FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CR
MONDAY, APRIL 1, 1996                              (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Michigan high school athletic league
that failed to admit certain school districts with significant
black student enrollments will invite six of the schools into their
league, under an agreement reached today with the Justice
Department.  The agreement will ensure that the once excluded
schools will be able to compete with the other conference schools
in all sports and extracurricular activities.
     The agreement requires 18 public school districts located
outside of Detroit, which founded the Michigan Mega Conference
Athletic League, to invite previously excluded schools into the
     "This is a victory for the students.  Now everyone will be
able to compete on the same playing field," said Assistant Attorney
General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick.  "We hope all the Mega
schools will begin next year not only as competitors but also as
     Mega, an interscholastic high school athletic and extra-
curricular league, did not offer invitations to certain schools
when it was formed in 1992 even though the schools were located in
the same geographic area.  When Mega was formed, the proportion of
black students in the Mega schools was less than 5% overall, while
the proportion in each of the formerly excluded schools ranged from
32 percent to 99 percent. 
     In 1993, two school districts filed a complaint with the
Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. 
Each alleged that the founding schools discriminated in the
formation and operation of the league.  
     After determining that the Mega school districts violated
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing
regulations, OCR tried to negotiate a resolution with the founding
school districts.  When the efforts failed, OCR referred the matter
to the Justice Department last summer.  After further
investigation, the Justice Department entered into negotiations
with the founding Mega districts, which produced today's agreement.
     Romulus, one of the two districts that filed complaints with
OCR, was invited to join Mega after it filed its complaint.  Other
high schools that were not invited to join, but will now receive
invitations, include Robichaud, which filed the other complaint,
Ypsilanti, Willow Run, River Rouge, Inkster and Highland Park high
     Patrick expressed his appreciation for the cooperation and
assistance provided by OCR to the Justice Department in reaching
the agreement.  
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