Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hogan & Hartson: Milwaukee Public Schools Desegregation Case

An earlier blog post summarized my work at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where I was employed from 1985 to 1988.  A major component of my temp assignment at the firm was work on a desegregation case involving the Milwaukee Public Schools.  In April 1987 a coworker named Matthew Allender xeroxed several copies of the following article published in the New York Times and distributed them to staff involved in the case.


Published: April 21, 1987

Trial began today on a Federal court suit filed by the Milwaukee School Board and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People charging that racial segregation exists in the city's schools as a result of action by the state and the city's suburbs.

Segregation is a ''cancerous growth that must be excised from the Milwaukee area,'' the N.A.A.C.P. lawyer, Grover Hankins, told Federal District Judge Thomas J. Curran in his opening statement.

Defendants include 24 suburbs of Milwaukee, Gov. Tommy G. Thompson and Herbert V. Grover, state superintendent of public instruction.

Defense lawyers denied the accusations that the area was unlawfully segregated and said they would prove that the suburbs had cooperated to bring about integration. Social 'Malignancy' Is Seen

But Mr. Hankins said that since black people began to move into Milwaukee in large numbers after World War II, they have become increasingly isolated in the heart of the city, resulting in segregated schools.

''This malignancy has had a severely dramatic effect on the community, this nation and indeed on the world in which we live,'' he said.

James H. Tatel [should read David S. Tatel], representing the school board, said the suburbs are less than 1 percent black while about 52 percent of the 93,730 students in Milwaukee public schools are black. According to the 1980 Census, the city had a population of 636,290, of which 169,590 were nonwhites.

''If you are black, you are supposed to live in the city and your children are supposed to go to schools in the cities,'' Mr. Tatel said. Seventeen of the suburbs, he said, had no black faculty members at the time the suit was filed two years ago. Much Progress Perceived

The state, he said, has failed to enforce fair housing laws and has repealed a school consolidation measure aimed at greater integration.

But William J. Mulligan, who represents several of the suburbs, said progress of a state-financed program under which students are exchanged between city and suburban schools has been impressive.

''It has been held up nationally as an example,'' Mr. Mulligan said.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Apparently, Gov. Tommy Thompson is right at home at Akin Gump: