November 18, 2006

Separate, But Equal

The struggle to end segregation in the public schools in America still continues to this day. An elementary school principal named Teresa Parker in Texas divided white children from minority children by assigning them to classrooms based on race in order to appease affluent white parents.
For years, it was an open secret at North Dallas' Preston Hollow Elementary School: Even though the school was overwhelmingly Hispanic and black, white parents could get their children into all-white classes. And once placed, the students would have little interaction with the rest of the students.

The result, a federal judge has ruled, was that principal Teresa Parker "was, in effect, operating, at taxpayer's expense, a private school for Anglo children within a public school that was predominantly minority."

Judge Sam Lindsay's opinion paints an unflattering picture of the elementary school and a principal who was so desperate to appease the school's affluent white parents that she turned back the clock on school desegregation 50 years.

In April, Hispanic parents sued, claiming illegal segregation. The three-week trial concluded in late August. On Thursday, Judge Lindsay declared that the school's principal violated the rights of minority children by assigning them to classrooms based on race.

The judge ordered Mrs. Parker to pay $20,200 to Lucrecia Mayorga Santamaría, the lone named plaintiff, who sued on behalf of her three children.

Although the judge did not find the Dallas school district liable for Mrs. Parker's actions, he strongly criticized DISD administrators for being "asleep at the wheel."
Mrs. Teresa Parker the principal of North Dallas' Preston Hollow Elementary School needs to be unemployed and never again be put in a position of power.
The judge also took exception to Mrs. Parker's apparent unwillingness to cooperate with the court. At one point during the trial, the judge noted, Mrs. Parker testified that she didn't know whether Preston Hollow is a predominantly white neighborhood.

"The court finds it astounding that Principal Parker, who has served at Preston Hollow for five years, would testify that she knows nothing about the ethnic makeup of the immediate neighborhood surrounding her school."

The school's attendance zone is mostly north of Northwest Highway, east of Preston Road, south of Royal Lane, and just east of North Central Expressway. It includes affluent, mostly white single-family homes, as well as middle-class homes and apartments that are predominantly minority.

The judge also had sharp words for the district's attorneys, who argued that segregation would cause no harm to the minority students because their teachers used the same curriculum as those teaching white students.

"The court is baffled that in this day and age, that [DISD relied] on what is, essentially, a 'separate but equal' argument," the judge wrote.

Mr. Martinez, the district spokesman, said the district doesn't believe Mrs. Parker was segregating students, but he acknowledged that classrooms at the school need to be better integrated.
Add the school district's attorneys, District spokesman Celso Martinez and Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to list of people who have to be unemployed also. The Superintendent has to be held accountable for this apathy and this total disregard of what is happening under this supervision.

Mrs. Teresa Parker had a willing partner in PTA chief Meg Bittner.
Judge Lindsay also criticized Meg Bittner, the school's PTA president, who wanted to lure more affluent white families out of private schools and back to Preston Hollow.

More white families would result in a healthier PTA, she testified, bigger fundraisers and, ultimately, more money for the school. The best way to lure back white families, teachers and others testified, was to put white children together in the same classrooms.

Teacher Janet Leon told the court that "neighborhood classes" were predominantly made up of white students because "the people who live in the Preston Hollow neighborhood, who are the majority being white, would want their children grouped together."

To aid in the recruitment of more affluent whites, the school's PTA created a brochure for parents that featured almost all white students. Hispanic parents had shown up at the school the day photos were being taken for the brochure, but the principal blocked their entry into the classroom where the photos were being taken, the judge's ruling states.

Additionally, the PTA, in conjunction with the school, held separate open houses and kindergarten recruitments for white parents. And when PTA members gave prospective parents tours of the school, they were never taken down the "Hispanic halls" where the minority classes were housed, teachers testified.

This was a glaring case that needed to be fix, but Separate, But Equal is still being practiced in less obvious ways. If schools continue to be funded mostly by property taxes school will continue to be segregated by class and race. How do you fix the school systems?

I have no idea.


At November 22, 2006 7:59 AM, Blogger coverpoint said...

What will happen next?
DISD will be forced to retire the principal, Teresa Parker.
The original plaintiffs and their legal counsel MALDEF will rebuff any and all changes made to the classroom makeup at Preston Hollow. Why you ask? Simple, Judge Lindsay did not find DISD guilty. Judge Lindsay only awarded actual and punitive damages to plaintiff Santamaria. OFE and its President, Ana Gonzalez recieved no monetary compensation. MALDEF did not get their fees paid by the loser as customary in federal cases. Each side is liable for their own cost of litigation. Guess what? MALDEF is pissed off. No big pay day. MALDEF and the plaintiffs will be back, no doubt claiming that Teresa Parker and DISD are in violation of Judge Lindsay's order on January 18th, the day after the deadline. This time MALDEF will argue for additional sanctions, monetary damages, and attorney fees. So the court room battle for Preston Hollow will continue.
And who are the real winners and losers? There are no winners, only the kids are the losers. None, not the Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and Anglos.

At December 17, 2006 8:29 AM, Blogger coverpoint said...

Honorable Sam A. Lindsay Has Erred

Santamaria, et al
Dallas Independent School District, et al

Federal District Court for North Texas
Case# 3:06-cv-00692

In filings with the Federal District Court of the Northern District of Texas, the legal team defending DISD and Principal Teresa Parker have stated in
Court Document 203:
“….the Court committed a clear abuse of discretion in including conclusions of law not supported by the evidence or even its own judgment.”
Erroneous Findings of Fact
FED.R.Civ.P.52 (b): The central “purpose of motions to amend is to correct manifest errors of law or fact.”
Erroneous Conclusions of Law
After ultimately concluding that neither the Dallas Independent School District, the Board of Trustees, Superintendent…………violated U.S.C. 1983 or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964……the court concluded the Defendants’ motives were nefarious, and attributed legal arguments to the Defendants that they did not make.
7. Much discretion is afforded a trial court in consideration of a case. However, “such discretionary choices are not left to a courts’ inclination, but to its judgment; and its judgment is to be guided by sound legal principles’” See Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, U.S. 405, 416 (1975). Moreover a district court abuses its discretion if it: (1) relies on clearly erroneous factual findings; (2) relies on erroneous conclusions of law; or (3) misapplies its factual or legal conclusions. Alcatel USA, Inc. V. DGI Techs., Inc., 166 F.3d 772, 790 (5th Cir. 1999).

8. Here, the Court’s discussion of Plessy and Sweatt is misplaced and not supported by the record. Not once did the Defendants ever utter or embrace the “separate but equal” argument. Nevertheless, the Court appears to attribute this arcane argument to them. The statements in the Court’s Conclusions of Law under the heading of Defendants’ ‘Separate But Equal’ Argument” are plainly erroneous conclusions of law.

Judge Lindsay claims the Defendants relied on a “separate but equal” argument. The Defendants never made this a claim. No evidence or documents were filed with the Court making this claim. The Plaintiff’s attorneys never made this argument, for there is no reference to Plessy v. Fergson, 163U.S. 537 in the Proposed Findings of Fact presented to the Court by both Plaintiffs and Defendants on 1 September 2006.

As stated in the filing, “….the Court committed a clear abuse of discretion…”

At December 17, 2006 8:30 AM, Blogger coverpoint said...

MALDEF ask for $596,475.55

Santamaria et al v. DISD et al
Federal District Court for Northern Texas
The Honorable Sam A. Lindsay, Presiding

This is not normal procedure for MALDEF in the case of Santamaria et al v. DISD et al, a filing that is timely. Well on the other hand MALDEF wants to get paid. Anyway, as promised here it is: $596,475.55 in total.
The breakdown is as follows:
Nina Perales 77.4 Hrs @ $400 = $30,960.00
David Hinojsa 882.80 Hrs @ $300 = $264,840.00
David Urias 264.20 Hrs @ $270 = $71,334.00
Marisol Perez 89.0 Hrs @ $280 = $24,920.00
Diego Bernal 287.75 Hrs @ $200 = $57,202.50
Yolanda Reyes (Paralegal) 111.6 Hrs @ $130 = $14,508
Carmen Leija (Paralegal) 24 Hrs @ $130 = $3,120
MALDEF Personnel Total: $494,434.50

Other Cost: $102,041.05


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