On June 12, 1978, the Ohio State Board of Education adopted a “Resolution on Equal Educational Opportunities.” In the Resolution, the State Board directed the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to prepare an assessment instrument for identifying discriminatory practices that effect racial balance within schools, and to prepare a plan for monitoring and correcting “any segregation caused by action or inaction of local school officials.” On March 10, 1980, the State Board approved a guidebook for districts entitled Equal Educational Opportunity in Ohio Schools: A Guide for School Districts on Constitutional Provisions, Assessment Procedures and Monitoring Activities Pertaining to Racial Isolation (herein referred to as the “1980 Policy”).
The 1980 Policy affirmed that the alleviation of racial isolation in the schools of Ohio has “long been a goal of the State Board of Education.” To that end, ODE and districts were instructed to commence the assessment and monitoring activities set forth in the Policy. As part of the assessment and monitoring activities, all school districts were advised to identify schools in which the racial and ethnic composition of the pupils or staff “substantially varies” from the district average. Of particular relevance is the 1980 Policy’s determination that a building would be deemed to have “substantial variation” if its minority population fell outside a window of ±15% from the district-wide population. For example, if a district had a 30% minority student population, an individual building would have “substantial variation” if its minority student population was less than 15% or greater than 45%. Districts with schools identified as having ‘substantial variation’ were instructed to conduct an assessment to determine how this variation came into existence. If the variation was a result of probable unlawful segregative practices, the Policy required districts to take immediate action to eliminate the variation. If the variation was not a result of unlawful segregative practices, the district was required to take reasonable action to alleviate racial or ethnic isolation.