Appeal Set on Duval County Busing Ruling

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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People plans to appeal a federal judge's ruling that the Duval County, Fla., school system, which includes Jacksonville, has achieved unitary status.

Observers say the naacp has a major stake in the outcome of the appeal, because Duval County is the largest school district in the nation to have won a unitary ruling after school officials declared their intention to return to neighborhood schools.

With some 45,000 of its 105,000 students being bused daily to meet desegregation requirements, Duval County "probably does more cross-town busing than any district in the country," said Herb A. Sang, superintendent of schools.

In his ruling last month, U.S. District Judge John H. Moore 2nd appeared to accept the conclusions of studies that found that students with the longest bus rides did less well academically than those who lived near their schools.

Noting that test scores of black students in the county have im4proved significantly, the judge said: "The court believes that the legacy of the Brown cases is to achieve results in this field rather than in some statistical perfection in percentages of racial balance."

Part of Reorganization

According to Mr. Sang, the district plans to adopt a neighborhood-school assignment policy at the same time that it changes back to a traditional structure of elementary, junior, and senior high schools, following the completion of a $330-million school-construction program.

He said he had "not heard a single parent, black or white, indicate anything other than praise for the direction we're going," even though some schools are likely to become more racially imbalanced under the new plan.

The appeal, he added, is being led by national naacp officials who "are more concerned about case law than about the people who live here."

"That's nonsense," responded Michael Sussman, the New York-based lawyer who is representing the8naacp in the case. Mr. Sussman called Judge Moore's ruling "some of the most erroneous law I've ever read."

Development in Memphis

In an unrelated development in another school-desegregation case, civil-rights leaders in Memphis, Tenn., are considering asking a federal judge to consolidate their district with that of Shelby County, which includes Memphis and some of its suburbs.

The n.a.a.c.p. and the naacp Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. are currently soliciting the opinions of local officials on the plan, which has already garnered the support of some Memphis school officials, according to Maxine Smith, executive director of the Memphis chapter of the n.a.a.c.p. and a member of the city's school board.

The Memphis city schools have a 107,000-student enrollment that is 78 percent black, while the Shelby County schools have almost 35,000 students, 15 percent of whom are black, she said.--ws

Vol. 08, Issue 08

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