Green v. County School Board of New Kent County
"The New Kent School Board's 'freedom of choice' plan cannot be accepted as a sufficient step to 'effectuate a transition' to a unitary system . . . Rather than further dismantling the dual system, the plan has operated simply to burden children and their parents with a responsibility Brown II placed squarely on the school board." -- Mr. Justice Brennan in the opinion of the Court
1964 proved to be an influential year for racial equity across the nation. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, fully banning discrimination of any kind (race, gender, etc.) in public areas or during employment. The Act created the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Equal Opportunities Commission and threatened to pull federal funding from school systems that refused to comply with the integration mandates.
In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Green v. County School Board of New Kent County. New Kent County, located in Virginia, maintained a population of about 50% blacks and 50% whites. The two public elementary schools in the county remained segregated; George W. Watkins School served black students, whereas New Kent School served mainly white students. After the Brown decision and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the NAACP pushed protesting and suing of any schools or school systems that failed to integrate. So, in 1965, Calvin Coolidge Green, the president of the NAACP in New Kent City, VA filed a lawsuit against the County School Board of New Kent City, advocating for integration of the two schools.
In response to both the Civil Rights Act and Mr. Green's lawsuit, the New Kent City School Board created a policy called "freedom of choice"; they would allow any parent to petition to send his child to another school. For example, a black parent could petition to send his child to New Kent School, and vice versa. However, only the black parents utilized this policy. A few black children enrolled in the white school, but no white children chose to switch schools.
Yet because of this policy, the District Court ruled in favor of the School Board, claiming that "freedom of choice" was a plan that would successfully increase integration. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court in 1967. So, the NAACP appealed the lawsuit to the Supreme Court in 1967, arguing that the "freedom of choice" plan failed to end integration immediately and proactively.
On May 27, 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that "the state, acting through the local school and school officials, organized and operated a dual system, part 'white' and part 'Negro'" and that this "dual system" violated Brown II. The Court mandated the New Kent County School System to establish an immediate plan of action to end segregation within the county. The Court also assigned the U.S. District Court to monitor the integration efforts (Charles C. Green).
The Green case allowed the Court to define six factors ("Green" factors) that would be used in future cases to determine whether a school reached unitary (integrated) status:
(1) Student assignments; (2) Faculty; (3) Staff; (4) Transportation; (5) Extracurricular Activities; and (6) Facilities (Dayton).
Charles C. Green et al. v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia. (2011). Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved December 1, 2012 from http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Green_Charles_C_et_al_v_County_School_Board_of_New_Kent_County_Virginia.
Dayton, John, J.D., Ed.D. (2012). Education Law: Principles, Policies, and Practice. Wisdom Builders Press.