The Battle to End Segregation : Yonkers’ Public Schools
By Kristen Gidlund
United States of America and Yonkers’ Branch, NAACP et al v. Yonkers Board of Education and Yonkers Community Development Agency (1985)
Yonkers is a very important and unique example of school segregation. In the 1970s to the early 1980s Yonkers’ population jumped from 15 percent to 37 percent minority. In the court case United States of America and Yonkers’ Branch, NAACP et al v. Yonkers Board of Education and Yonkers Community Development Agency (1985), the court gathered information and publically stated that the city of Yonkers intentionally segregated their housing and school system. The plaintiffs presented information that in the past public housing (7,000 units) construction concentrated in Southwest Yonkers, and that new public housing must be built on the Eastside of the city. Yonkers was racially divided by the Sawmill Parkway and public housing on the Eastside would help integration. This was violently fought by predominately Caucasian Eastern residents.
Citizens segregated into areas where there is a prominent majority of a homogeneous population their children feed into the same schools. This results in an overwhelming majority of a particular race or ethnicity in the school system. The plaintiffs also found evidence that the school district subjected the city to zoning changes rather than integrate their schools, which made this even more difficult for minority residents. The city of Yonkers made no significant effort to redirect students to different schools. There were schools that were closed in predominately Caucasian areas due to low enrolment. One way the city could have integrated the school system was to buss students in Southwest Yonkers’ schools to Eastern schools with low enrolment. Teachers encouraged African American students to attend vocational schools in prominently minority based high schools, while Caucasian students that attended mostly white schools were encouraged to attend colleges. The court ruled in conclusion that Yonkers’ segregation was deliberate on the basis of school boundary zones, the opening and closing of schools, and the running of vocation and special education programs.
Court Mandated Desegregation (1985-Present Day)
The court decided that Yonkers’ school policies needed to change, “The order stated that the district must: a) operate dedicated magnate schools to reduce racial/ethnic isolation, b) direct a Voluntary Student Transfer program, and c) implement a Human Rights program.” The court found that the Yonkers school system participated in “acts of omission”. This meant that there de facto which means societal segregation was present. Yonkers legally was accountable for deliberate segregation in their school system. Instead of correcting this segregation the city of Yonkers was passive about the dilemma. The court found that the city met six different categories of omission. Some of these categories include that teachers were chosen with bias, like better teachers going to schools with a majority of Caucasian students, and not providing students with equal educational opportunities.
The school Board reacted with the explanation that the segregation of schools was due to demographical, economic, and social factors as the dominating sources. The fact of the matter was that the public housing was confined to one area of the city, and therefore the lawmakers knew that the children from these homes would all feed into the same schools. The city and the court argued about this premise but this segregation according to the research appears deliberate. The court stated that eighteen areas were to be exclusively altered by a two year maximum. Reforming the system was to be done by closing some schools, introducing magnate schools, and a voluntary transfer program for minority students to go to predominately Caucasian schools.
The city refused to comply with the court and stated precedent that in 1974 the U.S Court of Appeals at the Second Circuit decided that cities are not required by the Constitution or by federal statue to build subsidized housing. In the 1985 case the court referenced this specifically stating that because Yonkers intentionally segregated their public housing and tried to stop integration the precedent does not apply. The court mandated that Yonkers must start integrating schools along with constructing two hundred unites of public housing in Caucasian suburban areas. Communities did not want to accept the court mandates and the city tired to negotiate with the court to find more likeable remedies for integration. In their negotiations busing was the least desirable outcome for school integration.
The plans to desegregate the school system are known as Education Improvement Plan I (EIPI) 1997, as well as the Education Improvement Plan II, (EIPII) 1998. The city and school district settled with what is called “unitary status”. This happens once the city shows it has successfully desegregated in which then the courts release the city from court’s supervision without further interference. According to Martuge, “The district was under a desegregation order for sixteen years and spent another five years under a settlement agreement which ends June 2006.” She also notes that ending the agreement was also difficult for the school district and spent a great deal of federal money. This funding for desegregation has helped many magnate schools thrive and gives students the best options. These schools are public but are administratively different and usually hold themselves at a higher slandered than regular public schools. Magnate schools have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of study like the Enrico Fermi School for the Performing Arts. Now children from the city are not subjected to one school in their zone. He or she can choose the school best based on his or her interests. The author states that the magnate system in Yonkers is “the most comprehensive in the region”. Cities often deal with desegregation by creating magnate schools. The school budget frequently resides in a state of crisis and the federal government gives the city grants amount to over three-hundred million dollars a year intends to be cut after the desegregation settles. This money came from a 2002 pact that the federal government over five years would help in funding because the NAACP reactivated the case in 1993 and again in 2000. They proposed that the city did not finish financially going through with desegregating the school system. The NAACP in their case, United States v. Yonkers Board of Education (1993) blamed the state was well as the city for not funding programs for integration and stating that the city stopped trying to change the situation. The court did not agree, but the Second Circuit of Appeals did concur that the city was not financially adequate and the state was required to provide federal grants.
 Kavanagh Bill, Brick by Brick (2007)
 Martuge, “Policy to practice: the least restrictive environment and co-teach inclusion in Yonkers public schools.”
 Pisacreta Geraldine, “The effect of court-ordered busing for desegregation and the creation of magnet schools on student achievement.” (New York: Fordham University),77
Martuge “Policy to practice: the least restrictive environment and co-teach inclusion in Yonkers public schools.”
 Pisacreta, “The effect of court-ordered busing for desegregation and the creation of magnet schools on student achievement.”
 Zimmerman, “Federal Judicial Remedial Power: The Yonkers Case.” Publius 20 no. 3 (1990): 45-61
 Martgue, “Policy to practice : the least restrictive environment and co-teach inclusion in Yonkers public schools.”
 Martgue “Policy to practice the least restrictive environment and co-teach inclusion in Yonkers public schools.”