Temporary desegregation plan approved
School makeup geography-based
Deciding it couldn't afford to wait, the Jefferson County school board has pushed through a temporary desegregation plan for next school year that uses geography instead of race.
This fall, officials will assign students so that elementary schools have at least 15 percent and no more than 50 percent of their enrollment from school residential areas with minority populations of at least 45 percent.
The plan would apply to children entering first grade, students new to the district or who have moved, and those requesting transfers.
Superintendent Sheldon Berman said yesterday in an interview it won't affect current assignments, and he believes that "93 percent" of parents will get their first school choice.
"This is not much different than the way we have operated in the past," Berman said. "We are just using the geographic area of a school's 'resides area' and not a student's race."
But Teddy Gordon, the lawyer who fought to throw out the district's old desegregation policy, said he does not believe the interim policy is constitutional. He called on the district to have the temporary plan reviewed by a federal judge, threatening to sue if the district refuses.
"This is an absolute farce," he said, after hearing yesterday of Monday's unexpected vote. "The way they are doing this, they are thumbing their nose at the U.S. Supreme Court."
The justices ruled 5-4 in June that Jefferson County could not look at individual students' race when assigning them to schools.
The ruling prompted the county to stop considering the race of individual students when assigning them to schools. Since then, officials said, about a dozen schools have slipped outside the district's guideline of 15 percent to 50 percent black enrollment at most schools.
Berman said the temporary plan, which the school board unanimously passed at the end of Monday's work session, is a stop-gap measure designed "to prevent slippage" of diversity at elementary schools until the district can adopt a permanent policy beginning with the 2009-10 school year.
The district's long-term proposal to keep its schools desegregated would use race, income and education equally in assigning students...
This from the Courier-Journal. Video.