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Minnesota Desegregation Plan Will Expand

May 14, 1991

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Every school district in Minnesota must submit a community-based plan to combat racial isolation under a state Board of Education proposal to overhaul desegregation rules.

The plan would also require all suburban school districts in the Twin Cities metropolitan area to find ways to help St. Paul and Minneapolis desegregate their public schools.

The five-part plan is the first overhaul of state desegregation rules since 1973. It won unanimous approval Monday by the board’s Special Populations Committee. The full nine-member board approved it Tuesday.

Board member Alan Zdon called the new plan ″one of the strongest and boldest blueprints″ for change to emerge from the board in recent years, but he said that much work remains.

Some parts of the plan require action by the governor, other parts need legislative action and some require the state board to go through a rule- changing process that can take more than a year.

Zdon said the state board has spent two years studying its desegregation policies because of the state’s growing minority population.

″In 1968, we didn’t think Minneapolis public schools would ever reach 50 percent minority unless half of the white people moved out,″ said Archie Holmes, a desegregation specialist with the education department.

″But Minneapolis schools have reached 50 percent minority. In the last 20 years, minority people - especially Asians - moved into the state at a greater rate than anybody thought possible.″

In the 1987-88 school year, 24 districts in the state had greater than 10 percent minority enrollment. Now there are 34. In two years, an additional nine districts - all but two of them in Twin Cities suburbs - are expected to have minority enrollments that high.

″If Minnesota is going to succeed as a place where people get along with each other, then we have to take action,″ Zdon said.

The board’s first desegregation committee had a half-dozen members and met for about a year. Last year, the board appointed a 28-member state advisory panel, which came up with a list of 18 recommendations that the state board then whittled down to five.

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