Penick v. Columbus Board of Education

From Ohio History Central

The federal court case, Penick v. Columbus Board of Education, led to the desegregation of Columbus, Ohio's public schools.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Duncan ruled in Penick v. Columbus Board of Education that schools in Columbus, Ohio were segregated and that the Columbus Board of Education knowingly kept white and African American students apart from each other by creating school boundaries that sent African American students to predominantly African American schools and white students to predominantly white schools. Duncan cited evidence that this policy had existed since at least 1909. The judge made his ruling on March 8, 1977.

As a result of this ruling, the Columbus Board of Education began a program of school busing to create a desegregated school district. The school system bused some white students to traditionally African American schools and bused some African American students to historically white schools. Within two years of the judge's decision, approximately one-third of Columbus Public School students rode buses to school.

This court ruling was controversial. Many parents objected to the cost of busing students miles from their homes when other schools existed nearby. Some people opposed the policy of white students attending the same schools as African American students. Nevertheless, the busing of public school students for the purpose of school integration proceeded peaceably in Columbus.

See Also


  1. Jacobs, Gregory S. Getting Around Brown: Desegregation, Development, and the Columbus Public Schools. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 1998.
  2. Patterson, James T. Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.