An Analysis of Desegregation Consent Decrees of Two Selected School Systems: A Blueprint for Remedy

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

Arthur Southerland

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


This study presented a case study and survey of the literature concerning the outcomes of desegregation consent decrees. The approach for the case study was two-fold. First, the study presented a review of the literature concerning the history of desegregation cases. Second, it focused on the history of choice schools and the specific relationship to equity. These issues are of interest to decision-makers and communities who have been mandated by the Courts to establish a unitary school system. Providing a unitary school system required providing equitable resources and access to quality academic programs to all students. Finally, the study recognized that there is no one solution to addressing the implementation plans for a district. The study outlined successful designs of two selected school systems, including three schools from each school system, that approached their remedy in different ways to acquire mandatory unitary status. The results of the case study revealed that school district plans generally needed to address issues of, (1) selectivity/access, (2) program processes, and (3) outcomes to address issues of equity. Areas analyzed were parallel for the school systems. Marketing patterns, criteria and procedures for student selection, and a structured interview of administrators, teachers and parents were analyzed to give insight into the area of selectivity/access. Program processes were analyzed by describing the variety of curriculum offerings and program designs, inner city enhancements, staffing, and staff development for the three schools identified in each school system. Outcomes were based on achieving a balanced racial student enrollment and above average scores on standardized tests. Retention of a racially balanced enrollment was determined utilizing Taeuber's Index of Dissimilarity and standardized test scores respectively. The study resulted in several conclusions. One similarity was that both school systems took similar processes in trying to achieve unitary status. Minority parents in the study were more inclined to choose traditional schools, while majority parents chose other themes such as performing arts and early childhood programs. Both majority and minority parents showed equal interest in academic schools. Responses from interviews indicated that parents were satisfied with the fairness of the procedures used for student selection and were satisfied with the outreach of information. The study suggested that there is a need to include a tutorial component in schools involving high academics particularly during the inception of a magnet school with a focus on the retention of minority students. Students in the study generally scored higher on achievement tests in those schools that were formed as dedicated magnets as compared to those schools whose design was the school-within-a-school organization. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)