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Maryland District Loses Desegregation Appeal

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A federal appeals court has upheld a U.S. district judge's 1981 decision to reopen a 13-year-old desegregation case in a suburban Washington school district.

Acting on appeals by the school board of Prince George's County, Md., 'a group of black parents, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled on March 29 that the school district had failed to remedy chronic racial imbalance in its schools.

The court noted that by 1982, 23 of the county's elementary schools, one-fifth of the total, had become more than 80-percent black. In 1972, the year that the lawsuit was initiated, a majority of this group of schools had black enrollments of just over 50 percent.

Racial Balance Required

Such evidence, the court said, justified U.S. District Judge Frank A. Kaufman's order requiring the district to further desegregate the county's 175 schools. Under that order, the proportion of black students enrolled in each of the district's schools is to be no greater than 80 percent and no lower than 10 percent.

In papers filed with the Fourth Circuit Court, the county board argued that Judge Kaufman lacked3the jurisdiction to order an expansion of the district's existing desegregation plan. It also argued that the judge had failed to find that it had acted to segregate the school system intentionally.

A panel of experts appointed by the district's superintendent, John A. Murphy, recently presented the county school board with a report recommending extensive busing and selective school closings to desegregate the district. In an April 3 interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Murphy said he would offer an alternative plan to the board recommending the establishment of 26 magnet schools to promote desegregation.

Lawsuits in Mississippi

Also late last month, the Mississippi branch of the naacp began filing a series of lawsuits against school districts in the state charging discrimination against black students, teachers, and school administrators.

As of last week, the civil-rights group had filed suits in federal district courts against 10 districts in the northern part of the state. Officials for the group told reporters that they expect to file more suits in coming weeks.

According to press reports, the lawsuits allege that, in comparison with white school employees, black employees in the districts are paid less, receive lower-level positions, and are regularly passed over for promotions. The lawsuits also allege that black students are placed in special-education classes in disproportionately high numbers and that they receive less care and attention than do white students in general.

Lorain Plan Approved

In another desegregation case, a federal district judge in Akron, Ohio, recently approved a plan for the Lorain, Ohio, public schools that relies on magnet-school programs rather than busing to achieve its goals.

According to Wendy Langenderfer, a spokesman for the Lorain school board, U.S. District Judge David Dowd Jr. approved the plan on April 1 after the board and the local chapter of the naacp agreed on it.

The plan requires the school board to ensure that the percentages of black and Hispanic students in each of the city's schools varies no more than 20 percent above the districtwide percentage and no less than 15 below the districtwide percentage of those two student groups. Approximately 22 percent of the district's 12,100 students are Hispanic, 20 percent are black, and the remainder are white and American Indian.--tm

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