Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Judge: Group Can’t Block DC School Closures

A federal judge has ruled against a community group that sought to block Washington, D.C., public school closures by arguing that they disproportionately hurt black and Latino children.

The Washington Post reports that U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that school officials were not intentionally discriminating against the students.

“In this case, there is no evidence whatsoever of any intent to discriminate on the part of defendants, who are actually transferring children out of weaker, more segregated, and under-enrolled schools,” the judge wrote. “The remedy plaintiffs seek — i.e., to remain in such schools — seems curious, given that these are the conditions most people typically endeavor to escape.”

According to the Washington, D.C., public schools web site this year about 69 percent of students enrolled are black and 16 percent are Hispanic. Additionally, about 77 percent of D.C. students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

According to the Post, the schools the district wants to close in June would affect only two children who are not black or Hispanic out of 2,700 children. According to the ruling, the schools on the closure list are about 94 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic.

Similar charges of school closures hurting minority children have been risen in Chicago.

The judge also noted that community members were given enough notice of the plan. The suit was brought by the group Empower DC.