San Francisco Schools End Desegregation Efforts

San Francisco’s public school administrators were forced to end their racial desegregation practices within the school district after the parents of Chinese-American students sued the district, charging that the desegregation policies blocked their children from enrollment in the city’s top schools.

Under the desegregation policies, the number of children representing a single ethnic or racial group could not exceed 45% at any of the city’s public schools. Schools were also required to enroll students representing at least four ethnic groups.

San Francisco began its desegregation efforts in response to a 1983 federal mandate. San Francisco schools were granted millions of dollars of federal funding in part due to their compliance with that mandate, and will now have to find alternative sources of funding to maintain their current budgets.

In a settlement agreed to by plaintiffs, school administrators, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), schools will now use “race-neutral” economic and geographic criteria to create diversity within the city’s schools. Both sides were happy to avoid a trial, which they felt would encourage further racial divisions in the community.

NAACP attorney Peter Cohn acknowledged that the economic and geographic criteria might not be sufficient to prevent racial resegregation in the city’s schools, but said that if it should occur, “We look forward to creatively addressing that.”


Reuters - February 17, 1999

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