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Montclair Public Schools: Focus Groups

Montclair Public Schools: Focus Groups

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This report accounts for the focus groups held on October 23-25, 2009 in Montclair. It documents the focus groups’ goals, implementation, demographics, questions, responses, follow up reactions and ensuing recommendations.

In response to the recent Supreme Court decisions, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, in which a majority of Justices held that in voluntary integration plans the race of individual students couldn’t be used in school assignment, the school district is updating its integration plan.

Along with its partners, the district is also implementing a community dialogue and messaging plan that involves focus groups, public messaging, and a possible community survey on magnet design. All parts of the plan are in service of the district’s educational objectives.

The overall goals of the dialogue and messaging plan are to:

  • Give community members an opportunity to be heard on the issues of diversity and integration in general and the magnet schools in particular.
  • Provide the school district with the opportunity to gauge the pulse of the community on these issues so that it can best present its plans on school assignment and other initiatives to parents and the larger community. • Collect input and evidence as to what extent integration is a value that has popular support – and warrants time, money and effort for its maintenance.
  • With input from the above efforts, closely tie public messaging to the district’s educational objectives and make clear the educational benefits of the student assignment process that is selected.

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University is assisting the Montclair Public School District with its community dialogue and messaging plan, cofacilitated the focus groups, and is the author of this report..