So Now, South Ardmore Sues

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xf14ae's picture
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They have asked.

They have begged.

They have pleaded.

They have offered alternatives.

They have written.

They have spoken for hours and hours and hours.

Now, they must sue to be heard.

The parents of several LMSD students filed a lawsuit yesterday in Federal Court claiming that the plan enacted by Lower Merion School District is illegal.

See a copy of the lawsuit here (warning - it's big - 46 pages):

Student Doe v[1]. the School District of Lower Merion Federal Civil Action Filed May 14, 2009

Publish at Scribd or explore others: race lawsuit

Bonnie Cook wrote a piece about the suit in the Inquirer today. I think this is my favorite quote:

Denying some minority families but not their neighbors a choice of schools is illegal, Herbert alleged. Further, he said, the plaintiffs believe they are being singled out to boost minority enrollment at Harriton, which he said violated civil-rights laws.

Young denied both allegations.

"We have been aware since December of pending action, and will use it as another opportunity to share the facts about the plan," he said. "Redistricting in any community is an emotional issue, and, regrettably, it is impossible to develop a plan that satisfies all stakeholders."

Doug, Doug, Doug, when are you going to learn that you should read the lawsuit before you comment on it? If you did not consider race, then why, as described on page 25 of the document above, was there an internal memo April 18, 2008, obtained from the District's own public record files, explicitly stating that the issue of "distribution of minority students" must be addressed and why, in that same memo does it say that an encated plan must "assign minority students in accordance with the above decision"?

Why, on page 46 of the document above, was a plan suggested by residents of Penn Wynne, Merion, and Narberth in meetings with the district before October 31, 2008 that looks remarkably like Plan option 4B (described in my previous post) say, explicitly, that a problem with this "Travel Equity" plan as it was labeled in the document is that it would "create a racially isolated group of African-American students at Harriton." Why, Doug, why? If this were truly a color-blind process, and no consideration of ethnicity was made in creating these plans, then why do these documents say what they do?

It is sad that it must come to this. Really. Having to sue the people responsible for educating your children brings no measure of joy. Especially when you know your tax dollars are being used to pay for counsel to argue against you, along with your own legal fees. You essentially pay twice, and then some.

You may ask - why now? The Federal Government is already officially investigating, as is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission? Isn't that enough? Do you doubt what they will find?

I don't doubt that the Feds and the PHRC will find exactly what was found here and more. Every document in the exhibits, after all, came from the Public Record. The simple truth is that these kids are very nearly out of time. The Feds have had the case now for four months. The School District has already filed for an extension to respond to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission - all protests that they are eager to show the world how fair and equal and color-blind this busing plan is aside. These kids are on the bus in September, school's out in a month, and if their rights are to be preserved, something has to be done now to restore them.

Yesterday, after being pushed around by this School District for over 40 years, after seeing their schools close and their children scattered to the four winds to meet others needs, the residents of South Ardmore pushed back.

Hopefully, the School District will finally listen.

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carla's picture
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Rock on! Wonder what Uniified Slate Clueless Fran Hoover has to say about this? She doesn't seem to know much about anything does she? Wonder what the rest of Bruce Reed's bi-partisan school board puppets have to say? Wonder what Bruce has to say since he seems to want to control our minds and politics? Remember, a vote for unified slate is a vote for Bruce Reed, right? Just like a primary vote for certain OTHER candidates is a vote for Bruce Reed, right? Actually, Bruce Reed could be the best thing to happen to the GOP locally since RNC2000, right? You know how people switched parties for Obama? They might do it again to stand againts Bruce Reed, huh?

Posted on Fri, May. 15, 2009
Families sue over L. Merion redistricting plan
By Bonnie L. Cook
Inquirer Staff Writer
The families of 20 African American children in South Ardmore sued in federal court yesterday, alleging that a redistricting plan for Lower Merion's schools is racially biased.
The plan, passed in January, would bus the 20 children, now in elementary or middle school, about three miles to Harriton High School when they reached ninth grade; the other half of South Ardmore's children would be allowed to walk to nearby Lower Merion High School, said James Herbert, spokesman for Lower Merion Voices United for Equality in Education, an activist group.

Harriton High is in Rosemont, Lower Merion High in Ardmore. The redistricting is based on a need to build two high schools and balance their enrollments, school officials have said.

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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Maybe you can ask the School Board Directors yourself - there's a meeting this Monday May 18, 8 PM LMHS Library. Smiling

As for the 20 students - I think there was a miscommunication. there are a total of 9 minor children, 10 parents named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. This is not filed as a class action as Federal Class Action rules prohibit this - not enough members to meet minimum even if every child K-8 were named.

There are a total of 15 kids from Ardmore on the bus next year, 12 of which are ethnic minorities. Last total I heard from Narberth was 6 from there (originally 8 - 2 have moved out of the forced-busing zone since January).

Just thought I'd clarify before people pointed out the inaccuracy in the article. Doesn't change the facts of the case.

www.lmvue.org

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Just to prep any of you wishing to come to the school board meeting tomorrow night for the purpose of insight into the circumstances of this latest lawsuit: Now that the district has been slapped with this suit (or they will have been by tomorrow night) the admin and board will almost certainly not have anything to say about it. Pending litigation & litigation are both strict no-comment topics.

Normally I encourage anyone who is interested to show up at school board meetings, and to speak, question, or just watch. I still do. But, paradoxically, now is an especially bad time to get answers back regarding issues relating to the redistricting of Ardmore.

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So what are the damages? To win a lawsuit you have to show damages; to get an injunction, you have to show irreparable harm that cannot be remedied with money damages. Is the argument that students are irreparably harmed because Harriton is so much worse than LM? The horror of the bus ride will irreparably scar some students? It would be another matter altogether if students were being forced to attend a significantly worse high school, but they are more or less comparable; in fact, Harriton has some excellent programs that LM does not. So I guess I do not understand how the residents can possibly with this? Maybe I am missing something. But the fact that some people don't like the plan or the process, doesn't amount to an actionable offense that the courts will remedy. Can Ardmore residents show a Harriton education is worth so much less than one at LM, or the stigma of Harriton is such that no money can remedy it? I find that kind of laughable because growing up Harriton was referred to as Harriton Country Day, or "the country club".

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Curious - I think you need to learn a little more about the law. There do not need to be fiscal damages in a Civil Rights Lawsuit - there only has to be compelling evidence that rights guaranteed by the Constitution and other Federal Statutes were violated.

In this case, the plaintiffs contend that there is illegal busing to create a forced-integration program. The US Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that a School District cannot use race as a compelling factor in districting. Further, they claim that by offering "choice" of high school to part of Ardmore and not to another - and that Ardmore was split because of skin color to support forced integration, that you've illegally discriminated. Choice is being offered or not offered based on how many students of a certain ethnicity will end up going to each high school. Lastly, they argue that there is an undue burden placed on them to support this illegal busing.

This has nothing to do with whether one school is better than the other - they are both excellent.

The damages here are to these children's personal rights and freedoms - to be treated as equals. There is no price tag in terms of dollars on that.

They are not asking for money. They're asking for their rights to be protected and restored. It's as simple as that.

www.lmvue.org

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Don't be insulting. I did not say "fiscal damages", I said irreparable harm.
I think when you say "they're asking for their rights to be protected and restored" you mean they are seeking an injunction. That is what they are seeking. In civil cases, there a remedies at law (money damages) or at equity (injunctive relief, which could be in the form of a TRO, preliminary injunction, or permanent injunction). Relief must fall in one of these categories. So they are seeking an injunction to compel a new redistricting standard which does not discriminate. A court could order an injunction requiring a specific redistricting plan or, more likely, remand for a new redistricting plan which does not disriminate. In the latter case, the school district would do it over with instructions from the court. To get an injunction they have to show irreparable harm not remedied by money damages. That is a very high standard. But they must show harm, not just that there is discimination but why that discrimination hurts them.

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Touchy, touchy. I wasn't intending to be insulting. I believe the plaintiffs (I don't know who they are FYI - they are anonymous even to LMVUE) believe that the standard has been met. It remains to be seen what a Judge will decide based on the facts of the case.

www.lmvue.org

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What is the irreparable harm? You celebrate the lawsuit, predict success, but why is Harriton so much worse than LM? If they are comparable why all the fuss?

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Federal question/civil rights law isn't my practice area, but, I think, the alleged harm is NOT the issue of students traveling to an equally excellent school...but rather that there was racial governmental discrimination.

Let's assume that the allegations in the Complaint, for purposes of this discussion, are true. Governmental discrimination/segregation based on race, whether intentional or the result of a disparate impact, receives what is known as "strict scrutiny" by the courts.

"Strict scrutiny", as I understand it, means that the government (in this case, Lower Merion), must demonstrate that it has a compelling state interest for the discrimination, AND that there are no less-discriminatory measures available to the government. If Lower Merion fails to meet this extremely heavy burden of proof (and recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent indicates that they will fail), their actions are deemed unconstitutional by the court, and they lose.

Also, Curious, I think you (despite what appears to be some foundational knowledge of the law) are not putting the proper burdens on the proper parties. Racial discrimination by the government is, I think, presumed to be harmful. It is no defense, in a race discrimination case, to argue "separate but equal, hence no irreparable harm." Plessy v. Ferguson went the way of the dodo a long, long time ago.

However, as I stated first, this really isn't my bag, so I welcome more knowledgeable lawyers to correct my comments.

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Isn't it damages enough that it's against the law to thoroughly research where racial minority families live and make sure that they not be allowed to attend their neighborhood school?

Unlike most areas in the school district Ardmore has no neighborhood schools to begin with at the elementary and middle school level. Taking away the very last neighborhood school facility is extremely significant, and designating which children are to be shooed away is grave.

If it were not in the least burdensome to attend Harriton why were so many families so vocally against it from every neighborhood? It's because building a larger school in a lightly populated area and a smaller school in a densely populated area is an extremely bad town planning decision. Nobody wants to live like that. It's miserable and demoralizing to be forced to contribute to carbon footprint, to have hours unnecessarily taken out of one's day, accumulated weeks and months of one's life robbed over 12 years, to reduce one's parents' access to one's school, and one's own access to after school activities.

All of that is reprehensible and outrageous for whatever reason it was done. What makes it illegal is the explicit factoring of race to sort out who goes.

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I am asking a legal question. The elements of the case have to be met. I am sorry you are upset. But some group is upset by every option. Having my children who attend BC (but do not walk, its too far- we live on the Merion side of BC), drive by LM and go to Harriton (one of the plans peple on this Board love would have us do that), would be horrible for our family. I can live with it if it happens. I think both schools are great and would never dare claim the extra 30 minute drive (and that is what it is I drive it every single day at the same time as the buses on my way to work) is "irreparable harm" because the schools are both so good, and someone is going to be inconvenienced. But as a lawyer, I am curious how any one group can show "irreparable harm" where the school are comparable. Think of it like this: if you were forced to attend Haverford college instead of Bryn Mawr college it would be hard to show irreparable harm. Its not enough that people are unhappy. The case must be made in accordance with the law.

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You're a lawyer? Did you take Constitutional Law in law school? If so - why are you talking about how comparable Lower Merion and Harriton are in terms of how good the schools are? The issue is not about that...RL is right - it ain't about the schools being "equal" in terms of the academics, student teacher ratio, square footage, quality of bathrooms, etc. It's whether Lower Merion USED THE ISSUE OF RACE (either intentionally or disproportionality) when it determined where to send its students. That's the issue. Get it?

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You're a lawyer? Did you take Constitutional Law in law school? If so - why are you talking about how comparable Lower Merion and Harriton are in terms of how good the schools are? The issue is not about that...RL is right - it ain't about the schools being "equal" in terms of the academics, student teacher ratio, square footage, quality of bathrooms, etc. It's whether Lower Merion USED THE ISSUE OF RACE (either intentionally or disproportionality) when it determined where to send its students. That's the issue. Get it?

Wooz, in answer to your last question ~

Never seems to, no.

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As an attorney, you of course are welcome to file an amicus brief showing your legal rationale for your position.

As RadnorLawyer said, discriminating on the basis of race is considered harmful.

This is not about travel times - though these kids all live in walking distance and would walk to LMHS if the District applied their policy correctly (they do not).

This is not about excellence of the schools - they're both good schools.

If I were forced to attend Bryn Mawr College instead of Haverford College and that was because I was an African-American, while non-minority students could choose either, I would argue that I have been harmed.

If LMSD told me I had to go to Harriton instead of Lower Merion because I was a Jew and there were not enough Jews at Harriton, (but students of other faiths could choose either school) I would feel equally discriminated against because of my religious beliefs. Same with my gender - what if LMSD decided I had to go to Lower Merion instead of Harriton because there were not enough female students and they needed to create a balanced co-educational environment? Are those applications OK too?

This is about the basic right to be treated as equal citizens. "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal". Remember that?

www.lmvue.org
"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

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I hear what you're saying, curious. I do not live in Ardmore either. You and I both live outside the traditional walk zone around Lower Merion HS. But the redistricted box of Ardmore in question all live well within the 1-mile walk radius that has long been specified as District policy for secondary schools. (The PA state standard for secondary schools walk radius is 1-1/2 miles, by the way.) Safe sidewalks reach all the way to County Line. These are kids that could easily walk by any measure. One would think it would take a situation very out of the ordinary to shift them. The school district, I suppose has a legal right to act in an arbitrarily mean manner, but the essense of this complaint is that they must even then be mindful of a disproportionate effect on racial minority populations.

The District spokesman often refers to "challenging geography" in deciding which areas will be redistricted; but to state this one must first ignore the very favorable geography of the densely settled, 100% sidewalk-accessible areas in the middle of the township.

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LexoTime5: Thank you for your rational response. Everyone is so very heated about this, but I question if all the commentators actually have any real stake here or considered how complicated it is. I own my home, not rent, so I do pay school taxes. I have three affected children who actually attend the schools (unlike, presumably, Radnor lawyer, its not a theoretical debate to me-- every day my kids get on the bus both ways and that Harriton was literally falling down, and LM so crowded kids were late for class every single day-- these are real concerns which people who don't have children or even live in the district may not appreciate). Having schools that are not falling down or overcrowded is a good thing. Those that think its ridiculous may not have stepped foot in either of the high schools in the last few years.

Your point about challenging geography is excellent, where do the kids who attend the schools live? BC has a huge, dense, population which, if bused to Harriton might violate the bus restrictions because it really is very, very far so the buses would not be able to get back to the denser part of the district for more the middle and elementary runs. Small pockets like the Merion part of BC (the heavily Orthodox neighborhood which feeds to Merion elementary, not Cynwyd) and town of Haverford have so few students they cannot make an impact. We aren't consider because we are too small too matter. Gladwyne, North Haverford, Bryn Mawr have disproportionate number of private school kids so hard to have an impact with them towards equalization. You cannot just look at the map, as attractive as they may be, you have to know how many kids there are who attend public schools, where they live, and how long it will take to bus them. You have to actually compare ethnicity (not even sure how that information is available) if you want a fair non disproportionate impact. So what is the school district to do? The schools are being built, buildings going up so a little late to decide we don't want to build them.

Its not easy. It may be painful. But I still don't get the harm. Not to the minorities or anyone being forced to send their kids to Harriton, which is a terrific school. I don't think my kids should get off scott free while others suffer. But I don't think there are easy answers.

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Who is suggesting that the debate is "theoretical"?

Who is suggesting that there are "easy answers"?

Who is suggesting it's "[a] little late to decide [Lower Merion doesn't] want to build [the schools""?

I understand that you, a lawyer, do not command a robust background of discrimination law (neither do I, as I previously indicated), but still, there's no need to create strawmen to support whatever point it is that you're trying to make.

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but still, there's no need to create strawmen to support whatever point it is that you're trying to make.

So, so true, Dan.

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I think a big part of this lawsuit will involve all the past decisions by LMSD to redistrict and to also remove an elementary school serving South Ardmore.

If I were the lawyer for the litigants, I would look to demonstrate a pattern of behavior, and one certainly appears to be there over the years by LMSD.

As for standing, see my post below.

=================

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~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Hi again curious. Don't let my fellow hot-heads scare you off. Your opinion and conversation is valued here. I hope you stick around and talk some more.

The fair way to redistrict, from the standpoint of race, would be to simply not take it into account in the first place. It seems obvious first from watching the four redistricting proposals air, and then reading the attachments to this legal complaint, that race was always a factor at every moment of the process. The four plans all have one side or the other of south Ardmore being bused; and the administration's notes on proposals that do not move one side or the other of Ardmore essentially dismiss them for not moving enough black children. That is the sum total of the bad activity alleged in the complaint as I read it. Thus, to get it right, just don't do those things. Don't toss out viable plans just because they don't move enough black children, and don't instead adopt nonsensical (in my opinion) plans.

Base the attendance areas on transparent values that everyone can agree on. Redistrict the elementary schools so that they make sense. If City Ave residents really can't be bused to Harriton, how about a single elementary school for all of the City Ave folks, and then we've instantly upped our pool of neighborhoods eligible to be bused to Harriton. Also neighborhoods within 1 mile or 1-1/2 miles of LMHS could be districted to a single elementary as well, so their feeder pattern to LMHS would be unobstructed. This would enable the 3-1-1 system that many favored in the last go-round. Most importantly, redistricting the elementary schools would mean that no one was "safe." No neighborhood could band together and act territorially and make proposals just for the benefit of their own areas. And how about running an analysis of each address in the district of what it's travel time to schools are, and also across a student's whole K-12 career; take all of that into account to surmount what the district considers its "challenging geography."

By the way, you CAN see where public school attending families live by looking at this map available on the district's website: http://www.lmsd.org/documents/redistricting/scattergram.pdf

I'm not sure I buy the whole conspiracy thing, but if that's why certain neighborhoods are being spared a few extra minutes on the buses, then make them stamp the map "Can't bus this neighborhood because so-and-so lives here" and see what the voters and the judges make of it.

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Why curious, we all are curious about you!
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L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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First of all - THANKS A LOT LMSD, the School Board, and the "Unified Slate" for causing this mess and allowing yet ANOTHER lawsuit against the school district -- and once again having money taken out of the pockets of Lower Merion taxpayers to defend this lawsuit based on your race-based decisions.

As for harm and damages, it is quite simple. If the government violates your constitutional rights it meets the legal definition of having "standing" for litigation, harm has been done, and damages may be awarded.

The lawsuit alleges a race-based violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which, if true, is a violation of the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs by the government, and Section 1983 of U.S. Code provides the grounds for civil actions based on the deprivation of civil/constitutional rights.

And as usual, elected government agents in Lower Merion never consider their oath of office to "support, obey and defend" the Constitution, so it is not surprising in the least this has happened even if you take the past race-based decisions by LMSD and the School Board in South Ardmore out of the equation.

Lower Merion Township currently has at least two unconstitutional laws on the books and the commissioners don't care. Whether it is the school board or the commissioners, their solemn word of honor - their oath of office means nothing to them.

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~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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So many seem to be getting wrapped around the axle around these two concepts - which are irrelevant to the suit at hand:

1. That the schools are unequal in quality - they are both excellent. The plaintiffs to not contest the quality of either school.

2. Issues of geography. The very well paid consultant demonstrated months and months ago (and parents lobbied for long before 3 R) an equitable solution that created fair travel times. That plan would be 4B or a variation - took into account enrollment, enrollment trends, population density, etc. That model is based on data going back to 1932, so it's deep and encompasses times of economic collapse as well as richness.

Just for the howdy-do of it, let's assume there is no real geography problem. The schools are equidistant to everyone.

Is it OK to say to the African-American students - you must go to School X, while saying to the non-African-American students - you can choose either school?

This is not a redistricting case at it's core - it's an illegal busing case. It is, in essence, (and I've said this before) a forced integration case ('increasing diversity' sounds so much better but it's the same thing) without a Federal or State Order requiring the integration.

As for my 'stake' in this, curious, I get that you're brand spanking new, at least as a poster. You can read my old blog entries, I do quite clearly state my 'stake' in this.

www.lmvue.org
"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

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so sorry, my comment was directed at Radnor Lawyer, as I said. And yes I am new and don't know who any of the posters here are, so don't take it personally.

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Curious,

I take it as personally as you, as do others like Lexo here. We live this every day too. As I've said before I am both a product of these schools (and an extreme-redistricted child) and I am a parent educating children in these schools. Being extreme-redistricted, you'd expect I am anti-change; on the contrary I think it's valuable to 'break up' students at certain junctures in their lives as it allows for reinvention, the formation of new social constructs for lower-performing students, while not at all impacting negatively the high-performing students. For some, staying with the same group of kids for 12 years is heaven. For others, that's a living hell.

What I would say to your argument about maps and population density is that we paid outside consultants an extraordinary amount of money to model solutions taking not only current density and enrollment patterns into account, but trending that data based on 75 years of history. They also took into account historical and current GPS based travel times, traffic patterns, etc. For anyone who knows anything about predictive modeling, 75 years is an extraordinarily deep set of data to model from, so the predictive value + 5 would be strong.

From that model, 2 solutions became 'front runners' = the model that became Plan 1 which sent PW to HHS and the option to Plan 1 called 4 B. Plan 1 had the bonus of Diversity - while sending kids who live within a mile of LMHS to Harriton. Option 4 B had no children living w/in a mile of LMHS going to Harriton. Neither used 'choice' to drive enrollment.

Independent citizens actually followed buses with voice recorders in their cars and clocks. They tracked Bus 85 - the Harriton IB bus that services Cynwyd as it traveled along a very meandering pathway, stopping all along the City Line corridor and through the neighborhoods picking up single kids by their houses. That bus made it from start-of-run- to Harriton in 25 minutes. In fact, none of the runs they timed took more than 30 minutes, during normal operating hours, and the increased travel differential was calculated at + 7 minutes to HHS. Consider that it takes +15 minutes to unload a bus at LMHS and you're actually getting the kids to class at HHS faster.

So I find the 'extraordinary' travel times argument to be difficult to accept. Nor do I find the geography issue as an argument one that holds water.

So why was Plan 1 chosen over 4 B, and despite overwhelming support from Penn Wynne, Merion, Narberth, Penn Valley and Ardmore for 4 B was it never considered? That's easy. Plan 1 included South Ardmore folks. Plan 4 B did not. The problem with 4B, as Dr. McGinley so eloquently put in his memo, is that it leaves Harriton blindingly white, with a small group of racially isolated African American students. That is why 4B or the variant "Travel Equity" proposal lobbied for by all affected parents was rejected.

Also, Bruce Reed lives in Bala Cynwyd.

In the end, this is forced integration, disguised as 'increasing diversity' with no mandate from anyone compelling integration. There are ways to increase diverse enrollment at Harriton that do not involve forced integration. They involve something we should demand from our District - creativity, respect, and sensitivity. Apparently for this School Board and this administration, it's easier to just put them on a bus than it is to embrace those three simple principles.

www.lmvue.org
"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

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Frontpaged!

You know what the best part about this lawsuit is going to be? Discovery. I can't wait to see what sorts of things come out during this, stuff that the school board never told us about, and thought would never see the light of day.

We need to start a betting pool or something. Who will be the first school board member to throw others under the bus? Who will turn out to be the biggest racist? And, as the wildcard, who will turn out to have the biggest skeletons in their closet?

I predict a sharp uptake in liquor sales in Lower Merion in the coming months. Sticking out tongue

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I understand the documents attached to the lawsuit as exhibits are but the tip of an iceberg. More was found in the public record, and yes, what is not in the public record should be very interesting...including the depositions and such.

Remember, the previous Superintendent Savedoff testified to the Board (on video) that the Ardmore neighborhood should not be split up because it worsens the achievement gap to have ethnic minority students spread to thinly...So what's more important? Token diversity for non-minority students or academic performance of minority students? We see their choice.

At least Doug Young did NOT insist to Rich Ilgenfritz that this plan was not drawn based on racial factors. I gather he finally read the suit, with addenda.

For me, no joy, really. This is a sad day, one that no one wanted to happen. The record will show - Ardmore folks made every effort to avoid this, from the get-go. Nothing would have made me happier, truly, than for this to have settled peacefully.

www.lmvue.org
"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

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I'd like to encourage Curious and others who have similar questions to keep posting or post in...and don't get put off by these silly scoring points that make it seem as if some posters are winning and others loosing the debate. Nothing of the sort could be further from the truth(watch my points go down for writing this) and I think Curious expresses a view(where is the irreparable harm?) that is held by the vast majority of folks in the township. The point systems seems to discourage a diversity of debate instead of expanding it.

I'd like to pose this question to the lawyers here...this section of Ardmore, that has been redistricted to Harriton, is not only composed of black students and their families. It is maybe the most racially diverse neighborhood in Lower Merion with it's fair share of caucasians, asians and other non-hispanic and non-african american racial groups. For instance, there is a group of Russians that live in this neighborhood. These groups are included in the re-districting and will be bused to Harriton. Does this matter with regard to this suit? Does it matter that other groups are also being affected and is any consideration given to this fact or is it simply a matter of the LMSD identify/singling out african americans, as was suggested above, whether intentional or the result of a disparate impact that is important at this point?

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Willey,
So you think that the majority of people who live in Lower Merion Township are represented by the views espoused by curious? I disagree.

I also do not think that you get this whole issue.

You might want to go back a read the posts written by people who are being redistricted. Then maybe you will have a better understanding.

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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As I think several people have stated, the alleged irreparable harm is the alleged racial discrimination.

As to your comments regarding the potentially evidentiary value of "racially diverse" neighborhoods - I really have no idea...that's more of a question best answered by an employment discrimination/civil rights lawyer.

Not to be morbid, but my practice area, vis a vis buses, occurs when the bus rolls over due to a design and/or manufacturing defect, and the occupants end up being catastrophically injured or killed.

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i note that ardmorewilley discredits the thumbs up/thumbs down score - with the evidence that his scores are in the negative, and then says that it 'discourages' debate.

its almost like he cannot bring himself to believe people dont like what he says, or maybe (for the comic book fans out there) ardmorewilley lives in bizzaro world - a wonderous place where up equals down, happy equals sad, and thumbs up equals thumbs down.

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My score is in the negative because carla and "friends" make sure of it, just as they have been doing to any other blogger here who expresses a different point of view. "you like pizza with anchovies...minus three points." I can honestly say I will never click on those buttons, either thumbs up or down, for any post. What I'll do is engage the dialog hopefully with something constructive that does not discourage debate, but rather reaffirms it.

Carla, I don't know where I keep going wrong with you and the details of my residence...I NOW LIVE IN LM! I lived in LM when I wrote in your blog regarding the river west trail and I'm still living here in LM now. I can see this is important to you and that any folks not living in LM some how have a diminished voice...ah, but not when it came to the billboard issue, we sure sung the praises of those non-LM neighbors and officials at the hearing. What is that saying about the "winds a blow'in" or is it more like "fair weather friends"? While I did my tenure in Ardmore(Haverford) I made sure never to think my world ended at County Line Road. I reached out to neighbors in both Townships because there truly is only one Ardmore. Ah, but I digress...

I've had my children re-districted twice. Once in Haverford, where we had to go to an entirely new school and once now in Lower Merion. So, yes i do understand, yes I've been watching and reading what is happening, I have many friends who are caught up in this because I had as many friends on the LM side of Ardmore and the HT side (that one Ardmore thing I was talking about). I'm going to keep my exact neighborhood out of it for now, but my children are in the bus zone from Elementary to High School. I would be happy if they attended either High School, extremely happy if they test into the IB Program at Harriton and if not, LMH. I understand the perceptions of diversity (both as a plus or minus) by many regarding LMH depending on who you talk to and I also understand this same perception as it applies to Harriton. It is very interesting to see how these two schools are viewed by folks. The people who see LMH as being diverse and suffering from less class issues are the ones who choose it over Harriton because they feel Harriton lacks these things. These folks place more value on this diversity and with that comes a sense that their children will receive a better education at LM. This would apply to the Ardmore crowd, Melissa, Ivan(who post here regularly, I believe, and is pretty darn upset about his children being bused to Harriton)and Peter. I've got to be honest about who often falls into this group, it is usually white and Jewish with a few exceptions. Contrast this with the African American students and families in Ardmore who have attend LMH to this point - can anyone really say that they see LMH in this same light? Diverse? What have their experiences been with diversity at LMH? Again, I'm sure there are exceptions but we also have two law suits on the books now coming from the African American community in Ardmore that bears out their disenchantment, to say the least.

From the moment I heard that Ardmore was going to carved up in the redistricting I thought it was bad news, both in the 1st plan and than later to what we have now. Mostly, what disturbed me was the re-districting's affect on the community, it's impact on a neighborhood that is not all that cohesiveness to begin with, the impact it would have on children and families who tend to socialize with other families based on common schools, sports and extra-curricular activities. I never once thought that children going to Harriton would be at a disadvantage due to receiving an inferior education. Both High Schools are excellent schools, folks from the surrounding areas are literally killing themselves to move to LM to get into any of our schools, so when folks behave as if there kids are now being bused to an inner city school when being sent to Harriton, well I have to say I chuckle a little bit. It reminds me of what my spouse and I were like when our first child went off to kindergarten, how worried we were about everything and how we scrutinized every detail of our child's day, how we thought the teachers could do better, how the principle could do better, ad infinitum!

I think it is time to grow up folks...does racism exist in Ardmore, in the LMSD? Yes. it sure does! I have no doubt it exist in the LMSD both institutionally and in individuals to vary degrees and that african americans have experienced it, been victims of it and we all suffer as a result of it. Does it follow that the carving up of Ardmore, splitting it in half and re-districting half of it to Harriton High is the result of racial decision? I think the answer is no. Do I think this issue of race and discrimination is being used by savy folks in Ardmore(and here on this blog) to politicize this issue, to exert pressure on the LMSD, to get publicity for their own ends? I sure do.

I'm tired now since it is almost midnight and it is probably good to leave these last two questions unexplained for now. I'm going to save my proofs/my thinking for tomorrow or another day but feel free to comment away...I'm sure that I've got it all wrong or have not been reading other posts or I just don't get it so I'll look forward to hearing how I just don't understand Ardmore or the issues - as if i don't have an opinion of my own and can't think for myself!

Willey

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Willey,

You need to dial it back about 10 notches. Your behavior towards me continues to be concerning. You don't get it, unfortunately. There are bloggers from all over up here who interact with each other.

Your issues are your own and they are not my fault.

If you want other bloggers up here to interact with you positively (and give you those positive votes you seem to be obsessing over), it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you. How you interact is how they treat you.

If you want further explanations, see Doug the webmaster.

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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Willey,

From the moment I heard that Ardmore was going to carved up in the redistricting I thought it was bad news, both in the 1st plan and than later to what we have now. Mostly, what disturbed me was the re-districting's affect on the community, it's impact on a neighborhood that is not all that cohesiveness to begin with, the impact it would have on children and families who tend to socialize with other families based on common schools, sports and extra-curricular activities.

I agree. Having gone to one of Ardmore's 'neighborhood schools' long ago and seeing Ardmore now, I can say it's had a huge impact. We build our neighborhoods based on commonality. For families, a key piece is that we educate our children together more than anything else. At one time, for 20 years, the children of South Ardmore went to five elementary schools in the name of 'integration'. This so badly shattered us that we're still struggling to put the pieces back together again - 10 years after asking to be and getting consolidated into two schools. This is, for lack of a better term, essentially re-segregation, but this time at the request of the community seen as being 'advantaged' by integration. In the words of one "Old Ardmore" African-American resident: "If I knew then what integration would do to our kids, I'd never have demanded that we be integrated." That's a direct quote.

I do believe that my neighbors fear anything that breaks up the students. They were doing OK when they were just going to Bryn Mawr Elementary & Wynnewood Road Elementary, then all to AJH and LMHS. Everything went to h*ll when those three schools were closed and they were scattered to the 4 winds. There have been improvements in education in the elementary schools since consolidation happened 10 years ago at the elementary school level. The wheels seem to come off now at middle school and that trend continues through high school. What the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on of these children of Ardmore do understand is that the more dispersed their children are, the poorer they do in these schools. So, you can understand why they would not want this to happen again. You can't say to these parents, grandparents, great-grandparents "your kids will be fine. You're worrying about nothing." They were told that before. They believed that before. As it turns out, their kids were NOT fine.

I never once thought that children going to Harriton would be at a disadvantage due to receiving an inferior education. Both High Schools are excellent schools, folks from the surrounding areas are literally killing themselves to move to LM to get into any of our schools, so when folks behave as if there kids are now being bused to an inner city school when being sent to Harriton, well I have to say I chuckle a little bit.

I agree - I've never once thought the quality of instruction and educational opportunity would be any less at Harriton. Though there are inequities - ones I believe will be addressed each as they come to light - like the co-enrollment of honors/regular math. Not happening any more now that it's been brought to the School Board's direction. I have every confidence that as the enrollment balances and the inequities identified they will get addressed.

I've also never heard anyone affected describe this otherwise. Over and over again - this is not about the quality of the schools, both are excellent. In blogs. In testimony. In emails. In letters to the editor. In the media. This has never been about quality of opportunity. Why does this keep coming up?

BUT consider the history - the more spread out these students are, the poorer they do. We've got 20 years of data showing that. Jamie Savedoff testified that these students should be kept together to maximize the opportunity for high performance. Experts on the Achievement Gap issue nationally have said that these kids should not be split up. As someone said from the last Philly.com article blog, you can't measure the damage these kids will feel riding on a bus believing it's because of their skin color - true or not. So, why would you split them up knowing there's a very good chance they'll do more poorly when you do? To save other teenagers the hassle of 10 minute longer bus rides? Teenagers who, because they are not already hampered by institutional racism in LMSD would do fine anywhere? Wouldn't LMSD do everything they possibly can to help these students succeed?

Does it follow that the carving up of Ardmore, splitting it in half and re-districting half of it to Harriton High is the result of racial decision? I think the answer is no. Do I think this issue of race and discrimination is being used by savy folks in Ardmore(and here on this blog) to politicize this issue, to exert pressure on the LMSD, to get publicity for their own ends? I sure do.

I can see where you'd think that. Really. I can't agree with that - especially in light of the public record documents obtained from the School District. However, I can see where people would see that this is some 'scheme' to benefit more the non-minority students than the minority students. After all, it's not like the African-American population at LMHS is performing stellarly right now, right? So why wouldn't they want to get the heck away from that school and go elsewhere?

It's much easier to believe this must be about others whipping up a firestorm over something that doesn't exist. The District will want this and will paint it this way. They want you to write this off as much ado about nothing and to attribute this to entitled white people and a few malcontents and nut jobs. Heck, these kids are really grateful for the opportunity to go to either of these fine high schools, especially given their, um, history and situation (*wink wink* Sarah Palin-style). That is, after all, the District's way. Look how they've painted the Blunt plaintiffs...

I'm not sure there's anything I can write that would change that viewpoint. The facts are, as they say, the facts. The spin will be what people want the spin to be. I welcome, truly, the dialog and promise I'll be as level as I can be (as long as you promise the same - no name calling, no wild allegations, no lies, etc.). Seriously.

"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

As always, I'd like to remind everyone that the views I express here are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization I am a member of in a leadership capacity or otherwise. They're my thoughts alone, like 'em or not.

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It's neat how ArdmoreWilley asks himself questions and then answers them to his great personal satisfaction (paragraph 5 of his latest post). I'm gonna try that myself:

Do I think ArdmoreWilley has it in for Carla? Yes, I sure do! Does ArdmoreWiley's commentary about pizza with anchovies being connected to thumbs up and thumbs down score on this website make any sense at all? I don't think so! Is it insensitive for ArdmoreWiley to claim that folks have to 'grow up' regarding racism in LMSD and Ardmore? Yes, yes, and oh god yes! Does ArdmoreWiley's desire to leave 'Two questions unexplained for now' make me want to read his future posts? Nope.

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xf14ae

Thank You! You make a lot of sense and have made some great points. I've read through your post, but I've got to get to work so I'll post in later. I definitely want to understand more about the history of Ardmore and how it was carved up long ago - I've only lived in Ardmore for about a decade and though I could see the evidence of it's(Ardmore's) lack of cohesiveness (it is interesting to note that something similar also exists with the old Chestnutwold School in Haverford being shut down years ago) these things are hard to figure out without some history. I think this whole affair is way more complex than most folks are willing to accept. I could be wrong, but it sure looks to me like there are some "strange bed-fellows" in Ardmore with the African Americans on one side dealing with racism (at least the accusation and subsequent filing of a lawsuit) and the non- African Americans who are upset with being re-districed ( as any group who goes through this process often is).

But, i'll save all this for later and explain my post from last night further too.

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Oh the history - it runs long and deep.

First, the District was essentially birthed in Ardmore - the 'first' school was on Ardmore Avenue. There was another school in Bala Cynwyd - that was separate and absorbed by what became LMSD 100 years or so ago. LM Historical Society does a nice job of outlining 'how the District was formed' on the LMSD website. That's more a nuts and bolts history than a social history. http://www.lowermerionhistory.org/texts/schools.html

It is also important to understand that this area of Ardmore itself was settled long ago and was primarily populated by the servant class - former slaves and free people of color who came to work as domestics and laborers for the wealthier homes in other areas of the township. There are still quite a few families living in South Ardmore who trace their lineage to that time.

I have heard some oral history about an uprising in 1938-1939 regarding literal segregation at Ardmore Avenue but have not been able to capture the history exactly. Whatever happened, there was in the end no literal segregation.

So where we start is in 1956-57-58 when the District builds and opens three brand-new schools in the more remote areas of the Township. This is three years after Brown V. Board of Education. Harriton High School was built on donated land; also built at the same time were Gladwyne ES and Welsh Valley JH/MS. Penn Valley ES was not much older, having been built in 1951.

These schools were widely perceived as the 'white' schools - children of Ardmore did not live nearby any of them and they were inaccessible without an automobile, something that not everyone owned even in the '50s and in Ardmore to this day you still don't need a car. The talk was that these schools were built where they were so the children of the wealthy did not have to attend school with the children of their servants and working-class folks. That is talk, of course, but it has a ring of truth given the time period and attitudes of that period.

Meanwhile, Ardmore Avenue had been neglected, was very old and was falling apart. It was 80% black. The Civil Rights movement was raging and Brown V. Board of Education was changing the face of public education. The residents of Ardmore's African-American community demanded access to these better buildings, demanded equal education. To avoid being segregated by order, the District complied, closing Ardmore Avenue and splitting South Ardmore in two - Ardmore Ave - Wyoming Ave went to Bryn Mawr Elementary; Ardmore Ave - Wynnewood Road went to Wynnewood Road Elementary. Both groups of children met again at Ardmore Junior High School then went on to Lower Merion High school. The children of Wynnewood Road ES walked to school all 12 grades.

1977-78 saw the drop off in enrollment as the Boomers moved on and there was the 'baby bust'. A strong anti-tax sentiment formed and argued that there was too much capacity in the schools, that was raising the school tax and that they would save money if schools were closed and sold and children consolidated elsewhere. Despite very deep evidence (that has proved correct) including studies from the University of Pennsylvania showing that this was just that - a trough - and that students would return as the Boomers had children - the 'echo boom' - five schools were closed:

Narberth Elementary
Wynnewood Road Elementary
Bryn Mawr Elementary
Bala Elementary
Ardmore Junior High School

The children of South Ardmore were 'fully integrated' - attending five different elementary schools in a street-by-street districting. Some went to Gladwyne. Some went to Cynwyd. Some to Merion. Some to Penn Valley. Some to Penn Wynne. They then went either to Welsh Valley or Bala Cynwyd MS, but all then went to Lower Merion High School. Many walked but now some were bused even though they had previously walked.

Narberth Elementary is rented out privately by the people of Narberth who own the building. Wynnewood Road is sold to Torah Academy. Bryn Mawr is sold to Bryn Mawr Hospital. Bala is now the Bala Library. AJH stands empty for many years until it is demolished to make way for parking.

The parents are told this is what is best for their children, that they will be fine, and that they'll always still be able to meet at their high school. I know that for certain: I was one of the children scattered that year. I am fine, but then again I am not an ethnic minority. My friends, my classmates, my neighbors, were not all fine.

1981 LMSD closes West Manyunk ES because of falling enrollment. These children attend Gladwyne. They keep this building. This was not a major or contested issue.

By 1985 there is talk that Harriton HS may be next as enrollment, never high, has dropped below 500 students.

Here comes the echo-boom.

1998 LMSD is busting out of space and decides to renovate and re-open West Manyunk ES as Belmont Hills ES. During redistricting, South Ardmore, through many African-American Community Leaders, asks to be consolidated. Their children are failing badly in the 5 schools they were in. They are disenfranchised and isolated. The District consents, BUT with a twist. Instead of extending the PWES boundary further North from Linwood Ave, they split the community at Cricket and send the area North of Cricket - Wyoming to PWES, and the community closer to PW to PV instead. They have created an 'island' of children. But, they are not so integrated now. They still go to two different MS, but they all meet as one in HS as it has always been.

Sometime after '85 (I am not sure when) High School choice begins to be offered in areas to boost enrollment at HHS and keep it from closing. Most of South Ardmore though - fewer than 20% of those who live within 1 mile of the school - choose Harriton HS.

Which brings us to 2008.

That is the history.

"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

As always, I'd like to remind everyone that the views I express here are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization I am a member of in a leadership capacity or otherwise. They're my thoughts alone, like 'em or not.

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Excellent summary! It deserves a thread of its own. I'd like to see a version for Narberth Borough someday.

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Great information some of which I was not aware of.

While I can only imagine what it is like, after being sent to all those different schools for years as a resident of South Ardmore, but knowing you would end up with your neighbors in high school at Lower Merion - but now some get bused to Harriton, it certainly helps better understand the past frustration that I pretty much understood but have not lived.

For me as a kid on the north side of Lower Merion it was simple - Penn Valley, Welsh Valley and then Harriton with all my friends, though as a youngster I never understood why I was supposed to go to Harriton when LMHS was so much closer, but I did not care because I stayed with my classmates.

Not that any of that mattered because my parents sent me off to Episcopal in 7th grade and boy was than an adjustment. I survived and have no regrets, but going form a school where I knew everyone to a school where I knew so few others was not an easy adjustment. I handled it, but EA got an influx of students in 7th grade from elementary schools and some did not last the year or did not return.

However, that was the choice of my parents - not a forced situation by other parents with their own agendas.

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~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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xf14ae,

Excellent info...if I was giving points you'd get a ten! So let me just cut to the chase...one could rightly make the argument that based on this past history, that the continuation of re-districting in Ardmore, in South Ardmore particularly(where probably the largest African American community is living in Lower Merion) can be viewed as a continuation of a historical policy of blatant racism, though today we would better describe it as institutional racism?

I'm going to take few steps back just to explain what I think I know or what i thought I knew, and to acknowledge how horrible it is that racism still exists, that it might still be playing a role in district policy no matter how "unaware" our leaders are of their choices that further this racism and to express a deep sadness that this is still going on. It truly affects us all.

As someone who lived in Ardmore for the past decade, even though I was in another district, I was aware of the goings-on with the prior re-districting/busing/choice zones since we had a lot of friends affected by it. In the last year I paid closer attention to all the district information, read the papers, read this blog, watched the LMSD meetings on the t.v. On the surface, it didn't seem like a big deal or as big as some seemed to be making it both in Pennwynne when they fought not to be bused to Harriton, in Narberth and in Ardmore. I think it is very easy for a lot of folks to dismiss the resistance put up by Narberth and Ardmore as just typical resistance any community would have to being re-districted/bused. Pennwynne is a good example of this and if any other section of the township had been re-districted, such as Bala, I think the resistance there would have been just a fierce. I can tell you with all honesty that this is what I thought, even though I was greatly saddened by Ardmore being curved up yet again and the negative affect this would promote through the community. I half considered race as a factor in how South Ardmore was cut in half both in the plan prior to the final plan and the final one, but more so I thought class and socio-economics influences played a more profound role in that this area in the township is of a lower economic class (more affordable, denser housing though educationally the parents of these children would rank very high or higher when compared to the rest of the township). I tempered my feelings towards race as a factor given that they(African-Americans) were not being singled out, that the neighborhood was highly diverse and within it, all groups were being equally impacted. Being married to an educator, I am aware that school district documents often break student groups down by ethnicity, especially when mandated by the state to due so, and even more so when they(the school district/state) have made past mistakes such as blatant racism, lack of diversity, excluding groups for diversity or even overly focusing on singular groups for diversity. This is a very tricky area since it becomes very quickly a damned if you do or damned if you don't situation and is subject to a lot of interpretation from all interested groups. For instance, a number of comments have been made above in this thread about not using race/ethnicity to break down groups at all. Well, how does one do that if the state requires it? How does one promote diversity without the context of race/ethnicity to frame it in? Some want people want all mention of race/ethnicity removed from public schools and others want it to be acknowledged and embraced. Who is right, is there a right or wrong approach to this and which path do we choose - society is still grappling with this and our bureaucracies can only be as good at this as we the people are and often they fall short.

The LMSD created a mandate to deal with diversity based on past issues, one being the last lawsuit, it attends the Delaware Valley Minority Student Achievement Consortium, of which my spouse also attends and LM also hired Chris McGinley as Superintendent (http://www.lmsd.org/sections/veritas/mediagallery/main.php?g2_itemId=5966) who initiated a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania to form the Delaware Valley Minority Student Achievement Consortium and who is seen by many in the LMSD as step in the right direction for diversity issues based on his work at the Delaware County IU and at Cheltenham. Cheltenham is consistently seen as the leader at this conference for diversity issues. I thought, though I admit my knowledge is imperfect and opinionated, LMSD was moving in the right direction. I acknowledge all past or current problems don't just disappear after a few steps in the right direction (my opinion). I have not seen the documents mentioned above and I seriously doubt any blatant racism is going to come to light via these documents, though I could be wrong and would be surprised. I find it far more likely that some form of institutional racism is coming to light in these internal LMSD documents, but maybe not even that, and the context is going to have to be considered. But, despite all this the public wouldn't really know much of this unless they had more than a passing interest and some inside info. to form an opinion. They would have to make up there minds based on LMSD info. provided on the website, info. from contacting officials, some info. provided here on this website (which did have a shrill tone to it but was of little substance - again, my opinion), local gossip which ran rampant and very little in the papers that was substantive regarding any history or inside/new information. The papers just re-hashed the meeting facts and highlights regarding each sides issues. I, like Curious, and like the vast majority of people in the township(my opinion) was left wondering whether there was anything more to the re-districting than it being a case of sour grapes by those being re-districted. With all sincerity, this is pretty much how I saw the whole re-districting affair unfold.

I greatly appreciate xf14ae summation of South Ardmore's history, as xf14ae sees it, because it has substance to it and helps me to understand more clearly where this lawsuit is coming from regarding the African American community in South Ardmore. My mind is not made up about this issue and can be changed if facts supporting a change come to light. I do think that the issue of race is being used by some non-African Americans in Ardmore to piggy back onto (the sour grapes crowd) to get media attention and put pressure on the district. It was sad to see such poor behavior from some Ardmore residents at the public meetings towards other people in the district, the board members, and even people in their own community (I have a few stories about this which I'll save for later). Given this and given what I think most folks understood about the entire re-districting process wouldn't it be fair to assume that most folks would dismiss any issues of race and even this new lawsuit as an attempt by some to get their way? That they would lump issue of race with this sour grapes crowd and instead of being outraged, easily dismiss the folks in Ardmore as crazy? If my opinions are right I think this is what happened.

I think South Ardmore is going to have to deal with this sentiment and somehow convince folks, or separate themselves from being viewed in this light( as just sour grapes) for any issues of racism not to dismissed off-handedly by the rest of our township, its residents- that the backlash and racism are two separate issues.

I think xf14ae has taken a step towards that and it has me thinking...and I'm interested in what other think about this whole affair, it's history to the current day.

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I finally got through your long-winded commentary and came to this paragraph-

"Given this and given what I think most folks understood about the entire re-districting process wouldn't it be fair to assume that most folks would dismiss any issues of race and even this new lawsuit as an attempt by some to get their way? That they would lump issue of race with this sour grapes crowd and instead of being outraged, easily dismiss the folks in Ardmore as crazy? If my opinions are right I think this is what happened."

It doesn't matter what "most foks" think. It matters what the judge and jury think. The case is filed in the Eastern District which is a federal court. The jury is not going to be made up of entirely LM people. It may not even have a single Montgomery County resident. The Eastern District pulls jurors from Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, Berks, Bucks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties.

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gadzooks - william faulkners got nothing on you (im talking about length of sentences, not substance - i cant for the life of me understand what youre babbling about).

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After reading the suit several times this morning. I was a little surprised. The suit has nothing to do with walking or the viability of the current redistricting plan for Ardmore as a neighborhood. Its not a class action, but rather limited to how redistricting impacts the Plaintiffs (ie the actually kids and their parents who sued). In fact, the only relief sought by "Students Doe" is "(1) temporarily enjoin the imposition of Redistricting Plan Three as it relates to them and restore their option to attent either Lower Merion High School or Harrition High School, until a full and proper hearing on this matter can be conducted; (2) permanently enjoin the imposition of Redistricting Plan Three as it relates to them and restore their option to attend either...." and (3) attorneys fees.

The "as it relates to them" is the key part. Because I guess the Judge or Jury can simply order that these individual plaintiffs be given school choice. The School District could even settle the lawsuit by stipulating that it will voluntarily agree to take these families out of Rediscricting Plan Three. It could even offer to take other, similarly situated families out. I expect someone will tell me I am reading this wrong, but it looks like that from the document (page 17).

Now y'all can jump down my throat, if you want, but having read the document I don't think this suit will reunify Ardmore by compelling imposition of a new redistricting plan. At most, it will pressure or even compel the School Board to remedy the discrimination against these families. And if the School Board did violate their Civil Rights, I hope it achieves that result. But I don't see it having much chance of changing the redistricting set for September.

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I think you have a point, curious. However I think there is room for reading remedies 1 and 2 differently. Those remedies ask for initially the temporary, and then the permanent suspension of the redistricting plan "as it relates to them [the complainants]." I had thought that the redistricting plan as it relates to those families was the entire Blue Box in Ardmore that is not given the opportunity to choose high schools. That there is such a box in the first place is certainly what is preventing these families from choosing, so my thought was that this is the part of the plan that the suit is seeking to nix. Other parts of the suit make clear that it is the boxed-bounded area of the attendance map that is offensive to the complainants. The suit does not allege that these 10 families were alone singled out. That is why I read the remedies in the way I do. I am no lawyer so please correct me, anyone.

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I think the remedy will only apply to the plaintiffs. "Student Doe" are defined as specific people, 9 students, represented by their parents (pages 1-2). All of Student Doe are in elementary or middle school in LM School District. (page 3) Anyone who is not Student Doe isn't a party to the lawsuit, so would have no standing (or right) to complain. Parties could intervene and bring new claims, but I don't know that that has happened to date. So by my reading only, unless you are one of those families, this law suit will not help you. The suit doesn't seek to invalidate the blue box for everyone, just the Redistricting Plan "as it relates to them." The "them" is Student Doe, i.e. the 9 kids identified by the suit. I found this surprising but that is what I read. Its a pretty narrow case, about a small group of families. Perhaps they could have asked for an entire invalidation, but they did not. I do not think the Court will grant broader relief then what is requested.

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I think I remember reading you're a lawyer, curious? If so I appreciate your insight. Even if you're not, you certainly could be correct. Do you or does anyone know if additional families can still join such a suit if it is seen to be going well? Of if the school district settles are they implying that they are at fault, thus leaving themselves open to additional lawsuits byt similarly affected families (presumably slam dunk lawsuits)?

And, if these families are awarded choice, does that apply to their entire families in perpetuity? Younger siblings? Grandchildren? Cousins? What if they move to Rosemont -- still get to choose LMHS?

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Thank you LexoTime, but I am in house lawyer at a company, not a litigator (we hire them to do it for us, which is very nice). So really you would need to ask a litigator, preferably one very familiar with the rules of the Eastern District. But certainly other minorities could intervene with similar or the same claims as long as they do it within the court prescribed deadlines. If the school district settles, I assume they would claim it's just to avoid the cost of litigation (that's pretty typical in settlements). I don't know what other types of claims could be added to this lawsuit, but I rather doubt the Judge would let in unrelated claims unless they were of a federal nature (other civil rights claims).

I assume the school district would be willing to offer whatever deal they have to similarly situated families, to avoid a rush of "me too" claims. But they have to be careful. Letting only minorities chose might open the school district up to other civil rights claims. The Supreme Court case, upon which the Plaintiff relies says "The way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." In that case, the Supreme Court found an equal protection violation because the students race, on an individual basis, was the sole basis for a redistricting decision. If individual minorites get to chose, solely based on race, wouldn't that be the same thing? I am not a constitutional scholar but I think that's an issue. And maybe that's what the Plaintiffs hope for-- the only solution would be to address the whole neighborhood?

It may be the school district feels it has a good case and would rather just fight. I have no idea. One thing that may make them willing to settle is if a lot of kids are chosing Harriton. If they are, that might make a little more room in LM and ease the pressure on Ardmore. My daughter swears half her class is chosing Harriton, but who knows if it is true?

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What I meant to suggest is that additional complainants, if they are allowed, might be on the same basis: More minority families in Ardmore seeking choice.

I agree with what I think you are suggesting, that attendance to Harriton should be on a voluntary basis across the board, if it can be made to work. Then they would be able to apply the walk radius policy evenly to LMHS and no one could have legal grounds to say they were being unfairly omitted.

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I bet the court would let in other minority families. The Eastern District of PA, like every other court, has specific procedural rules. Those rules would govern what the deadlines. Usually related claims are let in as long as within the Eastern Districts deadlines.

I doubt voluntary districting for Harriton would be done accross the Board as its too unworkable and unpredicable. But it could potentially expanded to include more neighborhoods, if in fact the BC kids are going to Harriton in droves. I wonder if anyone has asked the school district this question? It would just be a question of room and as long as there is room why would anyone object?

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There is a ton of room in each school, enough at LM to accomodate all the recently redistricted areas of Ardmore, Narberth and Penn Valley. The building plans submitted for approval state that the capacities of each school is about 1,700 students.

The reason anyone does object to filling the schools to closer to their intended capacity is that the high schools were built and the programs designed on the premise that the high schools be equal. However, in their insistence in sticking to this plan, the district has created a true shortage of a valued resource: local school facilities. Notwithstanding the selection of many to attend Harriton, my own opinion is that since so many other people are unwilling to send their kids to a school they consider inaccessably distant (for a variety of reasons, including the ones stated by the complainants of this lawsuit), the equal school plan must simply wait until the population density in the western part of the district catches up with the eastern part.

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