Scheff 2008 Settlement

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On April 4, 2008 defendants and plaintiffs of the lawsuit Scheff vs. O’neil met to discuss plans to increase progress in “reducing racial, ethnic, and economic isolation in Hartford Public Schools until June 2013” (1).  Due to the failure of Stipulation 1 in 2007, the court held this settlement to introduce Stipulation II.

This second Stipulation contained new goals to reduce educational isolation in Hartford.  The first goal was to increase the number of Hartford minority students placed in reduced isolation settings.  A reduced isolation setting is an “educational setting with reduced racial, ethnic, and economic isolation”(3).  Simply put, the goal of the Stipulation was to desegregate the schools.

A second goal was to create a five-year plan.  At the end of 5 years, 80% of the demand for Hartford minority students needing seats in reduced isolation settings was to be met.    To achieve this goal, the state would provide sufficient resources needed to implement “Voluntary Interdistrict Programs”, which are tools to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation.  An example of such tools may be a Magnet School.

A problem with previous stipulations was that the goals were not met by the end of the allotted time period.  To try and prevent this from happening, this Stipulation set forth goal measurement plans.  For example, in April of the year three the state would examine the need for seats in reduced isolation settings by minorities.  Next, in November of year 4, the state would evaluate waiting lists for voluntary interdistrict programs, and evaluate how many programs meet this demand.  If the original goal of 80% was not met in 5 years, this party would reconvene (6).  The Stipulation also set up benchmarks to ensure that progress was being made.  For example, after year one 19% of the total goal needed to be met.  Guidelines for calculating these percentages, and monitoring success were also established (6).

To accomplish these goals, the party announced the implementation of a few programs.  The first program is the Comprehensive Management Plan which was designed to oversee all Voluntary Interdistrict Programs.  Goals of the program included, the CMP must establish and track annual strategic targets of progress, it must contain a process for evaluating demand for each Voluntary Interdistrict Program, and include training programs for all teachers within the Scheff Region (8).  In total there were 21 objectives for the CMP that acted as statements guide lining the duties of the plan.

A goal that stuck out to me was one that stated,  “The CMP shall ensure that there are clearly defined opportunities for students to enjoy a continuous K-12 education in reduced isolation settings”(10).  I thought this was interesting because it is a goal that is created to ensure the long-term well-being of individuals, not just entire school districts.

Discussion Questions:

1  Do you believe that this plan covers all the bases or do you think there are gaps in the Stipulation?

2  Is the CMP an adequate way to evaluate progress of the schools?

3 How does this differ from previous Stipulations and how might these differences prevent this Stipulation from failing?

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