Hernandez v. Driscoll CISD

By: V. Carl Allsup

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: August 3, 2020

In 1948 a federal suit brought by Mexican-American civil-rights organizations against the Bastrop schools resulted in a decision that prohibited segregation of Mexican-American children on separate campuses on the basis of race. The Delgado decree permitted separate classes on the same campus and in the first grade, but only to correct deficiencies determined by tests given to all students. For the next ten years the American G.I. Forum and the League of United Latin American Citizens sought compliance with this ruling.

The Texas legislature established the office of Commissioner of Education in 1949 to supervise public instruction. The position took responsibilities from the control of the state superintendent of public instruction, who had been cooperating with the court and Mexican Americans. The commissioner issued a new policy by which local school boards were designated the primary source of initiative within their school districts; the commissioner's judgment was to be used for final appeal. The struggles of Mexican-American organizations that followed indicated that most school districts had ignored the Delgado decree. After a series of challenges and rejections by the commissioner, Mexican-American strategists turned to the federal courts; some districts ended segregation rather than risk a court finding.

In 1957 the American G.I. Forum filed suit against the Driscoll Consolidated Independent School District for segregation. The case charged that the Driscoll CISD had developed and utilized a system of "beginners' classes" for the first scholastic year, then for the next three years-"low first," "high first," and a segregated second grade-without testing all students. Proof of the intent of this structure was the placement of Linda Pérez in the "Mexican" first grade to learn English; in fact, she spoke no other language besides English. The court found the Driscoll grouping of separate classes arbitrary and unreasonable, as it was directed against all children of Mexican origin as a class, and ordered the practice halted. Although the decision prohibited segregation of Mexican-American students in public schools, however, the system did not change radically, and in fact subsequent challenges became necessary. By the late 1960s LULAC and the G.I. Forum, supported by the changing political and economic climate, filed more lawsuits challenging the lack of equal educational opportunity for Mexican Americans.

Carlos M. Alcala and Jorge C. Rangel, "Project Report: De Jure Segregation of Chicanos in Texas Schools," Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 7 (March 1972). Carl Allsup, The American G.I. Forum: Origins and Evolution (University of Texas Center for Mexican American Studies Monograph 6, Austin, 1982). Carl Allsup, "Education Is Our Freedom: The American G.I. Forum and Mexican American School Segregation in Texas, 1948–1957," Aztlán 8 (Spring-Summer-Fall 1977). Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., "Mexican American Organizations and the Changing Politics of School Desegregation in Texas, 1945–1980," Social Science Quarterly 63 (December 1982). Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., "The Struggle Against Separate and Unequal Schools: Middle Class Mexican Americans and the Desegregation Campaign in Texas, 1929–1957," History of Education Quarterly 23 (Fall 1983).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Court Cases and Controversies
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Education
  • Activism and Social Reform
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

V. Carl Allsup, “Hernandez v. Driscoll CISD,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hernandez-v-driscoll-cisd.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
August 3, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: