The eight black elected state and county officials in Prince George's County have urged U.S. District Judge Frank A. Kaufman to reject the county board of education's five-year desegregation plan if changes are not made to further safeguard the interests of black students.
The officials wrote Kaufman Wednesday that they fear the county's proposed $8.7 million magnet school program will take too long to implement.
They said they are also concerned that the proposal does not include a mandatory busing plan in case the schools fail to attract enough students to take advantage of their talented and gifted programs and after-school care. They also said they feared the talented and gifted classes, expected to be predominantly white, will receive "the lion's share" of the magnet school money.
The letter was signed by State Sen. Decatur Trotter (D); Democratic delegates Nathaniel Exum, Christine Jones, Jerry Perry, Sylvania Woods Jr. and Albert Wynn, and County Council members Hilda Pemberton and Floyd Wilson.
They said they believe that the so-called "Milliken II" schools -- a dozen largely black schools presumed to be difficult to integrate because of their distance from predominantly white schools -- are short-changed in the proposal.
"While the board's plan may have some conceptual merit," the officials wrote, " . . . it will not achieve the short-term goal of a unitary public school system nor the more important goal of providing access to quality education to all students in the system."
County school spokesman Brian J. Porter yesterday called the officials' concerns "premature."
The desegregation plan, proposed by Superintendent John A. Murphy and approved by the county Board of Education last month, is scheduled to be discussed at a hearing before Kaufman today in Baltimore. Kaufman is overseeing the lawsuit, which was brought by the NAACP 13 years ago to force the school system to desegregate.
Last week the NAACP issued a 40-page document endorsing the concept of the magnet school program while recommending nine changes to the plan that were similar to those suggested by the officials.