364 Days Later...Judge Finds LMSD Redistricted Based on Race

Welcome Lower Merion residents!

We're glad you stopped by. Go ahead and register for a free account to get the benefits of being a member, including:
  • Access to all of our posts and comments
  • Your own profile including an avatar, buddy lists, and other social networking features
  • The ability to send private messages to other users on this site
  • The ability to chat and interact with other citizens and voters in and around Lower Merion.
Creating an account is easy. Register now!

(Don't live in Lower Merion? That's okay. We won't hold it aginst you.)
Tags:
xf14ae's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-11-20 :49
Posts:

May 14, 2009 the people of Ardmore were forced to sue the Lower Merion School District beccause the redistricting plan that was enacted used race as a criteria.

LMSD vehemently and vigorously denied that race played any role in the plan, both before and after the filing.

May 13, 2010 Judge Michael Baylson agreed with the people of Ardmore.

Following trial, the Court finds that race was one of several factors motivating the School Administration, as it developed and recommended redistricting plans. The Administration’s recommendation to the Board, to redistrict Plaintiffs to Harriton High School, was based largely on the fact that Plaintiffs’ neighborhood of residence has a heavy concentration of African–American students, and that Harriton had a significantly lower African–American student population than Lower Merion High School prior to redistricting. Like a leitmotif in a Wagner opera, a recurring theme with variations, the process of redistricting repeatedly embraced the goal of achieving racial parity between the two high schools. As Justice Holmes stated in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 52 (1919), “the character of every act depends on the circumstance in which it is done.” The circumstantial evidence introduced at trial leads, like a well–worn path through the woods, inescapably to the finding that race was a motivating factor for the Administration.

Doe v LMSD - Factual Findings Memo Complete

Finally.

4.92857
Average: 4.9 (14 votes)
Your rating: None

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
dmuth's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: 2005-09-13 :35
Posts:

Good work! Er, you, I mean. Not LMSD. Sticking out tongue

So if I understand the legal system correctly, this isn't (yet) a judgement, but basically a ruling from the judge saying, "okay, this is what happened". Moving forward from that, he'll base his judgement on said findings, and if I have this legal system thingy figured out, it looks like it's going to be lets-drink-a-whole-bottle-of-scotch day for Lower Merion School District, yes?

5
Average: 5 (10 votes)
Your rating: None
xf14ae's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-11-20 :49
Posts:

Doug,

Correct, there is no verdict here. This is the Judge's findings of fact, meaning what he has established legally happened.

What he's found, though, does not bode well for LMSD. There are some bright spots for the District but not many and they're not exactly beacons of hope or justice in their favor.

Next, the lawyers will argue whether the District violated laws based on these facts. Both lawyers submit briefs (due May 27) arguing their position legally.

After that, Judge Baylson will hear oral argument on those legal briefs, scheduled for June 9 at 2 PM.

Once arguments are complete, the Judge will issue a verdict. That could come quickly or it could take some time.

Should he find in favor of the Plaintiffs, another hearing will be scheduled to determine remedy.

5
Average: 5 (8 votes)
Your rating: None

"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

outtathere's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2009-12-31 :04
Posts:

To what benefit to the District do they appeal this????

All the Plaintiffs seek is injuctive relief, correct? No monetary damages.

So it would seem that an appeal would only serve to protect or resuscitate the professional and political reputations of the Administrators and Board members.

What have I missed there, and if I am correct than how or why should the taxpayers be expected/required to fund a bailout of personal reputations?

5
Average: 5 (12 votes)
Your rating: None

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

carla's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 2008-01-03 :36
Posts:

Smiling Smiling Smiling Smiling Big smile Big smile Eye-wink Eye-wink Innocent Innocent Innocent

EXCELLENT NEWS!

5
Average: 5 (8 votes)
Your rating: None

"Well behaved women rarely make history" - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

bobguzzardi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2006-01-13 :07
Posts:

Wow this is devastating and, frankly, shocking. I did not think a Democratically controlled Board would engage in racial discrimination. Of course, the two Republicans were not howling dissent. This is a disgrace to all of us who voted or did not vote for School Board. Can't we do better?

5
Average: 5 (9 votes)
Your rating: None
xf14ae's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-11-20 :49
Posts:

Bob - well, most of them according to their sworn testimony in a court of law didn't know where black people live in Lower Merion, and apparently they couldn't read the protest signs, hear the many speakers at public meetings, read any of the many emails sent in by constituents or the letters mailed (including the one from PILCOP telling them they've got a diversity issue and the letters from Mr. Arnold), nor have they ever apparently been to Ardmore despite the fact that Lower Merion High School is IN Ardmore.

So, no way could they have discriminated because they swear they didn't know that splitting Ardmore in half would send half the black kids in the District to HHS.

Yah.

Knights who say... NI! detect sarcasm and heavy disbelief in these comments above, which do not represent any organization or group.

5
Average: 5 (13 votes)
Your rating: None

"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

politeia's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 weeks 1 hour ago
Joined: 2008-07-30 :00
Posts:

Here's what I posted Ten Months Ago.

I am not a lawyer, but this result was easily predictable.

So why did the school board spend one million of our tax dollars on this?

It was a selfish decision to try and show that they did not use race in their decision making. It had nothing to with what was right for Lower Merion and the Doe children. It was all about the school board trying to prove a negative and save face - with one million of our tax dollars.

Now a federal court has ruled on race-based decision making by LMSD with a racially discrminatory purpose.

How many more millions of our hard earned money will be spent appealing this now?

Yet another reason (webcam spying being the other) for every school board director to resign for gross mismanagement and negligence. McGinley and Roos also need to go.

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

Brotherhood of Thieves

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

5
Average: 5 (11 votes)
Your rating: None

 

 

outtathere's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2009-12-31 :04
Posts:

How many more millions of our hard earned money will be spent appealing this now?

Yet another reason (webcam spying being the other) for every school board director to resign for gross mismanagement and negligence. McGinley and Roos also need to go.

OK.

The Board- agreed. Aside from one new Board member they have all been if office throughout the webcam and redistricting.

Roos - agreed.

Now McGinley was fully involved in the redistricting only.

So far as the webcams go, wasn't Savedoff at the helm when the LANrev was chosen and implemented? McGinley came on the scene when the whole program was already in place and operating and the case could be made that, with no visible signs of a problem, with all the other issues he had to deal with assuming his new position, there was no reason for him to question it.

I see Savedoff as the one holding the bag there as well as that Ginny DeMedio.

But Savedoff is safely out of reach in Florida (and can 'decline' to be interviewed) unless it reaches the stage where he is subpoenaed.

DeMedio I find having little credibility when you consider that she was warned of the danger by a high school kid and blew him off with a condescending "Take a deep breath and relax."

She too had the option to 'decline'. (she has since been deposed by the Plaintiffs but that "independent" investigation was already closed and the report issued.

And that really tells the story of what the report was all about.

Shove any blame down to the IS level and the two key higher-ups were out of reach of the "independent" investigators.

The desired outcome was determined, THEN the thousands upon thousands of 'facts' were manipulated in such a fashion as to support it.

The only hope of a really independent investigation was contained in the "Intervenors" demand for a "public" advocate as part of the injunctive relief.

We are now seeing no more mention of that aspect with the injuntive relief now being negotiated.

The whole thing is being whittled away and watered down to where there will be an injunction to prevent anymore privacy invasions (which is largely anticlimactic since I believe that even given the idiocy previously displayed by these jokers, even they wouldn't dare try spying again without a court order).

So more than likely a settlement will be reached by all the parties, nobody will ultimately be held accountable (except maybe Cafiero and Perbix and wouldn't that pave the way for lawsuits by the two of them being left hung out to dry) and that will be the end of it excepting and criminal findings by the Feds (which are probably unlikely as well)

And I believe this was the desired outcome by the powers that be from day one. They knew they had to come up with something giving the appearance of substance so a half million dollar report did the trick and steered everything in the direction they wanted it to go all along.

5
Average: 5 (6 votes)
Your rating: None

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

politeia's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 weeks 1 hour ago
Joined: 2008-07-30 :00
Posts:

Very good synopsis.

The school board has gotten what it wanted in both cases with a couple million of our tax dollars, but they still are ultimately responsible and accountable.

I suggested at the beginning of the Doe case that the school district settle. Settling would have saved taxpayers millions, school board directors and administrators would not have gotten even more egg on their faces, and no damages would have had to have been paid out as none were asked for.

While I would like a truly independent investigation where the whole truth is revealed in the webcam issue, that is unlikely, as you state. I expect the Robbins lawsuit to be settled to prevent further investigation by the Robbins family lawyer. Whether any of the other families that were spied on sue is to be determined.

While I believe criminal charges should be levied, the government always covers for the government. If you or I made "mistakes" that allowed for thousands of illegal webcam pictures to be taken in the bedrooms of minors, we would have been arrested immediately, held on very high bail, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. When the government does the same thing, it gets white-washed.

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

Brotherhood of Thieves

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

5
Average: 5 (6 votes)
Your rating: None

 

 

cscott's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 46 weeks ago
Joined: 2009-08-13 :21
Posts:

These findings are a significant blow to LMSD's case, and suggest that Judge Baylson is likely to rule in favor of the Plaintiffs. If he does so, either he or we will have to devise a new redistricting plan. Either way, all bets are off about which kids end up at which high school.

If the School Board settles now, LMSD residents retain control over the question of populating Harriton & LM. Once Judge Baylson hands down a ruling, we're stuck with whatever he decides. In my book, that's an unacceptable risk. Settling with the Plaintiffs will have NO IMPACT on education in LMSD and will avoid having a court-ordered redistricting plan foisted upon us.

Enough already. It's still not too late to save LMSD students and residents from the distraction of a second disruptive and divisive redistricting process. Sign the updated petition:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/settlewithdoe/

Write to the school board:

communitycomments@lmsd.org

AND attend the School Board meeting on Monday (5/17/10; 8pm LMHS library) to INSIST that the Board use the time between now and June 9th to negotiate a settlement with the Students Doe Plaintiffs.

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -Alan Kay

outtathere's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2009-12-31 :04
Posts:

These findings are a significant blow to LMSD's case, and suggest that Judge Baylson is likely to rule in favor of the Plaintiffs. If he does so, either he or we will have to devise a new redistricting plan. Either way, all bets are off about which kids end up at which high school.

A few questions regarding a settlement or an injunction.

Has there been any indication by the Doe families of what they would find to be an acceptable settlement?

Obviously being granted the school choice they have been denied. But do they speak only for themselves or also for all the other African American families who are denied choice by 3R as well? And what kind of potential numbers of students would that encompass?

Is it a certainty that the judge would order a completely new redistricting or wouldn't his ordering choice for the Does and their affected neighborhood alleviate the problem?

Certainly a settlement is the preferable option. But for the School Board and Administration to listen and respond to what the public and taxpayers want as opposed to doing what they want would be treading into entirely new territory for them.

Sadly enough, they seem to be responsive only to litigation, and even then, in the case of the webcams, have the ability to spend huge amounts of OPM to purchase a dog and pony show sufficient to evade their taking any personal responsibility and being held accountable for their actions.

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

xf14ae's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-11-20 :49
Posts:

All the Doe families have ever asked for is restoration of the right to choose high schools, as every other student in Ardmore has. No monetary or punitive damages.

But do they speak only for themselves or also for all the other African American families who are denied choice by 3R as well? And what kind of potential numbers of students would that encompass?

This is not a class action - they speak only for themselves. It would not make sense though to grant only these 9 because it would invite further legal action based on what has been ruled already. Especially now that the Judge's finding is that they used race 'largely' to create 3R, they must now solve the larger problem to avoid litigation from others not party to the current suit.

In any given year the "Affected Area" sends 15-18 new students to high school. So, not a ton of kids. Figure a 4 year grouping 60-75 kids in the District come from that area.

Is it a certainty that the judge would order a completely new redistricting or wouldn't his ordering choice for the Does and their affected neighborhood alleviate the problem?

That's the $64,000,000 question. The Judge would have to decide what the remedy would be to ensure that constitutionally protected rights are restored. He has stated that he does not think the people of Lower Merion would be happy if a Judge ran their District for them. My best guess is that he'll have to toss 3R completely because it's race based, toss all the other scenarios for the same reason - they used race - and draw color-blind lines that meet the goal of equalizing the high schools.

That's seriously just a guess but I don't think his minimum remedy could allow the plan to stand in any fashion because it incorporated an illegal criteria.

If the District is betting that even in the face of the material facts that they're still going to win that this would be a very big, risky, dangerous bet. Verdict going against the District would not bode well in so many respects it's hard to list them all. They've got a lot more to lose than the Doe Plaintiffs, whose biggest downside is that they stay on the bus they're already on.

And they're not asking for much.

Knights who say... NI! remind all that these are XF14AE's thoughts alone and not representative of any organization or group.

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

"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

outtathere's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2009-12-31 :04
Posts:

This is not a class action - they speak only for themselves. It would not make sense though to grant only these 9 because it would invite further legal action based on what has been ruled already. Especially now that the Judge's finding is that they used race 'largely' to create 3R, they must now solve the larger problem to avoid litigation from others not party to the current suit.

In any given year the "Affected Area" sends 15-18 new students to high school. So, not a ton of kids. Figure a 4 year grouping 60-75 kids in the District come from that area.

Xf, Thank you for, as always getting right to the crux of the matter. That was awkward phrasing on my part. I did not mean to question whether they speak legally for themselves.

I meant instead that their interest, call it moral, if you will, extends beyond their own personal circumstance and to their entire community. Even for purely practical reasons, as you point out, for the nine families alone to get relief, would only pave the way for further legal action by their neighbors who would get no such relief.

Also as you point out, the actual numbers involved would have an inconsequential impact on the LMHS population. Now if, over time, the effect was to skew LMHS away from equal enrollment with Harriton, perhaps a lottery could be held, whereby LMHS students from the privileged areas would be bounced out at random to Harriton to "take one for the team".

That's seriously just a guess but I don't think his minimum remedy could allow the plan to stand in any fashion because it incorporated an illegal criteria.

And that seems like a pretty astute appraisal.

So basically it comes down to whether or not the District settles and retains their 3R scheme with only slight and definitely manageable modification

OR

Whether they continue to gamble on a total revamp being forced upon them by the Courts, with the resultant disruption to the students, the parents, and themselves, not to mention the needless further expense to the taxpayers.

Seems like a no-brainer- and that is why it is such a potentially dangerous crossroads the District finds themselves at. For it does not appear that intelligence has been governing their actions. None of these people are stupid. They've allowed their egos to do their thinking for them.

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.":Gil Scott-Heron 1970 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGaRtqrlGy8

politeia's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 weeks 1 hour ago
Joined: 2008-07-30 :00
Posts:

Main Line Times reported on this. There is some interesting discussion (inlcuding comments by myself) below the article by readers of Main Line Times.

Posted on Sat, May 15, 2010
Court says race was a factor in the Doe case
By Richard Ilgenfritz
Main Line Times

(Click green above for article and comments)

Comment by LMSDAlum:

As to his opinion of credible testimony, yes, I find it completely incredible (or dis-credible) that Lisa Fair-Pliskin, lifelong resident of Lower Merion, graduate of Merion ES, Ardmore Junior High and Lower Merion High Schools, whose synogogue sponsors the ABC House in Ardmore that has been here for close to 40 years, who in January 2010 heard a presentation from ABC House, testified that she did not know the ABC House program is specifically and exclusively for children of color. The Judge may believe it, but he doesn't know her background like I do. Same for many of the other 'amnesiacs' - Jerry Novick couldn't remember comments he made in public even after he was shown the tape of him saying them.

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

Brotherhood of Thieves

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

5
Average: 5 (5 votes)
Your rating: None

 

 

bobguzzardi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2006-01-13 :07
Posts:

thanks xf14ae for insights. It would seem likely that most students within walking distance of Lower Merion High over Harriton would choose Lower Merion and then that would throw over the raison d'etre of equalizing the size of the schools even though everyone knew ( or should have known, School Board and Administrators seem to know nothing of the community) that 2/3 of Lower Merion Twp school age population is in eastern part of Township. We have just spent $200 million on two new, from the ground up, literally, high schools based on flawed plan that did not address the students' need to learn.

What amazes me is that there does not seem to be any political movement to replace the existing less than ept School Board with people who care about what students learn.

Maybe the posters should run on a Save Ardmore Coalition Slate diverse, respectfully disagreeable, independent of both conventional parties. A Citizens' Slate School Board, truly Non Partisan.

5
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Your rating: None
bc59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 11 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-03-18 :57
Posts:

What with school taxes going up, the economy in a slump, private school tuition costing upwards of $26 K, perhaps they'll get a few more students to fill up all that empty space at Harriton as parents may find themselves forced to switch their kids to public school....

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Your rating: None
xf14ae's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-11-20 :49
Posts:

Funny you should mention that because they've already started to see that happen - the 200 missing students from 2008 returned this school year along with 100 or so of their friends. LMHS alone had 95 more students than was forecast this year (and the sky DIDN'T fall).

Knights who say... NI!

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

"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

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.