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APS Redistricting: Lawyer Puts School District On Notice

A southwest Atlanta parent and attorney says changes in his area are unconstitutional.

An Atlanta attorney is questioning the legality of the Atlanta school board's recent approval of new school attendance zones.

Attorney David H. Glass, who lives in the Summerhill community, sent a letter to the school board asking it to review the , arguing that it violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

Glass argues that D.H. Stanton, in the Peoplestown neighborhood, is a low performing school. To be rezoned there is unfair to Summerhill when the neighborhood lobbied for and initially ended up being zoned to higher performing Parkside Elementary in Grant Park.

"Parents in the Summerhill neighborhood feel their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment (Equal Protection Clause) may be violated if their children are sent to D. H. Stanton Elementary," reads the April 18 letter.

The five-paragraph letter says the neighborhood wants to be rezoned to Parkside Elementary.

"The Organized Neighbors of Summerhill believe the APS Board does have their best interests at heart and in serving those interests, you will adhere to the recommendation of Superintendent Davis."

The APS Board approved a redistricting plan on April 10 that includes placing between six and eight portable classrooms at next year to alleviate overcrowding. Inman currently houses students from four elementary schools including . See here for more Midtown related coverage from this month's vote.

It's not clear if the Summerhill parents are alone in considering a legal challenge to the school attendance zone changes.

Glass is pointing to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which says states cannot enforce laws that "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Glass, who has lived in Summerhill for the past 12 years and is expecting his first child, told East Atlanta Patch the equal protection clause applies because the district is taking a majority black neighborhood and sending its children to a low performing school when there's a higher performing school nearby.

Under the equal protection clause, race is a protected class.

Arguably the most famous case using this clause is Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. In that 1954 Supreme Court decision, the nation's highest court said segregated public schools violated the 14th Amendment.

"This is a predominantly black neighborhood and instead of affording them the opportunity to send them to a higher performing school, you're sending them to a school that's near bottom," Glass said.

Glass, who specializes in workmens' comp and personal injury law, was not retained by the Organized Neighbors of Summerhill. He said he simply sent the letter to "alert them that the fight is here."

E-mail requests for comment to APS board Chairman Reuben R. McDaniel III, at-large member Courtney D. English, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane and Brenda J. Muhammad, whose district includes Peoplestown, Summerhill and Grant Park, were not immediately returned.

An APS spokesman said he could not immediately comment because he had not yet seen the letter.

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