Jefferson County still trying to use race in school assignments

September 20, 2010 | By PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION

Author: Joshua Thompson

The Washington Post has an interesting article this morning on Jefferson County's (Louisville, Kentucky) efforts to inject race into its school assignment decisionmaking. Three years ago, the Supreme Court struck down Jefferson County's race-based school assignment plan because it violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Jefferson County case was consolidated at the Supreme Court with a case out of Seattle, Washington, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1.  In that case, Chief Justice Roberts wrote the now famous line, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Instead of heeding the Chief Justice's advice, the Washington Post article informs us that, "Consultants were hired, lawyers retained, census data scrubbed, boundaries redrawn, more buses bought, more routes proposed, new school choices offered and more lawsuits defended."  Alas, it seems that instead of refraining from discrimination, Jefferson County is bent on carving out a discrimination loophole.

The consequences of the school district's new attempts at discrimination are just as ridiculous as the plan the Supreme Court struck down. "[S]chool-assignment director Todd acknowledges that one irony of the new system is that schools deemed integrated under the old racial classifications are no longer considered diverse under the geographic criteria. That means, for instance, that middle-class African American children at an integrated school at one end of the county may be sent to a poor, inner-city school to achieve geographic balance."

PLF friend, and President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, Roger Clegg, had this to say about Jefferson County's new plan: "Very little in this article [explains] how "diversity" — that is, a predetermined, politically correct racial and ethnic mix — is supposed to improve education, let alone how it is supposed to improve it so much that it justifies long bus rides, exorbitant costs, the risk of future litigation, and continued racial discrimination. As for the latter, so long as race is a factor in a school system's assignment policies, then racial discrimination continues, even if it is more indirect and hidden than it was in the plan the Supreme Court struck down."

The article also shows how the Louisville community is fighting back.  The current Jefferson County School Board Chairman is up for reelection in November, and two of her opponents are expressing their disdain for the schools board's discriminatory policy.  While PLF does not take any position on the political fight in Louisville, if the school district remains steadfast in discriminating against its students, PLF will be at the front of the fight for ensuring the students Equal Protection rights are respected.