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School Board Meets with Desegregation Plaintiffs

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, Mo. – The interim management team running the St. Louis Public Schools is met Tuesday evening with attorneys for plaintiffs who filed an anti-segregation lawsuit against the district more than 30 years ago.

The meeting gave the parties who settled with the district in 1999 an opportunity to ask questions about how well the school board is implementing and protecting the agreement's provisions.

Attorneys questioned school officials about class sizes, professional development and other issues provided for in the 1999 settlement agreement. Accreditation remains a major concern. Currently, the district is only provisionally accredited,but interim superintendent William Roberti says progress is being made.

"The dropout rate number dropping dramatically," he said Tuesday. "That gave us a bunch of points that we needed towards getting full accreditation. The other thing that I'm aware of is our ACT scores came up. We've still got some work to do in all grade levels, but primarily in middle and high schools to get some of our scores up, and we're certainly focusing on that."

The district will undergo its state accreditation review next March. While the management team reports that the district has been steadily meeting performance standards, plaintiff's attorney William Taylor says he's concerned about things like class sizes, which he says currently do not comply with the deseg settlement agreement.

"We want to see those class sizes come down," he said. "We want to see good teachers being attracted to St. Louis and staying in St. Louis,and what we hope is that they'll put in place some things that the community can build on." Roberti says there is no problem with class sizes, saying the district is lowering pupil to teacher ratios.

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