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Topeka Schools No Longer Guilty of Bias, Court Rules

April 09, 1987|Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — A federal judge ruled today in the reopened Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation case that the Topeka Public School District does not discriminate against minorities.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Rogers rejected allegations that vestiges of racial discrimination remain in the Topeka school system.

The U.S. Supreme Court in its historic 1954 Brown ruling ordered an end to segregation in public schools nationwide.

The students and parents who filed the latest suit, including the woman who was at the center of the original Brown case, contended that the district has not done all it could to erase the last vestiges of what was once a "separate but equal" system of racial separation.

They asked that the district be forced to do more to integrate minority students in the predominantly white school populations.

K. Gary Sebelius, attorney for the Topeka school board, said Rogers did not recommend any changes in the way Topeka operates its schools.

"I think it demonstrates that the school district has made great progress and will continue to make great progress and that regardless of which schools they attend in Topeka they will receive a good education," Sebelius said.

In his 50-page ruling, Rogers said Topeka has adequately eliminated all traces of the racially segregated school system that sparked the lawsuit filed by Oliver Brown and the subsequent Supreme Court decision.

The Topeka system "provides a high-quality educational opportunity to its students on a non-discriminatory basis," Rogers said. "There is no significant or consistent disparity in the faculty and staff, facilities, transportation or extracurricular activities available to students. Students are assigned to schools on a race-neutral basis.

"The district's neighborhood school approach has achieved a high level of integration but not racial balance by any measure. The racially imbalanced schools are not the product of overt or covert intentional" segregation.

The Brown case was reopened in 1979 by the parents of 17 children. The combatants included Linda Brown Smith, the mother of two Topeka pupils. She was 7-year-old Linda Brown in February, 1951, when her father brought the original suit. He was angry that his daughter had to walk past white schools in her neighborhood to go to a black school.

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