MALDEF Settles Historic School Desegregation Case

Texas desegregation case filed in 1970 on behalf of children and parents from Uvalde public schools

September 16, 2008

SAN ANTONIO, TX – On Monday, a federal district court in San Antonio signed a Consent Order memorializing a settlement agreement reached between the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (the District) and Mexican American students and their parents represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). In June of 2007, the District asked the court to dismiss it from the court’s supervision, which dated back to a 1976 desegregation decree. The plaintiffs, through their original class representative Ms. Genoveva Morales, opposed the motion and the parties eventually settled the case in mediation.

“This Consent Order recognizes the strides made by the District over the years to desegregate, but it also provides a specific plan to completely root out the continuing effects of discrimination in a number of areas,” said MALDEF lead counsel David Hinojosa. “Both the District’s leadership and Ms. Morales should be commended for their efforts to settle this case and bring the District into a new era of change and opportunity for Latino students.”

In 1970, Ms. Morales filed a class action on behalf of all Latino children and their parents to end the segregation of Latino students in the public schools of Uvalde (located approximately 80 miles west of San Antonio). The lawsuit came at the height of the Latino civil rights movement and on the heels of a nationally publicized walkout by Latino students. After a trial in 1973, the district court found no illegal segregation, but the Fifth Circuit reversed, finding segregation still existed over twenty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed school segregation. The district court then entered a decree, ordering the District to desegregate.

“I am pleased to reach this agreement with the District, because not only will Latino students benefit from it, but in turn, the whole community of Uvalde will benefit,” said Genoveva Morales, now 79 years young. “It has been a long struggle but we are seeing progress. Although my children are now grown, it is time for other Latino parents and their children to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The Consent Order also retains court supervision for a period of at least three years and provides specific remedies to further desegregate the District in the areas of bilingual education, faculty, gifted and talented, advanced placement and pre-advanced placement, extracurricular and co-curricular activities, and student achievement. The Consent Order grants dismissal in the areas of student assignments, non-faculty staff, facilities and transportation.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund