FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES SCHOOL DESEGREGATION
LAWSUIT IN YONKERS, NEW YORK
YONKERS, N.Y. - - Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Ralph F. Boyd, Jr. today announced the settlement of the education portion of a twenty-one year old education and housing desegregation case brought by the United States and the Yonkers Branch of the NAACP against the Yonkers Board of Education, the city of Yonkers, and the state of New York. Under the settlement, the state will provide $300 million over the next five years to fund over forty robust educational programs and to facilitate the school district's transition from court-ordered funding to local control of education.
"We commend all parties and the court-appointed monitor, Dr. Joseph Pastore, Jr., for working diligently over the last year to settle this longstanding litigation," said Boyd. "This settlement is another example of this Administration's commitment to leave no child behind both by focusing resources on proven educational methods and by affording flexibility to local officials in using the funds provided by the state of New York."
The key terms of the settlement include: the state's duty to provide $300 million over the next five years, the city's commitment to maintain at least its current budget of $135 million a year for the school district over those five years, and the Board's implementation of forty new and existing educational programs during those five years. The purpose of these programs is to narrow the performance gap between minority and non-minority students and to improve the educational opportunities of all children in the district. The programs include, among others, reading and math programs, English Language Learner programs, training to improve staff perceptions and behaviors, family support programs, and the continuance of the district's Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten programs.
Within the next three weeks, the parties will submit the settlement to Judge Leonard Sand of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for preliminary court approval. Upon preliminary approval, the court will schedule a fairness hearing to afford members of the plaintiff class and the Yonkers community an opportunity to express their views about the settlement. The parties will seek the court's swift approval of the settlement at the fairness hearing, which likely will be held in March. The settlement will not become effective until Judge Sand approves it after conducting the fairness hearing and the New York State Legislature both appropriates the funding required by the state in the first year of the agreement and references the total amount of the state's funding obligations over the five-year period.
The education and housing desegregation case was brought by the United States in 1980, and in 1981, the Yonkers Branch of the NAACP intervened as plaintiffs. In 1985, Judge Sand found the city of Yonkers had intentionally segregated its public schools and housing over a forty-year period. The state of New York was later added as a defendant and was held jointly liable with the city for the costs of the court's remedial orders. The settlement dismisses the education portion of the case while allowing the housing portion of the case to proceed, and provides for the federal court's retention of jurisdiction over the settlement solely to enforce its terms.
Persons who believe that they have been victims of discrimination in education should contact the Educational Opportunities Section of the Department of Justice by telephone at (202) 514-4092 or 1-877-292-3804 (toll-free), or by facsimile at (202) 514-8337. More information about the Educational Opportunities Section is available on the Department of Justice internet site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/edo/index.html.