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Courant Staff Report: School Desegregation Agreement Withdrawn

Wednesday March 5, 2008

School Desegregation Agreement Withdrawn
Courant Staff Report
March 5, 2008
©The Hartford Courant

A settlement reached last year to meet the Hartford school desegregation targets set by the Sheff v. O’Neill lawsuit was withdrawn Tuesday from the General Assembly, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said he hopes to submit a new agreement for ratification by the end of March.

The decades-long case to integrate city children in schools with their suburban peers returned to court last fall after the legislature failed to act on an agreement between the state and the plaintiffs on how to proceed with desegregation.

The original Sheff settlement, which was reached in 2003 and expired last year, set a target calling for 30 percent of Hartford students to be enrolled in racially integrated schools by 2007, but that effort fell considerably short.

In January, the Superior Court judge hearing the case ruled that the prior agreement was still technically pending in the legislature and would take effect March 6 if not withdrawn or voted down.

The two sides are negotiating changes broader than the changes originally proposed under the multiyear agreement that set annual desegregation targets, according to legislators with knowledge of the talks.

Among the ideas now being considered are opening magnet schools for children in the suburbs and the expansion of the Open Choice program, which enables Hartford students to enroll in suburban schools.