MHC said it was “compelled to take a formal position opposing state takeover” until state education officials release a plan to desegregate schools, according to a Tuesday post on its website.
In the post, the coalition asked the Kentucky Board of Education and interim state Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis to share a desegregation plan for the district “that will continue and strengthen JCPS’ efforts to combat the effects of housing segregation in Louisville and achieve diversity in every school.”
Since recommending a state takeover in April, Lewis has not announced any plans for the district should the KBE approve his recommendation. Without a plan, especially one tackling desegregation, Metropolitan Housing Coalition said it would formally oppose the takeover.
“We, as a board-led coalition, discussed what part, if any, of the action to have the state take over Jefferson County schools was in our mission,” MHC Executive Director Cathy Hinko said in an email to Insider, explaining why it took MHC longer than other local groups to take a stand regarding the recommendation.
A satisfactory plan would have clear actions, deadlines, funding sources and consequences for missed deadlines, Hinko said.
Additionally, KBE would need to recognize the government’s role in “creating and intensifying segregation in housing by race,” Hinko said. The KBE would need to reaffirm the Supreme Court rulings saying it is necessary to avoid a segregated school system, along with acknowledging neighborhood schools would be segregated schools, Hinko said.
Some JCPS critics have supported cutting or ending busing in JCPS, reverting to neighborhood schools for the district.
“Neighborhood schools will be segregated schools, and that is no way to bridge the racial educational achievement gap,” the post said. “We have had neighborhood schools in the past and have seen the discriminatory impact, particularly for students of color and students from low-income families. As a city, we cannot afford to take a step backward.”
JCPS and KBE are still working to determine a date for a hearing regarding the takeover, but Lewis said he expects it to happen in late summer or early fall. In the hearing, both sides will present evidence for or against a takeover. The KBE will issue a final vote on whether to take over the district or only assist it.
By one account, Louisville is the fourth-most segregated city in the United States, the post said, negatively impacting minorities and low-income families. The JCPS Student Assignment Plan, which determines where students attend school, “has become a critically important tool to ensure that even as our residential neighborhoods remain highly segregated, our young people will not face compulsory segregation at school,” the post said.
Takeover supporters frequently point to JCPS’ racial achievement gaps as a key reason state management is necessary. A strong commitment to further desegregating the district would “certainly be expected” in any effort to close the gaps and further address racial equity, the post said.