Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New School Plan Offers Flexibility

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New School Plan Offers Flexibility

Article excerpt

A new school-desegregation proposal aimed at ending the latest

rift between the Duval County School Board and Jacksonville

NAACP tries to strike a compromise on the contentious issue of

involuntary busing.

The proposal, drawn up Thursday and released yesterday after a

three-hour meeting between School Board members and a federal

judge, offers flexibility to the board as it tries to reach

racial-balancing goals.

At the same time, however, the proposal gives a clear warning

to Jacksonville residents about what could happen if the goals

aren't met: The NAACP could launch a legal challenge to seek

increased desegregation efforts, possibly including involuntary

busing.

"The district . . . calls on the entire community to work

together in good faith to make this voluntary approach succeed,"

the proposal says.

School Board members, who declined comment after the

closed-door meeting with U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger,

scheduled a special meeting for Monday to take public input and

vote on the proposal. If approved, the plan then would go to the

NAACP for approval.

The board and NAACP have been in court-ordered mediation since

late January to resolve a long-running dispute about

desegregation. If they can't reach agreement, the two sides

could wind up in a long, costly court battle.

The new proposal was reached by attorneys for the School Board

and NAACP on Thursday to salvage the mediation process, which

appeared in serious jeopardy earlier in the week.

Board members angered the NAACP when they voted March 19 --

without the civil rights group's consent -- to change a tentative

desegregation agreement the two sides had reached just days

earlier.

Some board members feared that the tentative agreement would

have cleared the way for a return to involuntary busing if the

board did not reach desegregation goals. …

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