The Integration Report, issue 13

September 22, 2008

The previous issue of TIR outlined the details of Connecticut’s recent settlement in the Sheff v. O’Neill case, a state Supreme Court decision with potential ramifications for a number of school districts in Connecticut. We turn this week to San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), a single district with a long history of judicial involvement. As a result of the NAACP lawsuit described below, the city’s schools operated under a consent decree beginning in 19831 and remained under court supervision until 2005. Two months ago, a Civil Grand Jury – composed of a randomly selected group of 19 San Francisco citizens – released a controversial report criticizing the district’s current student assignment policy and calling for a return to more neighborhood schools.2 Though the Grand Jury’s recommendations will not necessarily be implemented, the report came at a crucial time for the school system as district officials are scheduled to begin discussions regarding possible changes to the current assignment policy this fall. The unique requirements outlined in San Francisco’s innovative desegregation plan, coupled with the district’s recent experience with resegregation – underway since a 1999 agreement eliminating the use of race as a factor in student assignment – make understanding SFUSD’s past and present circumstances important for school districts grappling with the implications of last summer’s Seattle/Louisville ruling decision. This issue of TIR will focus on the historical trajectory of SFUSD’s desegregation policy, in addition to highlighting some of the assertions of the Grand Jury’s report.

Overview of San Francisco’s Consent Decree

In 1983, the City of San Francisco became the first large metropolitan area to settle a major desegregation lawsuit. The suit was brought against local and state school officials by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as individual African American parent plaintiffs.3 The plaintiffs alleged discriminatory practices in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States and California and sought to obtain the desegregation of the SFUSD on behalf of all children “who are or may in the future become eligible to attend the public schools of the District”.4 Those children form a diverse group of students. In 2005, 40% of the district’s schoolchildren identified as Asian, 34% as white, 13% as African American, and 12% as two or more races.5

District Judge Orrick found in the plaintiffs’ favor, and the resulting 1983 consent decree (“Decree”) outlined several goals for the school system, emphasizing the elimination of racial or ethnic segregation in schools and in classrooms. Schools were not permitted to contain less than four of the nine racial/ethnic groups present in the district, and students from one ethnic group could comprise no more than 45% of a given school.6 The Decree ordered SFUSD to begin working toward these desegregation goals through various student assignment policies, in addition to creating several magnet programs in racially and/or socioeconomically isolated neighborhoods.7 In approving the Decree, the District Court noted, “the Decree demands that immediate and definitive action be taken to reduce the concentration of students of one racial/ethnic group at all schools throughout the District… Thus, the Decree assures the complete desegregation of San Francisco’s schools within the next few years.”8

Another important and fairly distinctive component of the Decree stressed raising academic achievement for all groups of students, requiring the district to maintain detailed records of test scores and academic indicators.9 The Consent Decree also contained a unique provision for the reconstitution of consistently low-performing schools, a strategy that met with early success and was subsequently inserted into later versions of the Decree. SFUSD’s Decree marked the first time reconstitution — a reform policy requiring the release of all current faculty, staff and students (who may then reapply to the school) — was implemented in a school district.10 It has now gained widespread recognition as part of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

At the outset of the Decree, the three parties involved were asked to appoint experts who worked confidentially with the court-appointed monitor to make pertinent decisions regarding the implementation of desegregation. Many of these decisions were reached unanimously over the two decade span of the Decree. Academic achievement results were reported annually in the Decree’s Monitoring Team documents. The 1997-2005 consent decree monitor for the case, UCLA Professor Stuart Biegel, oversaw the implementation of the terms of the Decree during some of the most volatile years of transition, in addition to producing the annual monitoring team reports (links to these documents are available online at This TIR analysis draws largely from these 1997-2005 reports.

Although a Decree sets forth strong and direct goals for school districts to comply with, many other factors may come into play during the implementation process of a consent decree. School district leadership and community support – with one often influencing the other – can deeply affect the outcomes of the most well-laid desegregation plans.11 San Francisco underwent several different stages of implementation, with periods of greater desegregation and increased student achievement over the course of the 23-year decree. Conversely, certain periods of the agreement, particularly since 1999, were characterized by patterns of severe resegregation, both within schools – in the form of tracking – and among schools.12

The rapid resegregation occurring in SFUSD over the past eight years was fueled by the decision in Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District, a case filed against the school district by a group of Chinese American parents. Their complaints centered on the use of race in SFUSD’s student assignment policy, alleging that the quotas and classifications contained in paragraph 13 of the Decree were unconstitutional and a violation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights.13 The plaintiffs in the Brian Ho case objected particularly to the racial/ethnic enrollment caps at certain elementary schools during the kindergarten enrollment process, in addition to expressing dissatisfaction with the admissions practices at one of the city’s premier alternative high schools.14 While the litigation was pending, the Supreme Court decided Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, which extended standard strict scrutiny for local and state race-based action to the federal government.15 In so deciding Adarand, the Court reiterated the concept that “any person, of whatever race, has the right to demand that any governmental actor subject to the Constitution justify any racial classification subjecting that person to unequal treatment under the strictest judicial scrutiny.”16 While the Ho plaintiffs did not prevail at the District Court level,17 the Ninth Circuit opinion on appeal raised serious questions about the SFUSD’s ability to justify its use of quotas and racial classifications given those recent judicial decisions.18

The Brian Ho litigation eventually resulted in a settlement that severely modified the consent decree by eliminating the use of race in the student assignment process.19 In approving the new settlement, the District Court relied heavily on both Adarand and the Ninth Circuit opinion, stating that SFUSD could justify race-based classification only if the classification was intended to correct the effects of government action of a racist character. The Ho case also led to the establishment of a termination date for the Decree. While the 1999 Settlement Agreement for the Ho case significantly altered the original desegregation guidelines set forth in the 1983 decree, the district remained under a governing principle of “promoting residential, geographic, economic and racial and ethnic diversity in SFUSD schools.”20 As a result, district officials devised a new student assignment process called the Diversity Index, based on a range of different categories, including language background, poverty status and academic achievement,21 with the notable exception of race. Since its 2001 inception, the resulting index and plan has been blamed for much of the resegregation occurring in SFUSD.22

Diversity Index in Detail

For the past seven years, SFUSD has used a combination of a parent choice system and the Diversity Index to place students in schools across the district. Parents may rank up to seven of their most preferred schools in SFUSD. While the vast majority of families obtain one of their choices, for the 2008-09 school year, nearly one-fifth of families were not placed in one of their originally selected schools.23

In combination with parent choice, the Diversity Index (DI) is used to calculate a score for each incoming student based on four factors: extreme poverty (e.g. the student resides in public housing and/or is in foster care); socioeconomic status (e.g. the student is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch24); home language (e.g. Is English the students’ home language?), and academic achievement status. For kindergartners, academic achievement is measured by preschool attendance, while for older students, standardized test scores are used. Non-kindergarten applicants are also evaluated on the Academic Performance Index (API) ranking of their previous school, in order to better balance the enrollment of students from higher or lower achieving prior educational experiences. All of these factors combine to create the DI, which is used only when there are more requests than seats available at a particular school.25 There is no “ideal” diversity profile; a student is assigned to one of their schools of choice as long as their profile promotes diversity based on either one or a combination of the factors at that location.26

The failure of the DI to preserve the pre-1999 levels of integration present in SFUSD prior to the Ho settlement has been highlighted in subsequent monitoring team reports. In 2001-02, thirty SFUSD schools were considered severely resegregated. By 2005-06, that numbered had increased to 49-52 schools (depending on whether estimates of parents who “declined to state” their child’s ethnicity are included in the above 60% resegregation measure), nearly half of all schools in the district.27 This 20% increase in the number of severely resegregated schools corresponded with a widening of the achievement gap between black and Latino students and white and Asian American students.28 SFUSD has the highest percentage of students in major urban California school districts scoring proficient or above on state tests, but when the data is disaggregated by race/ethnicity, African American students in the district perform lower than their counterparts in other large California urban school systems.29 For example, 25% of African American students in Los Angeles score at proficient or above on the statewide English/Language Arts tests, while 20.7% of SFUSD’s African American students score the same.30 Expert testimony in the Ho litigation by University of Illinois Professor William Trent, a leading scholar of educational policy, revealed that “substantial disparities exist in education outcomes and opportunities between African American and Latino students and other students.”31

Compared to the worsening achievement gaps in SFUSD’s resegregating schools, learning environments with stable, integrated student bodies were most likely to report test scores demonstrating a closing of those same gaps.32 Of the 13 San Francisco schools receiving praise for closing the achievement gap, all but one also boasted racially and ethnically diverse student populations.33 These 13 schools were also notable for lower numbers of students identified for special education classes, compared to district and statewide averages.34 Taken together, these figures suggest that less-tracked, more diverse schools in SFUSD experienced considerably more success in closing the achievement gap than the increasing number of severely resegregating schools in the same district.

In 2005, the district court judge released SFUSD from its long-standing consent decree, at the same time citing enrollment data suggesting that the Index “has not achieved diversity in any meaningful sense.”35 Because the District Judge Orrick never found SFUSD guilty of operating a segregated school system – the nature of a consent decree requires the parties to settle the case, not prosecute it – the consent decree was allowed to be dissolved, despite ample evidence in the record that patterns of segregation were still very much in existence. SFUSD continues to employ the Diversity Index in its student assignment policy, with plans to review the procedure this fall. Choosing to title its findings “San Francisco’s Kindergarten Admissions: Back to the Drawing Board,” the recent Grand Jury report reveals some sharp disagreement with the current policy (for a full text of the report, please see

San Francisco Civil Grand Jury Report

All San Francisco citizens are invited to apply for the 19 randomly selected seats on the Civil Grand Jury. The purpose of the San Francisco Grand Jury is to “investigate the functions of the City and County government. . . to develop constructive recommendations for improving their operation, as required by law.”36 The Civil Grand Jury may choose which department or agency to investigate during its one year in office.37 As a result, the report does not necessarily reflect unbiased or expert research.

The report released by the Grand Jury roundly denounced the current system of student assignment in SFUSD, stating that it amounts to “social engineering,” and “does not offer assurance to families that they can attend their neighborhood school.”38 The jurors recommended that the city adopt a system of random lottery for the upcoming school year, and begin strengthening its system of neighborhood schools. According to the report, integration could be maintained through the use of mapping technology to draw attendance lines reflecting the overarching goal of proximity to a student’s home, while at the same time striving to create racial/ethnic diversity within each zone.39 This does not recognize the persistent link between residential and school segregation, a link that nearly always means that neighborhood schools will be segregated schools. Critics were quick to point out some of the report’s more glaring contradictions. The San Francisco Chronicle published an article from one of its education bloggers on the Grand Jury’s research, which revealed a strong disconnect between many of the report’s assertions and the actual history and functioning of the school system (available at

District officials also responded to the report with varying degrees of support. School Board President Mark Sanchez’s comments reflect a fairly general Board consensus that the assignment policy should be reexamined: “it seems to me that they’re [the Civil Grand Jury] asking the district to take a serious look at the student assignment system, and that’s what we’re already doing.”40

What’s next for SFUSD?

According to Sanchez, the district will begin considering changes to the current assignment policy after a new study of the system is released in the fall.41 School officials are considering supplementing the existing Diversity Index with a consideration of geography or race.42

Adding geography into the equation could veer in one of two different directions: the district might decide to make neighborhood proximity to school a top priority, or it may choose to consider geography in the same manner that Louisville/Jefferson County did when it developed its new assignment policy (refer to TIR #10). Unlike the proximity assignment scheme, this latter method recognizes the systematic patterns of residential segregation that undermine diversity at many neighborhood schools in San Francisco. For example, southeastern San Francisco, a sector of the city with a high concentration of low-income families, has traditionally contained many undersubscribed schools.43 A Diversity Index that considered geography as a way to balance enrollment across the district could potentially help reduce racial/ethnic isolation in district schools. Indeed, in the final court order releasing SFUSD from the consent decree, the judge noted that Decree Monitor Biegel had made clear on numerous occasions that adding geography to the Diversity Index would have helped prevent the dramatic resegregation occurring in the district after race was no longer used in the assignment process.44

SFUSD appears to be approaching a crossroads in the history of its school desegregation efforts. A district decision to prioritize neighborhood schools, in the face of strong evidence of resegregation and widening achievement gaps presented in numerous monitoring team reports, would destabilize its long-standing commitment to integration and academic achievement. On the other hand, adding race or geography into the assignment process may help to combat the rise of segregated schools in SFUSD.

Lessons Learned

The approaching discussions are critically important for the district, but also have broader implications for school districts in other parts of the country. SFUSD pioneered a consent decree that emphasized twin goals of desegregation and academic achievement. Evidence from years of monitoring team reports suggests a strong link between the two, underscoring the need for continued dedication to healthy integrated schools in the system. Compared to the worsening achievement gaps in resegregating schools, learning environments with stable, integrated student bodies were most likely to report test scores demonstrating a closing of those same gaps.45 Promises of targeted assistance and more resources for low-performing SFUSD schools46 will not alter the documented patterns of lowered academic achievement for black and Latino students in resegregated schools.47 As districts continue to make important policy decisions in the aftermath of the Seattle/Louisville ruling, SFUSD’s experience provides insight into the longer-term consequences of removing race as a factor in the student assignment process.

For next time…
The next issue of TIR will examine a desegregation case in Tucson, Arizona.

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
The Integration Report

1 Still Looking to the Future: Voluntary K-12 School Integration, p. 56.
2 Civil Grand Jury for the City and County of San Francisco (2007-2008). “San Francisco Kindergarten Admissions: Back to the Drawing Board.” Retrieved on July 10, 2008 from
3 San Francisco NAACP v. San Francisco Unified School District et al 576 F. Supp. 34, 36 (N.D. Cal. 1983).
4 Id. Specifically, the plaintiffs filed suit under the First, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 UU.S.C. § 2000a et seq., and the Constitution of the State of California.
5 Common Core of Data, 2005.
6 Id, 37.
7 Ibid.
8 San Francisco NAACP, 576 F. Supp. 44.
9 Ibid, 38.
10 Bacon, David. “Reconstitution – The Clint Eastwood Solution for Low-Performing Schools,” retrieved on September 9, 2008 from
11 For an acknowledgement of the significant impact of two school officials in SFUSD, please see Biegel, Stuart (2000). Report of the Consent Decree Monitoring Team #17, p. 3, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from
12 Biegel, Stuart (2000). Report of the Consent Decree Monitoring Team #17, p. 72, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from See also Biegel, Stuart (2003). Report of the Consent Decree Monitoring Team #20, p. 9, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from
13 Biegel, Report #16.
14 Ibid.
15 Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 (1995).
16 Id, 224.
17 Brian Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District, et al., 965 F. Supp. 1316 (N.D. Cal. 1997).
18 Brian Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District, et al., 147 F.3d 854, (9th Cir. 1998).
19 Still Looking to the Future, p. 56.
20 Biegel, Stuart (1999). Report of the Consent Decree Monitoring Team #16. Section II, part C, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from
21 Still Looking to the Future, p. 56.
22 Ibid, 57.
23 Civil Grand Jury for the City and County of San Francisco (2007-2008). “San Francisco Kindergarten Admissions: Back to the Drawing Board,” p. 1. Retrieved 7.10.08 at
24 Eligibility for free or reduced priced lunch is a common measure of child poverty. In order for a child to qualify, household income must fall within a certain percentage of the poverty line (linked to the number of family members). Critics of this measure of poverty point to the binary nature of the cut –off point, since some families that fall very close to the poverty line are placed in the same category as high income families. Critics also note the sharp drop in students applying for free or reduced lunch prices as they move through the school system. By high school, research shows that many students resist the stigma associated with qualifying for free and reduced priced lunch. For more information on this topic, please see TIR, issue 6.
25 Student Assignment System. San Francisco Unified School System, retrieved on July 21, 2008 from
26 Ibid.
27 Biegel, Stuart (2005). Final Supplemental Report of San Francisco Monitoring Team, p. 4, retrieved on July 13, 2008 from “Above 60%” refers to whether one racial or ethnic group comprises more than 60% of the school. See also Common Core of Data, 2004-05.
28 Ibid, 5.
29 Ibid.
30 Ibid, 6.
31 Declaration of William Trent, Case # C-78-1445-WHO, pg. 1.
32 March 2004 Supplemental Report at, p. 18. April 2005 Supplemental Report, Appendix 4 at
33 March 2004 Supplemental Report at, p. 11.
34 Ibid.
35 Still Looking to the Future, p. 57.
36 Civil Grand Jury for the City and County of San Francisco (2007-2008). “San Francisco Kindergarten Admissions: Back to the Drawing Board,” p. 1, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from
37 Ibid.
38 Ibid, 7.
39 Ibid, 22.
40 Winegarner, Beth (26 June 2008) Lottery for school assignment comes under fire. San Francisco Examiner, retrieved on July 13, 2008 from
41 Ibid.
42 “SF Supervisor calls for changes to critiqued student assignment system”, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from See also Knight, Heather (27 June 2008). Change to SF schools’ assigning policy urged. San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from
43 Biegel, Stuart (2003). San Francisco Unified District Desegregation, Report #20, retrieved on July 21, 2008 from, p. 64.
44 Order Denying Proposed Extension of Consent Decree, San Francisco NAACP v. San Francisco Unified School District, et al., No. C78-01445 1030 (N.D. Cal.2005), p. 14, retrieved on July 21, 2008 from
45 March 2004 Supplemental Report, 18. April 2005 Supplemental Report, Appendix 4.
46 Knight, Heather (27 June 2008). “Change to SF schools’ assigning policy urged.” San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved on July 10, 2008 from
47 Biegel, Stuart (2005). Final Supplemental Report of San Francisco Monitoring Team, p. 4, retrieved on July 13, 2008 from
48 City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson, 488 U.S. 469 (1989).
49 Id, 498-499.


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News Summary

For an archive of articles pertaining to desegregation issues from July and August 2008, please check out the July/August News Summary at the end of this issue.
Please send us your news
Please send reports, documents, and decisions from your community to The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at Include web links if they are available.

San Francisco: Supervisor calls for changes to critiqued school assignment system
On the heels of a grand jury report slamming the San Francisco Unified School District’s public school admissions system, a San Francisco supervisor today called for changes allowing students to more easily be assigned to schools closer to their homes. (July 8, 2008).

Desegregation case dismissed
Schools in Jefferson County, Georgia are operating this fall for the first time in nearly 40 years without the supervision of a federal judge overseeing a desegregation lawsuit (Sept. 4, 2008).

Greater campus diversity creates more cross-racial friendships
Graduates from universities with diverse student bodies will be better equipped to build friendships across racial and ethnic lines because they are familiar with people different from themselves, a new study says. (Sept. 4, 2008).

METCO kicks off new school year
The Weston/METCO Program, part of the statewide voluntary desegregation program, is off to an energetic start for the new academic year with a number of events and initiatives on its agenda (Sept. 4, 2008).

DWCS appeals decision
Despite a ruling by a federal judge last month that proposed charter school D’Arbonne Woods (Louisiana) did not meet a federal desegregation standards, ending its hopes of opening for the 2008 school year, the school’s board members press on (Sept. 3, 2008).

Schools’ racial makeup divides San Juan Capistrano
Two of the district’s elementary campuses are predominantly Latino, while the other two are mostly white. Some parents worry their children are getting shortchanged.
Kinoshita and Del Obispo elementary schools are just an athletic field apart, but for many in San Juan Capistrano, the gap is a potent symbol of an issue that has roiled this south Orange County town in recent years: school segregation (Sept. 2, 2008).,0,1119965.story

County gets a say in unitary status case
Judge reverses ruling, allows intervention in desegregation suit
A federal judge has reconsidered and granted the Madison County Commission’s motion to intervene in the Jackson-Madison County Schools’ (Tennessee) 45-year-old desegregation lawsuit. Mays’ ruling is a step forward in the Madison County Commission’s push for partial or full unitary status for the school system (August 28, 2008).

Bi-racial committee wants school board to recruit more minorities
Members of the Bi-Racial Committee unanimously approved a recommendation to urge Jackson-Madison County Schools to increase its minority teacher recruitment efforts and to report its success (August 26, 2008).

Deseg plan still in flux: Washington Elementary School might be spared
Superintendent of Schools Michael Nassif came before a group of concerned teachers at Washington Elementary School on Friday to tell them the St. Landry (Louisiana) Parish school desegregation plan is still in flux.

New desegregation plan for St. Landry schools
The St. Landry Parish board rejected a federally backed proposal to eliminate the dual school system and opted to develop its own plan. It must submit its plan on or before September 11. The board will vote on whether to adopt the plan on September 8. The plan would merge, pair and close various schools to meet federal desegregation mandates. It would not shut the doors of North Central High School, as a court-appointed committee proposed (August 26, 2008).

Parish deseg plan debated: District plan is not the only one on table
U.S. District Court Judge Tucker Melancon could still approve and enforce a desegregation plan rejected by the board earlier this year. The plan closed all the schools in the northern end of St. Landry Parish, wanted new construction and paired several elementary schools.(August 27, 2008).

Magnet school plans detailed
Tangipahoa Parish (Louisiana) school officials and backers renewed calls Thursday for business community support of a future tax to fund a school desegregation plan while revealing added details of the still-undisclosed and developing proposal. Officials also reiterated that revival of a longstanding school desegregation case more than a year ago provides a chance to improve the education for all students while installing policies designed to further desegregate the school system (August 29, 2008).

Judge gives directions to desegregation suit parties
A federal judge in New Orleans has ordered parties in a Tangipahoa Parish school desegregation suit to consult with a citizen advisory committee about the future of the case, court records show (August 27, 2008).

Questions remain for charter school proposal
Many questions still remain for a proposal to begin a charter school in San Mateo, CA housing students in sixth through 12th grades. Questions arose about facility plans, finances, diversity and whether the school would offer a truly unique program. Thursday is slated to offer Magnolia leaders a chance to address those issues, which Andy Gokce, representative for the Magnolia Foundation, is sure will be addressed (August 27, 2008).

Note: Anti-affirmative action measures taken off ballot in Arizona
Arizona’s secretary of state, Jan Brewer, on Thursday disqualified from the state’s November ballot a measure that would have barred public colleges and universities and other state agencies from considering race and ethnicity in admissions, scholarship and hiring decisions, The Arizona Republic reported. Brewer ruled that too many of the signatures on petitions were invalid, and that the remainder did not reach the minimum level. Supporters will now try to show that some of the rejected signatures should be permitted. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund released a statement Thursday night saying that signatures submitted on behalf of the measure were full of errors — included one signature alleged to be from the late President Ford and one from the Libyan leader Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi, with Saudi Arabia listed as his street address and Tibet as his city of residence.

New principals ready for challenges
New principals on the West Bank are facing a number of challenges this year, including redistricting due to a new desegregation plan; the creation of specialized magnet schools; and the implementation of a new school driven by an incentives-based pay program (August 17, 2008).

Meeting set for deseg plan
Parents, teachers, students and other residents will get a look at the St. Landry Parish School Board plan for integration soon (August 17, 2008).

Jefferson schools await effects from desegregation redistricting
Superintendent Diane Roussel’s proposed changes to the system’s magnet schools are still drawing resistance from parents unwilling to shuffle their children to another school, while each of the system’s nine districts have been redrawn for this school year in compliance with the federal desegregation order of 1971 (August 18, 2008).

Diversity’s quiet rebirth
A little more than a year has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a sharply divided, 5-4 decision striking down two school districts’ policies designed to create racially diverse public schools. Educators across the nation are still struggling to make sense of the rulings, identify remedies to segregation that are still lawful, and develop fresh approaches to student assignment (August 18, 2008).

Wake takes a long view of school assignments
Wake school administrators laid out the timetable Tuesday for releasing a multiyear student reassignment plan, a departure from the past practice of doing one-year plans. In addition to giving families warning for the first time, administrators also want to move up when they present the plan (August 20, 2008).

Long school bus rides concern parents
Wake County parents discuss the pros and cons of the bus rides that meet the school system’s diversity policy which tries to limit the percentage of children on the free and reduced lunch program at a given school (August 23, 2008).

Alternate Evangeline school reassignment unveiled
The Evangeline Parish School Board (Louisiana) in a special meeting Tuesday at Ville Platte High School got its first look at a court-ordered contingency plan (August 20, 2008).

Evangeline Parish parents voice passionate opposition to busing; tell us what you think
With the possibility of Ville Platte High School closing its doors if voters reject a bond issue in November, the Evangeline Parish School Board met with residents Tuesday to discuss a plan to reassign the 400 Ville Platte High School students to the three other high schools in the parish (August 20, 2008).

Proposal under fire
School Board member Huey Wyble came before the Arnaudville Town Council in Louisiana on Monday to discuss the parish’s desegregation plan and nobody – including himself – liked what he had to say (August 20, 2008).

When education is unequal
An overview of the Chicago education systems and how the “separate and unequal” doctrine applies to the city’s current day schools (August 22, 2008).,0,7144865.story

Radical idea: Open the doors of affluent suburban schools to Chicago students
Article suggests that Chicago Public Schools should consider a new school-based version of Gautreaux allowing low-income Chicago students a chance to attend good middle-class suburban schools. Overwhelming evidence suggests that equal spending just isn’t enough (August 22, 2008).,0,2890495.story

Longview ISD denies transfers to comply with order
Longview Independent School District administrators are following federal orders regarding interdistrict transfers, though they say they don’t agree with the decision (August 23, 2008).

Roll call at the Jefferson Parish Public School System
Superintendent Diane Roussel’s proposed changes to the system’s magnet schools are still drawing resistance from parents unwilling to shuffle their children to another school, while each of the system’s nine districts have been redrawn for this school year in compliance with the federal desegregation order of 1971 (August 25, 2008).

No ruling yet on partial unitary status
There’s no word yet from a federal judge on whether the revised consent agreement between Jackson-Madison County Schools (Tennessee) and the parties involved in the 46-year-old desegregation lawsuit has been approved (August 25, 2008).

Please send us your news
Please send reports, documents, and decisions from your community to The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at Include web links if they are available.

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Additional Resources for School Integration

**NEW** Statement of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Promoting Diversity in Schools
A Response to OCR’s August 28, 2008 “Dear Colleague” Letter

On August 28, 2008, the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) issued a “Dear Colleague” letter providing informal guidance regarding how OCR plans to assess the use of race in assigning students to schools. OCR adopted a narrow and limited reading of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, 127 S.Ct. 2738 (2007) as support for this guidance. Because LDF believes that OCR’s interpretation of the decision is inaccurate in a number of respects, we now write to clarify the legal standards applicable to elementary and secondary schools.

To finish reading the letter, please visit″

**NEW** Site: – The Web site completes Attorney Richard Cole’s transition to private sector civil rights work after 16 years of civil rights service in the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General.

Message from Richard Cole: I invite each of you to navigate the entire site to learn more about the unique and varied civil rights consulting and legal services I am offering. I also welcome your comments and advice. For your information and participation, the site will also update you on my upcoming statewide, regional, and national programs and workshops.

The consulting and legal services I am offering are based on my more than three decades of extensive civil rights experience as Assistant Attorney General and Civil Rights Division Chief in the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General, a private practice civil rights litigator, and a legal services litigator and manager.

**NEW** Book: Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race In School

The New Press announces the publication of Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race In School, edited by Mica Pollock.
How should teachers and parents respond when children ask challenging questions about race? How should teachers handle the use of the “N-word” or discuss “achievement gaps” with colleagues? How can teachers avoid unwittingly making children of color speak on behalf of their entire group? While numerous books exist about race and race theory, Everyday Antiracism puts theory into practice by offering specific strategies for combating racism in the classroom. This book is available to order through or

Sheff Web site
For more information regarding the Sheff desegregation case in Connecticut, please visit To view the results of a recent statewide poll revealing broad based support for interdistrict desegregation programs, please visit

BuildingChoice Web site
This Web site is designed to help implement and maintain public school choice programs. Included are promising practices from a range of programs, tools, and links to many additional resources to support your choice efforts.

The School Law Blog
Visit the School Law Blog for an important discussion of news and analysis of legal developments affecting schools, educators, and parents. Mark Walsh has been covering legal issues in education for more than 15 years for Education Week. He writes about school-related cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and in lower courts.

Still Looking to the Future: Voluntary K-12 School Integration; A Manual for Parents, Educators and Advocates. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP) are distributing the 2nd edition of their K-12 school integration manual which addresses the practical questions of what can be done to promote diversity and address the harms of racial isolation in schools.
To download the manual, visit or
To request hard copies or CDs of the manual and supplemental materials, please send an e-mail with your contact information and the number of copies requested to

Preserving Integration Options for Latino Students. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP/PDC) are currently disseminating their collaboratively-written guide for parents, advocates and educators interested in promoting diversity and addressing the harms of Latino racial isolation in their schools.
To download the manual or for additional information, please visit CRP/PDF’s Web site at

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Upcoming Event

The Federalist Society Louisville Lawyers Chapter Invites You to Attend an Important Panel Entitled: Is the New School Integration Constitutional?
“Looking to the Future: Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South”


  • Anurima Bhargava, Counsel for NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • Roger Clegg, Pres. & Gen. Counsel, Ctr. for Equal Opportunity
  • Ted Gordon, Petitioner’s Counsel, Meredith v. Jefferson Co. Bd. Of Educ. (U.S. 2007)
  • Byron Leet, Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, Respondents’ Counsel, Meredith v. Jefferson Co. Bd. Of Educ.
  • Moderator: Brian Fitzpatrick, Asst. Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University

Date: September 25, 2008
Time: 12:00 noon – 1:30 P.M. (Lunch Provided)
Location: Vincenzo’s
150 S. 5th Street
Louisville, KY 40202
The cost of this program is $25.00.
For more details, please e-mail

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The Integration Report – Staff Members

Editor: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
Editorial Assistant: Jared Sanchez
Legal Research: Hadley Van Vector
Editorial Committee: Erica Frankenberg, Gary Orfield, Laurie Russman
Webmaster: John Khuu

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Key Terms

Academic Performance Index (API) – The state of California’s accountability measure based on a school’s performance on standardized tests (compare to Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind).

Monitoring team – A group of individuals overseeing the implementation of the consent decree’s stipulations.

Other Factors – In 1989, six years after the Decree was approved by the District Court, the United States Supreme Court decided City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson, which struck down Richmond, Virginia’s plan to require a certain percentage of city construction contracts to be awarded to minority-owned businesses.48 In striking down the plan, the Supreme Court observed that a “generalized assertion” of past discrimination was insufficient to demonstrate the compelling governmental interest necessary for a race-based measure to pass the strict scrutiny test.49 In essence, the Croson decision meant that in order to justify any race based measure, benevolent or not, a governmental entity would have to show the measure was both necessary and narrowly tailored to remedy specifically identified past discrimination.

Reconstitution – A strategy aimed at reforming underperforming schools. All administration and staff are released from their positions at the school and asked to reapply. In the San Francisco district, students were also asked to reapply for positions at the reconstituted schools.

Seattle/Louisville rulingParents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education was decided by the Supreme Court in June, 2007. The decision limited the use of race in student assignment plans.

Strict scrutiny – magnet schools are one of the oldest desegregation tools and tend to offer specialized curriculum. They are often designed to attract students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. A regional magnet program strives to combat residential segregation patterns by allowing students to cross district lines to attend the school.

Tracking – The placement of students into different levels of academic study according to ability, achievement, or needs.

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July/August News Summary

Critics question finances, diversity for proposed high school
Concerned that a proposed new charter school could siphon funding from other students in the Sequoia Union High School District (California), parents spoke out against it Wednesday at a public hearing. Others questioned whether Everest’s population would be representative of the students in the district. (Aug. 14, 2008)

St. Landry school plan praised
A student desegregation plan being designed by the St. Landry Parish School Board is superior to the one presented to the district earlier this year by the U.S. Justice Department, the school system’s demographer said Wednesday. Demographer Mike Hefner declined to provide specifics of St. Landry’s proposed plan, since the board has met three times to discuss the issue in executive session. (Aug. 14, 2008).

Hurt: Ruling a ‘win-win’ for area schools
The attorney representing the Crisp County School System (Georgia) in a recent federal case regarding Crisp’s policy of accepting out-of-county students told school board members on Tuesday that U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands’ ruling is ultimately a “win-win” for both Crisp County and Dooly County schools. Sands’ ruling ordered the Crisp County Board of Education to review its current interdistrict transfer policy and work with the court to ensure future out-of-county transfers into Crisp schools do not affect desegregation measures (Aug. 13, 2008).

District fields transfer concerns
Longview, TX school officials faced a stream of confused and concerned parents Monday even as the district continued working with the U.S. Justice Department to determine how intra-district transfers will be handled in the school year that begins in two weeks.
For years, the district has allowed intra-district transfers for a variety of reasons. The desegregation order allows those transfers only if such moves help the district meet the desegregation order (August 12, 2008).

Longview ISD told to stop transfers
District’s policy violates 1970 desegregation order, Justice Department says
The fallout from Longview Independent School District’s student transfers could reach beyond Pinewood Park, administrators said Friday. The 1970 order states that transfers only should be allowed if it helps the district achieve greater equity in the racial makeup of campuses or with other school districts. Instead, Longview has allowed student transfers perhaps throughout the past 38 years, while the Justice Department has been lax in monitoring the district (August 9, 2008).

State, higher-ed coalition back in federal court
A lawsuit accusing Maryland of second-class treatment of its historically black colleges and universities is unlikely to be resolved without trial, an attorney for the state conceded Monday (August 11, 2008).

Judge grants class-action status to U-46 bias suit
A federal judge has granted class-action status to a racial bias lawsuit filed 3 years ago against the state’s second largest school district. If the court rules in favor of the five Elgin families accusing the district of racial bias, all current Hispanic and black U-46 students who have been subject to racial discrimination in school programs and services would receive remedies. Areas where racial discrimination may have occurred, Gettleman said, include instability of student assignments, assignment to non-neighborhood schools, assignment to overcrowded schools and transportation burdens (Aug. 11, 2008).

In the Under-5 Set, minority becoming the majority
A surge in Hispanic immigration over the past decade has dramatically altered the racial and ethnic composition of the Washington, DC region’s youngest residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released today.In three of the counties — Prince William, Montgomery and Charles — the share reached about 60 percent. And in Prince George’s, where Hispanic immigration has supplemented an even larger African American population, more than 90 percent of these children are minorities (August 7, 2008).

New Hanover County School Board discusses redistricting plan
Last month, New Hanover County, North Carolina school officials unveiled a redistricting plan that could send thousands of children to new schools. Diversity and overcrowding are the two main reasons for the proposed switch (August 7, 2008).

Study: School diversity promotes harmony
Children as young as 5 benefit, study says

For the first time, children as young as 5 have been shown to understand issues regarding integration and separation, a report says. The research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, confirmed that the ethnic composition of elementary schools has a direct impact on children’s attitudes toward those in other ethnic groups and on their ability to get along with their peers (August 6, 2008).

Districts approve plan for some school choice
Pearl and Rankin County School District (Mississippi) officials have approved a plan that they say will solve a long-standing problem. The districts are required to abide by boundaries established by desegregation court orders passed in the mid-1960s. Over time, as Pearl became a municipality and has annexed land, the boundary lines have become increasingly muddied (August 5, 2008).

GPA attorney files new motions in school case
The federal court case on the use of race to assign students to schools continued Monday when a new motion was filed for a declaration against the Pitt County Board of Education.
Charles “Sonny” McLawhorn, attorney for the Greenville Parents Association (GPA), issued a motion Monday asking the judge to declare that the Pitt County Board of Education violated the rights of students with its 2006-07 school assignment plan. He also asked for an order that would keep the school board from using race as a factor in future school assignment plans (August 5, 2008).

Jeff pupils will be making history
Desegregation plan brings big changes

When Jefferson Parish public schools open their doors Monday, they won’t just welcome the start of a new school year. They also will usher in a new chapter of history.
With the entire system under the guidance of a federally approved desegregation plan, the district has undergone a sweeping transformation, encompassing new attendance boundaries, faculty exchanges, the creation of four specialty magnet programs and the implementation of a $50 million capital plan that targets structurally inferior schools on the West Bank (August 9, 2008).

School opens in Jefferson
With thousands of children heading to different schools Monday, as part of a revised desegregation plan that includes new attendance boundaries and four new magnet schools, the first day of classes in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana could have been disastrous. But except for the typical first-day hassles, such as students registering late and others missing their buses, the early reviews on the opening of the 2008-09 public school year were surprisingly warm (August 11, 2008).

Magnet schools are under legal cloud
The Jefferson Parish public school system is moving full speed ahead with its conversion of four failing elementary schools into specialized magnets. Teachers have been shuffled and trained, new principals have been selected and the schools are on track to open when classes resume Monday. But in reality, the schools are stuck in a holding pattern in the eyes of the federal courts (August 5, 2008).

Parent sues to stop bus route changes
The parent of a gifted and talented high school student requested a temporary restraining order Thursday afternoon against the Lafayette Parish School system (Louisiana), seeking to stop changes to bus routes that could affect as many as 1,000 families (August 1, 2008).

Parents deplore changes at three East Jeff schools
Parents protest changes to east bank campuses Wednesday at the Jefferson Parish School Board (Louisiana) meeting.Waving signs imploring “Rescind,” parents from three Jefferson Parish public schools urged the School Board on Wednesday to reconsider its plan to dissolve one high school and alter grade configurations and campuses of two others (August 13, 2008).

Rezoning vote could affect makeup of school board
Could a controversial Nashville Metro Schools vote cost board members votes?
The Nashville branch of the NAACP rallied for an alternative plan hours before the school board approved a plan to rezone the district with a 5-4 vote.If the current school board doesn’t consider revising the plan, perhaps a newly elected board will, according to the civil rights organization August 5, 2008).

Professor researches desegregation effect
A University of Kansas (KU) researcher who studies the effects of school desegregation and resegregation on the dropout problem in urban school systems will present his paper at the American Sociological Association’s Annual.In his research, Saatcioglu examines the changing contribution of high schools to students’ drop out tendencies in districts that experienced both desegregation and resegregation over the last few decades. He shows that although desegregation could not sufficiently improve student performance, it was able to considerably increase the schools’ contribution to success.

Schools accept federal offer to end 39 years of oversight
The Vicksburg Warren School District (Mississippi) is no longer under federal court oversight that began with a desegregation court order in 1969.”This will not change anything,” Superintendent James Price said. “Zones will not change; the way we do business will not change. The only difference is that we will not be considered under the constant jurisdiction of the court” (August 1, 2008).

The next kind of integration
The Next Kind of Integration in June of last year, a conservative majority of the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, declared the racial-integration efforts of two school districts unconstitutional (July 19, 2008).

The end of white flight
For the first time in decades, cities’ black populations lose ground,
stirring clashes over class, culture and even ice cream

Decades of white flight transformed America’s cities. That era is drawing to a close (July 19, 2008).

Loopholes give schools a pass even when scores fall short
Thousands of our schoolchildren are being left behind. Only you wouldn’t know it by looking at the test results that will be released next month. A set of rules – some call them loopholes – enables schools to ignore test results for large groups of struggling students or to use bonus points to meet pass rates. (July 13, 2008)

Column: School isn’t the only way for us to learn about each other
This is election season at The Jackson Sun, (Mississippi) which can mean only one thing: candidate interviews. This time, we’re interviewing for four school board positions that are up for grabs. One of the hottest issues that keeps coming up is unitary status. Specifically, what do we have to do to get it? (July 11, 2008)

Jefferson Award: Presented to Dennis Collins
In 1975, Collins was named the founding head of San Francisco University High School in Pacific Heights. The mission of the independent, college-preparatory school, which focused on ethnic diversity, was to provide a rigorous academic program while challenging each student to live a life of integrity, inquiry and purpose larger than self. (July 13, 2008)

Preschool embraces diversity
At a new Florida preschool that calls itself the “Peaceable Kingdom,” the crayons come in all kinds of skin tones (July 13, 2008).

DWCS hearing set for Friday
D’Arbonne Woods Charter School must prove it is in compliance with a federal desegregation order under which most Louisiana school districts operate.
(July 9, 2008)

Court hears arguments in school case
The question of whether county schools must use race to guide student assignment in Pitt County (North Carolina) moved a step toward resolution Wednesday in federal court. But it was a small step. (July 9, 2008).

Minority groups decry ouster of school advocate
Loudoun County’s (Virginia) minority community is criticizing school officials for failing to renew the contract of the district’s first supervisor for outreach. Despite months of lobbying from teachers, parents and organizations representing minorities, the school system ended its contract last month with Beverly Bennett-Roberts, who was hired nearly three years ago to lead the district’s diversity efforts.

Unitary status: 1970 desegregation order dismissed in US District
After 38 years Humboldt City Schools have achieved Unitary Status from the US Department of Justice. Superintendent Butch Twyman received notification last week of the dismissal of the desegregation order.

Task force believes choice is a key element of Metro schools rezoning plan
Six months ago, our task force was asked to formulate and recommend a new student assignment plan for Metro Public Schools that would promote academic and scholastic opportunities and increase student achievement for every school age resident of Davidson County. With this charge, we were given a number of factors to consider that included building underutilization, choice options for students, diversity and parental involvement. (July 15, 2008)

Board OKs new school magnet programs
More choices, diversity among district’s goals
The Jefferson County Board of Education voted tonight to add more than a dozen new magnet programs at more than 20 elementary schools beginning with the 2009-10 school year. Superintendent Sheldon Berman said expanding the district’s magnet program will give parents more school choices, improve student achievement and help the district maintain diversity in its downtown and western Louisville schools (July 14, 2008).

Poll shows racial division on Obama’s candidacy
Americans are sharply divided by race heading into the first election in which an African-American will be a major-party presidential nominee, with blacks and whites holding vastly different views of Senator Barack Obama, the state of race relations and how black Americans are treated by society, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll (July 15, 2008).

MCS funding impasse could rewind county deseg. case
Depending on what a judge decides Thursday, the Memphis City Schools funding lawsuit has the potential to set the clock back on the 45-year-old county schools desegregation case.

St. Landry Parish: Demographer to present deseg plans
Demographer Mike Hefner will meet with the St. Landry Parish School Board members at a special meeting set for 5 p.m. Thursday.The board will discuss the district’s desegregation case in closed session, according to the agenda. The school district is attempting to gain unitary status in a still-open 43-year-old case. (July 15, 2008).

New student assignment plan offers challenges and support
As we approach the upcoming school year, Pinellas County School District (Florida) is implementing its new student assignment plan. This plan was devised by the School Board in order to comply with recent laws that struck down the previous Choice Plan and prohibits students from being assigned to schools based solely on race (July 20, 2008).

Bused students have choice now
Thousands of Wichita students and their parents will make the ritual end-of-summer trek to enroll at their neighborhood schools from July 28 to Aug. 1.For almost 1,000 students who were bused for integration last year, though, it will be the first time they can choose to attend the school closest to home as the district begins dismantling its mandated busing policy.For the most part, those students and families will continue being bused to the schools farther away, according to results of surveys the district sent the families in February.

Nashville Articles

NAACP calls on metro school board for $6 million commitment
The Nashville-branch NAACP is calling on Metro Schools to reconsider its 2009-2010 student assignment plan or commit $6 million to fund additional resources promised under the plan to schools where large numbers of poor students are expected to attend (July 15, 2008).

Rezoning promises made must be promises kept
In a narrow vote that broke down mostly along racial and generational lines, the Metro Nashville Board of Education passed a controversial rezoning plan this week ostensibly to help the city return to the concept of neighborhood schools (July 11, 2008).

NAACP, Maynard, others make efforts to oppose rezoning plan
Efforts in opposition to a Metro schools rezoning plan are expected to grow this week, even though the Board of Education approved the plan — in a five-to-four vote — last week (July 15, 2008).

School board’s vote means resegregation
Under the guise of parental school choice, the Metro Nashville school board has knowingly promoted the resegregation of Nashville’s public schools. The infamous 5-4 vote will no doubt be recorded on history’s pages as a vote that turned back the hands on the historic clock of equal opportunity (July 13, 2008).

NAACP may take rezoning plan to court
Metro Nashville’s new rezoning plan is drawing legal threats over potential civil rights violations just a decade after local leaders won back the right to draw school boundaries (July 10, 2008).

School rezoning plan hot topic at candidates’ forum
The Nashville Metro School Board faces some of its biggest challenges it’s seen in several decades. This critical time comes during an election year where the board could have several new members. If you would like to view the full plan, part 1 can be viewed by clicking here. To view the second portion, click here (July 10, 2008).

Segregation pioneer has mixed feelings about rezoning – Sky Arnold
A man who was one of the first desegregated students in Davidson County says he has mixed feelings about Metro Schools new rezoning plan. Bruce Maxwell says the plan to return to neighborhood schools may help parents feel more involved in their child’s education. He also worries it might lead to a re-segregation of schools. (July 10, 2008).

Please send us your news
Please send reports, documents, and decisions from your community to The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at Include web links if they are available.

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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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