Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Kirstin L. Lawson,

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Peterson,

Third Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Dresner,


Wichita opened its first officially integrated school in 1954. Yet, by 1965, approximately 85% of schools in Wichita were predominantly white. After a 1966 complaint to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) and a protracted legal battle, a federal administrative judge ordered the district to come up with a plan for integration or lose federal funding in 1971. The resulting mandatory busing plan remained in effect in Wichita for more than 40 years. Yet, in 2016, nine years after the official end of mandatory busing in Wichita, 25% of the city’s schools had already returned to what the federal government considers single race status.

I argue in my thesis that mandatory busing policies, while the only economically practicable solution within the power of school districts like Wichita, were little more than temporary stop-gaps that were constitutionally incapable of fixing the true, underlying source of school segregation in cities like Wichita that no longer practiced de jure segregation but still suffered from de facto segregation. Changing political attitudes not only hindered efforts by school districts to develop racially balanced attendance centers, they actively blocked other local actions at the city, county, and state level, that might have provided the needed permanent solution. Given these circumstances, the return to de facto segregation in some school buildings, once cleared of the mandatory busing order, was a pre-determined fact in Wichita.



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