Supreme Court Rejects Appeal in Suit Over Desegregation Costs

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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to get involved in a dispute between Georgia and its largest school district over desegregation costs.

The court last month rejected an appeal from the DeKalb County district stemming from a lawsuit in which the district sought to recover some $28 million from the state for busing students for desegregation.

The 80,000-student district sued the state in 1990, contending that its policy of not reimbursing districts for desegregation-related transportation at the same rate as for students who lived far from their neighborhood schools was discriminatory.

DeKalb officials argued that the policy had its roots in the anti-desegregation mood of the early 1970s, when the state board of education adopted a policy limiting pupil-transportation aid to costs associated with neighborhood schools.

The suit alleged that the state reimbursed districts only a limited amount for students who were bused to magnet schools or for so-called majority-to-minority transfers.

A federal district judge ruled that the state's policy violated the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The judge ordered Georgia to reimburse the district the $28 million and to stop using the discriminatory method of calculating transportation aid.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unanimously reversed the district judge. The appeals court said the dispute did not belong in federal court because a district could not sue its own state government under Title VI, which prohibits discrimination in any program receiving federal financial assistance.

The appeals court also said that the conflict was one largely centered on money and how it should be allocated under state law, and that the matter therefore belonged in state courts.

The Supreme Court declined without comment Dec. 8 to hear the district's appeal in DeKalb County School District v. Schrenko (Case No. 97-623).

Paddling Case

Also last month, the high court rejected an appeal from two Kentucky parents stemming from an incident in which their son was paddled at school allegedly against their wishes.

Randy and Debbie Saylor of Harlan County, Ky., sued their son's 8th grade teacher, Sam B. Saylor (who is no relation), and other school officials when their son was paddled following a classroom fight. The parents argued that they had withheld their permission for their son to be subjected to any corporal punishment at school.

A federal district judge allowed the civil rights lawsuit to proceed, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ordered it dismissed. The appeals court held that the teacher and two other school officials deserved immunity from the suit because the paddling did not violate the boy's constitutional rights.

The high court declined without comment Dec. 15 to hear the parents' appeal in Saylor v. Saylor No. 97-677).

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