Judge rejects school racial diversity rules for Minnesota

Published 10:32 am Thursday, March 24, 2016

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Education is expected to reconsider new rules on integrating schools after an administrative law judge rejected the department’s initial plan.

Judge Ann O’Reilly rejected the department’s attempt to include publicly financed charter schools under the integration rules that apply to traditional school systems. The department didn’t explain its changes well enough and wasn’t clear on how integration plans would be evaluated, she wrote in her ruling.

The plan would’ve required schools to implement “programs and activities” to boost integration, but it didn’t specify the consequences if a school failed to integrate.

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The proposed rules would’ve replaced existing rules that give schools specific suggestions for increasing racial diversity.

University of Minnesota law professor Myron Orfield, a long-time advocate of school integration, believes O’Reilly made the right call by throwing out the proposed rules.

“I thought they were terrible” and the administrative law judge was right to reject them entirely, he said. “They basically abandoned all efforts to integrate schools. They created a really vague rule that had no standards, and no definitions and no consequences.”