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Judge Rejects Plan Requiring Minority Pacts

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The Philadelphia City School District may no longer set aside a fixed percentage of its contracts for minority-owned businesses, a federal judge ruled last week.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Weiner ruled Nov. 30 that the district's program fails to meet the strict guidelines for minority set- asides laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court last January. (See Education Week, Feb. 1, 1989.)

"Generalized assertions" of discrimination against certain minority groups fail to justify the district's program, the judge wrote in a 43-page decision. The case was brought by a white-owned construction company after it lost a contract for demolition and asbestos removal at an elementary school.

The district's program required 15 percent minority participation and 10 percent female participation in all school-district contracts.

The policy was implemented in 1984 after an investigation showed that 0.5 percent of school-district contracts went to minority-owned companies in 1982 and 1983. The program was revised earlier this year, according to a district spokesman.

The Philadelphia Board of Education is scheduled to meet Dec. 11 to discuss the decision.

"The school district remains committed to providing fair and equal opportunity for all qualified firms ... including those owned and operated by minorities and women," the board said in a statement.

Herman Mattleman, the board president, said last week that the district may appeal the ruling.--mn

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