Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nixon Poised for Effort to End School Transfers He's `Disappointed' in School Board's Plan

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nixon Poised for Effort to End School Transfers He's `Disappointed' in School Board's Plan

Article excerpt

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon says he will move quickly to try to end the voluntary city-county desegregation program under which 13,500 black students from the city attend suburban schools.

Nixon said he was "disappointed" with the desegregation plan that the St. Louis School Board announced on Monday because it failed to come to grips with the need to end the city-county program and to sharply cut the $81 million a year the state spends for school desegregation here.

The School Board's plan would continue the cross-district transfer plan, would continue state funding for desegregation through 2001 and would then require the state to make up for lost desegregation money by creating a new, permanent source of revenue.

That's not going to happen, Nixon said. "Permanent additional state funding is something that gives us deep pause and concern," he said in a telephone interview.

"But the most disappointing thing is that the plan doesn't recognize the need for the Voluntary Interdistrict Transfer Program to come to an end."

Nixon may move quickly against the transfer program.

Attorneys for suburban schools say Nixon told them at a recent meeting that he would be going to court soon to apply to St. Louis the 2-month-old U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Kansas City desegregation case.

Nixon wouldn't discuss his legal timetable. But he said the Supreme Court decision in June meant that the "interdistrict elements in St. Louis are based on legal grounds that are no longer sound and that the Voluntary Interdistrict Transfer Program . . . is in jeopardy. I thought it was important to meet with all of the suburban attorneys to tell them I would be pressing to end it."

The Supreme Court ruled in the Kansas City case that a judge couldn't impose a desegregation plan with interdistrict goals to remedy a violation limited to the boundaries of one district.

Nixon said he would be in St. Louis on Thursday to discuss his plans for ending the city-county program.

He said he didn't know yet if he would use that opportunity to file court papers to end state funding of the transfer program. But he said the issue was sure to be the centerpiece of the state's case at February's hearing on whether the St. Louis schools are sufficiently desegregated.

William L. Taylor, attorney for the NAACP, said that Nixon's comments were designed to cause alarm among families interested in the city-county program and thus push down enrollment. "Nixon's on a real crusade to close down the interdistrict program," said Taylor. "This is ideologically important to him."

Top School Board officials also criticized Nixon. The president of the School Board, the Rev. Earl E. Nance Jr., said that Nixon's attitude toward the St. Louis desegregation program "was very unfortunate. I hope he is not just playing to the crowd. …

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