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UNITED STATES v. YONKERS BD. OF EDUC.

October 8, 1997

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, and YONKERS BRANCH - NAACP, et al., Plaintiff-Intervenors,
v.
YONKERS BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAND

ORDER FOR FURTHER DESEGREGATION RELIEF IN THE YONKERS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

 The factual findings and legal conclusions that serve as the basis for this Order have been set forth more fully in prior decisions of this Court and of the Court of Appeals in this action, including those contained in the Opinion filed together with this Order, and familiarity with those decisions is assumed.

 In sum, this Court found in 1985, inter alia, that the Yonkers Public Schools ("YPS") was a racially dual school system, characterized both by segregation among schools and inequalities in the educational opportunities provided for students of differing racial and ethnic backgrounds. See 624 F. Supp. 1276. In May 1986, the Court ordered implementation of a desegregation remedy referred to as Educational Improvement Plan ("EIP" or "EIP I"), by which the Yonkers Board of Education ("YBE" or "Yonkers Board") put in place a magnet school program with certain related provisions that effectively eliminated segregation in enrollments among public schools in Yonkers. See 635 F. Supp. 1538, aff'd, 837 F.2d 1181 (2d Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1055, 100 L. Ed. 2d 922, 108 S. Ct. 2821 (1988).

 In 1993, based on an application by both Yonkers Board and the plaintiff-intervenors, this Court found that vestiges of the dual school system continued to exist in YPS. The effect of those vestiges, the Court found, was that "although minority students in Yonkers attend school in the same buildings as majority students, they are undergoing different educational experiences" which adversely affect their learning and performance in school. See 833 F. Supp. 214, 225.

 In 1995, this Court made factual findings regarding the role of the State of New York and other State defendants ("the State" *fn1" ) in connection with the creation and maintenance of the dual school system in YPS. See 880 F. Supp. 212. In 1996, the Court of Appeals, based on this Court's findings, held that the State was liable, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Equal Educational Opportunity Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1701, et seq., for the unlawful dual school system in YPS, because the State, inter alia, had taken "actions that encouraged the perpetuation of segregation" in YPS. 96 F.3d 600, 618-19.

 During a trial commencing on September 15, 1997, the State was given an opportunity to present evidence which it argued would show that vestiges of segregation no longer exist in YPS. This Court has found that the evidence before the Court establishes that the conditions which this Court identified in 1993 as vestiges of the prior dual school system continue to exist in YPS. The Court further has reaffirmed and specifically found that continuing vestiges of segregation in YPS are traceable to the prior dual school system that was established and maintained in substantial part by conduct of the State. Accordingly, the Court has now found that the State is liable for eliminating segregation and its vestiges in YPS and therefore must fund a remedy (as specified in this Order) to accomplish that goal.

 During the remainder of the September 1997 trial, the Yonkers Board presented its proposed remedial plan -- referred to as Education Improvement Plan II ("EIP II") -- for eliminating to the extent practicable the vestiges of segregation that continue to exist in YPS. In general, the Yonkers Branch of the NAACP, et al., supported the YBE in its presentation of EIP II to the Court. The stated goal of EIP II, as well as the goal of this Order, is to eliminate the vestiges of segregation that this Court has found exist in YPS.

 The State did not present the Court with any alternative to EIP II for remedying the vestiges of segregation in YPS, and it presented no persuasive evidence that any element of EIP II was inappropriate either educationally or as a remedial measure. Indeed, on balance, the testimony of the State witnesses supported the appropriateness of EIP II both for improving educational performance, particularly among minority students in YPS, and for eliminating inequities in the educational process and in student performance.

 In the Findings of Fact that accompany this Order, the Court has found that the EIP II plan proposed by the YBE provides the framework for an appropriate remedial plan tailored to the task of eliminating the vestiges of segregation in YPS schools to the extent practicable. Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that EIP II be implemented pursuant to the substantive provisions and the implementation schedule set forth below.

 I. ESTABLISHMENT OF STANDARDS AND CURRICULUM

 (a) A proper foundation for a plan to remedy the vestiges found by this Court is the development of a unitary set of standards for what all students regardless of race or ethnicity in YPS at each grade level should be taught and expected to learn. The YBE has presented the Court with a plan for developing and disseminating throughout YPS standards of this type, which are consistent, attainable and clearly defined. Moreover, the use of such a standards-based approach to promoting educational equity has been endorsed and widely promoted by the State.

 (b) In addition to establishing such standards, the defendants must assure that all students are given an equal opportunity to meet those standards by providing the educational resources and supports necessary to address the educational needs of all students and otherwise to eliminate the conditions previously identified as vestiges of the dual school system in Yonkers. Among the most important of these resources are teachers who are trained and provided necessary support to implement these standards through effective instruction and assessment designed to meet the needs of all students. Teachers shall be provided with a curriculum, assessment tools and teaching strategies, which are aligned with these standards. The following steps will be taken to achieve these goals:

 
. The Yonkers Board will establish uniform standards for each grade level based on the nationally-developed New Standards and existing New York State Standards.
 
. District staff shall develop a curriculum based on the standards which include benchmarks for measuring student achievement in relation to the standards, suggested methods of assessment and sample instructional techniques for implementing the curriculum successfully in a racially and ethnically diverse school system.
 
. All staff members shall receive staff development training in the standards and assessment techniques, appropriate teaching strategies and content renewal in order to ensure that all staff are well-prepared and required to meet the academic needs of all students, regardless of race.
 
. At the school level, professional staff shall adapt the curriculum to each school's magnet or other individual school program or focus in order to ensure the continued desegregation of student enrollments by voluntary choice under EIP I.
 
. The standards shall be shared with parents, students and the community;
 
. The progress of students in meeting the standards shall be monitored with a goal of ensuring equal educational opportunities and promoting equity in educational performance for all students in YPS.

 II. STAFF SUPPORTS

 In order to provide equality of opportunity for student learning and performance based on the above standards, teachers trained to demonstrate the same high expectations for minority and non-minority students and prepared with the skills and resources to help all children reach those expectations are necessary. Accordingly, the actions described below shall be taken in the areas of hiring and mentoring new teachers, staff development, and staff supervision and evaluation to prepare teachers to provide appropriate instruction for all students regardless of race or ethnicity. A basic skills program and information rich classrooms also shall be provided to ensure that teachers have the supports necessary to implement appropriate instructional practices to meet the needs of all students in YPS and, in particular, the needs of minority students which historically have not been adequately addressed.

 A. Hiring and Mentoring New Teachers

 To ensure that teachers new to YPS will contribute to promoting equality of opportunities for all students, and will not accept or perpetuate vestiges of segregation in YPS, the Yonkers Board and District staff shall undertake the following:

 
. Targeted early recruitment efforts to identify qualified teachers, including qualified minority teachers, with in-service or pre-service training or expertise in working with minority and LEP students.
 
. Efforts to facilitate the hiring of teachers capable of addressing the needs of minority students in heterogeneous, multicultural classrooms by working with teacher training institutions in identifying appropriate preservice course content and by providing training opportunities within the District through professional development schools and internships.
 
. Development and implementation of a mentorship program for new teachers designed to promote the understanding and active participation of those teachers in meeting the goals of this remedy and to deter perpetuation of inappropriate attitudes and practices traceable to the prior dual system.
 
. Ongoing staff development for new teachers during their first three years of employment in YPS, including human relations training and training in instructional techniques necessary for teaching diverse populations.

 B. Professional Development

 (1) In order to ensure that all staff members, including the many veteran teachers who have worked in YPS since prior to implementation of the EIP I remedy, are prepared to implement standards and to provide instruction that equitably meets all students' needs, regardless of race or ethnicity, professional development training will be provided to all staff members on a district level and a school-based level. Because of the systemic nature of the problems being addressed, all staff will be required to attend professional development activities appropriate for their position under this Order. Professional development activities under this Order shall be provided in a manner and at sufficient times and places so that mandatory participation in those activities can be accomplished.

 (2) Professional development shall be provided at the District and school levels through summer institutes, staff development sessions during the school year, and in professional development classrooms. Professional development shall include the following activities, many of which are further discussed elsewhere in this Order:

 
. District -level staff development for Teaching and Learning, including effective alignment of curriculum and assessments to standards, creating and using alternative assessment to inform instruction, instructional techniques for facilitating student learning based on high standards;
 
. School-based professional development for Teaching and Learning including child development, inquiry-based teaching, multicultural curriculum, language acquisition for second language learners, teaching strategies for special needs students, connection of home, school and community experiences in a multicultural context;
 
. Development activities to support curriculum implementation based on high standards for all students, which includes training in teaching strategies and curriculum content;
 
. District-level and school-based Human Relations Training designed to raise teacher expectations for minority students (e.g., TESA and Efficacy) and diversity training designed to promote understanding of individual student needs and improve interpersonal relations among diverse groups, including training related to student rights and responsibilities, conflict resolution, and behavior management to ensure equitable treatment of minorities in the disciplinary process and positive school climate;
 
. Administrative staff development for effective hiring, supervision and evaluation;
 
. Staff Development for Pupil Personnel in areas such as student diversity, student rights and responsibilities, the use of pupil support teams, standards and their implications for counseling, the assessment of student capabilities, and modes of learning;
 
. Expansion of conflict resolution and peer mediation programs to all schools and provide student leadership training; and
 
. Technology Support, including instruction on the use of technology in the classroom as an instructional and assessment tool:

 Consistent with the parameters established by this Order, program funding for staff development may vary depending on each school's individual needs, but the following staffing resources shall be provided:

 
. Staff resource libraries at each school;
 
. During the initial implementation of EIP II, staff development assistance at each implementing elementary school that is equivalent to a curriculum staff developer, a human relations developer and a technology staff developer, (each of whom shall be assigned on a half-time basis), and staff development assistance at each secondary school that is equivalent to a three-person team concentrating on the same three areas; after the initial three ...

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