Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Racial Segregation and Richardson Schools

That sounds like a headline out of the distant past, right? If you consider 1970 ancient history, then yes, it would be. But I'm talking about 2012. The Richardson Independent School District (RISD) is *still* under the watchful eye of the federal courts, as this news item from the RISD explains:
Richardson ISD has been operating under a federal desegregation order since 1970, which imposes federal judicial supervision on various district operations. Many school districts around the state and country have operated under civil rights-era desegregation orders.

Over the years, many of those districts have successfully sought unitary status -- which is the process through which a district asks the court to dismiss the desegregation litigation.

The RISD Board of Trustees authorized the district to begin the process of seeking unitary status in 2009, so that more local control would be returned to the district, which will enhance operational efficiency and flexibility.

To obtain unitary status, a school district must establish that it has eliminated the vestiges of past discrimination and that is has complied with the court's orders.

The federal court has set this matter for trial beginning June 11, 2012. RISD is hopeful that the court will agree that the district has attained unitary status and that federal supervision under the 42 year old court order no longer is necessary.
Source: RISD.
After the jump, what's new in the case and how it ties in with a recent discussion on these pages.

The good news is that the RISD is making progress on getting the court to agree that the district is using a single system for all students and not a dual, racially-based system.
The district has received a partial ruling in the ongoing desegregation litigation following the evidentiary hearing that occurred in June. Federal District Judge Reed O'Connor has ruled that RISD has complied in good faith with the original order of 1970. Judge O'Connor further ruled that RISD has attained unitary status in the areas of faculty and staff recruiting and hiring, and student assignment at the junior high and high school level.
Judge O'Connor deferred his ruling in other areas pending submission of additional evidence or response from RISD. Those areas include student assignment at the elementary level, and faculty and staff assignment.
Source: RISD.
What's the bad news? None, really, except that the RISD has more work to do to document its practices in other areas.

The area that stands out for me is "student assignment at the elementary level." If that includes how it's decided which school students attend, then it relates to a subject I discussed last week. Then, the topic was accommodating children with limited English proficiency. That's related to the problem of how to deal with school overcrowding. That, in turn, leads me to wonder about magnet schools.

I'll save the topic of magnet schools for another day. For now, let's just congratulate the RISD for the progress it has made and urge it to keep working on this until the courts agree that our country's shameful history regarding racial segregation is, for Richardson at least, indeed ancient history.


Mark Steger said...

According to a press release from the RISD, "Federal district judge Reed O'Connor declared July 23 that Richardson ISD has attained unitary status, and dismissed a 43 year old federal desegregation order."

Mark Steger said...

Update in 2021: Despite district policies that remove overt racism from RISD school administration, racism in classrooms and in the RISD community is alive and well. An RISD policy for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has triggered outrage at school board meetings. Now sympathy with these outbursts on the school board itself seems to have driven both the board President and the Superintendent to resign. It's beginning to look like removing RISD from federal oversight might have been premature.