ACLU served as a Friend of the Court, along with the Lawyers Committee and MALDEF, in this case that was initiated by the United States in the Carter Administration and resolved by a consent decree in 1980. The suit sought to ensure desegregation to the extent practicable of a system which at that time had a minority student enrollment of more than 80% and today has a minority student population that is more than 90%. Over the past three decades, the case provided only limited substantive relief. Our primary concerns include ensuring equality of resources and access for minority students to magnet and higher performing schools. After years of raising questions about continuing the decree, the Court set a hearing date in January 2009 to consider the question of vacating the decree. We urged the court to maintain the decree until the Board has a specific plan to ensure that minority students have adequate access to the magnet and select-enrollment schools. We participated in a two-week hearing. With our amicus partners, we filed a post-hearing brief urging the court to maintain the decree because the Board has not make a consistent good-faith effort to deliver English Language Learning “ELL” services and has no plan to insure fair access for minority students to selective enrollment and magnet schools. In September 2009, the district court vacated the consent decree. CPS issued a new admissions’ plan for select enrollment schools, relying heavily on Socio-Economic Status (SES) and not race as the basis for admissions to these schools. We believe that race still may be used lawfully and that use of SES alone will result in less integration in Chicago. We advocated in the court hearing for CPS to include race as a factor. In recent public comments, the CPS Superintendent indicated that CPS will do a final review to ensure racial diversity after using SES factors. We have served a Freedom of Information Act request on CPS asking how it intends to use race as a factor in their new plan. In the summer of 2010, CPS reported on enrollment at elementary and select-enrollment high schools in the first year without the decree. It demonstrated what we feared – that fewer students of color had access to the most sought-after educational opportunities in the City. We continue to monitor developments in this area.
U.S. v. Board of Education
Harvey Grossman, Ricardo Meza and Jennifer R. Nagda (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Clyde Murphy (Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law)
March 13, 2008
U.S. District Court Northern Illinois Division
80 C 5124