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Abstract

In this paper, we investigate whether the school desegregation produced by court-ordered desegregation plans persists when school districts are released from court oversight. Over 200 medium-sized and large districts were released from desegregation court orders from 1991 to 2009. We find that racial school segregation in these districts increased gradually following release from court order, relative to the trends in segregation in districts remaining under court order. These increases are more pronounced in the South, in elementary grades, and in districts where prerelease school segregation levels were low. These results suggest that court-ordered desegregation plans are effective in reducing racial school segregation, but that their effects fade over time in the absence of continued court oversight.