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School Board Discusses Delaying Assignment Plans

The Jefferson County Board of Education has delayed a vote on when to implement the new middle and high school student assignment plan.

The board met Wednesday to discuss the plan, which had already been delayed by a year while officials cleared up transportation issues with the new elementary assignment plan. Superintendent Sheldon Berman says the elementary school problems will not be an issue with older students.

“The high school and middle school transportation is nowhere near the complex system that the elementary is,” says Berman. “As [transportation director] Rick Caple said, we were able to be very efficient about middle schools and high schools this year and we’ll do that if we implement either or both.”

The board will vote on the delay on the 13th. Berman has offered a compromise. He suggested the board implement the middle school plan next year, but delay the high school assignment plan another year.

“One of the problems with postponement is that it has the appearance that we may delay and we’re not going to move forward and I think this actually gives us the opportunity to move forward,” said Berman.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the JCPS desegregation plan was unconstitutional. A new elementary assignment plan was implemented last year.

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Local News Next Louisville

Gordon Files Motion To Reopen JCPS Suit

Louisville attorney Ted Gordon was back in court Monday, filing a motion that asks a judge to reopen Gordon’s suit challenging Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment plan.

Gordon is basing his motion on recent public statements made about the plan.

Circuit Judge Irv Maze this month dismissed the suit that claimed JCPS was in violation of a state law that allows parents to enroll their children in the school closest to their home. Maze ruled that the law doesn’t guarantee children the right to attend that school.

Gordon wants the judge to give the case a second look, saying school officials and others have been using the terms “enroll’ and “attend” interchangably.

“If he sees fit, due to statements that have been made by (JCPS) Superintendent (Sheldon) Berman,
spokespeople for JCPS, adminstrators and board members, as well as state senators, to reopen the case for the taking of proof,” Gordon said.

JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman says Gordon is just trying to keep the pot stirred and the only language that matters is what’s in the state law.

“The judge was very clear, the decision was decisive and I don’t see that changing,” Berman said.

Maze is expected to consider Gordon’s motion next week.

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JCPS Officials Preparing To Modify Bus Routes

The first day of classes at Jefferson County Public Schools is Tuesday. District officials will be watching for any potential inefficiencies on school bus routes.

The new elementary student assignment plan has many parents worried that their children will be on buses for too long. Superintendent Sheldon Berman has tasked transportation director Rick Caple with making sure the trips are no longer than an hour.

More than two dozen buses have been added to the fleet and several routes have been redesigned. Caple says rides will be shorter, but it will take about two weeks to smooth out the details.

“We may add some,” he says. “We may remove some based on projections. Again, we don’t know who’s going to ride the first day, so we may be making adjustments after the first two weeks of school. Hopefully we can reduce some of those routes based on who rides and who does not ride.”

Currently, Caple expects to use about 900 buses to transport more than 63 thousand students.

Many area Catholic schools resume classes Wednesday.

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JCPS Suit Dismissed

A Jefferson circuit judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan.

Thirteen parents claimed in the suit that the plan violates a state law that gives them the right to enroll their children at the school closest to their home.

JCPS lawyers argued that having the right to enroll doesn’t necessarily guarantee the right to attend a given school.

Superintendent Sheldon Berman (right) says he’s pleased with the decision.                

“Judge Maze basically agreed with the arguments we were making. We made a good case and now we’re going to move forward with the student assignment plan as we were before,” he said.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Irv Maze issued his ruling Thursday, a week after hearing arguments in the case.

Lawyers for the parents say they will appeal the ruling.

“There is a procedure to bypass the intermediate court of appeals and ask the (state) Supreme Court to take it directly. We’ll also file that motion when we file the appeal,” said Ted Gordon (below right), one of three plaintiffs’ attorneys.   

Berman says preparations for the new academic year would not have been disrupted had Maze ruled against JCPS, since the decision would have been appealed by the school district.

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Local News Next Louisville

Decision In JCPS Suit Expected Thursday

A Jefferson circuit judge will issue a ruling Thursday in a challenge to the Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys today accused JCPS officials of mounting a public relations campaign in hopes of affecting the decision.

School officials have held some back-to-school media availabilities over the past week in advance of JCPS classes resuming next Tuesday.

Attorney J. Bruce Miller represents several parents in the student assignment lawsuit. He calls the publicity a ploy to influence Judge Irv Maze’s ruling.

“You don’t do that kind of thing, you give the judge the opportunity to reach a conclusion without being influenced out of court,” Miller said at a press conference at his downtown law office.

JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman says the district has been doing late summer back-to-school stories for years.

“This is a lawsuit but it isn’t of significance that we should be interrupting the standard way we operate and the standard way we inform parents,” he said.

A JCPS spokesperson says in some cases officials were approached by the media for back-to-school stories.

Thirteen parents claim in their lawsuit that JCPS is in violation of a state law that says parents have the right to enroll their children in the school closest to their home. JCPS attorneys say the law is being misinterpreted.

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Local News Next Louisville

Ruling Expected This Week In JCPS Suit

A judge is expected to issue a ruling this week in the latest challenge to Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan.

A suit filed on behalf of 13 parents claims the district is in violation of a state law that gives parents the right to enroll their children in the school closest to their home. It claims the state law is applicable because the county’s federal desegregation plan was lifted in 2000.

JCPS attorney Bryon Leet argues the state law is worded to draw a clear distinction between the right to enroll and the right to attend a given school.

“Is the statute, KRS 159.070, does that give students the right, statutorally, to attend the school nearest their home? We believe the argument is compelling that it does not,” he said last week.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Irv Maze says he’ll issue a ruling Thursday on a motion to dismiss the suit. Both sides say they’ll appeal if he decides against them.

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Hearing Held On JCPS Student Assignment Suit

A circuit judge will issue a ruling next week in the latest lawsuit challenging the Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment plan.

Thirteen parents are now plaintiffs in the suit.

The challenge contends that JCPS is in violation of a state law that says children should be allowed to enroll in the public school closest to their home. The parents argue that the law is no longer trumped by a federal
desegregation plan for the county that was lifted ten years ago.

JCPS officials counter that the law is being misread.             

“This statute is what our attorneys have said it has meant. And that is that students have a right to enroll in a school nearest them but not necessarily attend, and the school board has the right to create attendance zones,” JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman (right) said after a one-hour hearing in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Parent TeriLynn Ralston joined the suit after the district assigned her six year old son to a school 15 miles from home. She says she’s in favor of school diversity, but not the way it’s being pursued.

“I think there could be a better plan in place to achieve the goal that they would like to see with the diversity. There’s just got to be a better way,” she said.

Attorney J. Bruce Miller represents several parents in the suit. He says the district doesn’t even need a desegregation plan anymore.

“We had a hundred years of politicians after the Civil War that segregated the schools, we’ve gotten over that. So we don’t have to do it now. We do it because we have a school board and a superintendent who are socially engineering how this community works,” Miller said.                                

Jefferson Circuit Judge Irv Maze says he’ll issue a decision next Thursday on a motion to dismiss the suit.    Both sides say they’re prepared to appeal if Maze decides against them.

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More Parents Join JCPS Suit

Nine more parents have joined a lawsuit challenging the Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan.

It brings to ten the number of parents who contend the school district is in violation of a state law that allows them to enroll their children in public schools closest to their homes.

Attorney Teddy Gordon originally filed the suit on behalf of a parent in Jeffersontown whose child was denied admission to a nearby school. He says the state law he cites was never repealed and is no longer trumped by Jefferson County’s federal desegregation plan.

“There was a previous federal decision that stayed the enforcement of the law during the period of time that we had the desegregation order. That impediment was lifted with my case of Hampton versus Jefferson County Public schools in the year 2000. Therefore this is still a good and valid law,” Gordon said.

School district lawyers are asking for dismissal of the suit; they argue that state law applies only to school districts that have merged.

The nine new plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Bruce Miller and Sheila Hiestand. A hearing on the suit is set for August 5

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Another Suit Challenges JCPS Plan

By Rick Howlett

Louisville attorney Teddy Gordon has filed a new lawsuit challenging Jefferson County Public Schools’ new student assignment plan.

Gordon filed the suit Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court on behalf of parent Scott Arnold, whose five year old son was unable to get into Cochrane Elementary School near his home for the upcoming academic year and was assigned to another school across town.

Gordon contends the school district is in violation of a decades old state law that says parents should be allowed to enroll their children in the school nearest their homes. He says the state law takes precedence over the new assignment plan that was prompted by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

JCPS officials say they’re confident the suit won’t prevent the plan from moving forward.

Gordon argued sucessfully against the previous JCPS desegregation policy in the high court case and has mounted challenges to the new assignment plan. They were dropped after parents reached an agreement with the district.

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Local News Next Louisville

NAACP: Give JCPS Plan A Chance To Work

By Rick Howlett

The Louisville branch of the NAACP has released a report outlining its position on the Jefferson County Public Schools’ new student assignment plan.

The school board approved the plan following a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared the district’s 30-year old desegregation policy unconstitutional because it used race as the sole deciding factor in assigning students.

NAACP Education Committee Chairwoman Kathryn Wallace (pictured) says the group and its ally organizations generally support the new plan, which uses a combination of race, income and household education level in determining assignments.

“We implore every parent, every child, every teacher, every administrator and every Jefferson County board member to give this plan a chance. Give every child in the public school system in Jefferson County, Kentucky an opportunity for equal and high quality education,” she said at a Monday press conference at Louisville NAACP headquarters.

Wallace says the group is concerned that, among other things, parents who complain loudly enough can have their children placed where they want them, a claim JCPS officials deny.

The new plan for elementary students was implemented last fall; the middle and high school plans will begin with the 2011-2012 academic year.