The Prince George's County Board of Education plans to ask a federal judge in Baltimore to make the county and state governments codefendants in the protracted desegregation suit filed against it by the NAACP.
It is unclear what impact the request will have on the desegregation suit if it is approved by U.S. District Court Judge Frank Kaufman. Attorneys for the board have until Nov. 2 to file their request.
County attorney Robert Ostrom informed the county council of the board's decision yesterday at a closed-door meeting after the council's weekly session. Council chairman Parris Glendening said the discussion with Ostrom was the first word the council has had on the request.
"I was under the impression that the purpose was to capture our fairly extensive legal resources," said Glendening. "I don't know the motive of it other than that it is being done on the basis of our being a funding agency."
Paul Nussbaum, attorney for the school board, would not confirm or deny that the request will be made. "I do not discuss what I am going to do in a court case before I do it," he said.
Ostrom said he has yet not seen official documents indicating the board's intention. He said that if the county is admitted as a defendant, the practical effect on the outcome of the case is "impossible to predict. The effect depends on what relief is sought."
Glendening said several council members were surprised that the board, not the NAACP, will act to include the county as a defendant. "We have always been sort of a party," said Glendening, "If the court orders schools to remain open, we have to fund them."