Busing in Indy: A brief history from an outsider

Another look at Indy’s segregated schools.

School Matters

You have to wonder what the late federal judge S. Hugh Dillin would have thought about last week’s Indianapolis Star/Chalkbeat Indiana story that concluded Indianapolis Public Schools elementary schools are more racially segregated now than 35 years ago.

Chances are he wouldn’t have been surprised. Dillin lived until 2006, long enough to watch white, middle-class families fly the coop after he issued a series of school busing orders. In fact, he noted that white flight was already happening in the early 1970s, apparently spurred by the mere threat of desegregation.

S. Hugh Dillin (Maurer School of Law) S. Hugh Dillin (Maurer School of Law)

But busing took some unusual twists in Indianapolis – or so it appears to an outsider like me. For one thing, it was one of just four U.S. cities where a busing order encompassed suburban as well as city schools. Also, busing was one-way: black students were bused from IPS to surrounding…

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