Ike puts GISD desegregation lawsuit on hold

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jan. 14, 2009, 2:44am

GALVESTON – A local school district will have to wait a little longer before a federal judge can issue a ruling that may end a 50-year-old desegregation lawsuit.

The Galveston Independent School District was on the verge of achieving unitary status Jan. 9 when Judge Sim Lake postponed the ruling for several months.

Lake's decision allows Galveston attorney Anthony P. Griffin, who is representing the sole plaintiff in the case, to continue rebuilding his files that were submerged in Hurricane Ike's floodwaters in September.

GISD submitted material that is essential for its desegregation to U.S. District Court in June.

The school district must be sufficient in certain areas such as student assignment, faculty and staff assignments, pupil transportation, extracurricular activities and allocation of resources in order to be considered fully integrated.

GISD remains one of a handful of school districts in Texas compelled by the federal government to desegregate. In 1978, it implemented a voluntary majority to minority transfer policy to its elementary campuses.

The student body is 40 percent Hispanic, 30 percent African American and 30 percent white as of the 2007-2008 school year, reports the GISD Web site.

Students displaced by Hurricane Ike reportedly reduced the total population by 25 per cent.

Lake asked GISD to supply Griffin with information on which campuses will not reopen in the 2009-2010 school year because of Ike damage, The Galveston County Daily News reported last week.

Among GISD's damaged schools is Central Middle School, which was Texas's first African-American segregated high school.

Lake has consistently emphasized that GISD must be declared desegregated by the end of the current school year.

GISD superintendent Lynne Cleveland told The Galveston County Daily News in its Jan. 10 edition that the school district wants the suit to end.

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