Board: Race No Longer A Factor in Knox School Transfers

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Knoxville (WVLT) - White, black, Hispanic or anything else. The Knox County School Board says now it doesn't matter.

Monday afternoon, the board kicked out race as one of the factors for where students can transfer.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has the story.

Does this means more than 1,600 Knox students finally will know where they'll go to school? Yes.

Until Monday, the school used race to help decide if students could enter or leave a particular school. The board says it was meant to keep the schools from becoming segregated. Now they'll have to find another way.

"You don't want to have the Hispanic school, the black school, the white school," board member Karen Carson said.

Exactly why the Knox County School Board's considered race in student transfer requests. But now...

"Race cannot be the sole determining factor in an approval or denial of a transfer," Carson said.

In a six-to-one vote with one abstention, the board did away with race.
The only board member to vote no was Sam Anderson. Why the change?

"The Supreme Court decision at the end of June," Carson said.

That happened the day before the board planned to respond to transfer requests.

"Of the 1,700, maybe 80 or so were denied or approved based on race issues," board member Indya Kincannon said.

The High Court ruled race shouldn't be taken into account for which schools students attend. Race's been in the transfer policy since 1991.
The board says it was meant to promote racial balance.

"If the white student wants to leave a school where they're in the minority of school, it further decreases that minority and creates a negative racial impact," Carson said.

Board member Indya Kincannon calls the change a step in the right direction, but she voted in abstention because she wanted to know what other Tennessee school systems do about race, if anything.

"Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread, and that's just something that concerned me," Kincannon said.

"All I can say is we had to act in good faith based on the recommendations of the law director to try to get in alignment with the Supreme Court," Carson said.

Because with less than three weeks to students get back the classroom, the clock's ticking.

The school board will do everything in it's power to get the letters out Tuesday, but if you can't wait to check the mail, you can call the transfer office. The number is 865-594-1503

The school will re-work it's entire transfer policy during the next months, and it plans to have a new policy in place before next year's open transfer period in April.

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