Louisville Case on High Court's Front Burner

By  | 

The ability to use race when assigning students to public schools is on the line in two cases before the Supreme Court on Nov. 4, 2006. Officials said they could produce the most important decision on school desegregation in decades.

Parents in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, Wa., are challenging school assignment plans that factor in a student's race in an effort to have individual school populations approximate the racial makeup of the entire system. Federal appeals courts have upheld both programs.

The school policies are designed to keep schools from segregating along the same lines as neighborhoods. In Seattle, only high school students are affected. Louisville's plan applies systemwide.

The Louisville schools, with a history of state-imposed segregation, were under federal court supervision for 25 years. The Jefferson County Board of Education, which encompasses Louisville, came up with its own plan to maintain integrated schools shortly thereafter.

The legal brief for Crystal Meredith, the Louisville parent who sued after her son was denied his first choice of which school to attend, is at issue. It's alleged that the policy denigrates children's self-worth by color-coding them throughout their school .