Racial-Imbalance Law Under Study

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The Connecticut State Board of Education has formed a committee to re-examine a 15-year-old law aimed at reducing racial imbalance in state classrooms.

The 22-member committee was created this past summer following complaints that the law and its regulations were "unworkable and difficult to implement" in some areas of the state, according to Lise Heintz, a spokesman for the state education department. The panel is expected to make recommendations to the state board by May and to submit a final report by September.

Law's Provisions

The law, passed by the General Assembly in 1969, requires that the percentage of minority students in a public school not vary more than 25 percent above or below the total percentage of minority students in the same grade levels in the school district.

For example, if the total percentage of black students in grades 9 through 12 in a city is 50 percent, the percentage of black students in a given high school in that city could range from 25 percent to 75 percent.

However, said Rosa Quezada of the New Haven Public Schools, the law creates an "unreasonable" situation in districts with minority enrollments greater than 75 percent. In such districts, she explained, a school with a 100-percent black enrollment is considered racially balanced but another with a 50-percent black, 50-percent white enrollment is not.

According to Ms. Quezada, the state school-boards association has urged lawmakers to consider legislation encouraging cross-district student busing to help correct this situation. Ms. Heintz of the education department said the committee formed by the state board is also considering a similar recommendation. The committee may also consider the development of different racial-balance formulas for different districts.--tm

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