Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NAACP: School Board `Utterly Failed'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NAACP: School Board `Utterly Failed'

Article excerpt

The Duval County School Board has "utterly failed" to meet

desegregation goals agreed to in 1990 and it would be

"premature" for the courts to declare the schools fully

integrated, the NAACP says in court papers filed yesterday.

Still, the Jacksonville branch of the National Association for

the Advancement of Colored People told the court it would be

willing to try again to settle the decades-old desegregation suit

out of court.

Avoiding another court battle is "my view of what's best for

the community," NAACP attorney Michael Sussman said yesterday.

The School Board returned to court last month, filing a motion

to be declared "unitary" -- a legal term that means a system is

fully desegregated and should be relieved of court oversight.

The board argued it has met desegregation goals in the

assignment of teachers and administrators and is well on the way

to racially balanced classrooms.

But the NAACP disputes the successes in the classrooms,

pointing to the number of predominantly black schools in the

system and noting little has been done to bring white students

into those schools.

For example, of the more than 50,000 African-American students

in Duval County's schools, at least 21,000 are in racially

imbalanced schools, many of them in highly segregated schools,

the NAACP states.

In most cases, the racial goals call for African-American

children to make up between 20 and 55 percent of each school's

enrollment, as stipulated by a 1990 court-approved desegregation

agreement.

The NAACP also argues the School Board has virtually ignored

that agreement, which includes using magnet schools to try to

racially balance schools instead of using involuntary busing.

The agreement also outlined cooperation between the two groups

when designing those magnet programs and when building new

schools.

"There are certain obligations" the School Board agreed to

meet, Sussman said. …

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