Report: Segregation Increasing

Bonnie Eslinger, San Francisco Examiner, Jan. 3, 2006

Although a federal court order to integrate San Francisco’s public schools ended this week, the number of schools with students of predominantly one race is on the rise, according to an independent evaluator’s report.

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In a November ruling that ended the court’s role in overseeing the 22-year-old desegregation effort, a federal judge said the original court order to diversify schools had been rendered ineffective in subsequent years due to a 1999 settlement that removed race from the equation when the district assigned students to schools. That settlement had been reached with parents of Chinese-American students who had filed a lawsuit charging that the district’s race-based caps lessened the chance that their children could attend the district’s well-regarded schools.

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According to Biegel’s report, filed last week, more than one-quarter of the district’s schools, approximately 50, are severely resegregated at one or more grade levels—the worst it has been since the 1999 settlement.

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San Francisco’s school board has been consulting in closed session with district counsel in recent months to determine what, if anything, it will do to reverse these trends. While veteran board member Dan Kelly has authored a resolution that would bring race back into consideration when assigning students—which would likely face a legal challenge—the board is also waiting on recommendations by hired consultants before making any decisions on a new student-placement system.

Last year, in Louisville, Ky., a federal judge upheld the limited use of race in making student assignments to achieve racial integration in the public schools.

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