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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XII EDUCATION
  • CHAPTER 71 PUBLIC SCHOOLS
  • Section 37D Racial imbalance; definitions; statistics; transfers; priorities; plans for elimination; public hearings; regulations; jurisdiction; costs; attorney’s fees

Section 37D. As used in this section, sections thirty-seven C, I, and J, sections one I through one K of chapter fifteen, and section twelve A of chapter seventy-six, the following terms shall, unless the context requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

“Racial imbalance”, the condition of a public school in which more than fifty percent of the pupils attending such school are non-white.

“Racial balance”, the condition of a public school in which more than thirty percent but not more than fifty percent of the pupils attending such school are non-white.

“Racial isolation”, the condition of a public school in which not more than thirty percent of the pupils attending such school are non-white.

“Exempt school”, a public school to which, prior to January first, nineteen hundred and seventy-four, the passing of a competitive examination was a condition of entrance; provided, however, that the school committee or regional district school committee having jurisdiction over such school shall, under the supervision of the board of education, establish and maintain an affirmative action program to recruit and assist non-white students to enter and to remain in attendance at such school.

The school committee of each city, town, and regional school district shall annually, at such time and in such form as the commissioner shall determine, submit to the commissioner statistics sufficient to enable a determination to be made of the percent of white and non-white pupils attending all public schools and attending each public school under the jurisdiction of each such committee. Whenever the board of education, in this section called the board, finds that racial imbalance exists in a public school, it shall in writing notify the school committee or regional district school committee having jurisdiction over such school that such finding has been made.

Any non-white pupil attending any public school in which racial imbalance exists shall have the right to be transferred to and to attend any other school, except an exempt school, of his parents’ or guardian’s choice for his grade level and under the jurisdiction of the same school committee or regional district school committee if racial isolation exists in such other school; and any white pupil attending any public school in which racial isolation exists shall have the right to be transferred to and to attend any other school, except an exempt school, of his parents’ or guardian’s choice for his grade level and under the jurisdiction of the same school committee or regional district school committee if racial imbalance exists in such other school. If a place is available for such pupil at such other school, such school committee or regional district school committee shall, forthwith upon receipt of written notice by his parents or guardian that they intend such pupil to exercise his right to be transferred to and to attend such other school, transfer such pupil to such other school. If no place is available for such pupil at such other school, such school committee or regional district school committee shall, upon receipt of such notice, formulate and, within the time limit established by regulations of the board, file with the board a plan to provide, within the same school year for which such notice is given, a place for such pupil at such other school and shall, within such time as may be prescribed by the board, implement either such plan as approved by the board or the mandatory plan of the board to provide such place and, when such place becomes available, transfer such pupil to such other school; provided, however, that the board may temporarily or permanently excuse such school committee or regional district school committee from implementing such plan or mandatory plan if an alternative place, satisfactory to the parents or guardian of such pupil, is available at another school to which such pupil may, as provided by this section, exercise his right to be transferred and attend, or if the board finds that there is other good cause to do so. Whenever a school committee or regional district school committee determines, in accordance with regulations of the board, that the number of places available at such other school is exceeded by the number of pupils exercising their rights to be transferred to and to attend such other school, the selection of particular pupils to be transferred to such places as are available shall be in accordance with regulations of the board, which regulations shall reasonably provide for priority for non-white pupils attending schools in which more than seventy percent of the pupils are non-white, without affecting the rights of such pupils not so selected to be transferred to and to attend such other school as provided by this section.

Any such plan so filed shall set forth in detail the proposed changes in existing school attendance districts, additions to existing school buildings, use of leased or portable facilities, changes in use of school buildings, and other measures to provide a place for such pupil at such other school. Any such plan shall take into consideration on an equal basis with reduction or elimination of racial imbalance the safety of pupils in their travelling between school and home. Any such plan may provide for voluntary cooperation by other cities, towns, or regional school districts in making facilities available or otherwise rendering assistance in implementing such plan. No change in any existing school attendance district shall be made pursuant to any such plan prior to a public hearing. Notice of the time and place of such hearing and of its subject matter shall be given by mail, postage prepaid, to the parents and guardian of each pupil affected by the proposed change and either by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city, town, or regional school district within which such attendance district lies once in each of two successive weeks, the first such publication to be not less than fourteen days prior to the day of such hearing, or, if there is no such newspaper, by posting such notice in a conspicuous place in the city or town hall of such city, town, or member towns of such regional school district for a period of not less than fourteen days prior to the day of such hearing. At such hearing any person, whether entitled to notice thereof or not, may appear in person or be represented by an agent who need not be an attorney.

The board shall adopt regulations for the administration of the provisions of this section relating to, but not necessarily limited to, determination of places available in schools, priorities for transfer and attendance, notification to parents and guardians of pupils of such pupils’ rights to transfer and attendance, reporting and publication of places available in schools, time limits for filing of plans to provide places for pupils in schools, consolidation of such plans for filing, time limits and schedules for implementation of approved or mandatory plans to provide such places, progress reports on such implementation, and affirmative action programs.

The supreme judicial and superior courts shall have jurisdiction in equity over actions commenced by the board or by or on behalf of any pupil to enforce the provisions of this section; provided, however, that in any such action commenced by or on behalf of any pupil to enforce his right, as provided by this section, to be transferred to and to attend any school, which action is concluded in favor of such pupil, the school committee or regional district school committee having jurisdiction over such school shall be liable to such pupil or the person commencing such action on his behalf for his costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.