National Organizations Join Board of Education in Appeal to the U.S.Supreme Court on Student Transfers

February 10, 2000
[See link below to access the court brief in Adobe acrobat PDF format: Eisenberg vs. MCPS (@70K) Get Acrobat from]

Seventeen education and social organizations from across the country, led by the National School Boards Association, yesterday [Wednesday, February 9] notified the United States Supreme Court of their support for the Montgomery County Board of Education's request to review and overturn a lower court's decision prohibiting any consideration of race or ethnicity as a factor in approving student transfers.

The coalition includes organizations representing school boards in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, and Texas, as well as urban and city school districts nationally. The group also includes organizations representing national interests in multicultural education, bi-racial children, multi-ethnic Americans, magnet schools, and the concerns of secondary school principals and African American educators.

The broad-based effort reflects the national significance of policies that are designed to avoid creating racially isolated schools through student transfers and to maintain important benefits derived from educating students in racially and ethnically diverse school settings.

"We believed from the very start that our school system should take every effort to avoid racial and ethnic segregation and ensure that our children benefit from the diversity of our community," said Board of Education President Patricia O'Neill. "Obviously, this is no longer simply a local issue, but one that involves every school district in America."

In December, the Board of Education, following a unanimous decision, asked the Supreme Court to review and overturn a decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond last fall that essentially barred the Montgomery County Public Schools from using race and ethnicity in consideration of student transfers. Yesterday, the case expanded to a national issue with a focus on the differing federal court interpretations of previous Supreme Court decisions involving race and ethnicity.

"Public school districts around the nation have been placed in a legally untenable position," said the brief filed by the National School Boards Association and the other organizations. "The Fourth Circuit's decision is sure to have a chilling effect nationwide.

"School leaders need guidance on how they may use race, together with other factors, in granting or denying transfers, or devising overall student assignment plans, or admitting students to magnet schools or special academies," the brief said.

In addition to the National School Boards Association, the organizations include (alphabetically) the American Association of School Administrators, the Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans, the California School Boards Association, the Center for the Study of Bi-Racial Children, the Council of the Great City Schools, the Georgia School Boards Association, the Horace Mann League, the Illinois Association of School Boards, the Magnet Schools of America, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, the National Alliance of Black School Educators, the National Association for Multicultural Education, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the North Carolina School Boards Association, the Texas Association of School Boards, and the Washington State School Directors' Association.

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