Comfort ex rel. Neumyer v. Lynn School Committee: Voluntary Desegregation Plan Using Race As A Factor
On June 6, 2003, the Federal District Court of Massachusetts ruled that the Lynn School District’s voluntary desegregation plan that considers race as a factor in assigning children to K-12 public schools was constitutional in Comfort ex rel. Neumyer v. Lynn School Committee, 263 F.Supp.2d 209 (D.Mass.). The Court examined whether the voluntary desegregation plan was Constitutional by applying the strict scrutiny standard. (For an explanation of this standard, please refer to "Overview of Constitutional Requirements in Race-Conscious Affirmative Action Policies in Education") The Court found that diversity, including racial diversity to achieve the goals of “preparing students to be citizens in a multiracial society and eliminating the concrete harmful consequences that de facto segregation inflicts on a public school system,” could be a compelling state interest. The Court also found that the voluntary desegregation plan was narrowly tailored because it helped to create an integrated school environment, where there was actual intergroup racial contact that provided students with the ability to cultivate skills that will enable them to function as citizens in a complex and diverse world.
Opinion and background documents (in PDF Format)
Research and expert testimony from social scientists mentioned in the decision (in PDF Format)
- The Impact of Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Educational Outcomes: Lynn, MA School District, a study of The Civil Right’s Project of Lynn students on their experience in a desegregated schooling situation and its impacts.
- Demographic Information about Lynn, Massachusetts by Nancy McArdle:
Impact of Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Lynn Students:
- Declaration of John F. Dovidio;
- Declaration of Melanie Killen;
- For more on Dr. Killen's view on integrating developmental psychology evidence in school desegregation cases, see her article "Developmental Psychology and the Argument for School Desegregation" (in PDF Format) in SRCD Developments: The Society for Research in Childhood Newsletter, Editor: Pamela Trotman Reid. January, 2003.
For more CRP research related to issues of integration and diversity in K-12 education, visit our Research section of the web site.