A group of Montgomery parents whose children are part of the county's cluster program to desegregate schools are charging the county with ignoring the rising number of minority students in the system and allowing the resegregation of schools.
The parents sent a letter of complaint to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights stating that the school board "has fostered the resegregation of Rosemary Hills School through a series of actions and inactions."
The county reorganized a group of seven elementary schools four years ago to desegregate Rosemary Hills Elementary, which had nearly 100 percent minority enrollment.
The minority percentage at Rosemary Hills dropped to 64.3 percent in the first year of the cluster, to 47.8 percent in 1977, and then rose to 49.1 percent in 1978, 53.6 percent in 1979 and 55.5 percent of this year's 300 students.
The county average is a little over 21 percent minority enrollment for a school.
Parents filing the letter said that 23 children were allowed to transfer out of the school for the 1980-81 school year, and of those 23 students, 19 of them were "majority" students.
Loretta Webb, head of the department of Quality Integrated Education -- established by the board of education to implement desegregation policies -- said that some transfers were granted to children who needed to be near a day-care center, six transfers were for students whose parents did not want them to attend Rosemary Hills' all-day kindergarten, six wanted to attend the gifted and talented program at Rock Creek Forest, and some had transferred to Rosemary Hills for all-day kindergarten and were returning to their home schools for first grade.
Twelve additional transfer requests were not granted, she said.
"It's not enough to tighten up the transfer policy any more," said Ellen Rodin, one of the letter's co-signers. "We need to add more white bodies to the school to bring down the minority percentage.
"I want to make clear that this whole complaint is filed in a positive vein.
We are committed to integrated public education. We could take our kids out and put them in private school if we want. But this cluster as it was conceived and run during the first two years was really a pretty good effort," she said.
The Department of Education is required to investigate allegations of discrimination against minority students. If the department finds evidence of discrimination, it will seek voluntary compliance. The ultimate sanction is to cut off federal funds.
Alan Dodd, associate superintendent for Area 1, which includes the cluster schools, said he did not believe the increase in the number of minority students was large. "I don't think it has gone up that much," he said.
He said there was a lot of anxiety about transfers in the spring.
"People were feeling that we were going to have a whole lot of transfers out. They were concerned that the number would be too high," he said.
Dodd said he has been working closely with parents and the school system, and that a number of programs are being considered to correct the imbalance. One possibility is introducing a half-day kindergarten.
According to federal guidelines, a school's minority-majority student balance should be corrected when it reaches 20 percent over the school system's average. A total of 21 schools in Montgomery County have more than 41 percent minority enrollment.
George Fisher, head of the school system's planning department, said the 15-year master facilities plan, due to be completed at the end of the year, will address the problem of racial balance.
He said the changes being considered include increasing mandatory busing, enlarging the cluster or adding programs to attract students.