Schools on Trial: An Inside Account of the Boston Desegregation Case

Schools on Trial: An Inside Account of the Boston Desegregation Case

Schools on Trial: An Inside Account of the Boston Desegregation Case

Schools on Trial: An Inside Account of the Boston Desegregation Case

Excerpt

One school desegregation case to concern a big-city public school system in the North, and one that remains unimpaired by subsequent opinions, was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 as Keyes v School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado. There, for the first time, the Supreme Court considered a city public school system in which extreme racial and ethnic separation had existed for decades with no state or local law of the southern variety.The case became a landmark because the Supreme Court held that a finding of de jure segregation in a school system could be made by a district court if a connection were established between racial and ethnic separation of students (and faculty) and a pattern of school board policies that had been designed to produce that result.

We believe the Boston school desegregation case will be remembered in legal history for two major reasons.First, Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr.'s liability opinion in Tallulah Morgan v.James W. Hennigan applied and ramified the criteria and evidentiary standards of Keyes with a precision that made a succession of northern urban school civil action suits feasible.If Keyes was a landmark, the Boston case became a district court "gateway" through which northern federal case law flowed.Second, the remedy in Boston revealed, in its planning and in its implementation, a deeper, more positive concern with educational reform than any previous federal court case.

This book does not offer a legal or educational history of the Boston schools case.We have attempted instead to select, depict, and interpret elements of the case within the context of political, administrative, and urban social forces in ways we hope will help Boston and other northern-city residents where school desegregation will have to take place within the coming decade.

There are several reasons why we have not written a history. One is that someone else will do that better than we can do it, later on, when the coals of controversy have cooled and may be raked with more objectivity. Another is that both of us have been party to the making of the remedy, and we would be obliged to write memoirs disguised as history. Yet another is that a mere . . .

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