Order Forcing Cleveland To Use Race in Pupil Assignments Lifted

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A federal judge last week lifted a court order requiring the Cleveland school district to assign students to schools on the basis of race, a ruling designed to end forced busing for desegregation in the city.

U.S. Judge Robert B. Krupansky, who was assigned to the case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, released the district from part of a 20-year-old desegregation order that required certain racial ratios in its schools. The judge left such questions in the future to the "best judgment" of school officials.

A lawyer for the African-American students who brought the case in 1973 said the ruling would be appealed. "We think the opinion--all 52 pages of it--is crap," said the lawyer, Thomas Atkins of New York City.

Since 1979, the 72,000-student district has relied heavily on mandatory cross-town busing to meet court mandates. Roughly 70 percent of the system's students are black.

Forced busing has waned to some degree in recent years, but under Judge Krupansky's order it would stop entirely, officials said. Busing would continue, though, for students who choose to attend schools beyond their neighborhoods.

Choices Foreseen

Rick Ellis, a district spokesman, said the ruling would let children select neighborhood schools even if enrollment at some schools became all one race.

"However, we have every intention of maintaining a desegregated school system," Mr. Ellis said.

In addition to freeing the district from the student-assignment mandates, the judge found the district in compliance with the rest of the desegregation order, in everything from staff development and reading programs to student guidance and extracurricular activities. But he did not go so far as to free the district from court supervision in those areas.

Mr. Atkins criticized the judge for ruling on matters beyond the one immediately before him--that of pupil assignment.

"It was simply overreaching by a judge who has been overreaching since he came into the case a year and a half ago," Mr. Atkins maintained.

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