Desegregation of Public Education

To secure equal educational opportunity for persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Agency - Department of Justice

The Department of Justice enforces the law and defends the interest of the United States, ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic; providing Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful pursuits; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Program Accomplishments

Among the Section's most important priorities is its responsibility to monitor approximately 240 school districts currently covered by desegregation orders in cases in which the United States is a party. To ensure that districts comply with their obligations, the Section routinely reviews matters relating to student assignment, faculty assignment and hiring, transportation policies, extracurricular activities, the availability of equitable facilities, and the distribution of resources. The Section also routinely responds to requests by other parties to modify court orders to reflect current circumstances, and to requests by parties, as well as courts, regarding unitary status and the ultimate dismissal of the lawsuit. As a result of these activities, the Section obtained various types of relief including: improved facilities for minority students; the elimination of one-race classrooms and schools; the desegregation of faculty and recruitment of minority faculty and staff; more equitable transportation routes for minority students; the elimination of segregative transfers; and the elimination of race-based extracurricular activities. Also, where appropriate, EOS has agreed that school districts have eliminated the vestiges of the dual system to the extent practicable and thus the district has achieved unitary status. For instance, in FY 2008, in Graham and United States v. Evangeline Parish Sch. Bd. (W.D. LA), the Division filed a motion for further relief because of the poor facilities at a majority-black high school and the failure of the district to provide agreed upon programming. The parties are engaging in discovery and the case is set for a hearing. In U.S. v. Claiborne Parish Sch. Dist. (LA), EOS has reached an agreement with the district to close a virtually one-race school and re-assign students on a desegregated basis to the extent practicable. In United States v. McComb Mun. Sep. Sch. Sys. (MS), the court issued a decision resolving our motion for further relief and the district's motion for unitary status. The court agreed that the district could not be declared unitary in the area of student assignment because its student assignment policies at Otken and Kennedy elementary schools violated the governing desegregation order and federal law. The court further ruled that it could not grant the district unitary status with respect to its homecoming court, because new policies that replaced the district's prior race-based regime had not been in place for a reasonable period of time. The court asked the district to formulate new student assignment policies for Otken and Kennedy and submit them to the United States for approval. We have received a plan for the district and are in the process of providing the district with comments and drafting a consent decree. In Monteilh and United States v. St. Landry Parish Sch. Bd. (LA), the Division conducted a review of the district's personnel assignment, at the request of the court. The Division notified the District that it operated dual principal assignment which was inconsistent with its constitutional obligations to desegregate. The court ordered the District to reassign its principals in a manner that furthered desegration. The district has since reassigned principals for the 2008-2009 school year. Other notable achievements in safeguarding the educational opportunities for all students in FY 2008 included: (1) since the start of FY 2001, initiating over 275 case reviews; (2) continuing to monitor school districts under court order and notifying 41 school districts regarding compliance concerns and working to resolving those concerns; (3) filing motions seeking relief in Crisp County, Georgia, Chicago, Illinois, and Evangeline Parish, Louisiana; (4) working with parties in longstanding desegregation cases to ensure that requests for unitary status were properly evaluated and agreeing to unitary status in 29 cases where oureffortshelpedachieve unitary school systems; and (6) opposing requests for declarations of unitary status in cases, and attempting where appropriate to resolve the cases amicably. The Section continued its efforts in cases involving religious discrimination. Specifically, investigations were opened into complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of religion in, among other areas, freedom of expression, religious dress, access to facilities, and harassment. For instance, we are negotiating a settlement agreement addressing the harassment of a student based on religion and national origin, in addition to the district's overall anti-harassment policies. To ensure equal educational opportunities for English Language Learners (ELL), the Section, as part of a nationwide effort, opened four investigations in FY 2008 and is actively pursing ongoing investigations in school districts in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia. These districts have significant or new ELL populations. The purpose of the investigations is to ensure that ELL students are receiving proper services to enable them to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation in the school districts educational programs. In U.S. v. Chicago Bd. of Educ. (IL), the Section filed a motion to enforce the ELL provisions of the August 2006 Second Amended Consent Decree because the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have failed to comply with the following ELL provisions: (1) CPS has not demonstrated that a significant number of its special education ELLs are appropriately served; (2) CPS has not provided thousands of ELLs with appropriate or timely ELL services; and (3) CPS has failed to provide native language instruction and materials for many of its Transitional Bilingual Education programs. At the court's direction, the parties are negotiating the content and format of EOS' requested relief. In Lau v. Hopp (CA), the Section is negotiating a consent decree with the San Francisco Unified School District addressing outstanding ELL issues.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The Justice Department may go to court to obtain an order to desegregate a public school (elementary or secondary levels) or public college.

The Attorney General may initiate legal proceedings to further orderly desegregation upon receiving a meritorious written complaint from (1) any parent or group of parents whose minor children are being deprived by a school board of equal protection of the laws; or (2) any individual or parent of an individual who has been denied admission to or not permitted to continue in attendance at a public college or university because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The Attorney General must certify that the suit will materially further the orderly process of desegregation.

The Attorney General may also intervene in any case in which the plaintiff alleges a denial of equal protection of the law on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

In addition, the Attorney General may litigate Title VI, Title IX (of the Education Amendments of 1972), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 referrals received from the Department of Education, previously the Department of Health Education and Welfare, to vindicate the rights of individuals excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance on account of their race, color, sex, national origin, or disability.

The Attorney General may also go to court to ensure that school districts take appropriate steps to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation in the district's instructional program pursuant to the Equal Educational Opportunities Act.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Parent or group of parents in the case of public schools.

An individual or his/her parents in the case of a public college.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Parent or group of parents in the case of public schools. An individual or his/her parents in the case of a public college.


Not applicable.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Contact the headquarters office listed below.

Award Procedures

Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title IV, Public Law 88-352, 42 U.S.C. 2000(c), Title VI, 42 U.S.C. 2000(d), Title IX, 42 U.S.C. 2000(h-2); Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, Public Law 93-380, 20 U.S.C. 1701, et seq.; Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX, Public Law 92-318, 20 U.S.C. 1681.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 $5,890,000; FY 08 est $5,916,000; and FY 09 est $6,091,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

28 CFR 0.50; Civil Rights Act of 1964; Summary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Litigation Section, Washington, DC 20530. Telephone: (202) 514-4092. Contact: Office of Public Affairs, Department of Justice. Telephone: (Voice) (202) 514-2007; (TDD) (202) 514-1888.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not applicable.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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