Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Raquel Farmer-Hinton

Committee Members

Jennifer Mueller, William Velez, Gary Williams


Critical Race Methodology, Critical Race Theory, Critical Race Theory in Education, Racialized hierarchies, school desegregation, school integration


In 1954, due to the prevalence of structural inequalities, the Brown v. Board of Education ruling sought to equalize educational opportunities for African American students by granting them access to predominantly White school districts (Bell, 1980; Gunier, 2004; Ladson-Billings, 2004). The ideology was that African American students would excel academically in predominantly White schooling environments because these establishments were known for housing quality resources that better support upward mobility, including postsecondary matriculation (Arriaza, 2003; Farmer-Hinton, 2008; Ladson-Billings, 1995; Stanton-Salazar & Dornbusch, 1995; Stanton-Salazar, 1997). In 1976, the Chapter 220 legislation erupted in Milwaukee as a subsidiary of Brown. Chapter 220 allowed African American students who resided in urban areas to access predominantly White suburban school districts and White students who lived in the suburbs were granted access to specialty schools in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) (Dahlk, 2004; Nelsen, 2014). Similar to Brown, the goal of Chapter 220 was to ensure an equitable schooling experience for students of color.

In 1976, the Brown Deer School District (BDSD) was one of the first suburban districts to voluntarily comply with the Chapter 220 law. However, due to minimal students being transferred across district lines to attend MPS, the school district was mandated to increase its Chapter 220 participation in 1984 (Nelsen, 2015; Stolee, 1993). Since then, the BDSD has transitioned to a majority-minority school district and the Chapter 220 law expired in 1995 (Department of Public Instruction, 2019; Bonds, et al., 2009). Yet, no research has been conducted to thoroughly critique the desegregation laws of Brown and Chapter 220. Furthermore, no research has examined the schooling experiences of African American students who attend the desegregated suburban school district of Brown Deer.

Therefore, through a Critical Race Theory (CRT) lens, this study analyzes the Brown and Chapter 220 legislations and illuminate their limitations in supporting the academics of African American student populations. Furthermore, also through a CRT framework, this study explores the experiences of 18 African Americans who graduated from Brown Deer Middle High School (BDMHS) between 2012-2018 to better understand their racialized schooling experiences. Their narratives shed light on the manner in which racialized hierarchies were established and permeated at BDMHS and how study participants perceived such exclusionary structures, policies and practices to have negatively implicated the experiences of the majority of the African American students who attended the suburban high school.

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