Monday, September 27, 2021

MN school segregation lawsuit goes back to court after legislature refuses to act on settlement

With a major settlement due to inaction by the legislature, plaintiffs in the Cruz-Guzman school desegregation lawsuit have asked a judge to decide the case in their favor.

Plaintiff’s attorney Dan Schulman wants the judge to find that the state violated the education clause of the Minnesota Constitution by enabling racial and socioeconomic segregation in the Minneapolis and St.

Shulman has suggested that the government may be responsible for the demographic imbalance in schools, such as through enacting open enrollment laws, exempting charter schools from integration rules, and through the Department of Education’s soft stance against intentionally segregating districts.

But he believes that enrollment numbers alone may offer enough evidence to win a partial summary judgment and force changes in school enrollment across the metro area.

A 2015 lawsuit claims that separate schools in Minnesota are preventing Twin Cities-area students of color from receiving the adequate education provided under the state’s constitution.

Plaintiff’s lawyer: ‘Separate’ system violates the Constitution

When the Minnesota Supreme Court revived the lawsuit in 2018, it wrote in a footnote that “it is self-evident that a separate system of public schools is not ‘normal,’ ‘uniform,’ ‘thoroughly,’ or ‘efficient. “

In short, if the school system is dismantled, students may not receive an adequate education guaranteed by the Constitution. Shulman argues that as long as the judges agree that schools have been segregated, regardless of the reason or whether it was intentional or not, changes should be made to correct it.

“Needless to say something other than the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts, which are separated by race and socioeconomic status,” Shulman summarized the court. “…tolerating its existence by the legislature violates the education clause.”

Speaking for the state during a hearing on a motion Monday, Deputy Attorney General Katherine Woodruff said the mere fact that some schools in the districts have more students of color than others doesn’t mean they’re under the law. are breaking.

“No court in Minnesota has ever held that the state must guarantee a particular mix of students in a school,” she said. “Is the system right? No, most would say there is room to do more, while disagreeing about what should be more. That’s not the issue here, though.”

define isolation

A major issue at the hearing was how to define school segregation.

Shulman suggests that judges start by looking at the state education department’s segregation program, which defines a “racially identifiable school” where the share of students in protected classes is 20 percent higher than the average in the same district.

He said the Minneapolis district, which is 63 percent non-white, has 23 such schools. The St. Paul District, which is 79 percent non-white, has one.

MN school segregation lawsuit goes back to court after legislature refuses to act on settlement
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