In desegregation case, US Judge blasts school officials and Justice department
A federal judge in Alabama says local school board has failed to meet legal mandate to integrate 

A federal judge in Alabama has taken the rare step of ruling against a local school board in a desegregation case, rejecting the board's claims that it had done all it could to end segregation in its schools.
In a lengthy, at times scathing ruling issued last month, US District Court Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala said she could not "conclusively" determine that the Huntsville City Schools District wasn't still operating an unconstitutionally segregated system or that it had made a "good faith effort" to significantly integrate its schools. As a result, Haikala refused to approve a student assignment plan that had been proposed by the Huntsville school board.
The Huntsville ruling is important, both because the district is racially diverse and because it is the largest in the state still under federal mandate to desegregate.
In May, ProPublica published a story showing the state of inaction and confusion surrounding scores of federal school desegregation orders, the once-powerful tool for compelling school districts across the country to provide equal educational opportunities to students of color. Many of the orders had been allowed to sit dormant for decades, often with no one monitoring school officials to make sure they were complying with federal mandates to integrate. And in many other instances, judges had routinely lifted existing orders even when those districts remained highly segregated.
For some parents and civil rights lawyers, the inaction and allegedly one-sided decisions amounted to an abdication of responsibility by the country's federal bench.
In Alabama, however, two federal judges, Judges Myron Thompson and William Harold Albritton III, had bucked the trend, refusing to see the decades-old orders as relics that should simply be brought to a close. And now, it looks like those two judges may have company.
"Until the board achieves the goal" of eliminating "segregation to the extent practicable," Haikala wrote. "The Court must continue to supervise the Board's efforts."
In April, ProPublica chronicled the fortunes of the school district in Tuscaloosa, Ala. There, the city's schools, after years of successful integration, had effectively been re-segregated after the district had won its freedom from a longstanding court order. ProPublica's reporting showed that the re-segregation that had happened in Tuscaloosa was happening in school districts throughout the nation.
Huntsville's schools had been under court order since 1965. Though the district itself is racially balanced, most of the district's schools are either heavily white or heavily black. A new zoning plan proposed by the board in 2013 would have increased segregation for many black students.
The U.S. Department of Justice, a party to the case, objected to the assignment plan and in February the dispute landed before Haikala, who'd been appointed to the bench by President Obama in 2012.
In the judge's 107-page ruling, she blasted school officials for failing to provide required reports on the district's integration progress for two decades. She also criticized the Justice Department for failing to be "proactive" and to "keep an eye on" the marked disparities in schools serving mostly white children and those serving mostly black ones.
Huntsville officials, in response to an interview request, released a statement to ProPublica, stating, that as a result of the order, the district intended to work with the U.S. Department of Justice "to create a roadmap" to satisfy the judge's demands and ultimately gain "the return of control of Huntsville City Schools to local officials."
Justice Department officials did not respond to an interview request before publication.
Huntsville officials, as is common in these cases, argued that their schools had been fully desegregated for years. Any enduring segregation or other inequities, they argued, had to do with housing patterns and other forces outside of their control.
These arguments, ProPublica's reporting shows, have often proved successful before federal judges.
But Haikala wasn't persuaded.
"The record in this case is not as clear as the Board suggests, and the fact that the district integrated the student bodies of many of its schools in the early 1970s does not automatically lead to the conclusion that the district does not currently operate a dual system," she wrote. She pointed out that not only were many schools still segregated, but the opportunity to take advanced classes also appeared linked to race.
She noted testimony from a white mother who withdrew her child from a predominantly black high school because it offered fewer advanced academic courses than other schools.
"While private choices seem to have precipitated the existing racial polarization of the district's schools, it is not clear...that the district has not contributed to the situation," she wrote. "There is a significant disparity between the educational programs in the district's predominately African-American secondary schools and the educational programs in the district's predominately white schools."
That disparity, she said, could even be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Huntsville schools had taken several steps to improve educational outcomes for black students, including adopting universal school breakfast programs and increasing pre-kindergarten classrooms. But the judge's ruling seemed skeptical of whether the district would continue these efforts once court oversight ended.
"The Board submits that the district's conduct over the past 50 years demonstrates good faith. Recent events, though, have hurt the board's record," she wrote. She catalogued Huntsville's 20-year failure to file required reports, its track record of missing data and incomplete information, and its public criticism of a requirement in the order that the district allow students to transfer into schools where they are a racial minority.
Haikala set two magistrate judges to the task of gathering information and to work with the district and the Justice Department to come up with a plan to address any other issues needed to get the district in compliance with the order, and ultimately, to end it.
Huntsville's children, she wrote, "have no control over where they live now, but giving them a strong education is the surest way to ensure that they will have choices about where they will live in the future and what they will do when they become adults."
You can read Judge Haikala's entire order here. You can search ProPublica's database to see whether your district is, or has ever been, under a school desegregation order and check school segregation in your hometown.


Govt urges UPSC to postpone preliminary exam for civil services

The union government urged UPSC to postpone preliminary exam for civil services till there is clarity on the syllabus and pattern, especially use of language

Amid demands by civil service aspirants for scrapping the Civil Services Aptitude test (CSAT), the union government on Tuesday urged the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to postpone the preliminary exam scheduled next month till there is clarity on the syllabus and exam pattern.


“We are also urging upon the UPSC and the committee that was constituted to look into the matter that not only a report be constituted at the earliest, considering the urgency of the matter and the concern of all sections of the society... they should also consider postponing the date of the preliminary examination,” Union Minister Jitendra Singh told reporters outside Parliament.


The prelims entrance exam is scheduled to be held on 24th August.


On Monday, activists from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had staged protests outside the UPSC office demanding scrapping of CSAT, saying such a pattern was putting Hindi language aspirants at a disadvantage.


Singh, who is also Minister of State for Department of Personnel and Training and Prime Minister’s Office, said, “Till the report about the final conclusions in the matter is out, these young guys and girls would not be able to make out the kind of preparation they have to do for the exam.


“Therefore, till there is a clarity over the syllabus and exam pattern they should be given sufficient time. It is quite legitimate on their part that we are suggesting to concerned authorities to consider postponement of the preliminary examination of IAS (UPSC) exams,” he said.


A group of students also met Singh over the issue on Tuesday.


The Minister said senior officials would meet the protesting students and urge them to end their hunger strike.


“We were all deeply concerned when we found our students were resorting to hunger strike. We have succeeded in convincing them. They should not resort to such extreme measures,” he said.


“We would write to the UPSC and the committee that has been constituted to submit this report to expedite the process, address their concerns judiciously and sympathetically and not let them go with a feeling that they have been wronged on account of any bias towards any language.


“...There should be no injustice regarding the language and government does not support this,” Singh said.


RJD and Congress members had raised the issue during the Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the notice for adjournment motion on the issue by RJD members Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav.




2 years ago

csat is obviously disadvantage to the rural back ground youth and those who have been completed education in regional languages.This is also effects 3 point /3 languages pattern.

How to get deemed conveyance for your housing society

Ramesh Prabhu explained the law, procedures and incentives for obtaining deemed conveyance for a cooperative housing society, at a seminar organised by Moneylife Foundation

Nearly 85% of co-operative housing societies (CHS) in Mumbai alone do not have conveyance from their builders. It is the same elsewhere in Maharashtra. "Although the process is simple, people find it difficult to collect required documents from several departments for obtaining deemed conveyance. However, one can use innovative methods like procuring information under the Right to Information (RTI) to obtain all the documents from several departments, says Ramesh Prabhu.

He was speaking at a seminar on "Deemed Conveyance – Law, procedure and incentives to meet the 31st Dec deadline" organised by Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai. Mr Prabhu is a chartered accountant (CA) by profession and an expert on various laws and issues concerning the co-operative and housing sectors.

To avoid major problems later on, or to avoid problems such as Campa Cola compound residents, all CHS members need to first resolve the issue of becoming legal titleholder of the land through conveyance deed or deemed conveyance. Otherwise "when things go wrong, like in the case of the collapsed Laxmi Chhaya building from Mumbai, it poses a serious risk to your most valuable asset and probably your biggest investment," said Mr Prabhu.
The Maharashtra government's "Deemed Conveyance" scheme has been extended twice and will close on 31 December 2014. The government has said there will be no further extension. Many housing societies are keen for redevelopment but they cannot go ahead with redevelopment for want of conveyance.

Mr Prabhu said, “There are three options for getting conveyance—through builder, through court cases or through deemed conveyance. As per the law, the builder or developer is supposed to provide conveyance for a CHS within four months of establishing the CHS. Therefore, one can safely say, four months after setting up a CHS, it is 'deemed' to have a conveyance in place. Only thing required is to get it documented in government records.”

“In case of the developer or builder and land owners (together promoters) are not willing to or ready  to sign the conveyance deed, then as per the law, the District Deputy Registrar (DDR) as competitive authority signs it as promoter/s. In addition, even if there is a court case pending, the DDR as statutory authority can give the deemed conveyance in favour of the CHS,” he added.

One of the issues raised in deemed conveyance applications is that there are two or more buildings on adjacent plots owned or developed by the builder. Mr Prabhu said, “There are several judgements by the Court that say two or more CHS on a single plot of land can also go for deemed conveyance separately. Even condos can be given deemed conveyance.”

For flat owners in buildings developed by MHADA or given on lease by CIDCO, there are separate provisions, and the CHS can approach the respective authorities, Mr Prabhu added.

What is conveyance or deemed conveyance?

As per the provisions of section 11 of the Maharashtra Ownerships Flats Act (MOFA), the promoter is duty-bound to complete his title and convey the same to the organisation of persons who had bought the flat (i.e. cooperative society, CHS, home buyer, apartment owner, etc). The Conveyance has to be executed and the promoter or builder has to deliver the title relating to the property. It is also the duty of the promoter to file a copy of the conveyance with the flat purchasers and the competent authority under section 11(2).

Many a times it is found that builders have not conveyed the title of properties to the housing societies in the hope of availing more floor space index (FSI) that may become available, or the benefits accrued to them in case the property is redeveloped. In such cases, members of the CHS can get the deemed conveyance from the authorities.

The buyer after forming a cooperative housing society (or CHS) also can approach the competent authority for obtaining a unilateral deemed conveyance in favour of the legal entity i.e. cooperative society, CHS, apartment or a company.

How to obtain conveyance or deemed conveyance?

When the developer and land owners (promoters) are ready to sign the deed, the CHS can opt for conveyance deed. In case, either the promoters are not ready or not available, then the CHS can opt of unilateral or deemed conveyance. In both cases, either the developer or builder or the CHS have to file an application in prescribed format (form No.7) before the sub-registrar. For more information you can visit the Maharashtra government's portal for conveyance.

The competent authority on receiving such application shall, within reasonable time, but in any case not later than six months after making such enquiries as deemed necessary, after verifying authenticity of the document submitted, after giving the promoter reasonable opportunity for being heard, shall issue a certificate to the sub-registrar or any other appropriate registration authority under The Registration Act, 1908. This certifies that there is a fit case for enforcing unilateral execution of Conveyance Deed, conveying the right title and interest of the promoters in the land and building in favour of the applicant as Deemed Conveyance.

Submissions made by the cooperative society or apartment owner to the sub-registrar shall, (or the appropriate registering authority), on the basis of the certificate issued by the competent authority, along with the unilateral instrument of conveyance, notwithstanding anything contained in The Registration Act, 1908, issue summons to the promoters as to why unilateral instrument should not be registered as Deemed Conveyance.

After giving the promoter reasonable opportunity of being heard, after being satisfied that is a fit case for unilateral conveyance, (the competent authority or sub-registrar) shall register instrument as deemed conveyance.

Towards the end of the session Mr Prabhu spoke on a few case laws where completion certificate/ occupation certificate is not required for deemed conveyance, even if a case in consumer court is pending–you can apply for deemed conveyance, deemed conveyance is possible even if there is balance FSI and disputes raised of open space between the two buildings and FSI thereupon- still Deemed Conveyance upheld.

The Campa Cola Case

Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court set aside the deemed conveyance granted to Campa Cola societies and remanded the matter to the deputy registrar of cooperative societies for a fresh hearing.

Commenting on this development, Mr Prabhu said, "The main reason for setting aside the deemed conveyance order of Campa Cola is, that all necessary parties were not included in the application. In the case of Campa Cola, the land belonged to BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC) and BMC was not made a party in the application for reasons best known to them. When BMC challenged the same before the High court, the Campa Cola Council agreed to include BMC as a party and requested to give an opportunity for fresh hearing to all the parties before District Deputy Registrar (DDR) within next three months. Thus the matter has been remanded back for fresh hearing and I am sure, the same will be granted."
"The mistakes sometime committed by the consultants or society is that they want to go for short cuts which takes more time," he added.




1 year ago

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