Ky. Schools Contempt Request Denied

AP, July 27, 2007

A judge on Friday turned down a lawyer’s request that school officials be held in contempt and jailed for allegedly violating a U.S. Supreme Court order prohibiting them from assigning students to Louisville schools by race.

The Supreme Court made its ruling in June, and the school district has since dropped race in making individual assignments. The district is trying to come up with another system.

But Attorney Teddy B. Gordon, who represented parent Crystal Meredith in challenging the student assignment plan, said students already assigned for the 2007-08 school year should be given options to attend different schools and that failing to do so violated the ruling. Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 13.

Gordon asked U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II to hold administrators and school board members in contempt and jail them if they couldn’t show they complied with the ruling.

But Heyburn rejected the request, ruling even before school district officials could respond to it.

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Gordon said through a spokeswoman that he was following “normal state court procedures” to enforce a court order.

The Louisville school district is about 56 percent white and 37 percent black. The current plan allows some student choice while seeking to keep minority enrollment at 15 percent to 50 percent of the population at most schools.

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