Wherein the Judge Finds Segregation at Preston Hollow After All

It took a little longer than expected--like, oh, two months longer than expected--but U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay has finally ruled in the case in which a Preston Hollow Elementary School parent alleged the school's teachers and its principal, Teresa Parker, were illegally segregating the Hispanic and African-American students from the white neighborhood kids. And just as Lucresia Mayorga Santamaria's attorney predicted, Lindsay did indeed find in favor of the plaintiff, ruling that Parker "unlawfully segregated [students] at Preston Hollow based on race and national origin." There will be money involved for two of the children involved in the suit, not to mention significant changes made at Preston Hollow--though it appears Parker will be allowed to remain at the school, if only to fix the problem she's created there.

It's little wonder it took Lindsay two extra months to write his opinion: It's a whopping 108-page document that goes into incredible detail concerning witness testimony and finding of fact; the judge took this case extremely seriously. "The court has pored over the evidence and law, and considered all possible bases presented by Principal Parker for student assignments at Preston Hollow, hoping to not find intentional discrimination," he wrote. But "none of the reasons advanced by Principal Parker holds up under the court's scrutiny." The judge says two of the three unnamed children at the heart of the lawsuit--they're referred to only as "Doe children 1-3"--are deserving of monetary damages. However, Lindsay did not find DISD or superintendent Michael Hinojosa liable for Parker's actions. He writes that there is no proof Hinojosa knew what was going on at the school.

It will take us a good while to digest all the info contained within Lindsay's ruling; throughout the day, we'll post any significant items of interest we unearth from the document. But, in short, the judge paints a damning portrait of a school being operated outside of the boundaries of DISD policies and practicies:

"Reading between the lines, along with observing the witnesses, and taking into account all that transpired at trial, the court is left with the distinct impression that the primary objective of fairly educating students was lost and substituted in its place was an effort to prevent white flight from Preston Hollow. In reserving certain classrooms for Anglo students, Principal Parker was, in effect, operating, at taxpayer's expense, a private school for Anglo children within a public school that was predominantly minority.

In light of the evidence and applicable law, the court determines that Principal Parker denied Does #1 and #3 equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly, she is liable to Does #1 and #3 for such violations, and they are entitled to monetary damages."

Parker, who's been principal at Preston Hollow since 2001, will have to pay each of the two students $10,000 in punitive damages and $100 on nominal damages. And she has till January 17 to fully integrate classes that, till now, have been segregated:

"The court hereby orders and directs Defendant Parker to integrate non-core curriculum instruction. The court also orders and directs Defendant Parker to eliminate the racially identifiable hallways that exist at Preston Hollow Elementary School and identified by the court in this order and opinion."

For more, there's an Associated Press piece about the ruling; this morning, Dallas' Only Daily buried the wire report 10 pages deep in the Metro section. --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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