District receives reprieve on filing deadline
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school district has received a one-week extension to file a report with the U.S. District Court outlining its plan to meet the objectives of its federal consent decree in the next three years.
The report, which was to be submitted by Friday, is now due next Friday – Sept. 22.
The extension was granted after a joint request by both the school district and plaintiffs' representatives, said Deputy Superintendent Dorland Norris. She said the parties wanted more time to work on the plan.
U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade, who is overseeing the district's consent decree case, issued an order July 31, saying he was concerned about the district's schedule for complying with the consent decree, which aims to eliminate racial disparities in achievement, discipline and gifted and special education. The consent decree is scheduled to end after the 2008-09 school year.
McDade's order requires the district to make a report to the court describing its goals; how it intends to reach them in eight areas, including participation in gifted programs, special education assignments and disciplinary actions; how responsibilities for meeting the goals will be assigned; and how district personnel will be held accountable.
"It was a short time frame," Norris said. "Both parties felt they needed to be in agreement on what to submit in the plan."
She said top-level school district administrators and plaintiffs' representatives have been meeting to discuss the plan.
One requirement of the consent decree was for the school district to add elementary seats in the north part of Champaign by last school year. The district asked for an extension of time in which to do so, but McDade declined to grant it. Superintendent Arthur Culver recently said the district should try again this school year to get the money for the additional seats, because of the consent decree deadline.
McDade also has called for a hearing in the case. The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19 and will be held at the University of Illinois College of Law, 504 E. Pennsylvania Ave., C.
According to the court, an order will be issued in early October explaining the procedures for public participation at the hearing.