Garrity Reopens Boston Schools Case 2 To Examine Hiring of Minority Teachers
By Ann Bradley
The federal judge who last year issued final orders in the Boston school-desegregation case has agreed to reopen the case because the school system has not met court-ordered guidelines for hiring black and other minority teachers.
U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. reopened the lawsuit April 26 at the request of lawyers representing the black and Hispanic plaintiffs in the case.
They argued that the school district had not complied with the judge's final orders for hiring minority teachers, and that it had not spent enough money on school maintenance. (See Education Week, May 30, 1990.)
In closing the case last year, the judge ordered the school system to increase the number of black teachers by one-half of 1 percent each year and the number of Hispanic and other minority teachers by one-quarter of 1 percent.
Over all, the school department was directed to achieve a teaching staff made up of at least 25 percent blacks and 10 percent Hispanics and other minorities. Those guidelines also applied to administrators and to the staffs at the city's three examination high schools.
According to the black plaintiffs' petition, the number of black teachers increased by only 0.08 percent during the past year. The Boston teaching staff is now 23.2 percent black.
And while the school department has achieved the citywide goal for Hispanics and other minorities, the number of such teachers in Boston Latin School and Boston Technical High School has dropped during the past year, the plaintiffs charged.
In an important clarification of his earlier orders, the judge ruled that the Boston school superintendent has the authority to transfer tenured, white teachers out of the examination schools to make room for minority teachers without being constrained by the Boston Teachers' Union contract.
Larry W. Faison, an administrative assistant to Superintendent Joseph M. McDonough, said the district is "pleased" that the court clarified the superintendent's power to assign teachers to the three schools because the elite schools rarely have openings for new teachers.
The district was unable to hire a sufficient number of black teachers last year because of the uncertainty over teacher layoffs that hung over the system, Mr. Faison added. After an arbitrator ruled that no teachers were to be laid off, the district did not have teaching vacancies that could have been filled by minority candidates, he said.
But Thomas I. Atkins, a lawyer representing the black plaintiffs, said established law prevents bud getary constraints from interfering with court-ordered remedies.
"If Boston or Massachusetts were to wait until neither of them had money problems," Mr. Atkins said, "we'd be waiting into the next century."
The plaintiffs also have accused the district of spending only $11.7 million on school maintenance this year, although the judge's orders last year required the district to spend $13.5 million.
While the district has spent less than the court required, Mr. Faison said, the city has spent an additional $15 million on school-related improvements that may be found to satisfy the court order.
The judge ordered the state educa tion department, the city of Boston, and the district to determine how much had been spent to repair schools.
The plaintiffs and the district also were ordered to develop a plan to remedy the shortfalls in minority hiring and to report to the judge within a month.
Caroline Playter, the lawyer re presenting the Hispanic and other minority plaintiffs, said she anticipates that the plan would take effect next school year, so the current school year would not be disrupted.
Edward Doherty, president of the b.t.u., said the judge's order was "denying the union the right to arbi trate management's decisions as to how it might comply with the feder al court orders."
By prohibiting the union from filing grievances over the transfer of teachers from the examination schools, Mr. Doherty added, the judge dealt an "additional blow to the collective-bargaining agreement."
He said union officials, who had not seen the judge's written order late last week, will appeal the decision if it follows his remarks in court.
The b.t.u. also unsuccessfully appealed Judge Garrity's final orders, protesting that the imposition of hiring guidelines violated teachers' se niority rights.
Although no teachers were laid off after the judge closed the case, the school board is expected to decide this week whether to lay off 350 teachers because of budget problems.