Orders in Yonkers Case Upheld on Appeal

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A federal appeals court has upheld a landmark lower-court ruling requiring the city of Yonkers, N.Y., to desegregate both its schools and its public housing.

In a unanimous decision late last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand had acted "well within the proper bounds of discretion" in issuing a set of remedial orders in the case, including one requiring the city to build 200 units of subsidized housing in predominantly white neighborhoods.

Although the school district implemented a desegregation plan in the fall of 1986 pursuant to Judge Sand's order, city officials have incurred his wrath by refusing to comply with his housing orders. Judge Sand has blocked any further action by the city on other construction projects until the city council complies.

The case, the first to successfully link findings of segregation in both housing and schooling, is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In other desegregation-related developments around the nation:

Missouri. Faced with mounting legal bills arising from challenges to court-ordered desegregation plans in Kansas City and St. Louis, Gov. John Ashcroft has asked the legislature to approve a $450,000 supplemental appropriations bill for the state attorney general's office during the current fiscal year.

In a letter to legislators late last month, Governor Ashcroft also requested $965,000 to enable Attorney General William Webster to continue his fight against the orders in the upcoming fiscal year.

The state has been ordered by federal judges in both cases to help fund the cost of massive capital-improvement and student-transportation programs. The total cost to the state in both cases will be $210 million during fiscal 1989, or close to 6 percent of the state's general fund budget, according to the Governor's letter.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected a request by Jackson County, Mo., officials to block tax increases ordered by U.S. District Judge Russell Clark in the Kansas City case. While denying the request for lack of evidence that Judge Clark had exceeded his jurisdiction, the court said Jackson County officials may pursue the normal appeals process.

In Kansas, Gov. Mike Hayden announced last month that his state will file a "friend of the court" brief with the Eighth Circuit Court on behalf of Kansas residents who are protesting a tax imposed by Judge Clark on all income they earn within the boundaries of the Kansas City, Mo., district.

Philadelphia. The issue of mandatory busing for the city's schools has been raised again in hearings before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. A plan designed by one of the commission's staff members would require the reassignment of students between 36 pairs of predominatly white and black schools.

The hearings are being held to determine whether the commission will pursue a desegregation suit it filed against the district in 1968.

Philadelphia school officials vehemently oppose any move from their current voluntary desegregation plan, saying that integration would be impossible in the event of further declines in its 24 percent white student enrollment. The human-rights panel is expected to make a final decision next month.

Mobile, Ala. Twenty-nine black teachers will share a $3-million settlement, and many will receive promotions, under an agreement approved last month by U.S. District Judge W. Brevard Hand.

The agreement was reached in a case filed almost 15 years ago by black teachers who charged that they were passed over for promotion to principal because of their race. Under the terms of the agreement, the teachers will each receive between $20,000 and $400,000 over the next five years in compensatory damages and back pay.

An additional 71 employees whose claims in the case were denied have appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Chicago. A new report by a public watchdog group charges that few minorities have benefited from a 1980 consent decree between the city school board and the U.S. Justice Department that was intended to remedy the effects of decades of racial segregation in the district.

"More than 80 percent of all minority students in Chicago continue to attend segregated schools and receive no significant compensatory education to offset the effects of this segregation," said Fred Hess, executive director of the Chicago Panel on Public School Policy and Finance.

The panel recommended that the board of education shift the emphasis of its desegregation plan toward the racially isolated schools that most minority students attend by shifting more resources from wealthier schools.--ws

Vol. 07, Issue 15 & 16

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