TENTATIVE SETTLEMENT REACHED IN MINNESOTA INTEGRATION CASE
In 2018, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a breakthrough decision in Cruz-Guzman v State, a case challenging racial and economic segregation in public schools throughout the state. The legal basis for the claim was that a “segregated education is per se an inadequate education under the Education Clause of the Minnesota State Constitution.” The Court upheld that expansive reading of the state constitution and sent the case back to the lower court for a trial to hear evidence on racial segregation in Minnesota’s schools.
Recently, the parties reached agreement on a settlement to the case. The terms of the settlement are set forth in a bill that was introduced in the Minnesota legislature. The bill would create a metro-wide student busing program, establish four new magnet schools and order racially isolated charter and district schools to integrate.
The most expensive element of the plan would replace the state’s $80 million Achievement and Integration Program with the $130 million Culturally Responsive Teaching, Learning, Integration and Inclusion Program. The current program requires more than half of the state’s school districts to create plans every three years that aim to increase racial and economic integration, boost student achievement and reduce academic disparities. The new program would include charter schools for the first time. It also would change the way schools are identified for participation by employing economic measures of students’ neighborhoods rather than their race.
Schools and districts would have to follow a long list of strategies and goals, including anti-bias training, hiring more staff of color, equitable disciplinary practices and culturally responsive instruction.
School districts and charter schools in the seven-county metro area — except those where 40-60% of students come from disadvantaged neighborhoods — also would be required to participate in a busing program. Students from disadvantaged neighborhoods could enroll in a wealthy school in any other participating school district and get free transportation paid by the state. Likewise, students living in wealthier areas could get a free bus service to any low-income school. In addition, each participating student would generate an extra 50% in per-pupil state revenue, which would be split evenly between the resident and serving school districts.
Over-all these programs will cost $125 million in 2022-23, and $127 million in 2024-25. If the Legislature does not pass the bill, the case will go to trial in 2022.