A study of the Newport News pupil desegregation process

dc.contributor.authorQuesenberry, Guy H.en
dc.contributor.departmentEducational Administrationen
dc.description.abstractOn August 12, 1971, the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in response to a suit filed by black residents of the city of Newport News, Virginia, handed down a plan of school desegregation for the city public school system which represented a significant departure from the city's then operating plan. The influences shaping the August 12, 1971 plan over a seventeen-year span of time, beginning with the May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court's Brown I decision and concluding with the August 12, 1971, court-adopted plan, were examined. The factors determined to have influenced the final shape of the Newport News plan were described. From the data sources, five issues were identified which influenced the course of events in Newport News for the time period studied. Issues were initially identified through a search of public documents, and causal factor categories were established by content analysis. The first factor identified was the Federal policy comprised of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and acts of Congress. In effect, such policies established the parameter for change at the local level. As the policy evolved from Brown I to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and finally to Swann, the parameter narrowed, and Federal guidelines became more exacting in their demands. These demands involved the locality in three school desegregation suits and compliance enforcement proceedings with HEW. Federal policy decisions were always cautious to leave the details of policy implementation to the Federal district judge because of his proximity to local conditions. The second issue, Commonwealth of Virginia school desegregation policy, varied over the seventeen-year period, at first resisting and conflicting with the Federal position on the matter and eventually giving way to the Federal policy. During the later stages of the school desegregation process, the Commonwealth of Virginia was not directly involved in the local desegregation process. At the local level, three issues prevailed as major influences of the events and issues that characterized the seventeen-year period. The School Board's policies toward school facility construction and location and concomitant black citizen dissatisfaction with the policies were a major determinant of the course of events in Newport News. The School Board's pupil assignment policies were the source of black citizen pressure for desegregation change in the city. During the time studied, the pupil assignment policies were gradually relaxed, and racial mixing occurred in the schools. The school desegregation process at various stages was complicated by circumstances peculiar to the locality which interacted with Federal policy to mitigate its intent upon implementation. The third local issue, the influence of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia was found to be significant because of Judge Walter E. Hoffman's interpretation of higher court policy. His recognition of the unique local circumstances helped to shape the final plan. Major actors, persons determined from the literature search and from the interviews to have participated in events leading to the court-adopted plan, were interviewed to cross validate and further enrich the study. Final analysis and interpretation of the data were made by the researcher based upon his understanding of the events and issues and their relationship to the problem of the study. The five causal factors or issues were concluded to have been key determinants in the city of Newport News school desegregation process, each having varying degrees of influence at different stages of the seventeen-year process and varying influence on the August 12, 1971 court-adopted plan. Federal government policy was determined to be the most important determinant of the final plan. The plan was the product of school desegregation decisions handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court between 1968 and 1971. During the same period, the Department of HEW, pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, influenced the course of events in Newport News by involving the city school system in compliance enforcement proceedings. The Commonwealth of Virginia policies were the least important with regard to the final plan but exerted major influence over the Newport News process between 1956 and 1959. The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia was found to have exerted major influence over the seventeen-year school desegregation process as well as on the August 12, 1971 court-adopted plan. Local School Board pupil assignment and school construction policies were important in the final shape of the court-adopted plan and exerted major influence over the events that characterized the Newport News school desegregation process. The local circumstances of the cities of Warwick and Newport News consolidation and the concomitant size, shape, and housing patterns were factors that influenced the seventeen-year process and final desegregation plan.en
dc.description.degreeEd. D.en
dc.format.extentvi, 146 leavesen
dc.publisherVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen
dc.relation.isformatofOCLC# 40262506en
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subject.lccLD5655.V856 1977.Q47en
dc.titleA study of the Newport News pupil desegregation processen
thesis.degree.disciplineEducational Administrationen
thesis.degree.grantorVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen
thesis.degree.nameEd. D.en


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