Repeal of Kansas City Desegregation Order Sought

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The fate of a new, $87-million school-desegregation plan for Kansas City, Mo., has been thrown into doubt by the response of the state of Missouri, the city school board, and the black parents whose lawsuit prompted the plan. All have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to overturn the court order establishing it.

U.S. District Judge Russell G. Clark's June 14 order called for a variety of educational improvements in city schools and for voluntary student transfers between the city and its suburbs.

But both the parents and the school board contend that Judge Clark should have required the predominantly white suburban school districts to participate in the desegregation plan along with the 67-percent black city district.

In addition, the parents argue that the judge should have ordered a housing-desegregation plan, and the school board challenges the plan's limitations on staffing levels for certain education-improvement programs.

The state of Missouri, meanwhile, has decided to appeal "virtually all" of Judge Clark's orders involving the state's responsibilities under the plan, according to a spokesman for the state attorney general. Under the plan, the state would be required to spend about $67 million on the area's desegregation effort over three years.

The plan specifies that the state is to finance all transportation and is to cover the cost of tuition for minority students who transfer out of the city district to predominantly white suburban schools. It must also cover the same costs for suburban students who transfer to city schools.

Among the educational improve-ments required are reductions in class sizes, full-day kindergarten, summer-school classes for students in need of remediation, and additional planning time for teachers.

In other school-desegregation-related developments:

St Louis. The Eighth Circuit Court ruled on July 10 that the state of Missouri must pay almost $2 million in legal fees stemming from the metropolitan area's school-desegregation lawsuit.

A three-judge panel agreed with a federal district judge's finding that the St. Louis school board, several citizens' groups, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are not responsible for payment of the attorneys' fees. The dispute stemmed from a court-approved agreement in February 1983 that resulted in the nation's largest voluntary cross-district desegregation plan.

Boston. The federal district judge who has overseen the city's public schools since he heard arguments for desegregating the school district 11 years ago released a plan this summer paving the way for him to relinquish his jurisdiction over the district's affairs by the end of this month.

U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. released a draft of his plan in early July and permitted the parties to the lawsuit to comment on it during a hearing on Aug. 7. He announced he would hold a final status meeting on Aug. 21 before issuing guidelines for the future operation of the city's schools.

Under the plan, the court would enter a permanent injunction requiring the Boston School Committee and the superintendent to ensure that each school's racial mix reflects that of the administrative unit in which it is located. It also requires that the percentage of blacks on the district's faculty and staff be increased by half a percent per year until it reaches 25 percent, and it gives the school committee final say in any modification of Judge Garrity's previous orders in the case.

Norfolk. The city's school board voted last month to delay once again implementation of its controversial neighborhood-schools plan.

The plan, adopted by the board in February 1983 and approved by a federal district court in July 1984, would end busing for the city's elementary-school students. The board agreed last year not to implement the policy--which would leave 10 schools almost 100 percent black--until it was reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Denver. The city's school board has again fashioned a proposal designed to end a 16-year-old desegregation lawsuit against the school district.

According to press reports, the plan was presented to the plaintiffs in the case in mid-July and was scheduled to be discussed during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch on Aug. 2. In June, Judge Matsch rejected the board's request to declare the school district fully desegregated or "unitary," which would have opened the way for an end to mandatory busing for some 11,000 students.

Under the new proposal, there would be no change in the number of students bused for desegregation purposes. The proposal also would require the board to transfer more teachers to ease faculty segregation; to improve the district's inservice program; and to open several magnet schools if federal funding becomes available.

Prince George's County, Md. The county school board voted this summer not to appeal a federal district judge's desegregation orders.

Some members of the suburban Washington board had considered asking a federal appeals court to8grant the district unitary status, thus ending U.S. District Judge Frank A. Kaufmann's jurisdiction in the case. In June, Judge Kaufmann approved a desegregation plan for the district that will rely primarily on magnet schools to achieve court-ordered desegregation goals.

Chicago. A federal district judge recently permitted the U.S. Education Department to release about $12 million in funds frozen two years ago by court order in a dispute over the financing of the city's school-desegregation program. Almost $70- million in fiscal 1985 funding for department programs still remains frozen, however.

The funds were frozen by the court in 1983 during the course of a dispute over the federal government's obligation to help finance the city's desegregation plan. Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a federal appeals court's decision in the case, Board of Education of the City of Chicago v. U.S., which greatly diminished the federal government's funding obligations. (See Education Week, May 29, 1985.)

Vol. 04, Issue 40 & 41

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