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Howard County Council Members Plan To Introduce Resolution Aimed At Desegregating Schools

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- Three Howard County council members said they plan to introduce a resolution next month calling on the county's school system to develop a plan to desegregate area schools.

In a news release Monday, council members Christiana Mercer Rigby, Dr. Opel Jones and Deb Jung said current school district boundaries are drawn in a way that clusters students in the free and reduced meal (FARM) program into certain schools.

The trio also said segregation based on race and socioeconomic status is contributing to increasing achievement gaps and lower graduation rates. They're calling on the school system to undergo a "meaningful redistricting process" to address the issues.

The news release cited a June equity report that showed a more than 13 percent lower graduation rate for FARM students than the class of 2018 at-large. That report highlights the gaps in graduation rates can be predicted early on in students' careers based on attendance, academic performance, discipline and curricular access.

"While we often claim to prioritize diversity and inclusion in Howard County, our school districts do not reflect the
values of integration and community that we have built our county on," councilwoman Mercer Rigby said in the news release. "For decades, Howard County public schools have become increasingly segregated by race and socioeconomic
status. Redistricting is a civil rights issue here in Howard County, and it's time to take meaningful strides toward
integration in our education system."

Howard County Board of Education Chair Mavis Ellis said in the release she supports the effort.

The resolution is expected to be introduced at the council's legislative session on September 3.

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