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Education Law Center and the NJ Conference of NAACP has issued a strong critique of the November 16th Englewood Report released by the Commissioner of Education in the ongoing school desegregation litigation. ELC and NJ-NAACP filed the remarks with the State Board on January 25th, after the State Board solicited formal comments on the Commissioner’s latest Report.

In the comments, ELC and NJ-NAACP commend the Commissioner for "recognizing that it is time to dispense with the discredited ‘school-within-a-school’ approach to desegregation Dwight Morrow High School (DMHS), and for establishing the goal of creating one unified, high-quality program for all resident and out-of-district students."

But ELC and NJ-NAACP identify three critical deficiencies in the Report, based on the requirements of the law set forth in successive Englewood rulings:

  • The Report is completely devoid of an integration plan designed to address the continuing and persistent state of unconstitutional racial imbalance at the high school.
  • The Report fails to propose an educational plan for a comprehensive, high-quality program in which all students who attend that school – students with diverse needs, talents, and post-secondary aspirations – can pursue their educational goals and realize their educational potential.
  • The Report fails to set forth a process for engaging stakeholders in the development and implementation of an integration plan that is effective as a constitutional remedy and responsive to the needs of all students.

In the comments, ELC and NJ-NAACP underscore that the Commissioner’s current proposal for merging DMHS and the Academies magnet lacks all of the elements of a viable integration plan, including: (1) an analysis of target racial balance; (2) proposals, based on methods with proven success, for concrete programs and strategies to achieve this target; (3) goals and benchmarks; (4) a clear timeframe to insure the immediate implementation of the plan, once devised; and (5) a procedure for taking corrective action if "real world" progress does not accord with the plan goals and benchmarks.

"It is self-evident that the plan developed for DMHS must actually work to rectify the long-standing state of unconstitutional racial imbalance at the high school," said ELC Staff Attorney, Koren Bell. "We urge the State Board to act promptly, pursuant to our request, to convene a meeting with the Commissioner, district administrators, and interested stakeholders to discuss necessary revisions to the plan, and to establish a process for modifying the plan, before any contract is signed."