A federal judge has upheld last year’s consolidation and closure of 15 District of Columbia public schools, rejecting arguments that the action was racially discriminatory and finding that it was for the legitimate purpose of improving the education of all District public schoolchildren, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan announced recently.
United States District Court Judge James E. Boasberg granted summary judgment last Friday to the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and Chancellor Kaya Henderson in a lawsuit brought by parents and guardians attending schools that were closed.
The plaintiffs contended that the closings discriminated on the basis both of race and place of residency because the schools closed had a higher percentage of minority students than did the public school system as a whole and were all located east of Rock Creek Park.
The court rejected these arguments, finding that “[n]othing in the record points to discrimination based on race or residence. Everything, instead, points to a neutral determination undertaken for the legitimate purpose of increasing efficiency and improving education for all students.”
Judge Boasberg had previously ruled in the District’s favor when he declined the plaintiffs’ request in May 2013 for an injunction to prevent the school closures until the resolution of their lawsuit. Friday’s ruling grants final judgment in favor of the District and Chancellor Henderson.
Attorney General Nathan commented, “I am pleased that the Court recognized what we knew from the start—that our policymakers and elected officials are only doing their best to give the children of the District the top notch education they deserve.”
DCPS Chancellor Henderson said, “We sincerely appreciate Judge Boasberg’s thoughtful decision to reject the claims in this lawsuit. Our decision to consolidate schools was made after careful consideration and conversations with the community, recognizing the best way to use the limited resources we have to support all of our students in all wards across DC. As we said during every meeting and every conversation, we have to be able to shift accordingly based on the enrollment needs and demands of our students. Our focus remains and has always been squarely focused on what is best for all the children of the District of Columbia.”
Attorney General Nathan commended Assistant Attorneys General Keith Parsons and Douglas Rosenbloom, working with Section Chief Grace Graham and Deputy Attorney General Ellen Efros, for handling the case.