Conn. district board of education delays racial balance vote

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, October 10, 2013

A planned Board of Education vote on a plan to address racial imbalance is on hold after information from the state did not come through in time.

The board had been scheduled to vote on a plan at its Oct. 10 work session that would have created a new magnet program in town and attempted to deal with imbalance at New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue Schools through open choice movement. However, before that vote can be taken, the board said it wants an answer from the state about whether those two schools are considered “unique schools.”

A group of parents, as well as board members Peter Sherr and Peter von Braun, have said they believe the two schools fit under the state’s definition of unique schools due to the fact that they run magnet programs. If that is found to be the case, the schools would be declared exempt from Connecticut’s racial balance laws. However, other board members have said that they believe they are not unique due to the fact that the schools only run partial magnet programs and still bring in students from the neighborhood area.

In order to clarify that question, last month the board wrote a letter to the state formally asking for information on it. As of a special Board of Education forum on the matter on Tuesday night, the town had not received a reply and a parent who had requested the same thing said he had not either. Superintendent of Schools William McKersie said the only feedback the district had received from the state was a set of clarifying questions about enrollment and how the district considers that.

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