Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not Segregated Anymore, Texas?

In a memo entitled "Order on Civil Action 5281," Commissioner of Education Robert Scott points out the following:
The federal court with jurisdiction over the statewide desegregation order (usually called “Civil Action 5281”) has entered an order removing virtually all Texas school districts from the scope of the order. Since 1971, all districts have operated under certain restrictions on accepting student transfers, requirements for property deeds and other reporting requirements....

From September 27, 2010, all districts, except the original nine school districts that were party to the case, are no longer subject to the order. Except for those districts1, there is no longer any obligation to report student transfers or submit real property conveyances for approval. The agency will no longer monitor district boundary changes, transportation, extra-curricular activities, or staff and student assignment for purposes of the order. There is no action required of your district in response to the court’s order.
Read the complete memo online
Not really knowing anything about this--Civil Action 5281--I googled it and discovered this frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that explains this in simpler terms:

Civil Action 5281 is the name of a federal court order handed down by Judge William Wayne Justice in 1968, and modified in 1971. This court order was the result of a lawsuit brought against the State of Texas by the U.S. Department of Education. The court found the schools in Texas to be segregated in violation of the U.S. Constitution. In the court order, Judge Justice ordered the Agency to take actions to ensure that the state’s schools were desegregated to the satisfaction of the court.

My best understanding of this--without any background knowledge--is that Texas schools are no longer considered segregated and, as such, no longer in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Is that explanation accurate?

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Joshua Smith said...

Joe Smith: Civil Action 5281 - October 1, 2010
School districts have been subject to the provisions of Civil Action 5281 since 1971. The order states “...since its issuance nearly forty years have elapsed and the racial composition of public education in Texas has changed drastically”. Districts no longer have any obligation to report student transfers.

Joshua Smith said...

Anonymous said...

The original idea was to deny state and federal aid to districts that refused to integrate. For some time after CA 5281, students in affected areas tried to establish technical residence in districts they wished to attend, therefore bypassing anti segregation rulings. There were many suits over residence requirements and many regulations and reports required before a student could transfer. Only recently, the courts decided that taxpaying parents could sent their children where they wanted, so long as the host district accepted them, and there was no racial segregation attempt. Now, 40 years afterward, 5281 is mostly moot, except for the original 9 districts directly named in the suit. In some of those districts, almost the entire student population currently attends school outside their home district, in defiance of the original order, leading some to wonder if these districts will ever be freed from federal oversight.

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