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Charter Schools Group May Not Intervene in Desegregation Case, Court Says

A federal appeals court today refused to allow the Missouri Charter Public School Association to intervene in the long-running desegregation lawsuit involving the Kansas City, Mo., school district.

"The MCPSA sought to intervene nearly thirty years after the filing of suit, three years after final judgment was entered in the suit, four months after the motion for enforcement of judgments was filed, and eight days after the District Court entered judgment on the motion for enforcement of judgments," said the opinion for a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis.

"Intervention at such a late stage would have unduly delayed enforcement of the remedy to which the [Kansas City school district] was entitled," the court added.

The Kansas City deseg case began in 1977, well before charter schools came into being as a popular form of independent public school. The Kansas City school district was declared unitary in 2003, but the federal district judge overseeing the case partially reopened it in 2006. That is when the charter schools group sought to intervene "to present evidence crucial to a just determination of the issues involved."

The Kansas City, Mo., case was the subject of three U.S. Supreme Court decisions, all captioned Missouri v. Jenkins, in 1989 (dealing largely with attorneys' fees), in 1990 (addressing several issues), and 1995 (in which the justices scaled back an extensive district court remedy).

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