A history of segregation and desegregation in Tucson

2010-01-31T00:00:00Z 2014-07-05T03:42:05Z A history of segregation and desegregation in Tucson Arizona Daily Star
January 31, 2010 12:00 am

Sept. 1913: A school for black students opens. State law at the time segregates elementary and middle schools for black students, who then attend the integrated Tucson High. Initially, the school leases space. Dunbar School opened in January 1918, with two rooms.

1951: TUSD agrees to desegregate Dunbar School. The decision comes three years before Brown v. The Board of Education, which determined segregated schools are "inherently unequal." Dunbar students are sent to neighborhood schools.

Jan. 1973: The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare reports that TUSD is racially unbalanced and isn't offering equal educational opportunities to minority students.

Feb. 1974: The Office for Civil RIghts tells TUSD it has to eliminate minority-identifiable schools, saying no school should have more than 50 percent minority enrollment.

April 1974: The TUSD Governing Board votes to oppose mandatory busing and reaffirms that equal opportunities are available to all students.

May 1974: Black plaintiffs and the NAACP file suit, contending TUSD isn't providing equal education. Five months later, Hispanic plaintiffs file suit. The two cases will be merged the following year.

Jan. 1977: An 11-day trial is held. The judge takes the case under advisement for 17 months.

June 1978: U.S. District Judge William Frey issues a 223-page ruling that orders TUSD to eliminate all vestiges of discrimination in nine schools - Brichta, Manzo, Tully, Roosevelt, University Heights, Jefferson Park, Cragin, Spring and Safford.

July 1978: The Governing Board closes University Heights, Roosevelt and Spring schools.

Aug. 1978: The parties agree to settle the case, expanding its scope to 21 schools. The agreement sets up a three-phase program, with Borton, Holladay and Utterback desegregated by 1979. TUSD agrees not to let students switch schools if it weakens the ethnic balance at the schools.

Feb. 1979: Judge Frey dies of a heart attack. Some speculate it may have been due in part to the strain of the case.

1983: The Legislature allows school districts to raise property-tax levies above their statutory spending limits to comply with desegregation costs.

Dec. 2004: The Governing Board petitions to end court oversight, saying it has complied with the settlement agreement.

Aug. 2007: TUSD institutes an open-enrollment policy after a federal judge says its racial-balance mandate is unconstitutional.

April 2008: U.S District Judge David Bury lifts the desegregation order with one caveat: TUSD has to produce a plan to show how it will work toward educational equity if it no longer faces court oversight. The plan addresses shortcomings in minority enrollment in gifted and Advanced Placement classes, works toward racial equity in discipline policies and aims to encourage racial mingling by allowing schools to create specialized niches to pull students from different parts of the city.

Dec. 2009: Judge Bury signs off on TUSD's plan and lifts the desegregation order.

Jan. 2010: Latino plaintiffs appeal, saying TUSD hasn't addressed educational disparities for all students.

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