Desegregation Not Integration: Charleston County Schools and the Struggle Over Consolidation, 1963-1980
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This thesis examines the 1968 consolidation of the eight school districts of Charleston County into one school district. Consolidation was implemented by the state legislature as a financial and administrative means to equalize the schools in the county, but it also had significant implications for the ongoing desegregation of the county's public schools. The primary sources used were the records of the lawsuit, US & Ganaway, et al., v. Charleston County School District & State of South Carolina, which tested the constitutionality of the Act of Consolidation in 1980 as well as the archives of the Charleston County School District. Unusually in cases of county consolidation, Charleston County maintained its eight previous school districts as constituents of the new county district. Responsibility for attendance and teacher assignments was left with the constituent districts, making it easier for the school district to avoid countywide desegregation. The only monograph on Charleston County schools during this period, R. Scott Bakers Paradoxes of Desegregation, blames the racism of the legislators who wrote the Act for its segregative effect. In the final analysis, however, the Act of Consolidation cannot be blamed for the failure of the Charleston County school board to successfully achieve an integrated school system. Instead, the school administrators narrow interpretation of the Act allowed them to guide the school district along their preferred course, that of minimal desegregation, rather than true integration.