MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Now, to one of the people who will have to translate the court's ruling into practice. Carol Ann Haddad is a member of the school board of Jefferson County, Kentucky, which includes Louisville. That's one of the districts whose desegregation policy was struck down as unconstitutional in today's ruling.
And Ms. Haddad, does the ruling today seem to you to strike a clear path for where the district needs to go?
Ms. CAROL ANN HADDAD (Chairman, Jefferson County Board of Education): I think it gives us some leeway. I think Justice Kennedy's opinion went with the others and it was 5-4 then it is a government compelling interest that you can use race in some cases, not the way we've been using it. He cited also some of the things that we are already doing about changing school boundaries, about having lotteries.
So I think, you know, that gives us a heads up that we are going in the right direction. We just need to step back and look at the whole plan and see where we need to go from here, and we will be able to do that with the help of Judge Heyburn who will be overseeing the whole plan.
BLOCK: That's local - federal judge in your district.
Ms. HADDAD: Yeah. He's a federal judge, yes.
BLOCK: Has your school board been looking at models from other districts, preparing for something like this to happen?
Ms. HADDAD: Well, over the years since we've been in court on and off for maybe about five or six years, we had been looking at different things that we can do. Of course, I think we're kind of unique because we're part urban and we're part suburban. And you really don't find too many school districts like that. Some of the things we've been doing, the parents want it, you know. When you get 85 percent approval rating, you're doing some of the right things. But we are going to look at different options to see what we can come up with.
The population changes from time to time. And so we've been modifying it over the years. And I look at this as just another way to modify what we're doing and look at better ways that we can do it.
BLOCK: You said an 85 percent approval rating. You think most people in the community support the desegregation plan awaited now?
Ms. HADDAD: Oh, definitely. Yeah, they really did. And they loved the choice and they liked the diversity. They want their children to be in a diverse school. It has worked for us here. I think when we started out in '75, so many people were against it, and there were farce and violence. But then, as years went on and we bought in the magnets and we modified it, the people have said we like what you're doing. So that's the reason the board went ahead and appealed it, when the suits were filed.
BLOCK: And back in 1975, you were one of those people opposed to the desegregation plan?
Ms. HADDAD: I was against the bussing, only that the federal judge said back then that education didn't make a difference. That they would just get on buses and go wherever they had to go. Well, I didn't like that because I had two children in the public schools. But as we went along and we could improve the plan, then we saw that it was working that much of them thought it was a good thing. So it didn't bother the kids as much as the adults.
BLOCK: You know, for someone who lost today before the U.S. Supreme Court, you sound fairly hopeful.
Ms. HADDAD: I don't think we lost. You know, I would have loved if they say what you're doing is just wonderful. But they didn't, so you say, okay, there was some hope in there with what Justice Kennedy on some of the things that he said. Everything wasn't thrown out. And I think our district is much more than just race because race was just one factor. And we had these other factors that he seemed to think were okay. And so I think that that gave us hope that, you know, we are doing some things right, but let's see how we can do it better and, you know, look forward to the challenge.
BLOCK: Ms. Haddad, in Justice Breyer's dissent that he read from the bench today, he called today's majority ruling a decision the court and the nation will come to regret. Do you think Louisville will come to regret it, too?
Ms. HADDAD: I don't think we will. I think if we have to just go back to our neighborhood schools, it would definitely be a regret for this district. But I think that we find hope and at that, we can still do some things we've done and not let that happen.
BLOCK: Well, Ms. Haddad, thanks very much for talking with us today.
Ms. HADDAD: Oh, thank you for calling.
BLOCK: Carol Ann Haddad is a member of the school board of Jefferson County, Kentucky.
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