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Charlotte, N.C., Board Backs Plan To End Busing

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The Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school board has approved a plan to end the district's forced-busing program, but only after making modifications to address the concerns of black board members and community activists.

Under the plan, unanimously approved by the board late last month, the busing program will be replaced by a voluntary integration program making extensive use of new magnet schools.

The final plan is based largely on a proposal aired in February by John A. Murphy, the superintendent of schools, but contains several revisions designed to ease the fears of some black parents and activists that the plan would resegregate schools or place the burden for integration on black children. (See Education Week, March 4, 1992.)

A local political organization called the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus had asked the board to delay its vote on the plan, and members of the group threatened to walk out of the most recent meeting if the board acted on Mr. Murphy's plan without revising it. Some school-board members had also expressed discomfort with the plan.
Revisions to Magnets

In an effort to distribute the burden for integration more equally among black and white students, the revised plan puts a cap on the enrollment of a magnet school in a white suburban neighborhood. Some 90 to 100 white students from that suburb will need to be bused to another school about 10 miles away.

The board also slightly adjusted the course offerings of two magnet schools to help ensure that their enrollments will be more racially balanced, and it called for new schools with at least a 10 percent minority population to be built.

The revisions also call for a committee of citizens to oversee implementation of the five-year plan and to decide, after two years, if modifications are needed.

Charles N. Dulaney, the director of planning services for the district, said the revisions quieted most criticisms from black residents.

Mr. Dulaney added, however, that "the suburban community is upset that their white students have to be bused away from the school that has been converted into a magnet.''

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools were the focus of a landmark 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that a federal court had remained within its powers in ordering the district to bus children to remedy the school segregation once required by state law.

The district now buses 12,000 of its 77,900 students for purposes of desegregation.

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