The state will not be allowed to fill empty seats in the Hartford region’s desegregated magnet schools with more black and Hispanic students from Hartford – at least for the next school year.
Doing so, Hartford Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger ruled Friday, would erode the Connecticut Supreme Court’s landmark Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation decision, issued nearly 21 years ago, which found Hartford students “suffer daily” from the inequities caused by severe racial isolation.
“The empty seats cannot simply be filled without recognizing the mandates of the court,” Berger ruled.
“Our Supreme Court noted that the children of different races and economic and social groups have no opportunity to know each other, to live together in school,” Berger said. “They cannot be expected to gain the understanding and mutual respect necessary for the cohesion of our society.”
Berger delivered his ruling in a four-minute oral decision after hearing hours of testimony throughout the week.
In response to the Supreme Court’s Sheff desegregation order, the state opened a network of themed magnet schools designed to lure white, middle-class children from surrounding suburbs to voluntarily enroll in schools with city youth.
This school year 2,157 Hartford residents – 10 percent – are bused to nearby suburban schools. Another 7,314 Hartford black and Hispanic school-aged students – 34 percent of city students – attend integrated magnet schools with thousands of suburban students. At least one in four students are white or Asian.