In 1970, Judge Alfred Gitelson, Los Angeles Superior Court, ruled that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) operated segregated schools and rendered the initial order to integrate District schools. Upon appeal, the State Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and, on June 28, 1976, while disagreeing with Judge Gitelson’s conclusion that the LAUSD had engaged in de jure (intentional) segregation, agreed with his ruling that the LAUSD was obligated under the law to take steps to alleviate the harms of segregation. The Court also ruled that desegregation is not strictly defined in terms of racial/ethnic percentages. The District was required by this ruling to take “reasonable and feasible” steps to alleviate the harms of segregation regardless of the cause and to demonstrate meaningful progress in the task.
Judge Paul Egly requested that LAUSD identify methods to help ameliorate the Court identified four harms of racial isolation; and subsequently, the trial court added a fifth harm. Below is a list of the Court identified harms of racial isolation:
- Low academic achievement
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of access to post-secondary opportunities
- Interracial hostility and intolerance, and
- Overcrowded conditions
LAUSD submitted a plan for integration in continuing response to its judicially-imposed mandate to implement a Desegregation Plan which promises meaningful progress toward the alleviation of the harms of segregation and which constitutes “reasonably feasible steps to alleviate segregation and its accompanying harms.” Although framed in terms of the 1981-1982 school year the plan is intended to be a continuing master plan. To be responsive to changing circumstances it must retain flexibility. The plan’s evaluation component will permit adjustments necessary to insure that the plan’s programs continue to meet its goals.