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Civil Rights Project proposes new integration plan for Jefferson County schools

Date Published: September 13, 2011

The CRP makes available to the public a new proposed integration plan for the JCPS schools.

September 13, 2011

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA makes available to the public the new proposed integration plan, "Diversity and Educational Gains: a plan for a changing county and its schools," created by CRP Co-director Gary Orfield and Assistant Professor Erica Frankenberg for the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS).  JCPS was the plaintiff in the 2007 Supreme Court case McFarland v. Jefferson County Public Schools, a decision affirming the goal of integrated education as a compelling interest but rejecting the use of solely the individual student's race in making school assignments or granting school choices, a popular means many school districts, including Jefferson County, used to maintain some integration in a rapidly resegregating society.

In response to the Jefferson County, Kentucky, school board’s request, the authors prepared a plan that builds upon and extends the nationally respected JCPS accomplishments in operating diverse schools for nearly four decades. The authors reviewed the existing plan, and proposed a new plan to make the district's desegregation plan more effective and efficient, paying particular attention to decreasing excessive transportation times for students. With access to new Census data and extensive information from the school district and other local institutions, the authors assessed the degree to which the current plan is the most efficient and effective way to accomplish the board’s primary goal of maintaining a diverse school system. The school district showed strong leadership and deserves great credit for devising and implementing a new plan after 2007 Supreme Court decision but transportation times have been long, and plan is still broadly out of compliance.

This report, presented by Orfield to the JCPS School Board last night in Louisville, explains why the current integration policy cannot meet the needs of this changing county, and proposes a new plan, with an updated version of diversity, smaller clusters, and proposes a range of updates to modernize the student assignment plan and to build on the benefits of integration for students, teachers, and the community.  It also recommends efforts to improve transportation, access to information about the plan for parents, and annual updates to inform the community of the plan’s effectiveness. The authors have every confidence that the staff of the JCPS can implement a new plan effectively and well once the Board makes the decisions and hope that this is the beginning of another step forward in the nationally respected leadership role of Jefferson County Public Schools.

The first part of this research assessed the current JCPS student assignment plan by surveying both parents and students across Jefferson County.  These surveys tried to get a sense of the community's experiences with school integration efforts three years after the Supreme Court's ruling and two years after the JCPS implemented a new plan in 2009. 

To see the proposed student assignment plan, go to the full report, "Diversity and Educational Gains."

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