Ethnic Charter Schools Seek Judge’s Protection in Desegregation Lawsuit

Josh Verges, Pioneer Press, April 1, 2019

Two charter schools that cater to African-Americans have asked a judge to protect them from a lawsuit that seeks to desegregate schools across the Twin Cities metro area.

Attorneys in the 2015 class-action lawsuit, Cruz-Guzman v. State of Minnesota, which the Supreme Court revived in July, are {snip} asking for a judge’s ruling affirming the legality of an exemption in state law that says charter schools don’t have to work toward racial integration.

Jack Perry, attorney for the charter schools, likened the “racially-affirming” charter schools to those that serve deaf children.

“They have special needs, special accommodations that were required,” he said Monday, adding that the charters are trying to “undo decades of under-serving” for African-Americans.

But plaintiffs attorney Dan Shulman warned that the same exemption would enable a white nationalist to recruit students for an exclusively white charter school.


That’s because there’s a “genuine issue of material fact” whether the 1999 exemption intended to create segregated schools, Shulman said. He cited waning policymaker interest in school integration and a prediction from a former assistant education commissioner that the exemption would re-segregate Minnesota schools.


“We firmly object to Plaintiffs’ blanket assertion that all ‘racially imbalanced’ schools are inherently inadequate,” Higher Ground principal Samuel Yigzaw said in a prepared statement.

In November, the judge defined the plaintiff class as all students enrolled at a Minneapolis or St. Paul district school where fewer than 20 percent or more than 60 percent of students are people of color or eligible for school lunch subsidies.


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