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Kansas City Desegregation Proposal Shelved

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School officials in Kansas City, Mo., voted last week to shelve, at least temporarily, a controversial school-desegregation plan rejected by a federal district judge on Jan. 28.

The city school board's decision came a day after U.S. District Judge Russell Clark rejected its plan to consolidate the predominantly black central city school district with 11 predominantly white suburban districts. Judge Clark ordered the board to devise a new plan that would involve schools in the city only.

According to James Borthwick, the city school board's lawyer, the board expects to submit a new plan to the judge by Feb. 19.

Original Plan

The original plan, presented to the court on Jan. 18, would have consolidated the 36,000-student city district with the suburban districts in one district enrolling about 118,000 students. Minority enrollment in all schools in the new dis-trict would have ranged from 20 to 40 percent. (See Education Week, Jan. 30, 1985.)

Approximately 68 percent of the city district's students are black, compared with 7 percent in the outlying districts.

According to Mr. Borthwick, Judge Clark described the board's plan as "thoughtful and thorough" in his three-page order and opinion. Nevertheless, the judge said he was compelled to reject it because he was not convinced that the suburban districts had acted in a manner that would justify their forced inclusion in a desegregation plan with the city.

The judge also noted that if the school board or the black plaintiffs in the case, Jenkins v. Missouri, should decide in the future to contest his ruling, they could present the plan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Mr. Borthwick said that "it may be quite a while" before the case can be taken to the Eighth Circuit Court.--tm

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