Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kc Schools Still Too Segregated, Court Panel Rules

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kc Schools Still Too Segregated, Court Panel Rules

Article excerpt

A federal appeals court has put the brakes on an effort by the state of Missouri to loosen court control of the Kansas City desegregation case.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from Attorney General Jay Nixon that the Kansas City district be declared "unitary," a legal term for desegregated.

Such a declaration would have been a major step toward ending that case.

In a similar request pending here, Nixon is asking U.S. District Judge George F. Gunn Jr., who oversees the St. Louis desegregation case, to declare the St. Louis system unitary.

Two St. Louis school officials said Tuesday that the Kansas City and St. Louis desegregation cases were so different that the appeals court ruling might have little bearing on St. Louis.

"It's not that definitive," said Kenneth C. Brostron, attorney for the St. Louis School Board. But Brostron said the comments judges made in the ruling indicated that the St. Louis Public Schools policies were on track with the judges' thinking.

Brostron said the ruling was "consistent with what we've been saying we need to do to end the desegregation case."

The Rev. Earl E. Nance Jr., a School Board member, said he questioned how much effect the ruling would have on St. Louis because of the differences in the two cities' cases.

The Kansas City and St. Louis school systems have taken far different paths to desegregation. In St. Louis, about 13,500 black pupils are bused, voluntarily, from the city to predominantly white schools in St. Louis County.

Kansas City has emphasized magnet schools to attract white suburban students to the city. Only 10 black students there attend a suburban school.

The state said the Kansas City system had improved enough to get by with less court control, and it based part of its claim for unitary status for Kansas City on the Supreme Court's decision that court supervision of school desegregation might be relinquished piecemeal. That ruling last year covered schools in DeKalb County, Ga.

But the 8th Circuit panel's 28-page ruling, made public Tuesday, said the state was off-center in its interpretation of the DeKalb County case. Desegregation programs alone are not enough for unitary status, the 8th Circuit said. …

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