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Group Says Any East Austin School Closures Would Be Unconstitutional

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT
TCRP's report says under-enrollment reflects Austin's failure to overcome its history of racial segregation.

The Texas Civil Rights Project is warning any plans to close schools in East Austin would be discriminatory and would violate students' constitutional right to available education.

Earlier this summer, AISD released a reportidentifying 18 East Austin as under-enrolled, operating at less than 75 percent capacity. But AISD says that it currently has no plans to close any schools.

"The closure of these schools is going to be a problem because it has a discriminatory impact, so it's subject to legal challenge and unconstitutional," says attorney Joseph Berra.

TCRP wants Austin ISD to correct under-enrollment by advocating with the city leaders for more affordable housing and policies to fight gentrification, helping on issues of segregation and poverty that lead to under-enrollment.

"It's time for Austin to be courageous in confronting its history of segregation and inequity," says Berra. 

Brian McGiverin, a lawyer with the group, says “almost all of Austin’s under-enrolled schools are in formerly-segregated East Austin neighborhoods. "The majority of the schools’ students are African American and Latino, and nearly all are from low-income families.”

This year, AISD opened two new single-sex schools at Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy and the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women's Leadership Academy. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaintagainst the district yesterday, alleging the schools are discriminatory and limited school choice for minority students.

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