Cleveland schools seek to clarify next steps in desegregation case

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2015 AP file photo

Cleveland public school students ride the school district bus on their way home following classes.

Cleveland school officials said Friday that no staff reductions are anticipated for next school year as the district awaits federal appeals court action in its desegregation case.

Earlier this week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced a stay in the original federal court desegregation order. Arguments in the case are currently set for April and an appeals court ruling will follow.

“No one can totally predict when such a decision will be made,” said a press release from the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland School District and the superintendent. “The District is putting a plan in place to move forward whatever the decision may be.”

Regardless of the outcome, the release said that the district does not anticipate any staff reductions for teachers and the board has requested principals be named by Monday for the 2017-18 school year. Sport practices and try-outs will continue at Cleveland and East Side High Schools while the stay is in place, according to the release.

The district has been planning for next school year under a May 2016 desegregation court order while at the same time proposing an alternate desegregation plan and appealing the original desegregation order. The stay halts any desegregation plan until the appeals court rules.

“In other words, the District does not have to implement consolidation until the 5th Circuit approves the consolidation,” the release said.

Plaintiffs in the case, including the U.S. Justice Department and parents and children in the Cleveland district, have told the courts they favor the May 2016 desegregation plan set out by a federal judge.

“The main directive of this May 13, 2016 ruling was a consolidated middle school at East Side and consolidated high school at Cleveland High,” the press release notes.

Under the district’s alternate proposal, Margaret Green would be the sole middle school, East Side would host a 9th and 10th grade academy, and Cleveland High would become an 11th and 12th grade academy.

“If the Court adopts this plan in the very near future, then the District would proceed under this plan for the 2017-18 school year with the Lead Principals guiding the middle and high school and with the new name/colors and mascot chosen by our students,” the release said.

School officials have suggested there would be white flight from the district if the court’s desegregation plan is implemented.

School officials met with parents and other community leaders Thursday morning to update them on the latest court action.