Following a disagreement over U.S. District Court Judge Frank A. Kaufman's recollection of his 1972 school desegregation order, lawyers for the Prince George's County schools suggested today that the judge disqualify himself from the NAACP's new law suit that alleges the county's schools have resegregated.
The dispute centered on whether Kaufman's order that black enrollment at all schools in the county should be between 10 percent and 50 percent was meant to change upward as black enrollment in the schools increased.
Lawyers for the NAACP contend that the schools, which were 23.4 percent black in 1972, never effectively desegregated as the black percentage rose over a decade to 52 percent this year. In discussing the school board's efforts to desegregate on a school-by-school basis today, Kaufman adjusted the guidelines for the rise in black population and compared them with the percentages at each school in the years following 1972.
School board attorney Paul Nussbaum, who helped design the original desegregation plan along with others under Kaufman's supervision, rose after the lunch break and insisted he had "no recollection" that the guidelines were meant to slide. Nussbaum said they were valid only for Jan. 28, 1973, when busing for desegregation began.
Nussbaum has maintained that when Kaufman relinquished control over the schools in March of 1975, the board was not required to make a continuing effort to keep black schools from becoming blacker because of demographic changes.
When Kaufman said that his recollection was different, school co-counsel George Solter, a former judge of the supreme bench of Baltimore City, rose and told Kaufman that, "If this difference in recollection persists, then we're running up against a possible disqualification."
In a heated exchange, Kaufman dismissed Solter's assertion that he should recuse himself under a federal rule that disqualifies a judge who has "personal knowledge" of a fact of evidence in dispute. The judge challenged Solter to put the charge in writing when the case continues on Monday morning. Solter said he would write the brief over the weekend.