Prince George's County educators, hoping to achieve greater desegregation of the county's schools, have begun hiring staff, buying equipment and scheduling meetings in order to open 12 magnet schools this fall.
In the meantime, the county NAACP is readying a formal response to the $8 million magnet proposal, unveiled by Superintendent John A. Murphy and approved by the school board earlier this month. The NAACP, the plaintiff in a 13-year-old desegregation lawsuit against the county, is scheduled to present its response to U.S. District Court Judge Frank A. Kaufman next week. A hearing on the magnet proposal is scheduled before Kaufman June 7.
While legal proceedings continue, administrators are moving quickly to hire program coordinators and staff, order computer equipment for the magnet schools, print brochures and application forms and schedule public information meetings to woo parents to the new schools.
Although Kaufman could rule that the plan does not fulfill desegregation guidelines, there is no requirement that the county gain court approval before implementing a desegregation program. Murphy, therefore, is proceeding with the intention of opening the magnet schools on Aug. 28, the first day of school, according to school spokesman Brian J. Porter.
"There's always the likelihood there might be a modification along the way," said Porter. "But the concept of magnet schools, we believe, will be unchanged."
Six schools will offer programs for talented and gifted students, and six will provide before- and after-school care for students whose parents work.
Application forms will be available next week for the magnet schools. Over the life of the five-year plan, 30 magnet schools are scheduled to open in existing facilities.
Informational meetings will be held next week -- May 28 at Eleanor Roosevelt High School and May 29 at the Southern Area Office, 7711 Livingston Rd., Oxon Hill. Both meetings are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.