New Jersey has a legal matter that’s creating a lot of attention. The state is being challenged for the statewide desegregation of its public schools.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday, wants to challenge New Jersey’s school system as “unconstitutional” and that the school should take immediate action to end segregation. Thursday was also the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education section that banned racial segregation in schools.
Currently, New Jersey is the sixth most segregated state for black students, and seventh for students who are Latino, according to a 2017 analysis that was conducted by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.
“The fight to integrate New Jersey’s schools is the great unfinished civil rights struggle of our time,” said Christian Estevez, president of the Latino Action Network, one of the plaintiffs in this suit. “This lawsuit is the next step in building a future where all children get the chance to succeed.
Mercer County, who filed the complaint, is asking that the court remove two key parts of state law: that students are required to attend the school district they live in, with a few exceptions. The other is the requirement that charter schools give priority to students in the school’s district.
The New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools, a new nonprofit organization chaired by former state Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein is spearheading this lawsuit. Stein’s son, Michael and Lawrence Lustberg are representing the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs in the case also include nine children and the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey.
The suit is asking that the state education commissioner create a desegregation plan that includes a large variety of tactics currently used in different communities. Some of these options could include the consolidation of school districts, voluntary transfer programs so students in minority districts can attend other schools, according to the lawsuit.
“It is brought in the state’s own interest to require New Jersey to deal with its unfinished business – ending segregation by race and poverty in its public schools,” Gary Stein said.