UNITARY STATUS February 6, 2013
UNITARY STATUS • The pending lawsuit filed in 1963 – Sonnie Wellington Hereford IV, a minor, by Sonnie Wellington Hereford III, his father and next friend, Plaintiff v. Huntsville City Board of Education. The U. S. Department of Justice intervened as a Plaintiff. • The Court determined that Huntsville operated a “dual school system” – one for black students and one for other students – in violation of U. S. Supreme Court decisions. Various orders have been entered by the Court to correct aspects of the dual system (for example, magnet school orders). • To avoid getting Plaintiff or Court approval for many of its education decisions, the school system must be declared no longer dual or, stated another way, “unitary”.
What is unitary status? • To be declared unitary, the U. S. District Court must ascertain whether the local school authorities have eliminated the vestiges of past discrimination to the extent practicable, and whether the school system has acted in good faith and fully and satisfactorily shown compliance and commitment to a school desegregation plan.
• In the case of Green v. School Board of Kent County, the U. S. Supreme Court laid out the factors which a district court must consider in deciding whether a school system has eliminated the vestiges of de jure segregation to the extent practicable.
GREEN FACTORS • • • Student assignment Faculty and staff assignment Transportation Extra curricular activities Facilities A district court may consider other factors such as quality of education.
A BRIEF LOOK AT THE GREEN FACTORS
STUDENT ASSIGNMENT • The Court has to determine if there are racially identifiable schools. There is no exact statistical number which can be utilized to determine whether schools are racially identifiable. Some cases have held that a plus or minus 20% is acceptable, but the Courts may take into account racial imbalances in student assignment that have been caused by demographic changes that are not traceable to past discrimination by the school district.
FACULTY AND STAFF ASSIGNMENT • The issue is whether the ratio of black to non-black faculty and staff at each individual school is substantially equal to the system wide ratio of faculty and staff. Some courts have recognized and allowed a deviation from the system wide average by 15%.
TRANSPORTATION • The school system must examine its student assignment and educational plan to determine if the burdens of transportation are being disproportionately shared among racial groups.
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES • The school system should determine that its extra curricular activities are open to all students.
FACILITIES • The school system must assess its facilities to assure they are equitable, regardless of the racial majority of the students attending the school.
QUALITY OF EDUCATION • Among other things, the school system should examine underrepresentation of Black students in advanced placement, honors, advanced and gifted and talented classes in the schools, as well as whethere is over-representation of Black students in special education classes.
GOOD FAITH COMMITMENT • Good faith commitment by the school system includes a number of issues such as whethere is a minority presence on the school board; whether are minorities in positions of authority in the central office and the school system; whether the system has made voluntary efforts to eliminate racial disparities; and whether the system has declared its future intentions to comply in good faith with its policies, decisions and future actions.
Unitary Status Plan • Student Assignment – By April 1, 2013, analyze transfers for last three years and determine whethere any issues in granting/denying transfers. – By April 1, 2013, develop plan to address any issues identified by District analysis of enrollment and transfer data and issues identified as a result of discussions with plaintiffs.
• Faculty Assignment – Based on faculty assignment data disaggregated by race for each school for 2010 -11 and 2011 -12 school years, set goals for reaching compliance with District’s faculty assignment obligation. • For the 2011 -12 school year, 39% of the schools were in compliance with the District’s faculty assignment obligation. • For the 2012 -13 school year, 57% of the schools were in compliance with the District’s faculty assignment obligation. • For the 2013 -14 school year, the goal of the District is for at least 80% of the schools to be in compliance with the District’s faculty assignment obligation. • For the 2014 -15 school year, the goal of the District is for at least 90% of the schools to be in compliance with the District’s faculty assignment obligation.
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– By March 1, 2013, confer with plaintiffs regarding faculty assignment goals. – By April 1, 2013, the District will develop a plan for achieving the faculty assignment goals for the 2013 -14 and 2014 -15 school years.
• Extracurricular Activities – By March 15, 2013, confer with plaintiffs regarding whethere any issues regarding extracurricular activities. If there are no issues, discuss with plaintiffs seeking partial unitary status for extracurricular activities. – By May 1, 2013, develop an extracurricular policy that will ensure that students will have equitable access to extracurricular activities.
• Facilities – By March 1, 2013, confer with plaintiffs regarding proposed school construction. – By May 1, 2013, confer with plaintiffs regarding whethere any issues regarding the District becoming unitary on facilities. If there are no issues, discuss with plaintiffs seeking partial unitary status for facilities.
• Transportation – By March 15, 2013, confer with plaintiffs regarding whethere any issues regarding transportation. If there are no issues, discuss with plaintiffs seeking partial unitary status for transportation. – By June 1, 2013, develop a transportation policy ensure that transportation is provided on an equitable and nondiscriminatory basis.
• Quality of Education – AP Courses • By April 1, 2013, review policy and procedures for AP classes and determine whethere any issues regarding the AP policy and procedures. • By May 1, 2013, confer with plaintiffs to determine whether the plaintiffs have any issues regarding AP classes. • By June 1, 2013, develop a plan to address any issues identified by the District and the plaintiffs regarding AP classes. – Gifted Program • By June 1, 2013, review policy and procedures for identifying students for gifted programs. • By June 30, 2013, confer with plaintiffs regarding review of policy and procedures for identifying gifted students. – Discipline – Follow up with DOJ to determine if an issue. • By May 1, 2013, review discipline policy and procedures. • By June 1, 2013, confer with plaintiffs regarding review of discipline policy and procedures.