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Keyes v. School District No. 1

Mixed Legal Messages

Ten days later a group of eight parents brought suit to enjoin the implementation of the superintendent's plan. The parents' suit also sought a declaratory judgement that abandonment of the desegregation plan constituted a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A preliminary injunction was granted by the district court, which found that the Denver school board had pursued segregationist policies in the Park Hill neighborhood in the ten years preceding approval of the superintendent's plan. The district court also ruled that schools in the core city area of Denver, whose student bodies were almost completely African American and whose facilities were substandard, would have to be overhauled to ensure equality of educational opportunity throughout the school system. This latter ruling was made despite the fact that the district court found no proof of discriminatory school board action in the core city school districts. The school board appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which agreed that remedial action would have to be taken to integrate schools in the Park Hill district, but vacated the preliminary injunction as it applied to the core city schools. The court of appeals based its decision on the grounds that the deliberate segregation of one school district did not constitute proof of deliberate segregation throughout the school system.

The parents appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments on 12 October 1972. Their case rested on two points: that the district court erred in its finding that Denver's core city schools were not intentionally segregated due to its failure to consider African Americans and Hispanics as one category of student; and that in any case the proven, intentional segregation of the Park Hill school district made the Denver school system as a whole liable to definition as segregated. The school board also cross-petitioned the court, seeking reversal of the court of appeals' finding insofar as it agreed with the district court.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Keyes v. School District No. 1 - Significance, Schools In Transition, Mixed Legal Messages, Modification And Remand, Resolution, Impact