District News Roundup
A federal district judge has ruled that the state of Tennessee is liable for student segregation in the Nashville metropolitan area and therefore must help pay for the area's school-desegregation program.
U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Wiseman's Aug. 14 order stemmed from a 1981 motion by the Metropolitan Nashville Public School System seeking to force the state to pick up all its desegregation costs since 1971, when busing was first required in the 69,000-student, countywide district.
Judge Wiseman agreed that the state bore some responsibility for segregation but limited its financial obligation to 60 percent of the cost of desegregation from the date that the metropolitan school board filed its lawsuit.
Michael Cody, the state's attorney general, told reporters last week that the state intends to appeal Judge Wiseman's ruling.
Marian Harrison, a lawyer for the Nashville school board, said that although the district has no precise figure on its total desegregation costs to date, it estimates that they have amounted to at least $6 million a year since 1982.
Ms. Harrison said Judge Wise4man indicated in his order that he would appoint a special master to determine the amount of the state's obligation if the state, the Nashville board, and the black parents who filed the original lawsuit cannot agree on a sum.
Minority groups involved in a desegregation case in Bridgeport, Conn., have asked the state department of education to investigate a vocational-agriculture program in suburban Trumbull to determine whether students are enrolling there to avoid attending inner-city schools.
The action is part of a lawsuit first filed in 1975.
"It appears that the recruiting for the program goes on in schools that are more traditionally nonminority schools which feed into predominately minority high schools," said Richard Fuchs, a lawyer representing minority parents and students in the suit.
In a letter to State Superintendent Gerald N. Tirozzi, Mr. Fuchs charged that the program is "being used to avoid court-ordered racial balance in the city of Bridgeport," which has a 75 percent minority school population.
Mr. Tirozzi has called for a meeting later this month to investigate the complaint, according to Lise S. Heintz, public-information officer for the state department of education.