Sacramento District Ignores Report Suggesting Closing Schools for Affluent White Kids, Instead Shutters Seven Schools Filled with Poor and Minority Kids
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A Sacramento city school district is poised to close seven elementary schools, disproportionately hurting students in low-income and predominantly minority neighborhoods.
In response, twelve students and their parents filed a civil rights lawsuit, asking a federal court to block the closures. The suit claims that the Sacramento City Unified District’s decision “was motivated by an intent to discriminate against the minority populations” and will result in “a disastrous discriminatory effect on the poor, disadvantaged population which is served by these neighborhood schools slated for closure."
The complaint also notes that in choosing the schools it did for closure, Unified District ignored a report by a closure committee recommending the shuttering of four different schools in “older, affluent neighborhoods,” each with a 'white' student body in excess of 40 percent of the enrolled students.”
CBS Sacramento reports that dozens of parents and students rallied outside the courthouse Tuesday. Jonathan Tran of Hmong Innovating Politics, the group that organized the rally, told the station, “The district applied an arbitrary and illegitimate standard to target schools that are predominantly high in low-income and minority populations … At the end of the day, that is unacceptable.”
According to the Sacramento Bee, “about 93 percent of students attending the seven closure schools are minorities, compared with 81 percent districtwide.”
The lawsuit also puts the announced closures in the context of Sacramento’s history of, "intergenerational poverty and racial segregation, in which people of color have been segregated as a result of public and private policies over a period of decades."
Despite these concerns and the closure committee’s recommendations, district officials are waving off the lawsuit as a waste of time and money. In a statement, district superintendent Jonathan Raymond said:
“…it’s unfortunate that the District must now spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend an unsubstantiated and baseless lawsuit. The decision four months ago to close seven of our most under-enrolled schools was precipitated by the current and ongoing budgetary burden of operating and staffing these schools.”