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Case Name Morgan v. Hennigan [Boston School Desegregation Case] SD-MA-0001
Docket / Court 1:72-cv-00911-WAG ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Education
School Desegregation
Special Collection Court-ordered receiverships
Case Summary
The Boston School Desegregation Cases predate PACER and span more than twenty years. The following summary is derived from various court opinions and news sources.

On March 15, 1972, several black parents filed this lawsuit on behalf of their children in the United States District Court ... read more >
The Boston School Desegregation Cases predate PACER and span more than twenty years. The following summary is derived from various court opinions and news sources.

On March 15, 1972, several black parents filed this lawsuit on behalf of their children in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The children were all students in the Boston Public Schools. The plaintiffs sued the Boston School Committee and the Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools (‘the city defendants’) and the Board of Education of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, its individual members, and the Commissioner of Education (‘the state defendants’) under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 2000d (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Plaintiffs, who initially appeared pro se (on their own behalf, without counsel), sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants denied black children both equal protection of the laws and equality of educational opportunity in violation of their Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the city defendants “intentionally brought about and maintained racial segregation in the Boston public schools” and “engaged in racial discrimination with respect to the hiring and assignment of faculty and staff.” They also alleged that both the city defendants and the state defendants implemented discriminatory practices in admissions and maintained a pattern of lower instructional expenditures in schools attended disproportionately by black children.

The plaintiffs’ case was the culmination of a number of events and a heightened tension in the Boston metropolitan area generally. In April 1965, the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education studied racial segregation in the public schools of MA. They released a report (the Kiernan Report) concluding that racial imbalance was harmful and should be eliminated. The Report also identified forty-five racially imbalanced schools in Boston alone. In response, in August 1965, the Massachusetts state legislature enacted the Racial Imbalance Act of 1965. As part of the Racial Imbalance Plan, the city built several new schools, but made little to no effort to integrate them. In a separate action before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (the highest court in Massachusetts), the court ordered the city defendants, in the 1974-75 school year, to implement a plan formulated by the state defendants (the ‘state plan’).

In this case, on June 21, 1974, Judge Arthur Garrity issued a 150-page opinion examining the defendants’ actions in primarily six areas: 1. Facilities utilization and new structures, 2. Districting and redistricting, 3. Feeder patterns, 4. Open enrollment and controlled transfers, 5. Faculty and staff, and 6. Vocational and examination schools. Judge Garrity found that in categories 1-4 the defendants intentionally created, maintained, promoted, and perpetuated racial segregation. For categories 5-6, Judge Garrity found a presumptive discriminatory intent by the school based on the segregation evident in the faculty among the city’s high schools. (This finding was authorized by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Keyes v. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 413 U.S. 189, 207-11 (1973), allowing for such findings where school segregation was evident). Judge Garrity then ordered the city defendants to “eliminate every form of racial segregation in the public schools of Boston, including all consequences and vestiges of segregation previously practiced by the defendants.” Morgan v. Hennigan, 379 F.Supp. 410, 484 (D.Mass. 1974). He also ordered the city defendants to comply with the state plan.

The city defendants appealed the District Court’s ruling with regard to categories five and six, disputing the conclusion that present segregation had been intentional. They claimed, instead, that they were operating a neutral system, with no affirmative acts taken to either promote or obstruct preexisting segregation. In December 1974, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s findings: Judge Frank Coffin’s opinion held that ‘the defendants’ failures to act are probative evidence of intent.’ Morgan v. Kerrigan, 509 F.2d 580, 585 (1st Cir. 1975). The case was remanded for implementation of an appropriate plan.

On July 31, 1974, Judge Garrity issued orders on a faculty desegregation plan. The plan set a goal to reduce the concentration of black teachers in black schools and increase the number of experienced teachers in predominantly black schools. It also required the hiring of 280 new permanent teachers hired at a one-to-one rate black/white until “all available qualified blacks had been hired.” The plan set a 20% goal for the hiring of black faculty members (which was less than the 35% of black students in Boston Public Schools). The plan as set forth by Judge Garrity faced several challenges by the teacher’s union, on appeal, each of which was rejected by the First Circuit. On January 28, 1975, the Court of Appeals (Coffin, J.) held that Judge Garrity’s use of percentages to eliminate racial segregation was acceptable and even increased the District Court’s goal of 20% black faculty to 25%.

In response to the court orders and the increased desegregation efforts, the start of the 1974 school year was marred by violence in the city of Boston. The Mayor of Boston, Kevin White, requested federal assistance to restore order, but his request was initially denied. Violence continued to plague the city throughout the school year, such that at the start of the 1975 school year Mayor White deployed over 3,000 personnel to ensure a peaceful start to the year.

In January of 1975, both parties submitted alternatives to the state plan. Due to the technical complexities of the plans, Judge Garrity appointed a panel of four special masters and two experts to assist the court in adopting a desegregation plan for the 1975 school year. The masters submitted a plan in March, 1975 which was opposed by both the plaintiffs and the defendants. On June 5, 1975, Judge Garrity rejected the parties’ objection to the masters’ plan and after some revisions, the masters’ plan was implemented. The defendants, as well as various intervening parties including a parent association, attempted to prevent the implementation of the plan and proposed alternative plans. These attempts were ultimately futile.

In 1977 and 1978, Judge Garrity ordered the city and state defendants to submit a “Unified Facilities Plan” (UFP) to outline a path for the renovation of all nine school districts and also to close several schools. School and parent associations objected to the plans to close schools, but both the District Court and the First Circuit found for the defendants. Morgan v. McDonough, 689 F.2d 265, 269-70 (1st Cir. 1982)

On December 23, 1982, Judge Garrity declared a desire for party autonomy and voluntary fulfillment of the previous court orders. He outlined four necessary mechanisms to be determined in order to phase out court involvement in the desegregation process: monitoring compliance, dispute resolution, judicial authority should voluntary efforts fail, and procedures governing modification or outstanding orders. Morgan v. McDonough, 554 F.Supp. 169 (D.Mass. 1982). On July 5, 1985 after some negotiation of the measures, Judge Garrity, found that the parties had “developed a common understanding of their respective rights and responsibilities under the remedial plan.” Morgan v. Nucci, 612 F.Supp. 1060, 1063-64 (D.Mass. 1985). This judgment effectively granted control of future desegregation efforts to the parties.

On September 3, 1985, Judge Garrity adopted the final UFP of the parties, which was filed March 25, 1985 to outline a development plan to upgrade and improve the facilities at a large number of Boston area schools.

After the entry of the final UFP, Judge Garrity issued a final faculty plan on May 31, 1990 that required schools to maintain 25% black faculty and 10% other minority faculty until such a time that a “3% or more” reduction in force would not change the racial composition of the faculty. This order was appealed by the Boston Teachers Union. On February 21, 1991, Judge Coffin held that Judge Garrity’s order was not an impermissibly perpetual order but removed the ‘or more’ language.

On January 31, 1996, after “bringing this litigation to a successful conclusion,” plaintiffs sought and were granted attorney’s fees.

The earlier stages of the Boston desegregation cases were chronicled in Simple Justice, written by Richard Kluger.

Morgan v. Gittens, 915 F.Supp. 457 (D.Mass. 1996)
Morgan v. Hennigan, 379 F.Supp. 410 (D.Mass. 1974)
Morgan v. Kerrigan, 509 F.2d 580 (1st Cir. 1974)
Morgan v. Kerrigan, 388 F.Supp. 581 (D.Mass. 1975)
Morgan v. Kerrigan, 530 F.2d 431 (1st Cir. 1976)
Morgan v. Kerrigan, 1974 WL 10638 (D.Mass. 1974)
Morgan v. Kerrigan, 401 F.Supp. 216 (D.Mass. 1975)
Morgan v. Kerrigan, 523 F.2d 917 (1st Cir. 1975)
Morgan v. Kerrigan, 530 F.2d 401 (1st Cir. 1976)
Morgan v. McDonough, 689 F.2d 265 (1st Cir. 1982)
Morgan v. McDonough, 554 F.Supp. 169 (D.Mass. 1982)
Morgan v. McDonough, 726 F.2d 11 (1st Cir. 1984)
Morgan v. McKeigue, 726 F.2d 33 (1st Cir. 1984)
Morgan v. Nucci, 602 F.Supp. 806 (D.Mass. 1985)
Morgan v. Nucci, 612 F.Supp. 1060 (D.Mass. 1985)
Morgan v. Nucci, 617 F.Supp. 1316 (D.Mass. 1985)
Morgan v. Nucci, 831 F.2d 313 (1st Cir. 1987)
Morgan v. Nucci, 620 F.Supp. 214 (D.Mass. 1985)
Morgan v. Burke 926 F.2d 86 (1st Cir. 1991)

Nichollas Dawson - 12/04/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Elementary/Secondary School
Race discrimination
Classification / placement
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Racial segregation
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Board of Education
Boston School Committee
Plaintiff Description Black students enrolled in Boston public schools
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1974 - n/a
Filed 03/15/1972
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
D. Mass.
SD-MA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Mass.
Opinion (379 F.Supp. 410)
SD-MA-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Opinion (388 F.Supp. 581)
SD-MA-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (509 F.2d 580)
SD-MA-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Memorandum of Decision and Remedial Orders (401 F.Supp. 216)
SD-MA-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
On Applications for Stay Pending Appeals (523 F.2d 917)
SD-MA-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (530 F.2d 401)
SD-MA-0001-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (530 F.2d 431)
SD-MA-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (689 F.2d 265)
SD-MA-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Memorandum and Orders of Disengagement (554 F.Supp. 169)
SD-MA-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (1st Cir.) (726 F.2d 11)
SD-MA-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (726 F.2d 33)
SD-MA-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Memorandum and Orders on Proposed Modifications of Student Assignment Plan (602 F.Supp. 806)
SD-MA-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Memorandum and Order Adopting School Defendants' Proposal Regrading Other Minority Administrators (612 F.Supp. 1060)
SD-MA-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Memorandum and Order on UFP (617 F.Supp. 1316)
SD-MA-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Final Orders (620 F.Supp. 214)
SD-MA-0001-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (831 F.2d 313)
SD-MA-0001-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (926 F.2d 86)
SD-MA-0001-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Mass.
Memorandum of Decision as to Attorneys' Fees [ECF# 3] (915 F.Supp. 457)
SD-MA-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Campbell, Levin Hicks (D. Mass., First Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-MA-0001-0001 | SD-MA-0001-0002
Garrity, Wendell Arthur Jr. (D. Mass.) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Atkins, Thomas I. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Pressman, Robert Peter (Massachusetts) show/hide docs

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