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Lawyer Asks for Changes in Schools Case

An attorney who won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that
rejected the use of race in assigning students to Louisville schools asked a
judge on Thursday to allow about 2,800 students to change schools immediately.

Teddy B. Gordon’s motion also asked U.S. District Judge John
Heyburn II to put the school district’s superintendent and members of his
administration in jail if they do not go along with the request.

The court filing comes less than a month before the
scheduled Aug. 22 start of classes in Jefferson County Public Schools. No hearing
date has been set in the case. Gordon wants a hearing within 10 days.

Gordon said reopening enrollment at the schools shouldn’t
cause a problem. When court-ordered busing went into effect in 1975, it was
implemented in 25 days, despite protests, Gordon said.

“It’s not that hard,” Gordon said.

Jefferson County schools attorney Byron Leet said the
motions have “no merit” and said the board will respond to the
request that the school superintendent be jailed.

“It’s simply outrageous,” Leet said.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reject the
use of race in student assignments in cases from Louisville and Seattle. The
case now goes back to Heyburn.

Leet said the school district plans to comply with the high
court’s ruling and is working on getting a new plan into place by the 2009-10
school year. The board left some of the current plan in place, saying it did
not want to reassign students shortly before school began.

Leet said race would not be the sole factor in school
assignments in the 2008-09 school year even if a new plan has not been approved
by a judge.

Gordon, who represented Louisville parent Crystal Meredith
in challenging the student assignment plan, said he wants the current system
scrapped immediately.

The Louisville school district adopted its contested plan in
2000, after a federal judge said it had eliminated the vestiges of past
discrimination after 25 years of court-ordered busing.

The school district is about 56 percent white, 37 percent
black and 8 percent other minorities. The current plan allows some student
choice while seeking to keep minority enrollment at between 15 percent and 50
percent of the population at most schools.

Meredith got involved in the case because her son was
bused 90 minutes round trip each day. She later moved and her son, now 10, got
into his school of choice.

– Associated Press

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