CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After 30 years of running its schools under a court-ordered busing plan meant to desegregate, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district has been ordered to stop basing school assignments on race.
The 7-4 decision Friday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends a system of busing innercity students to mostly-white suburban schools and suburban students to the innercity.
The 105,000-student school system was the first major urban district in the nation to use busing to achieve racial balance. Similar plans were later imposed on other school districts across the nation.
"This is a great decision and a great day for everyone of all races and national origins who have an interest in quality education for all," said attorney William Helfand, who represents Bill Capacchione, a white parent who filed suit challenging his child's kindergarten assignment.
District officials, who had fought in court to keep the 1971 busing order in place, met privately for an hour before announcing they would not appeal the court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We want to move to the next stage," school board chairman Arthur Griffin said Friday.
Attorney James Ferguson, who represented black parents seeking to keep the busing plan, said he needed more time to review the case before deciding whether to appeal.
Black parents and the school board argued before the court in February that the desegregation order should remain in place. The school board said much had been accomplished but more needed to be done.
"We still have disparities in resources," Terry Belk, one of the black parents in the case, said at the February hearing. "We have to bus the kids to where the resources are."
Helfand argued that the busing plan had actually kept innercity schools from getting the resources they need.
On the Net:
Harvard study: http://www.law.harvard.edu/civilrights/publications/pressseg.html
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