Friday, November 17, 2006

Texas Two-Step School Segregation?

A recent court ruling has found that students were being segregated by race in one Texas elementary school:
DALLAS — A federal judge ruled today that an elementary school principal segregated students by assigning English-speaking Latino children to classes and programs separate from white children and must correct the inequities by January.

Teresa Parker, principal of Preston Hollow Elementary, was found to have violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by creating classes and hallways that were divided based on ethnicity. However, the school district, its board and superintendent were not legally liable, Judge Sam A. Lindsay said in the ruling.

The judge ruled that Parker must integrate non-core classes and stop placing students in programs, such as English as a Second Language, based solely on their national origin or ethnicity. The changes must be made by Jan. 17, Lindsay said.

"The most important thing that's going to happen now is that they're not going to be segregated," said attorney Davis Urias, with the Mexican Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Classes will be "based on actual educational needs."

Latino parents sued the Dallas Independent School District, its board of trustees, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and Parker in April 2006.

The plaintiffs said Hispanic children who were proficient in English and didn't need bilingual education or ESL classes were shuffled to ESL classes at Preston Hollow. Meanwhile, white children with the same language skills were placed in general education classes. Classrooms with mostly minority students were located along separate hallways from those with mostly white students, the lawsuit alleged.

Parents contended the segregation in classes led to their children feeling a sense of inferiority.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the actions were an effort to stop white flight from the school.

The district said it didn't not discriminate against the students and complied with the law.

The suit was filed by MALDEF on behalf of three students and an organization of Hispanic parents whose children attend Preston Hollow Elementary, a school in a predominantly white neighborhood.

Parker was ordered to pay $10,000 in punitive damages and $100 on nominal damages to each of two children cited in the lawsuit.

Calls by The Associated Press to DISD were not immediately returned tonight. A call to the elementary school after school hours went unanswered.

The district is made up of about 6 percent white students, 63 percent Hispanic students and 30 [percent] black students.
I wonder what criteria the school claimed to be using in order to place the children in those ESL classes?

Here in California, parents have the absolute right to determine into which type of classes that they want their children placed regardless of English proficiency. In most medium-to-large districts, programs run the gamut from fully bilingual and specially designed academic instruction in English (S.D.A.I.E.) to mainstream classrooms.
See our latest EduPosts and this date's Extra Credit Reading.