Law & Courts

High Court Refuses To Hear N.Y. Appeal in Yonkers Case

By Mark Walsh — May 31, 2000 3 min read

The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to hear New York state’s appeal of lower-court rulings that require it to pay half the costs of desegregating the Yonkers public schools.

The court’s action is the latest development in a desegregation case that began in 1980 and is likely to remain contentious for at least several more years. The Supreme Court appeal concerned the state’s liability for sharing the costs of the 26,000-student Yonkers district’s existing desegregation plan, which totals $85 million per year.

Still pending in a federal district court is a portion of the case dealing with whether the state will be required to pay as much as $1.1 billion more over eight years to remedy vestiges of segregation in the school system, which is just north of New York City.

A federal district judge has found that vestiges of segregation in the district include low teacher expectations of minority students and insufficient use of multicultural teaching techniques.

In a ruling last year, however, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, ordered the district court to re-examine its conclusion that traces of segregation remained in the Yonkers system.

No Credit

Nevertheless, the 2nd Circuit court affirmed the district court’s orders requiring the state to pay 50 percent of the ongoing costs of a desegregation plan begun in 1986, which includes an extensive system of magnet schools and voluntary busing. The district and appeals courts concluded in various rulings that state actions and inactions contributed to segregation in housing and schools in Yonkers.

In its ruling last year, the appeals panel rejected the state’s arguments that it should get credit for the general magnet school aid it provides to Yonkers.

The district court “determined that this money did not have the effect of funding the ordered remedy” and was thus not “clearly erroneous,” the appeals panel said.

New York state argued in its appeal to the Supreme Court that the 2nd Circuit’s decisions could lead other courts to “impose novel and expansive liability on the states for the unconstitutional acts of their municipal subdivisions and local school districts.”

In response, lawyers for the Yonkers district said the state had already sought review by the high court over the issue of liability for half the desegregation costs. The justices declined the state’s appeal in 1997.

The high court declined without comment to hear the latest appeal in State of New York v. Yonkers Board of Education (Case No. 99-1370).

Cable TV Sex

Separately last week, the court ruled 5-4 to strike down part of a federal law that requires cable television operators to fully block sexually explicit channels or else transmit them only when children were not likely to be viewing.

The ruling in U.S. v. Playboy Entertainment Group Inc. (No. 98-1682) deals with provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that were meant to address the problem of “signal bleed,” when sexually explicit programming is scrambled but can be viewed or heard by nonsubscribers.

While advancing technology can fully block channels a cable subscriber does not want, most cable systems complied with the 1996 law by limiting sexually explicit channels to the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. That provision of the law was challenged as a violation of the First Amendment by Playboy, which produces several sexually explicit channels available by subscription.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the law’s requirements were a content-based restriction that failed strict scrutiny under the First Amendment because a less intrusive alternative was available. Another provision of the law requires cable operators to block undesired channels in any household that requests it.

“The history of the law of free expression is one of vindication in cases involving speech that many citizens may find shabby, offensive, or even ugly,” Justice Kennedy said. He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the overturned provision served “the same interests as the laws that deny children access to adult cabarets or X-rated movies.” Because millions of children have parents who work and many are at home unsupervised, the law “offers independent protection for a large number of families,” he wrote.

He was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Antonin Scalia.

A version of this article appeared in the May 31, 2000 edition of Education Week as High Court Refuses To Hear N.Y. Appeal in Yonkers Case

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools

Read Next

Law & Courts Supreme Court Considers Issue of Damages That Comes Up in Many Suits Over School Policies
The justices weigh whether students still have a case for "nominal damages" when schools change a policy in response to a lawsuit.
6 min read
supreme court IMG
iStock/Getty
Law & Courts U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh Whether Schools May Discipline Students for Internet Speech
The justices will hear the appeal of a school district whose discipline of a student for her vulgar message on Snapchat was overturned.
5 min read
Law & Courts District's At-Large Elections Violated Minority Voting Rights, Federal Appeals Court Finds
The case involves school board elections in a majority Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish district with a large Black and Latino population.
3 min read
Image of people at voting booths.
LPETTET/E+
Law & Courts Federal Appeals Court Revives Teacher's Pay-Discrimination Case Over Starting Salary
The court weighed an administrator's alleged comment that the teacher's starting pay was less because her husband worked.
3 min read