Local News

Attorney Asks State Supreme Court to Deny JCPS Student Assignment Case Review

An attorney representing several Jefferson County Public Schools parents has filed a response to the school district’s attempt to overturn a ruling against the student assignment plan.

Teddy Gordon has been arguing against JCPS for over a decade. He even won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2007, which called the district’s student assignment plan unconstitutional.

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JCPS Board Presented New Student Assignment Plan

The Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment staff has presented the school board with a plan it can implement next year, but some board members are unconvinced that the new plan is the best plan.

“The Cave” is the nickname for where JCPS staff has been preparing a new student assignment plan since hearing UCLA professor Gary Orfield’s recommendations in September. Orfield recommended a new diversity index and 13 smaller clusters for parents to choose a school as opposed to the six the district uses to form its current plan. 

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JCPS Hears Final Scheduled Student Assignment Presentation Tonight

The Jefferson County Board of Education will meet with the district’s student assignment staff in a special session before Monday’s board meeting.

The district is still trying to determine how the new plan suggested by UCLA professor Gary Orfield will affect diversity throughout the district. If the district wants to implement a new plan for the 2012-2013 school year, it’ll need to decide on changes in next month’s school board meeting, said Jack Jacobs who is leading the JCPS student assignment presentations.

But it’s premature to predict how the board will vote on any changes even after the previous meeting where board members expressed concern about creating a solid plan so quickly, said Steve Imhoff, JCPS board chair.

“From the last meeting I had the sense that most of the board would rather wait and get as much information as we can and make a deliberate decision sometime in the spring for the following year but whether that changes, we’ll find out more about that Monday night,” Imhoff said.

Several board members and JCPS staff addressed the short time frame the district has had to create a new student assignment plan since Orfield presented his recommendations in September. Orfield’s proposal reinvented a new diversity index, but he wasn’t able to plug in data specific to the district’s schools. JCPS staff have been working to fill in the missing pieces, which may cause the district to leave behind several parts of Orfield’s recommendations.

“Jack is bringing us a new proposal Monday, so we won’t be ready for a vote (Monday night).  We are moving far from the clusters Orfield originally suggested.  His just did not work.  Maybe this Monday will be better than what we have seen,” wrote board member Linda Duncan in an email to WFPL.

The board expects to see a new student assignment plan in December. It may postpone voting on any changes until the spring, which would delay implementation of a new plan until the 2013-2014 school year.

The district is also waiting on a response from the Kentucky Supreme Court on whether it will hear its case arguing a Court of Appeals’ decision earlier this year against its current student assignment plan. Some board members say this is reason alone to postpone any decisions about changing student assignment in order to prevent further changes it may have to make.

Local News

JCPS Board Considers Student Assignment Changes Soon

The Jefferson County Board of Education must decide soon on whether to implement a new student assignment plan for the next school year.

The board listened to a report on community feedback about UCLA professor Gary Orfield’s recommendations on Monday. Orfield’s plan aims to protect diversity in schools, but creates smaller regions for busing within the county. 

Around 900 people provided feedback in the past month, mostly online, and many were in support of his recommendations. Around 41 percent agree or strongly agree with what they know about Orfield’s plan, but 43 percent say they need more information. And the board agrees.

Local News

JCPS Asks Kentucky Supreme Court to Hear Student Assignment Case

The Jefferson County Board of Education has filed its official appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Earlier this year the Court of Appeals ruled against the JCPS student assignment plan, saying students have the right to attend the same school where they enroll, which is often the school closest to their homes.

But the board contends the state law is being misinterpreted. JCPS has now asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Attorney Teddy Gordon says he’s disappointed that the school district chooses to continue to litigate the issue. Gordon argued the U.S. Supreme Court case that led to the district’s race-based student assignment plan being shot down.

If the Kentucky Supreme Court decides to hear the case, JCPS would not have to comply with the appeals court ruling next school year. JCPS Attorney Byron Leet previously told WFPL that the Supreme Court could take several months to decide to hear the case, which could also delay implementation.

JCPS continues to discuss alternative methods for student assignment. But the board has made clear it intends on enforcing some form of diversity in schools.

Click here to see a copy of the JCPS motion to KY Supreme Court.

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JCPS Continues Student Assignment Discussions

The Jefferson County Board of Education must decide on changes to its student assignment plan soon if it plans any changes affecting next school year.

“We’re just right now exploring parts of several plans. And we’re exploring Dr. Orfield’s recommendations,” said Jack Jacobs who oversees the JCPS student assignment plan.

The JCPS board met this week to discuss the options. Among the various plans, JCPS is considering a plan it never fully developed last year, and also recommendations from UCLA professor and student assignment expert Dr. Gary Orfield. His plan creates 13 smaller clusters in which parents could choose a school.

The proposed JCPS plan maintains six larger clusters and ensures diversity while cutting bus times for some students, said board chair Steve Imhoff.

“Orfield’s plan also cuts down on—suggests it cuts down on—the number of students riding the bus as well as, secondly, riding shorter. So they both suggest the same thing but in different ways,” said Imhoff.

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JCPS Annual School Showcase Begins This Week

Jefferson County Public Schools’ annual school showcase for middle and high schools kicks off this week.

The showcase allows parents and students entering new schools to get more information about what the district offers. Each school sets up information booths and parents can meet school staff and ask about curriculum.

“Parents we always have one thought and children always have another and they both get an opportunity to look at what they think they want or want to do and then they may decide something altogether differently,” said Bernadette Hamilton who has helped put together the showcase for the past two decades. This year, the district has changed the format this year, she said.

“We separated it this year because of other things we are working on mainly the new student assignment plan and we didn’t want to pass out information that may not be correct at this particular time,” Hamilton said.

The elementary school showcase will be held in January. By that time decisions about the JCPS student assignment plan should be made, she said.

The JCPS middle and high school showcase will be at the Kentucky International Convention Center on Friday, Oct. 21, from 3-7 p.m.; and Saturday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

A similar showcase, for elementary schools, will be held at the convention center on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Police Chief’s Son Charged with Felonies, Gubernatorial Candidates to Debate Tonight, JCPS Will Appeal Neighborhood School Ruling, Ferry Service Ends: Afternoon Review

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JCPS Delays High School Student Assignment and Appeals to Kentucky Supreme Court

The Jefferson County Board of Education will appeal an appellate court ruling that allows students to attend their neighborhood school. As a result of the court’s decision, the board also voted at Monday’s meeting to delay implementation of new boundaries and assignments for high school students next year.

Delaying the JCPS high school assignment plan prevents changes the district may have to make later, said board member Linda Duncan.

“The difficulty now is if we would proceed with the adjustments for the high school boundaries and the court ruling went against us we would be implementing those new boundaries and having to grandfather those kids,” said Duncan. “We would be still grandfathering the present plan and then on top of it we would be redesigning our system to return to neighborhood schools,” she said.

The board’s vote was unanimous and is the second time it has decided to delay its high school student assignment plan. New middle school boundaries and assignments began this year.

The district continues to search for ways to build diversity in it schools. JCPS has been tied up in court since 2007 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the district needed to create a student assignment plan without using race as the sole indicator for a school’s makeup. JCPS changed its plan and now uses race as one of three factors to determine where students go to school. Several JCPS parents then filed suit arguing that language in state law says students have the right to attend the same school where they enroll, which is their local neighborhood school.

“For us what it would result in is a re-segregation of our schools as well as an ending to our magnet programs,” said Duncan.

Specialty programs, like magnet schools, may be protected against the new law, according to language in the Court of Appeals’ opinion. But it would create problems for the district, such as transporting thousands of students who may be grandfathered in to certain schools.

If the Kentucky Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it could take over a year before a decision is reached, which would delay JCPS having to comply with the appellates court decision.

Attorney Teddy Gordon, who represents the parents on the suit filed against JCPS, wrote in a statement his disappointment that JCPS continues to spend money on litigation.

JCPS attorney Byron Leet was unable to say how much money the district has spent for cases before both the Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals.

Local News

Attorney Confident State Supreme Court Will Uphold JCPS Student Assignment Decision

Attorney Teddy Gordon (pictured right) says his chances are excellent if the Kentucky Supreme Court decides to hear an appeal on the opinion changing the Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan.

Last week the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that students should be able to attend the same school where they enroll, which is the school nearest their home. JCPS is expected to delay implementation, which must begin in the 2012-2013 school year, by appealing to the State Supreme Court. But one parent isn’t waiting to push for change. Lead plaintiff and JCPS parent Chris Fell (pictured left) said he plans on running for the JCPS school board.

“I will be casting my hat into that ring. I’m going to wait until after the Governor elections. But to answer the question, yes I will be running for Larry Hujo’s seat for 2012. I’m a parent who wants to make a difference,” he said.

Fell’s daughter currently attends her neighborhood school, but Fell said that someone needs to be the voice of those students who aren’t lucky enough to go to the school nearest their home.

Fell may have an uphill battle. Jefferson County Teacher’s Association (JCTA)  has funds to support candidates and without its support it could be difficult to win a seat on the board, said Gordon.