APS Redistricting: Lawyer Puts District On Notice
Zoning Summerhill to D.H. Stanton Elementary violates 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, residents say.
An Atlanta attorney who lives in the Summerhill community sent a letter the Atlanta Public Schools' Board of Education asking it to review the district's decision to zone the neighborhood to D.H. Stanton Elementary because it violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.
Summerhill contends D.H. Stanton, in the Peoplestown neighborhood, is a low performing school. To be rezoned there is unfair to Summerhill when the neighborhood lobbied for and ended up being zoned to higher performing Parkside Elementary in Grant Park.
"Parents in the Summerhill neighborhood feel their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment (Equal Protection Clause) may be violated if their children are sent to D. H. Stanton Elementary," reads the April 18 letter attorney David H. Glass sent to APS board members.
The five-paragraph letter says the neighborhood wants to be rezoned to Parkside Elementary.
"The Organized Neighbors of Summerhill believe the APS Board does have their best interests at heart and in serving those interests, you will adhere to the recommendation of Superintendent Davis."
How East Atlanta Patch elementary schools rank:
|School||Neighborhood||School's 2011 rank of 1,176 statewide
||Rank change from 2010|
|Drew Charter||East Lake||93||Up 49 spots|
|Mary Lin||Candler Park||112||Down 34 spots|
|Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School||Ormewood Park/Grant Park||119||Up 198 spots|
||Down 45 spots
||Up 136 spots
|Wesley International Academy
||Down 25 spots
||Down 313 spots
||Up 102 spots
||Up 99 spots
||Old Fourth Ward
||Down 41 spots
||Up 60 spots
||Down 250 spots
||Down 43 spots
||Down 106 spots
||Old Fourth Ward
||This school opened in 2010 and is unranked
|sources: Ga. Dept of Education, schooldigger.com|
|** slated to close at the end of 2012 school year|
The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution says states cannot enforce laws that "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Glass, who has lived in Summerhill for the past 12 years and is expecting his first child, told East Atlanta Patch the equal protection clause applies because the district is taking a majority black neighborhood and sending its children to a low perfoming school when there's a higher performing school nearby.
Under the equal protection clause, race is a protected class.
Arguably the most famous case using this clause is Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. In that 1954 Supreme Court decision, the nation's highest court said segregated public schools violated the 14th Amendment.
"This is a predominantly black neighborhood and instead of affording them the opportunity to send them to a higher performing school, you're sending them to a school that's near bottom," Glass said.
Glass, who specializes in workmens' comp and personal injury law, was not retained by the Organized Neighbors of Summerhill. He said he simply sent the letter to "alert them that the fight is here."
E-mail requests for comment to APS board Chairman Reuben R. McDaniel III, at-large member Courtney D. English and Brenda J. Muhammad, whose district includes Peoplestown, Summerhill and Grant Park, were not immediately returned.
APS board member Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, whose district includes Lake Claire, Kirkwood and East Lake, declined comment.
An APS spokesman said he could not immediately comment because he had not yet seen the letter.
In earlier redistricting proposals, Summerhill was zoned to attend D.H. Stanton, since its school, Cook Elementary, was placed on APS' closure list.
But Summerhill lobbied to be rezoned to Parkside. Residents argued Stanton's academic performance, physical condition and Summerhill's own historic ties to Grant Park made Parkide their school of choice.
The neighborhood got its wish in the final plan APS Superintnendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. submitted to the board of education.
But Davis' final plan called for Stanton, which is under enrolled, to close along with nine other district schools.
Peoplestown rallied against the closure recommendation and when the board voted on Davis' plan, it removed D.H Stanton and two other schools from the final closure list.
However, that still left D.H. Stanton, which is built for 726 students, is less than 40 percent full with 230 pupils.
The district then moved Summerhill out of Parkside's zone attendance zone and back into D.H. Stanton's.
The APS Board of Education still must vote to approve the attendance zones.
In an earlier interview, Josh Murtha president of the Organized Neighbors of Summerhill, said the neighborhood's 159 children who are of elementary school age, should not have their education suffer simply because APS ' board opted to keep open an under enrolled school.
ONS has called an emergency meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Hill Neighborhood Center, 250 Georgia Ave. SE.