Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Teddy Gordon tells JCPS: End litigation now

This from C-J:
Having twice beaten Jefferson County Public Schools in a court of law, Louisville lawyer Teddy Gordon is calling on the district to accept a new challenge — stop the litigation so children can attend their neighborhoods schools.

“This has been a 13-year battle,” Gordon said Monday, sitting in his law office, its walls covered with framed newspaper clippings detailing his long legal fight against a policy whose aim is to keep schools diverse, but which requires longer bus rides for some.

“It’s time … for the litigation to end,” he said.

Gordon’s remarks came three days after the Kentucky Court of Appeals on a 2-1 vote struck down the Jefferson County’s new assignment plan, finding that state law guarantees students the right to attend their nearest school.

Flanked by Chris Fell, one of the parents who sued Jefferson County because their children were denied admittance into their closest school, Gordon on Monday also called on the district to scrap its current consideration of an overhaul to the new assignment plan that would reduce bus-ride times, saying it would fall far short of the appeals courts ruling.

But JCPS school board Chairman Steve Imhoff said Monday the board has no intention of dropping its proposed overhaul — neither will it abandon its appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court of a policy he said is in students’ best interests...


Anonymous said...

I am disappointed that the Jefferson County Board of Education is using tax payer money to appeal their case. This is not a good use of taxpaper funds. What is your take, Dr. Day?

Richard Day said...

Well, first there isn't anything the JCPS Board does that is not based on taxpayer money. I'm not disappointed by that in the least. The Ky Supreme Court, in Rose, was very clear that school boards were empowered to use public funds for legal activity.

The issue for me is whether the student assignment plan does what it ought to do, but the Supreme Court ruling in Meredith (2007) has turned that issue on its head.

Following Brown v Board of Ed, the government had a compelling interest in assuring that public schools (an arm of the government) were not continuing its past discriminatory practices. Conservatives wanted the courts to stay out of local business (arguing state's rights, while attempting to maintain the status quo). Through the 60s and into the 70s we still lacked a non-discriminatory system so the courts waded in requiring school districts to come up with student assignment plans that promoted racially diverse student populations. Civil rights advocates were arguing against state's rights, asking the court to monitor such plans, and they did.

At some point, a school district could go back to court to gain "unitary status" - which essentially meant that any residual imbalance in student populations were not the result of any practices done by the school district.I don't think JCPS ever sought that status. Fayette did not.

Now fast-forward to 2005ish, and a little white girl in Louisville was denied enrollment in her neighborhood school because of her race (under the court-ordered assignment plan which used race as the primary factor in determining where kids got to go to school).

This time civil rights advocates argued that the court should stay out of local affairs because the current plan was working.

But the Roberts court went the other way and intervened again, this time limiting the use of race as a factor in student assignment plans.

If you believe that America is now post-racial or that the government no longer discriminates, then you are likely to agree with the court.

But if you believe that America has not yet arrived at a non-discriminatory system, that the deck is still stacked against minorities, then you probably disagree with the court.

What is pretty certain, is that a move toward assigning all kids to their neighborhood schools (which might be great if we had high quality schools in every neighborhood - which we don't) will have the effect of re-segregating the schools.

The reason for this is that our cities have segregated housing patterns.

One can appreciate how difficult it is for schools to balance student populations when the city does not (and probably cannot).