Boston Schools Hit With Civil Rights Complaint

A coalition of lawyers and educators has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Boston public schools over a school closure plan it says discriminates against black and Latino students.

The Boston Bar Association's lawyers' committee for civil rights under law and the Black Educators' Alliance of Massachusetts announced Monday that they have filed their complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.

The complaint alleges that the district's new "redesign and reinvest plan," which proposes to close several schools in the district, disproportionately affects black and Latino students since those schools are in largely minority neighborhoods.

Committee for Civil Rights attorney Rahsaan Hall says 90 percent of students affected are black or Latino.

"Looking at the Boston Public Schools redesign shows the burden of the school closings falls more heavily on black and Latino students than on white students," Hall said.

"Certainly some failing schools in certain communities, but I think it would be good for the district to look at other alternatives in supporting those schools, instead of just wholesale closing them," Hall said.

But Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson said the 18 schools slated for closure were selected because they are among the lowest chosen by families and have been struggling academically.

With reporting from the WBUR Newsroom and the Associated Press.

This program aired on February 28, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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