The mission of the Lower Merion School District Administration and Board of Directors is to provide the highest quality education that our tax dollars can deliver for every student in the Lower Merion School District.
Throughout the Students Doe legal action, the Lower Merion School District has maintained that the Plaintiff's case was without merit, and that race played no role in the redistricting decision.
Federal Curt Judge Michael Baylson disagrees. On May 13th, 2010, he issued his finding of fact, concluding that:
"The Administration’s recommendation to the Board, to redistrict Plaintiffs to Harriton High School, was based largely on the fact that Plaintiffs’ neighborhood of residence has a heavy concentration of African–American students, and that Harriton had a significantly lower African–American student population than Lower Merion High School prior to redistricting. Like a leitmotif in a Wagner opera, a recurring theme with variations, the process of redistricting repeatedly embraced the goal of achieving racial parity between the two high schools. As Justice Holmes stated in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 52 (1919), “the character of every act depends on the circumstance in which it is done.” The circumstantial evidence introduced at trial leads, like a well–worn path through the woods, inescapably to the finding that race was a motivating factor for the Administration."
We, the undersigned, feel that continuing beyond the finding of fact to judgment risks the imposition of court-ordered redistricting or the maelstrom of a second divisive redistricting process, and that further pursuit of this legal action (including an appeal) would needlessly waste additional taxpayer dollars.
In contrast, settling with the Plaintiffs would have no impact on LMSD's educational program, would be less expensive than continuing to litigate and would eliminate the threat of further redistricting. (See "Blog" for more on why continuing to litigate will undermine LMSD's educational program and why settling won't.)
Settling with the Plaintiffs does not require or constitute an admission of wrongdoing; it is merely an acknowledgment that further litigation does not serve the interests of either the students or taxpayers in the Lower Merion School District.
We therefore request that the Lower Merion School District Administration and Board of Directors seek settlement with the Students Doe Plaintiffs immediately, so that LMSD can restore its focus on providing the highest quality education that our tax dollars can deliver for every student in the Lower Merion School District.