Judge cuts federal strings on LISD, declares it desegregated
1991 U.S. District Judge Halbert O. Woodward on Wednesday snipped the federal strings that for 21 years bound Lubbock schools in expensive, divisive and sometimes emotional litigation.
The Lubbock Independent School District, Woodward declared, has become desegregated.
Woodward's announcement ended the case that began in 1970 when the U.S. Department of Justice sued the LISD for operating a racially biased school system.
His decision includes:
Approving a sweeping plan to reorganize the LISD. The plan reduces forced busing, converts Dunbar-Struggs High School to a junior high and beefs up magnet programs for Estacado High. It also clears the way for construction of Cavazos Junior High.
Dissolving of injunctions against the LISD. Those injunctions in the past have required the district to close schools, alter boundary lines and bus children across the district.
Allowing the LISD to operate its own affairs in regard to desegregation. The district no longer discriminates against minorities, Woodward said.
The Justice Department may appeal the decision after Woodward issues a written order, he said. But the judge professed his confidence in the LISD and its efforts to achieve racial equity.
"The plan is fair, and if fully implemented, will work," he said. "It's a hard line to follow, and a volatile situation, but it will work with cooperation."
Wednesday's proceedings gave each party's attorney - Brad Crawford for the LISD and Franz Marshall for the Justice Department - an hour to influence Woodward's stance.
Marshall claimed that the district has grossly failed in its duty to desegregate in every practicable manner. School officials even violated prior orders of the court, he said.
"Partial desegregation cannot be a substitute for total dismantling of a system," he said, citing case law.
Furthermore, the proposed reorganization plan is legally insufficient, he said. The plan would resegregate the district in various ways: Dunbar-Struggs High School dwindled. They also merely watched as the high enrollment at Coronado High required the continued use of portable classrooms, he said.
"In essence," they provided Coronado with a segregated alternative to attending Dunbar," Marshall said.
But Crawford called the reorganization plan a non-discriminatory move to improve education across the district. Crawford described the plan as focused, practical and built on community suggestions.
The plan would succeed because it relies on magnet programs, Crawford said. The public prefers magnets - programs that lure students to schools at which they are in the minority - to busing, he said.