WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today let stand a ruling that will force an end to the segregation of Latino students in San Jose public schools.
The justices, without comment, refused to review a federal appeals court decision that the longstanding segregation of Latino students from Anglo students was intentional and therefore unconstitutional.
Lawyers for the San Jose Unified School District argued that the ethnic imbalance in district schools stems from "a neutral and even-handed neighborhood school policy"--not from any intention to maintain or add to segregation.
The controversy dates to 1971, when the school district was sued on behalf of all Spanish-surnamed students.
The northern half of the 16-mile-long school district encompasses downtown San Jose, where the city's Latino population is concentrated. The district's southern half stretches into primarily suburban and predominantly Anglo areas.
School district officials acknowledged there was great ethnic imbalance in the schools but said the imbalance was due to residential patterns and a policy of sending students to schools nearest their homes.
Earlier Ruling for District
U.S. District Judge Robert F. Peckham ruled for the school district. He dismissed the lawsuit after concluding that officials "have never acted with segregative intent."
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Peckham's ruling, but an "en banc" panel of that court voted 8 to 3 against the school board last year.
Among other decisions today, the justices:
--Set the stage for an important financial industry ruling by agreeing to decide whether the Federal Reserve Board may regulate limited-service banks. The court said it will review a decision blocking the board from limiting growth of the new financial institutions, called "non-bank banks."
--Ruled 9 to 0 that public school officials may be forced to reimburse private school costs for parents who decide on their own to transfer their handicapped child from public schools.