School desegregation is proceeding so slowly in Cleveland that responsibility for its implementation should be transferred to the Ohio Board of Education, a court-appointed monitor has told a federal district judge.
Because of inadequate progress on the issue by the city’s school board, the state board “should be assigned direct responsibility for remedy management in Cleveland, together with appropriate court-conferred authority, until the remedy is brought to full compliance and performance,” writes Leonard Stevens, director of the court’s office on school monitoring and community relations, m a Feb. 3 report to U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti.
“At the [current] rate of compliance progress,” the report continues, “the [Cleveland] board will complete the unfinished compliance work in 1992, nine years after the remedy deadlines set by the court.”
Judge Battisti ordered the state board—which was found liable for the district’s segregation as a co-defendant in the case in 1976—to respond to the report by Feb. 27.
Joseph Tegreene, president of the Cleveland board, told reporters that board members consider Mr. Stevens’s report premature. He added that Ronald A. Boyd, the district’s new superintendent, should be given an opportunity to carry out the desegregation plan within the court-ordered deadlines.
Effort Began in 1979
Implementation of Cleveland’s comprehensive, 14-part plan began in the fall of 1979. Progress was delayed, in part, by a fiscal crisis that resulted in the district’s being placed in state receivership from 1981 to 1984.
Policy differences between top district officials may also have contributed to the delay. Superintendent Boyd’s predecessor, Frederick D. Holliday, committed suicide last February, leaving a note that cited continuing disagreements between himself and the board.
The board is now involved in a legal dispute with Alfred D. Tutela, who served as interim superintendent following Mr. Holliday’s death. Mr. Tutela contends that because of his pro-desegregation stance, he was denied reinstatement in his previous job with the district as stipulated in his contract.
Elsewhere, the Yonkers, N.Y., school board last week unveiled a desegregation proposal for the city’s schools that would close some buildings, convert others into “magnet” enrichment centers, and redraw school boundaries.
The plan was drawn up in response to U.S District Judge Leonard B. Sand’s ruling last November that Yonkers had “illegally and intentionally” segregated the city’s public schools and public-housing projects. The judge has scheduled a hearing on the plan for March 17.
Also last week, school officials in Milwaukee sent letters to 13 suburban school districts rejecting the districts’ counterproposal in a two-year-old metropolitan desegregation suit.
According to David Tatel, the lawyer representing the Milwaukee school board, 9 of the 22 suburban districts named in the suit “responded favorably” to the settlement plan proposed by the city in early January. The remaining districts offered the city an alternative plan, which the Milwaukee board rejected as “unacceptable and disappointing.”
Chief among the proposals in the city’s plan is the adoption and funding by the Wisconsin legislature of a variety of school improvements recommended recently by a state-commissioned study group. (See Education Week, Jan. 15. 1986.)
A version of this article appeared in the February 19, 1986 edition of Education Week