MALDEF Urges Supreme Court To Permit Communities To Create Diverse Schools

December 04, 2008

Washington, DC – Today, school districts, civil rights organizations and educators urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold local school districts’ voluntary integration authority. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 16 national and local Latino organizations. 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 is the continued authority of local school districts to take voluntary action to reduce racial segregation and isolation in their schools.

“In order to end the racial divide in our public schools, the U.S. Supreme Court must allow voluntary measures such as those they considered today in the Seattle and Louisville cases. Otherwise, the promise of Brown v. Board of Education will remain just that – a promise – and not reality for Latino and other school children across the country,” stated John Trasviña, MALDEF President and General Counsel.

MALDEF and the other amici urge the Court to find that voluntary programs to 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.

“Over the last three decades, Latino children have become more isolated by language and race, and more concentrated in high-poverty public schools, than any other minority group,” stated Peter Zamora, Washington D.C. Acting Regional Counsel. “Local communities should be permitted to consider the very real benefits of diversity in adopting school assignment plans that meet the educational and social needs of students. If the Court chooses to strike down the school assignment plans as unconstitutional, it will force schools to adopt a willful blindness to race and will force students to attend increasingly segregated schools.”

In addition to MALDEF, Latino organizations signing the brief, prepared by MALDEF and the New York office of the international law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, are: ASPIRA Association, Inc., Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR), Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU), Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Multicultural Education, Training, and Advocacy (META), National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW), The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc. (NPRC), Puerto Rican Bar Association (PRBA), Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), and the William C. Velasquez Institute.

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