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A School Desegregation Tool that Backfired: Magnet Schools and Classroom Segregation

27 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2009 Last revised: 9 Aug 2017

Kimberly West-Faulcon

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Date Written: June 1, 1994


This Note argues that courts assessing the desegregation effectiveness of magnet schools should evaluate the desegregation of classrooms as well as buildings. Part I, after describing magnet schools and their role in the segregation of school systems, presents support for the claim that many magnet schools are rife with racially segregated classrooms. Part II explains how the methods developed by academics to evaluate desegregation plans have made it possible for magnet schools to operate separate classrooms for minority and white students, yet still be considered desegregated schools. Part III describes constitutional prohibitions against racial segregation within magnet schools, but notes that federal funding programs for desegregation-oriented magnet schools do not explicitly require the Department of Education to consider how the magnet program will affect classroom racial composition. Part IV discusses the declining number of school desegregation cases in which the court explicitly considers within-school racial segregation. The Article concludes that courts should pay particular attention to classroom racial composition as they fashion equitable remedies to school segregation.

Keywords: desgregation, magnet schools, classroom segregation, within-school segregation, resegregation, racially segregated classrooms, school integration

Suggested Citation

West-Faulcon, Kimberly, A School Desegregation Tool that Backfired: Magnet Schools and Classroom Segregation (June 1, 1994). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 103, No. 8, 1994. Available at SSRN:

Kimberly West-Faulcon (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-8172 (Phone)

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