In a troubling and potentially short-sighted June 2007 decision, the United States Supreme Court held that school systems violated the Equal Protection clause when they considered race in assigning students to public schools to achieve desegregation. At issue in the two consolidated cases, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, was the continued authority of local school districts to take voluntary action to reduce racial segregation and isolation in their schools.
In 2006, MALDEF filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of 16 national and local Latino organizations. MALDEF urged the Court to find that voluntary programs that combat segregation and promote racial diversity in K-12 schools are consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment and advance its goals of racial tolerance and equality.
Following the Court’s decision MALDEF participated in strategy sessions in response to the anti-affirmative action ruling. A group of experienced litigators and education experts developed new and creative policy, litigation, regional planning, community education, and media-related strategies aimed at ameliorating segregation within the parameters set out by the Supreme Court.
MALDEF recently worked with the UCLA Civil Rights Project to develop and publish “Preserving Integration Options for Latino Children: A Manual for Educators, Civil Rights Leaders, and the Community.” (PDF) This integration manual for Latino school board members, parents, and community activists empowers them to protect and promote diversity and avoid racial isolation in their school districts consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling.