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Refuse appeal, schools ask court

The Hillsborough County School Board has told the U.S. Supreme Court it has done all it can to free the schools of racial discrimination.

The district asked the nation's highest court Friday not to take up Hillsborough's 43-year-old desegregation case, which was appealed last month by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. If the court refuses to hear the case, it will bring an end to one of the longest court cases in Florida history.

The school district filed a 30-page response that essentially refutes the Defense Fund's claims, said school attorney Tom Gonzalez.

On June 14, the Legal Defense Fund appealed a 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said the district was free of segregation. The Defense Fund represents the original black families who filed a suit in 1958 against the district after they were denied an equal education because of skin color.

The Defense Fund appeal argued that the March 16 decision, which ordered the closing of the desegregation case, was faulty.

Gonzalez said the district filed its response because it disagrees with the Defense Fund on a point of law and that the appeals court decision conflicts with other cases.

"The holding was a very narrow holding," Gonzalez said. "It wasn't like the 11th Circuit was trying to establish any rule of law."

Officials expect the Supreme Court to decide sometime this fall whether to take up the Hillsborough case. At least four of the justices must vote to hear the case.