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updated: 6/15/2011 4:54 PM

U-46 restates plea to dismiss racial bias case

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Even if Elgin Area School District U-46's student assignment plan had a greater effect on minorities than whites, the families suing U-46 haven't shown the district could have done any better, the district's lawyers argue in a new document filed this week.

In the filing, the lawyers continue to argue that a federal judge should decide the racial bias case the district is facing now -- even though U-46 has not mounted a defense and the plaintiffs have only presented one of three parts of the case.

That case accuses the district of discriminating against black and Hispanic families by placing them in older, overcrowded schools; denying them access to gifted programs; and providing inadequate bilingual services.

U-46's lawyers argue that after six days of testimony in March, the five families suing the district for racial discrimination have not proven their case.

The district made this argument at the conclusion of the first phase of the trial. The plaintiffs responded with a 122-page filing in April. This week's filing is a reply to the plaintiffs' April response.

In the new filing, U-46 lawyers, calling the plaintiffs' response "equally long on rhetoric and short on proof," deny claims the district segregated white and minority students in different buildings.

"The district does not have 'white' schools ... or 'minority' schools, as plaintiffs contend," the filing reads. "It just has schools, with different racial and ethnic compositions that reflect the district's changing demographics and individual resident choices -- as the law plainly allows."

Indeed, there is nothing illegal about having schools that are predominantly of a particular race. But plaintiffs have argued the district's policies sent blacks and Hispanics to inferior schools.

While denying that is the case, U-46's lawyers argued this week that even it were true, the plaintiffs failed to put forth a plan that would have done a better job -- a key requirement of the Illinois Civil Rights Act, under which part of the case was filed.

"They have not carried their burden ... of specifying an alternative assignment plan that would have accomplished the district's valid educational objectives as effectively as the 2004 (boundary changes) without using (mobile classrooms)," the U-46 filing reads.

Oral arguments on U-46's motion are set for Aug. 4. The trial is on hold while District Judge Robert Gettleman decides whether the case should continue.

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