard time deciding what it should tell school boards around the country to do about voluntary integration, but they are working on it.”

The continued need for federal guidance on voluntary integration is underscored by many of TIR‘s desegregation-related articles collected from around the country. For example, this past month, a federal judge decided that race was one of the “motivating factors” in a school district reassignment case out of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. A group of African American families sued the school system over a redistricting plan that assigned African American students from a racially isolated neighborhood to a less segregated high school. Students from the racially isolated neighborhood previously had the choice of attending one of the two district high schools.9 The judge remains uncertain as to whether the plaintiffs are entitled to remedial action–a decision he said related to the exact requirements detailed in the Parents Involved case.10 While the court “rejects any allegations of invidious discrimination or hostility towards African American students by the Administration or the Board,” finding that “the Board and Administration were most interested in providing all students an excellent education…,” the judge expressed hesitation over the narrow definition of diversity employed by district officials.11 Further arguments in the case are scheduled for early June, and would clearly be aided by more comprehensive guidance from the federal government.

In sum, conflicting signals have emerged from the two federal agencies primarily responsible for providing leadership, oversight and enforcement on issues related to civil rights in education. While the Justice Department’s intervention in the Walthall district represents an important, hands-on effort to ensure compliance with desegregation orders, the delay in the issuance of promised civil rights guidance is a critical stumbling block for school districts interested in pursuing voluntary integration nationwide but unclear about what is legally acceptable. Steps should be taken as soon as possible to craft and agree upon language for the long overdue guidance.

For next time…
The next issue of TIR will discuss an upcoming report from the Civil Rights Project on the state of segregation in the nation’s schools.

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
The Integration Report


1 Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs. “Justice Department Granted Order to Ensure Students in Walthall County, Mississippi, Have Equal Opportunities Court Grants Relief for Flagrant Violations of Federal Desegregation Order.” Available at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/April/10-crt-400.html.
2 National School Boards Association. “Federal court orders Mississippi district to revise transfer and classroom assignment policies to prevent racial imbalance.” Available at: http://nsba.org/MainMenu/SchoolLaw/LegalClips/US-v-Walthall-County.aspx. McCrumen, S. (2010 April 20). “Ruling on racial isolation in Miss. schools reflects troubling broader trend.” Washington Post. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/19/AR2010041905118.html?hpid=topnews.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Remarks delivered by Duncan, A. (2010 March 8). Crossing the Next Bridge: Secretary Arne Duncan’s Remarks on the 45th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama. Available at: http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2010/03/03082010.html.
6 Ibid
7 The Office of Budget and Management (OMB) also plays a role in drafting new guidance.
8 Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch. v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (U.S. 2007).
9 Student Doe 1, et al.: Civil Action v. Lower Merion School District. No. 09-2095 (2010).
10 Cook, B. (2010 May 14). Judge says race “motivating factor” in L. Merion case. Philadelphia Inquirer. Available at: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20100514_Judge__Race__Motivating_factor__in_L__Merion_school_plan.html#axzz0oVgqcu1l.
11 Student Doe 1, et al.: Civil Action v. Lower Merion School District. No. 09-2095 (2010), p.53.


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News Summary

Please send us your news
Please send reports, documents, court decisions, comments or suggestions for topics to: The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at integrationrept@ucla.edu.   

We are looking for any information regarding changes to transportation routes that may adversely affect racial diversity in light of increasing fuel costs. Please let us know if these issues are being discussed in your communities.

Ruling on racial isolation in Miss. schools reflects troubling broader trend
Last week, a federal judge ruled that a school board policy here in Walthall County has had the effect of creating “racially identifiable” schools in violation of a 1970 federal desegregation order. Although the case is unique in some ways, it fits a broader trend toward racial isolation that has been underway for years in American schools and has undermined the historic school integration efforts of the civil rights era.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/19/AR2010041905118.html

Judge: Race ‘Motivating factor’ in L. Merion school plan
A federal judge determined Thursday that race “was a motivating factor” in the Lower Merion School District’s 2009 plan to reassign students to Harriton, the smaller of its two high schools.
But U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson said he needed to hear more arguments before he decided if the plan amounted to unequal treatment for African American students, as nine families have contended in a long-running lawsuit.
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20100514_Judge__Race__Motivating_factor__in_L__Merion_school_plan.html#axzz0oVgqcu1l

Little Rock District files suit on charter schools
The Little Rock School District has asked a federal judge to enforce an agreement by the state that it would not hinder desegregation efforts in Pulaski County’s three school districts. The motion filed Wednesday in federal court claims the state violated that agreement — which also provides those three districts with millions of dollars of extra school money each year — by allowing charter schools to operate in the county. The district argues that the state has permitted the charter schools without considering the effect they have on desegregation efforts in traditional public schools.
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/05/19/355881rdesegregationlawsuit_ap.html?tkn=QSXF9Dn3ItRKPE4zMvq5hG5awVv4ue%2BbzJZI&print=1

Ark. Ark. AG says no to desegregation settlement offer
Arkansas’ attorney general says he cannot accept a proposal that would place restrictions on open-enrollment charter schools in hopes of ending the decades-long desegregation lawsuit. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Thursday discussed the proposal with attorneys from the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts. The state has paid the three districts more than $1 billion for desegregation efforts. McDaniel said he will continue to seek a resolution that would phase out the desegregation payments, specify a dollar amount, address the unitary status of the districts and end the case. The Little Rock School Board authorized its attorney to sue the state over open-enrollment charter schools, which they say hurt their efforts to successfully desegregate their schools.
http://www.arklatexpolitics.com/news/ark-ark-ag-says-no-to-desegregation-settlement-offer/

Attorney Gen. Dustin McDaniel, school leaders discuss desegregation
Arkansas’ attorney general says he’s considering a proposal that would place tough restrictions on open-enrollment charter schools in hopes of ending the decades-long desegregation lawsuit. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says he met Tuesday with attorneys from the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts over a proposed settlement in the desegregation case. The state has paid the three districts more than $1 billion for desegregation efforts. McDaniel says he will analyze the proposal and plans to meet with the schools’ attorneys next week to discuss it. The Little Rock School Board has authorized its attorney to sue the state over open-enrollment charter schools, which they say hurt their efforts to successfully desegregate their schools.
http://www.todaysthv.com/news/education/story.aspx?storyid=103158

Race and Portland schools: If Jefferson is a touchy subject, don’t forget why
Portland Public has 10 main high schools of uneven quality and enrollment. Nine are neighborhood schools and Benson is a large vocational magnet school. Superintendent Carole Smith wants to improve the system by closing one neighborhood school (Marshall), limiting student transfers to balance enrollment, turning Benson into a two-year program and offering a robust program at the remaining eight neighborhood schools. The name that comes up most often as another candidate for closure or consolidation is Jefferson, the state’s only neighborhood high school with a majority (about 60 percent) of African American students. Closing Jefferson altogether would pencil out for at least a half-dozen reasons. The building needs extensive repairs. Most students in the neighborhood, including a majority of African American students, have transferred elsewhere in search of greater quality and stability. With about 430 students, it has the lowest enrollment by far of all 10 campuses. The neighborhood’s population of school-age children is expected to decline. Three nearby schools — Roosevelt, Grant and Benson — could easily absorb the Jefferson population. Also, the district wants its high schools to be less segregated by race. Closing Jefferson would accomplish this goal.
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/susan_nielsen/index.ssf/2010/05/race_and_portland_schools_if_j.html

Dialogue continues on segregation status in schools
While Pitt County Schools (North Carolina) has not achieved official unitary status as declared by the court system, it is working to ensure the elimination of the last vestiges of segregation in the school system to do so, in the wake of a long and complex history. The district must submit a report on progress toward achieving unitary status by December 2012 as ordered by the federal district court in November.
http://www.reflector.com/news/unitary-status-dialogue-continues-35834

Phyllis P. McClure dies; civil rights activist exposed misuse of Title I funds
Phyllis P. McClure, 72, a civil rights activist who spent more than four decades advocating for educational equity for poor and disadvantaged children, died May 17 of pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington. Once an aspiring journalist, Ms. McClure joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in 1969. She immediately used her penchant for muckraking to illuminate the widespread misuse of federal funds meant to boost educational opportunities for the country’s neediest students.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/18/AR2010051805022.html

Biomed academy is effective remedy
One of the collateral results of the St. Landry Parish (Louisiana) desegregation lawsuit and settlement seems likely to include a biomedical academy at Opelousas High School. The St. Landry Parish School Board must go along with the idea, although the importance attached to the project by U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon, and the prospect that the School Board could be out from under the desegregation lawsuit by next year, mitigates toward good chances for enactment. The launch of the biomedical academy seems to depend largely on the acquisition of grants. If the School Board finds the program to be a success as it adds a new freshman class of 50 students each year, members will have to find some means of financing the program or the long haul.
http://www.dailyworld.com/article/20100519/OPINION/5190317

Desegregation suit is personal for Nassif
If all goes as planned, St. Landry Parish will soon be one of only a handful of public school systems in Louisiana to be free of federal oversight. For Superintendent of Education Michael Nassif it will be a great day, one he has literally been involved in his entire life. Nassif grew up in the Palmetto area when local schools where still segregated by race.
http://www.dailyworld.com/article/20100516/NEWS01/5160313/1002

St. Landry moves closer to end of deseg lawsuit
The St. Landry Parish School Board’s (Louisiana) 45-year-old desegregation lawsuit should be history by the end of this year, a federal judge said Thursday. At a status hearing Thursday morning, federal district judge Tucker Melancon praised School Board members, staff and lawyers for their work to provide equitable education to all students. Details should be hammered out and an agreement should be made by the end of this month or early June, Caswell said. The district must also maintain what it has achieved.”People think once the federal judge is gone, we can do whatever we want,” Caswell said. “Well, it doesn’t work that way.”
http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20100507/NEWS01/5070333

School board returns to court Thursday
Superintendent Michael Nassif and the members of the St. Landry Parish School Board (Louisiana) will return to federal court Thursday in Lafayette. The court appearance is one more step in the process of reaching unitary status, or full compliance with the desegregation plan that was recently approved by federal Judge Tucker Melancon. So far, St. Landry Parish has satisfied three of the six “green factors” necessary to achieve unitary status — transportation, extra curricular activities and staff assignments.
http://www.dailyworld.com/article/20100505/NEWS01/5050310/1002/School-board-returns-to-court-Thursday

School board rejects appeal of judge’s order
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board narrowly rejected on Tuesday night a request from two Loranger-area School Board members to ask a federal judge to reconsider the desegregation plan he ordered for Loranger schoolchildren. The plan signed by U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle in March calls for sending students who live south of La. 40 to a new kindergarten through eighth-grade school and then on to Hammond High School.
http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/91675004.html

Deseg plan new for Tangipahoa
When U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle signed orders March 4 approving the Tangipahoa Parish School Board’s (Louisiana) desegregation plan, he did not end a three-year court battle in the revived four-decades-old case. He established a new beginning. School Superintendent Mark Kolwe said this beginning is one of greater educational opportunity for all students in the parish. That plan calls for art and music teachers in all elementary schools and magnet programs in the schools where a majority of students are black in the communities of Hammond, Amite, Kentwood, Roseland and Independence.
http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/90902254.html

Unfinished business: Deseg attorney calls School Board back to court
Less than one month to the day that a federal district court judge approved the Tangipahoa Parish School Board’s proposed desegregation plan, attorneys for the plaintiffs in the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore lawsuit are asking the court to amend that order and reconsider three key issues that plaintiffs say were not fully addressed by the more than 250-page settlement document. “Taylor asks for April 28 hearing to consider issues at ‘historically white schools,’ create arbitration process, and maintain $125K cap on expenditures not brought through court review process.”
http://www.actionnews17.com/News/tabid/59/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1398/Unfinished-business-Deseg-attorney-calls-School-Board-back-to-court.aspx

East Feliciana schools face crossroads
Educators in East Feliciana Parish (Louisiana) public schools have been busy in recent weeks, planning for some major changes that might never happen. Another group has been almost as busy, trying to make sure the changes don’t happen. Largely abandoned by white residents, with enrollments slowly declining and tough financial challenges ahead, East Feliciana Parish public schools are at a crossroads. Something must be done, and Superintendent Douglas Beauchamp has been pushing since he took office to consolidate the parish’s two high schools and two middle schools to save money and beef up the instructional programs. Before the School Board can consolidate the schools, it has to show U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, of Baton Rouge, the changes won’t further school segregation. Consolidation has had its vocal opponents since the beginning, and a group of mostly Clinton-area residents has engaged a civil rights lawyer with a track record in school desegregation litigation to fight the mergers.
http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/92834954.html?index=14&c=y

Avoyelles Parish School Board votes to delay deseg case request
The Avoyelles Parish School Board (Louisiana) voted 6-3 Tuesday to delay seeking unitary status for its transportation system in the district’s federal desegregation lawsuit until the district’s staff can gather additional information. “The board felt that they needed more information as it relates to transportation concerning discipline on the buses,” said Craig Foster, assistant superintendent. Transportation is the first Green factor the Avoyelles district is pursuing.
http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20100507/NEWS01/305070056

Avoyelles desegregation progressing
Though they may not realize it, Avoyelles, Louisiana students are witnessing a historic overhaul in the parish’s public school system. The merging of the schools, however, is just one of the first steps in a multiphase plan that aims to end a long-running desegregation lawsuit under which Avoyelles schools operate. The plan for Avoyelles includes ending with a block system that has resulted in the unequal distribution of funds to resource schools, reaching a racially balanced system for students and staff and providing the same opportunities to all students in the district. The plan also calls for the eventual creation of a single high school to serve the entire parish, instead of the three campuses now operating.
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20100502/NEWS04/5020334/1063

Avoyelles Board to form desegregation panels
Well into its first year of implementing a revised school desegregation plan, Avoyelles Parish School Board (Louisiana) officials soon could be asking a federal judge to declare its transportation system desegregated. At a special meeting Tuesday night, the district’s administration presented its nine-member board with a formal request to seek partial unitary status in transportation. The board is expected to vote on the request in its meeting next Tuesday. Also, in an unanimous vote, the board approved the creation of five study groups or committees to help the district pursue full unitary status.
http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20100429/NEWS01/4290336

Racial issues pervade School Board meeting
Racial tensions ran high during Tuesday’s Rapides Parish School Board meeting (Louisiana), with some members of the black community threatening to take the board to court over perceived racial inequities in filling administrative positions. At the meeting in which an overflow crowd spilled into the hallway, board members heard from various black leaders who said they disagree with employee changes recently made by Superintendent Gary Jones. After a roughly two-hour discussion, board member Janet Dixon made a substitute motion to send the three items related to the discussion to the Personnel Committee for further discussion. The motion was unanimously approved. Those motions were to discuss the assistant superintendent positions, board policy on advertisement of vacant positions and the board’s policy on promotions.
http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20100505/NEWS01/5050321/1002/Racial-issues-pervade—School-Board-meeting

Black leaders to address School Board on race issues
Members of the black community are raising concerns about what they say are inequities in the Rapides Parish School District (Louisiana) that are threatening the post-desegregation progress.
The Rev. Ameal Jones, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, and Joe Fuller, head of the political action committee Revitalizing Our Community, will address the School Board at its meeting at 5 p.m. today at the board office, 619 Sixth St. in Alexandria. Over the past few years, Jones said, there has been a decrease in the racial balance in the district, with various teaching positions and administrative positions previously held by blacks now being held by whites. Rapides Parish gained unitary status and was released from under its desegregation order in 2006 after a roughly 40-year court battle.
http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20100504/NEWS01/5040322/1002

NAACP rallies to ask Wake County to abandon its neighborhood school plan
Raleigh, N.C.

The Wake County School board will vote Tuesday on its new neighborhood-based school assignment plan. On Monday night, the North Carolina NAACP called on the Wake County school board to scrap the plan and return to one based on diversity. On the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that abolished segregation in schools, the NAACP held a rally Monday in Raleigh saying the new plan sets things back 56 years.
http://wake.mync.com/site/wake/news/story/51613/naacp-rallies-to-ask-wake-county-to-abandon-its-neighborhood-school-plan

NC judge gives green-light to neighborhood schools
North Carolina’s largest school district is set to give final approval next week to a plan to end its busing for diversity program after a judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block the move.
Judge Bill Pittman said in his ruling Friday that the Wake County school board was taking reasonable measures to accommodate the large crowds that have been at its meetings concerning the change in attendance policy. Opponents of sending children to school based primarily on where they live had challenged the board’s move, saying public participation at meetings was limited by the size of the meeting space. Other groups, including the North Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have threatened to sue to stop the policy change. NAACP leaders have said they think the switch to neighborhood attendance will lead to resegregation of Raleigh-area schools based on race.
http://www.reflector.com/state-news/nc-judge-gives-green-light-neighborhood-schools-35506

Wake school board says lawsuit ‘really about politics’
An attorney for the Wake County school board says his client went “above and beyond” to ensure its meetings have been conducted properly and to provide the public “ample opportunity” to attend and observe. “This case is really about politics,” Raleigh attorney Kieran Shanahan said in a response filed Thursday to a lawsuit alleging the Board of Education violated the state’s Open Meetings Law with the way it handled key public meetings on March 23. But the plaintiffs – a group of Wake County citizens represented by numerous civil rights groups and private attorneys – say the board’s actions kept them and numerous others from being a part of the meeting. The main meeting room at the Wake County Public School System’s headquarters has a capacity of 153 people.
http://www.wral.com/news/education/story/7599170/

Suit challenges diversity vote
School board Chairman Ron Margiotta has told supporters they should expect a number of lawsuits from opponents. On Thursday, he said this lawsuit was merely a tactic by opponents to stop the board majority from fulfilling its campaign promises. But the threat of legal action has been in the air since before the new board majority took office Dec. 1 after four Republican-backed candidates swept last fall’s election. The Rev. William Barber, state president of the NAACP, warned at the time that if Wake County’s new approach to assigning students wound up resegregating schools, the system could be subject to a lawsuit based on the state constitution’s stipulation that all children are guaranteed a sound basic education.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/05/07/471015/suit-challenges-diversity-vote.html

Wake board moves ahead on school zoning
Wake County’s school board majority compromised Tuesday on allowing scathing attacks by speakers but held firm on ending busing for diversity in favor of neighborhood schools.
In front of a smaller crowd than usual, board members gave initial approval by a 4-3 vote to a revised student assignment policy that would make proximity to the family home a factor while no longer calling for socioeconomic diversity. The board majority rejected an amendment that would have called for continuing to balance schools based on income and on students performing below grade level.”We don’t have to mention diversity,” said board member Debra Goldman, a member of the majority. “It exists already in the county.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/05/05/468060/wake-board-moves-ahead-on-school.html

Study: Wake schools less diverse
Wake County’s schools became more racially segregated over the past decade as the number of high-poverty schools increased despite the school district’s nationally recognized diversity policy, according to a study presented Sunday at a national conference. The University of Georgia professors who worked on the study tracked how the number of schools not meeting the district’s diversity goal has more than tripled. They found that lack of political will and explosive growth limited the district’s ability to carry out the policy.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/05/03/464545/study-wake-schools-less-diverse.html

School board approves voluntary desegregation resolution
The Wake County school board gave a second and final approval tonight to the voluntary desegregation resolution by a 5-4 vote. The board majority rejected an amendment from the minority members. It would have modified the last two sentences in the next to last paragraph. The sentences would have now read: “In creating and drawing these attendance zones, every effort shall be made to avoid minority group isolation of students.” The Community-based assignment model will also include an evaluation component to provide regular review of each zone attendance area in an effort to accomplish this.
http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/school-board-approves-voluntary-desegregation-resolution

Commissioners to vote on resegregation
Wake County’s board of commissioners will be asked today to take a stand for a desegregated school system. Commissioner Stan Norwalk put the resolution on the agenda for the board’s 2 p.m. regular meeting at the Wake County Courthouse. In an apparent reference to the county school board’s plans to set up a community-based assignment plan, the resolution warns that high concentrations of low-income students in schools will lead to lower achievement levels. In addition, the resolution says parts of Wake County could be prone to “middle class flight” if such low-achieving schools result from the new plan.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/19/444674/commissioners-to-vote-on-resegregation.html

Rewriting school policy proves sticky
Members of Wake County’s school board are walking a fine line as they craft a detailed replacement for the system’s diversity-based student assignment policy. The board effectively discarded socioeconomic diversity as a basis for assignment in a “directive” passed after emotional debate this month. But they have yet to create a detailed successor policy, one designed to assign students closer to their homes and move them as little as possible. In a committee meeting Wednesday, members of the board majority who voted for the change sought to give shape and priorities to its new plan while soothing fears that the new “community-based” system will lead to resegregation of the county’s 140,000-student system. In addition, the board must submit a separate document assuring federal magnet-school grants administrators that Wake remains committed to “voluntary desegregation.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/15/437623/rewriting-school-policy-proves.html

Wake school board leans toward voluntary diversity language
Wake County board of education members agreed today that they should include a commitment to voluntary diversity as they craft a replacement to the discarded Wake policy of mandated socio-economic diversity throughout the system. The board has already passed a “directive” that replaces the former policy of mandated diversity, sometimes supported by busing, as a key element of student assignment. The board’s policy committee, meeting today, debated how much detail to include in a commitment to voluntary desegregation as part of the redrawn document. The committee did not vote on the policy and will revisit it in two weeks.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/14/436798/wake-school-board-leans-toward.html

The dangerous drift back towards segregated schools
Two recent decisions by school boards in North Carolina are local signs of a troubling national trend towards resegregation in public schools. In New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, parents and advocates spent much of last year debating a new middle school redistricting plan that would focus on “neighborhood schools,” essentially resegregating the schools by race and economic class because our neighborhoods look that way. School board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh was the only White and only Republican member to join two Black Democratic colleagues in opposing the new plan.
http://www.dailynewspaper.us/26548/marian-wright-edelman-the-dangerous-drift-back-towards-segregated-schools.html

Wake School Board split decision on diversity resolution
On April 6, 2010, the Wake County School Board voted 5-4 to approve a resolution expressing a commitment to voluntary desegregation. This resolution was intended to support the school system’s application for $8 million in federal grants. School districts who compete for the grants, intended to aid magnet school programs, are asked to show how they are supporting voluntary desegregation in their district. During the board’s discussion of the resolution, several of the members expressed concern that the resolution would be counter to the board’s recent actions to move away from the long-standing plan to ensure socio-economic diversity in each school. Board member Anne McLaurin, for example, said she thought the resolution was intended solely “to get the magnet money without the intent of supporting diversity.” Others disagreed, insisting that community schools and desegregation need not be mutually exclusive.
http://www.examiner.com/x-44007-Raleigh-Civil-Rights-Examiner~y2010m4d9-Wake-Board-Splits-on-Diversity-Resolution-at-April-6-Meeting

Wake School Board splits over saying desegregation is still a goal
The Wake County Board of Education found itself back in a difficult and familiar 5-4 split on the diversity issue Tuesday, this time over a resolution that is part of a school district application for an $8 million grant to continue federal funding for magnet schools. The resolution said the Wake system “stands committed to voluntary desegregation in an effort to reduce and prevent minority group isolation and promote cultural integration.” The four veteran members of the board who voted twice against a change from diversity-based school assignments to a community-based system doubted the statement truly represents current policy. John Tedesco elected last November and the point man for the effort to have students assigned to schools near their homes, pleaded with his colleagues not to think that diversity and community-based assignments are contradictions.
http://www.wral.com/news/education/story/7371245/

Wake School Board condemned in rally against racism
An anti-racism rally in downtown’s Moore Square on Friday brought out hundreds of students, veteran activists and others who heard ringing endorsements of civil rights and a stinging condemnation of the Wake County school board. Organized by the YWCA of the Greater Triangle, the rally featured songs, skits and slogans from about 170 students who came from nearby Moore Square Middle School, where they have been involved in a study project on the subject for weeks. A featured speaker, the Rev. David Forbes, talked about his childhood in segregated Raleigh, where everything from water fountains to libraries was divided by race. Forbes criticized the current school board for its efforts to end Wake County’s diversity-based school assignment policy.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/05/01/462101/wake-school-board-condemned.html

Strange Bedfellows? Tedesco and the Professor
We now have the first inkling of what the new student assignment plan is going to look like in the Wake County school district. The buzz phrase is ‘smart choice’. There looks like there will be five zones and 18 assignment areas. In general, students living close to a school will receive high priority if they prefer to go there. There will be the creation of a so-called “promise zone’ covering east Raleigh that will get extra resources. It all sounds pretty similar to Charlotte’s assignment system in many respects. The difference is, John Tedesco insists, that parental school choice will be within the context of ‘equity opportunities’ and ‘achievement’ considerations. What are these exactly? We await more information.
http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2010/04/29/the-strange-and-strained-bedfellows-wake-county-school-choice-and-education-equity/

Committee approves new school assignment policy
A Wake County school board committee voted 2-1 Wednesday to approve a new school assignment policy that favors a student’s proximity to schools and calendar choice over diversity. The issue will now go to the full school board for its approval. Supporters said their top priorities were assigning students to schools closer to home in zones that’ll be created over the next year and giving families a choice of year round, traditional calendar, or magnet schools within their zone. McLaurin said her biggest concern is that the move will lead to high poverty, re-segregated schools. She argued assignments should consider students who perform below grade level as higher needs students – saying too many underachieving students at a given school will strain resources.
http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=7411264

Geary on “hint” of crack in school board majority on diversity
In this week’s issue of the Independent, Geary acknowledges that diversity was brought up as a possible assignment factor in school board member John Tedesco’s Friday presentation on community zones. He also notes how school board chairman Ron Margiotta adjourned the meeting by not mentioning diversity as he talked about trying to “ensure a policy that will bring stability and choice to families.”But now, Margiotta wanted to make it clear that if he has anything to say about it, diversity won’t be a factor in future assignments,” Geary writes in the liberal weekly. Geary writes that “after months of skirmishing, the process begins with a hint that the majority bloc may not be so rock solid.” Geary describes Tedesco’s presentation as “at turns, mystifyingly opaque and seemingly open-minded.”
http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/geary-on-hint-of-crack-in-school-board-majority-on-diversity

John Tedesco reveals his ‘vision’ for Wake neighborhood schools
Wake County school board member John Tedesco made a presentation Friday about his vision for the community assignment plan and why he says it works. Tedesco has stressed it will allow parents more choice and will take about nine to 15 months before the final makeup for the new schools zones will be finalized. For now it’s just a vision that John Tedesco hopes will be crafted into a plan for neighborhood schools.
http://wake.mync.com/site/wake/news/story/50830/wake-coalition-voices-stance-against-neighborhood-schools

Former board members say they support Wake students
A group of 25 former members of the Wake County Board of Education spoke out Monday in support of the school system, saying they are willing to help as controversy lingers on how students are placed in the district’s schools.
http://www.wral.com/news/education/story/7489191/

School zone concepts see first light
With lots of promises but few details, Wake County school board member John Tedesco unveiled his vision Friday to send students to schools near their homes, provide family choice and still create economic and cultural diversity. Tedesco’s presentation was the first official glimpse at how Wake could assign students to neighborhood schools after ending its decade-long policy of striving for socioeconomically diverse schools. Amid accusations this week of resegregation from the Raleigh City Council and a majority of county commissioners, Tedesco said Wake can still have “culturally diverse” schools under a new assignment model.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/24/452067/school-zone-concepts-see-first.html

Raleigh council: Don’t change school assignment policy
The Raleigh City Council passed a unanimous resolution this afternoon opposing resegregation of the Wake County schools. The largely symbolic resolution, the same passed by the Democrat-dominated Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday, was a veiled attack on the new Wake school board’s controversial decision to overhaul the way students are assigned to schools.
http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/school-board-approves-voluntary-desegregation-resolution

Shaping schools for students who are poor
Nothing is inherently wrong with having a school with mostly minority or poor students [in Wake County]. To say otherwise is to say that something is wrong with minority or poor children. These views are condescending. Still, if there is a concentration of poor students in a school, then more than likely there will be many students with academic needs. Poverty does not cause low achievement, but there is a correlation. Understanding the factors related to student achievement or lack of it is critical for mitigating failure. For a few children, school failure can be attributed to neurological or cognitive disabilities caused at or before birth or by trauma. However, for many students, the reasons for academic struggle or failure are contextual, and therefore more complex and mysterious.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/04/418669/shaping-schools-for-students-who.html

Tedesco leaving job to focus on Wake school board
Wake County Board of Education member John Tedesco announced Friday that he is resigning as chief development officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle so he can “commit full time” to his role on the school board. “While my heart is with the mission of this incredible organization, today our broader community stands at a crossroads,” he wrote in a news release to “friends, media (and) interested parties.”
http://www.wral.com/news/education/story/7351484/

Wake releases school assignment proposal
The Wake County School Board has released its proposal for the 2010-2011 school assignments. Board members voted during Wednesday’s work session on nearly 100 changes to nodes in the school system’s three-year assignment plan. The changes would go into effect this fall.
http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=7362962

Dems jump into debate
The state Democratic Party on Thursday parachuted into the battle over the future of the Wake County schools, charging that the Republican-backed school board majority is driven by “zeal to deny every student the opportunity to achieve the American dream.” Announcing the campaign, “You fight, we’ll fight,” the state party sent out the call for volunteers who would agree to pledge 10,000 hours to Democratic efforts. The campaign is modeled on the national Democrats’ “Organizing for America” project and has goals including promoting Democratic candidates in this year’s elections for Wake’s board of commissioners.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/02/417748/dems-wade-into-school-fight.html

Building diverse schools is a lesson in progress
Race relations in the nation’s public schools have come a long way since nine black students first set foot in all-white Little Rock Central High, ignoring taunts and physical threats.”We’ve gone from seeing nine black children in Little Rock, Ark., be spit upon to seeing black kids elected student body president in predominantly white schools,” said Miami-based race relations scholar Marvin Dunn. Still, maintaining diversity in schools is an elusive goal — 56 years after Brown vs. Board of Education struck down school segregation. South Florida is unique. In Broward County, 11 public high schools — 11 of 32 — have a near-equal mix of black, white and white non-Hispanic students, a strikingly high percentage. Demographers agree that over time the United States will begin to look more like South Florida. By 2023, more than half of all children in the United States will be either black or Hispanic — and the country’s public schools will begin to reflect the mix already found in Miami-Dade and Broward.
http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/15/v-print/1630397/building-diverse-schools-is-a.html

Desegregation pact draws protest
Hearing brings protest from former NAACP head Rufus Brooks

Orange County (Florida) public school officials today inched closer to ending its four-decade-old desegregation order. But as a federal judge mulls her decision on whether to accept a plan negotiated by Orange’s officials and plaintiffs in the case, a prominent member of the African-American community promised to halt the process. “Put the brakes on this,” Rufus Brooks, a former president of the Orange County branch of the NAACP and retired veteran district educator, pleaded with the judge. Current NAACP officials failed to run the plan by its own members, and never sought approval or input from the communities affected by the deal, Brooks said.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-orange-deseg-hearing-051112-20100510,0,7854967,print.story

Thousands remain on school lottery’s lengthy wait list
Thousands of anxious parents in San Francisco remain uncertain about where their children will be attending public school next year following the recently completed second round of the oft-criticized school lottery. At the end of the first round in March, the San Francisco Unified School District sent 13,676 school assignment letters to families, with 60 percent of those families receiving their top pick and 79 percent receiving at least one of their top seven choices. Of the families that didn’t get a school they wanted, only 832 opted to apply for Round 2 of the lottery while 2,850 decided to get on the waiting list for a school they didn’t get in Round 1, the district said. Out of the families applying to Round 2, 63.2 percent, or 526 applicants, received offers to one of the schools they selected. Another 306 applicants were assigned to a school not listed on their applications, the district said. Meanwhile, families opting for the waitlist, only 22.2 percent, or 632, received offers, according to the district, which means 2,218 families are still on the waiting list. Families have until Friday to submit an appeal, a waitlist request or to change their waitlist request, the district said.
http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Thousands-remain-on-school-lotterys-lengthy-wait-list-93203914.html

County schools work toward release from desegregation order
The Lowndes County School District (Mississippi) may soon achieve the unitary status it has sought for the past 40 years. Superintendent Mike Halford said the district has fulfilled the requirements of a consent order adopted in 2009 to meet U.S. Department of Justice requirements and address the concerns of private plaintiffs who alleged unfair treatment and facilities at majority-black schools.
http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=6041

Federal judge dismisses 40-year old desegregation case
The Crosby Independent School District (Texas) ended forty years of litigation as its school desegregation case was dismissed by a federal judge. A ruling by federal judge Vanessa Gilmore on April 30, 2010 brought an end to this litigation. Judge Gilmore ruled that the District had achieved unitary or integrated status, thereby terminating the Court’s jurisdiction of the case and dismissing the case with prejudice. This ruling came as a result of a joint motion between the U.S. Department of Justice and the District that the District had achieved all objective measures of becoming a fully-integrated school district, including such areas as student population, employee demographic makeup, extra-curricular activities, facilities, and transportation. A review of the District’s records by the Department of Justice convinced the government that the District had fully achieved these objectives and was entitled to a declaration of unitary status.
http://www.thecypresstimes.com/printFriendlyPDF/articlePDF/29787.pdf

New law has districts sharing diversity
Under a new rule, school districts will work together to increase student diversity. A 2009 Minnesota Statute establishes an Office of Desegregation/Integration to “coordinate and support” cooperation among school districts. The aim is to increase interaction between students in schools with sizable minority populations and those with few ethnic minority students. The Waseca School District’s (Minnesota) minority student population is 8.8 percent of the total kindergarten through 12th grade enrollment of 1,949 students. One hundred seventy-two of the minority students are Hispanic. But in neighboring Faribault, more than 25 percent of its public school students identify with an ethnic minority, compared to only 4 percent at Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, just 20 miles away. Under the new rule, the Faribault district must offer integrative opportunities to students and staff at WEM. The result is that the two school districts formed the Cannon River Collaborative, with diversity as the goal. The program, that aims to prepare students to be part of the integrative society of the future, begins in the fall with third-grade students from Faribault’s Jefferson Elementary pairing with students from Waterville Elementary through Friendship Teams.
http://www.wasecacountynews.com/news.php?viewStoryPrinter=5387

BPS to talk school closures, assignments
Boston Public Schools (BPS) plans this summer to run community processes for two potentially controversial topics: closing some elementary schools and redesigning its student assignment plan–a notion that has come under criticism by local city councilor John Tobin.
http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/node/4090

Former CMS official to head Durham schools
Eric Becoats, once the lead planner for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, was named superintendent of Durham Public Schools on Wednesday. Becoats will head a district with about 32,550 students that, like districts across the country, is grappling with budget shortfalls. He is currently chief administrative officer for Guilford County Schools; he starts the new position July 1. He worked for CMS from 1997 to 2004, leaving as the assistant superintendent in charge of planning. He was a key player in developing the “choice plan” that debuted in 2002, after federal courts knocked down court-ordered desegregation.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/04/29/1405675/former-cms-official-to-head-durham.html

Did DOE get memo on school desegregation?
Kudos to the U.S. Justice Department for attacking de jure racial school segregation in a rural Mississippi County, as outlined in a story by The Post’s Stephanie McCrummen. But the Justice Department’s actions raise an important question: Why has the U.S. Education Department been silent about the far more profound challenge to equal opportunity today – the de facto economic and racial segregation of America’s suburban and city schools?
http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/89922.html

School leaders: Merger not on the agenda
An independent consulting firm says the Aberdeen and Oktibbeha County School Districts (Ohio) would do well to merge with Amory and Starkville schools, respectively. But as the schools focus on closing out the year, such speculative recommendations aren’t on the radar. A report was delivered Monday by the Denver-based consulting firm Augenblick, Palaich and Associates Inc., to a state commission studying school district consolidation. It recommended 18 “target districts,” including Aberdeen and Oktibbeha, merge with 15 “receiving districts,” including Amory and Starkville. None of the local school districts identified in the study are ignoring the recommendations, but all acknowledge the consultants’ suggestions are just a starting point to address consolidation. The consultant study based its recommendations for target on three criteria: The size of the district, state accountability results and average administrative cost.
http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=5865

Nashville marchers honor desegregation movement
The 1960 bombing of civil rights attorney and City Councilman Z. Alexander Looby’s house sent thousands of African-Americans onto Jefferson Street, marching downtown to confront Nashville’s mayor and demand integrated public facilities. On Monday, 50 years after that protest, a multiracial group that eats in the same restaurants and lives in the same neighborhoods marched again. This time, they were ministers opposing the death penalty in Tennessee, union members supporting a living wage and students demanding immigration reform. Speakers questioned the wisdom of cutting social services at a time when Nashville is building the most costly project in its history, a new convention center.
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100420/NEWS01/4200345/Nashville+marchers+honor+desegregation+movement

Schools, plaintiffs get extension for report
U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. granted a joint motion last week to give the plaintiffs and Jackson-Madison County Schools an extension to discovery deadlines in their decades-old desegregation lawsuit. Memphis attorney Richard Fields will have until June 15 to produce a final report from his expert on school desegregation issues. Fields represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. He has selected school consultant Leonard Stevens, of Sarasota, Fla., as his expert on school desegregation. Stevens’ resume includes 30 litigation-related assignments in which he’s been involved.
http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20100419/NEWS01/4190305/Schools++plaintiffs+get+extension+for+report

Central District school board candidates split on busing
Three candidates for the Newport News School Board Central District (Virginia) seat had conflicting opinions about the district’s 39-year-old court-approved desegregation busing plan. The plan in question requires the district to bus students in grades 3-5 and high school throughout the city to create a 60-40 percent racial balance in its schools. Most are bused from the south end of the city to schools in the northern and middle sections, but some midtown students are bused to adjust racial balance. Retired physician and School Board critic Angela Herring said the board should revisit the busing plan with an eye toward ending it. She said the 2008 election, in which Betty Dixon defeated incumbent Rick Donaldson, was decided based on busing. Beamer also wants to end busing and said parents should have options to send their students to any school, regardless of the ZIP code they live in.
http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local-nn-sb-forum_0417apr17,0,6557092.story

Judge OKs plan for Morehouse schools
U.S. District Judge Robbie James has approved Morehouse Parish School Board’s (Louisiana) plan to close Carver and East Side elementary schools and to rezone the district. James signed the order Monday, allowing the district to prepare to close the schools and move students for the 2010-11 school year. The plan James approved was the fourth the district and the Department of Justice had considered to save the district $2.9 million while maintaining the desegregation of schools.
http://www.thenewsstar.com/article/20100414/NEWS01/4140303

Champaign Unit 4 adopts desegregation plan in hopes of winning MSAP grant
The Champaign Unit 4 school district passed the resolution to adopt the desegregation plan. They hope their efforts toward desegregation will increase their chances of winning the Magnet Schools Assistance Program, or MSAP, grant from the U.S. government for the 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 school years. If the district wins the award, they will receive $2.5 million each year for three years to support the implementation of magnet programs in three of the district’s elementary schools: Booker T. Washington Elementary, Garden Hills Elementary and Stratton Elementary.
http://www.dailyillini.com/news/champaign-urbana/2010/04/12/champaign-unit-4-adopts-desegregation-plan-in-hopes-of-winning-msap

Hadn’t we decided on equal education for all?
When she was in college, Sandra Mendez discovered something about her past that changed the way she looked at her parents forever. An American of Mexican-Puerto Rican descent, Sandra grew up unaware that her brave immigrant parents had been responsible for paving the path to racial desegregation in schools. 65 years ago, this month, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez joined four other families to fight a lawsuit against Orange County, California because their Mexican-American children were not allowed to attend white schools. They won the case, Mendez vs. Westminster, which then set the stage for the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case of 1954.
http://restorefairness.org/tag/desegregation/

Markell needs to man-up and address the racial concerns
Leaders demand city school district; ‘We need local control, and we are going to get it’
Parents, students, elected officials and religious leaders rallied in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday, calling for a new school district structure and funding system. They said city children should be put into one or two districts, putting an end to a school system drafted more than 30 years ago that split the students among four school districts and bused many to schools far from home as part of federal court-ordered desegregation. In 1995, a federal court ruled that busing had worked and lifted the desegregation order.
http://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/markell-needs-to-man-up-and-address-the-racial-concerns/

City students need more seats in suburban schools
State must boost open choice, magnets, other options to meet desegregation goals
To fulfill the Connecticut Supreme Court’s mandate to reduce racial and ethnic isolation in Hartford’s schools, the state’s Open Choice program must be expanded dramatically. There are 1,239 Hartford students now going to suburban schools under the program. But the extensive waiting list for inter-district choice transfers is a testament to the desire and need for more suburban seats. A staggering 2,418 Hartford children applied to be a part of the Open Choice program for the school year beginning this fall. Yet sadly, although the state Department of Education requested 1,045 new Open Choice seats for next year, as of this week, the suburban districts have made available only 126 new seats. This means that the state will fall woefully short of its expectation that 1,800 children would be enrolled in the Open Choice program by the fall.
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-open-choice-school-desegrega.artapr04,0,4606349.story

Busing fight highlights struggles with diversity
More than a half-century after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered schools desegregated, districts are still grappling with how best to create the kind of demographically diverse public schools that many experts believe improve outcomes for disadvantaged students. The recent decision by a North Carolina district to move from a nationally recognized student-assignment policy that promoted socioeconomic diversity to one centered around community-based schools has alarmed advocates of greater integration in the schools. Yet school district leaders elsewhere, including in San Francisco and Louisville, Ky., continue to work on crafting student-assignment plans that allow them to make demographic diversity a priority. They are doing so against a legal backdrop that changed dramatically three years ago, when the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that made it harder for school leaders to base student-assignment…
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/04/01/28diversity.h29.html

Dothan unitary status hearing
U.S District Judge Harold Albritton heard both sides of an issue that has been in Alabama for nearly 40-years, that of desegregation. Dothan City Schools have been under a federal desegregation order stemming from the 1970 Lee vs. Macon lawsuit. However the school board wants the order to be lifted. In federal court, the board presented numerous statistics attempting to show that it met the 3-necessary requirements for unitary status.
http://www.wtvy.com/news/headlines/8187677.html

Boston parent coalition fights for neighborhood schools
For parents such as Theresa Strang, the Boston Public School selection process is just not working. Her 4-year old daughter, Aila, was denied a seat in kindergarten this year. And Strang has very little hope of her getting one of the 22 open seats at the Beethoven next year. If she doesn’t get one of those seats, Strang said it will mean a commute to Roslindale every day for eight years from their home in West Roxbury — a fact that doesn’t make sense to her, since the Kilmer School is a mere three blocks away.
http://www.wickedlocal.com/west-roxbury/news/education/x57972184/Boston-parent-coalition-fights-for-neighborhood-schools

Focus groups provide input on student assignment plan
In Rockford, Illinois District 205 leaders are considering changing the assignment structure for Rockford elementary schools, but before deciding on that big change, they’re turning to focus groups for advice. The focus groups were brought in to weigh both options for student assignments. Their first meeting at Ellis Arts Academy included evaluating leaving the current system. That system assigns elementary school students by lottery based on parent choice and seat availability, with preference given to students who live within a proximity zone or have siblings attending a school. The other idea is to develop a hybrid of what the middle school and high schools do. The current assignment system for elementary schools has been in place for nearly decade after a federal lawsuit changed how students were assigned. The student assignment debate has some parents split on the decision. Some said if kids go to school near their house, they’re more likely to be engaged in school and help their neighborhood.
http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/92364784.html

JCPS assignment notifications confuse some elementary parents
Jefferson County Public Schools is being criticized by some parents who say they are confused and frustrated over they way the district is notifying them where their children can attend elementary school this fall. District officials said they have sent out 626 letters notifying parents that their children have been granted at spot this fall at the popular magnet schools — Brandeis Elementary, the Brown School, Greathouse-Shryock, Audubon, Carter and Schaffner. Another 1,300 children were put on a waiting list.
http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20100422/NEWS0105/4220321/1008/NEWS01/JCPS+assignment+notifications+confuse+some+elementary+parents

City tries anew to end school-placement frustrations
Even those with clout chagrined by lottery

Among young families in West Roxbury, it was one of the most closely watched lotteries: Would the 3-year-old son of their neighborhood city councilor win entry into a public school pre-kindergarten program, particularly a coveted placement just down the street from his home? After all, a host of other children in the city’s well-connected political families have received their top choices in the school lottery in the past, leading to a slew of conspiracy theories that the computer-generated algorithm was subject to political tinkering. As it turned out, luck was not on the side of City Councilor John Tobin and his wife, Kate. Their son was wait-listed recently at all four of their choices, an ironic outcome for a politician who long advocated for greater leeway in allowing students to attend neighborhood schools.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/04/16/city_tries_anew_to_end_school_placement_frustrations/

Options for Rockford, Illinois school assignment plan
There are lots of ideas about how the Rockford School District should implement its elementary student assignment plan. One proposal could make boundaries applicable for kindergarten only, so the district would start families off at their neighborhood school, but allow parents to choose another school for the following years. The most binding plan would offer enrollment boundaries for kindergarten through fifth grades.
http://www.rrstar.com/carousel/x1661777071/Coming-Sunday-Schools-to-define-neighborhood

Cambridge school committee examines achievement gap, school assignments
The Cambridge Public School Committee met informally on Tuesday to identify key problems affecting public schools and their potential remedies, and concluded that student achievement was the top priority in both the short- and long-term. Specifically, Committee members said they would aim to close the race-based achievement gap and to raise expectations for all students. Members also acknowledged the importance of other pressing issues such as the upcoming school assignment process, which usually assigns students to specific schools based on preference. But mandatory assignments, which are used when preferences cannot be fully accommodated, will take place this year, according to Committee Member Alice L. Turkel.
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/4/1/committee-achievement-schools/

Please send us your news
Please send reports, documents, court decisions, comments or suggestions for topics to: The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at integrationrept@ucla.edu.

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In Memoriam

Ashley Osment, a civil-rights attorney who shared her fight against cancer in a regular column in The Chapel Hill News, died in her sleep Friday night. She was 46.
She will be remembered at a memorial service at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Chapel Hill Bible Church, at the intersection of Erwin and Sage roads.
Since July 2007, Osment had been trying to beat a rare type of ovarian cancer.
“She was determined to put her life over the cancer so she could enjoy her daughter, Sunny, her job, and her family and friends as long as possible,” her husband, Al McSurely, said.
“She refused, to her last breath, to let the cancer control her life.”
A 1995 graduate of the UNC School of Law, Osment was the senior attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
In a letter, Dean Jack Boger recalled “this strong though petite woman, who never fully lost her charming mountain twang, the daughter of a Southern Baptist minister father.”
“With an inimitable cheerfulness, candor and open personal style, joined with a brilliant mind and relentless use of sophisticated legal and social scientific tools to redress injustices, Ashley led the UNC Center’s advocacy efforts in public education for nearly five years,” Boger wrote.
Osment was born in the North Carolina mountain community of Sylva. After graduating in 1987 from UNC-Chapel Hill, she worked in the Washington, D.C., office of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
In 1990, she returned to Chapel Hill to resume her studies. But in 1991, Bob Sheldon, owner of Internationalist Books, was killed, and Osment became the unanimous choice to manage the new cooperative formed to keep his progressive bookstore alive.
While working on the cooperative, Osment also managed McSurely’s civil rights law office. She helped him win civil rights cases for then-UNC police officer Keith Edwards and a group of university housekeepers, as well as a Title VI complaint against the Chatham County Schools.
In 2004, UNC’s Center for Civil Rights began looking for an experienced civil rights lawyer to head its new education section. Osment was in charge of building a regional hub for advocacy, litigation and research on school desegregation.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/01/509890/civil-rights-lawyer-dies-at-46.html

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Additional Resources for School Integration

**NEW** From the Institute on Race and Poverty: The State of Public Schools in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Charter schools in New Orleans have been hailed as the silver lining to Hurricane Katrina. The state of Louisiana used the hurricane as an opportunity to rebuild the entire New Orleans public school system, and launched the nation’s most extensive charter school experiment. This report evaluates how this experiment has fared in providing quality education to all students of the public school system regardless of race, socioeconomic class, or where they live in New Orleans metropolitan area. The report argues that in order to guarantee equal educational opportunities to all of the region’s students, the school system should take a more balanced, regional approach, including a renewed commitment to the city’s traditional public schools and enhanced choices for students in the form of regional magnet schools and new inter-district programs.
Full report available at: http://www.irpumn.org/uls/resources/projects/NEW_ORLEANS_FULL_REPORT.pdf
Executive summary available at:
http://www.irpumn.org/uls/resources/projects/NEW_ORLEANS_EXECUTIVE_SUMMARY.pdf

**NEW** From Susan Eaton. “The Pull of Magnets.” In The Nation
Just beyond the bodegas painted in tropical hues, past the bleak jail for juveniles and the vacancy signs along Broad Street in Hartford, Connecticut, a startlingly sleek, sterile collection of buildings materializes. Weekday mornings, a chain of yellow buses encircles the compound. Under the eyes of security guards and cameras, kids hop down, saunter into buildings and settle into classrooms where the mix of complexions and family incomes does not match Census data culled from these streets…
Read more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/pull-magnets

**NEW** On the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released a statement, available at http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/05/17-19.

**NEW** Killen, M., Kelly, M., Richardson, C., Crystal, D. & Rucks. M. (2010). European American children’s and adolescents’ evaluations of interracial exclusion. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 13(3): pp. 283–300. Available at: http://gpi.sagepub.com/cgi/rapidpdf/1368430209346700v1.

**NEW** The March 2010 issue of the North Carolina Law Review highlights scholarly articles analyzing the legal and policy repercussions of the 2007 United States Supreme Court decision, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. These articles were first presented as draft papers at the April 2, 2009 conference, “Looking to the Future: Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South and the Nation,” organized by the UCLA Civil Rights Project and the UNC School of Law. Contributors include Kristi L. Bowman, William J. Glenn, Danielle Holley-Walker, Chinh Q. Le, Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, Marthia Bottia, Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, and Stephen Samuel Smith. Copies of the articles can be accessed at http://nclawreview.net and http://nclawreview.net/category/archives/88/88-3/.

The introduction to the issue, penned by Erica Frankenberg, Leah C. Aden, and Charles E. Daye, briefly summarizes each of the articles and places them in a broader context; it can be accessed at http://nclawreview.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/88-3-intro.wptd_.pdf

**NEW** Spring 2010 issue of Minnesota offers in-depth look at Myron Orfield’s work on segregation issues in the state.
http://www.minnesotaalumni.org/s/1118/content.aspx?sid=1118&gid=1&pgid=1238&cid=2578&ecid=2578&crid=0&calpgid=1191&calcid=2512

**NEW** Article in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: “What We Know about School Integration, College Attendance, and the Reduction of Poverty,” By Philip Tegeler, Executive Director, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and Roslyn Arlin Mickelson and Martha Bottia, UNC Charlotte. Available at: http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ExclusiveCommentary.aspx?id=5cd06dda-6a5f-4c22-939d-d65574151c25

The links below provide a summary of the convening, “Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Education Policy” at Howard University School of Law, Friday, November 13, 2009

The Center for Assessment and Policy Development (CAPD) and MP Associates would like to invite you to check out new resources at www.racialequitytools.org.
Racial Equity Tools Web site is designed to support people and groups who are working for inclusion, racial equity and social justice. The site includes ideas, strategies and tips, as well as a clearinghouse of resources and links from many sources

Past featured resources can be found in the Resources section of the TIR Web site.

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The Integration Report – Staff Members

Editor: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
Editorial Committee: Erica Frankenberg, Gary Orfield, Laurie Russman and Kyra Young
Webmaster: John Khuu

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The Integration Report is produced by the Initiative on School Integration at The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, and is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.

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