Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Richard Fossey


The movement of school desegregation plans from mandatory means to voluntary means has led to a fierce debate. The school desegregation problem is encapsulated by two competing strategies: making a plan that enforces racial balance, and making a plan that stops white flight. The purpose of this study was to describe how high schools in East Baton Rouge Parish implemented court approved magnet programs, and to examine the results brought about at each of the high schools in terms of desegregation and school improvement. The study was designed to answer the following research questions: (1) How have high schools in EBR implemented new magnet programs? (2) What results do magnet programs at high schools in EBR have in terms of desegregation? (3) What results do magnet programs at high schools in EBR have in terms of school improvement? The case study research design used to address these questions was a holistic (single unit of analysis) multiple-case design in which the school was the unit of analysis. Three schools participated in the study: two with new magnet programs, and one without a magnet program. Three forms of data were collected for each case study: observations, interviews, and documents. The study found that the manner in which a magnet program is implemented makes a difference in the success of the program. Recruiting, faculty involvement, and district support are three major factors. In terms of school desegregation, the magnet programs in this study were not very effective in recruiting non-black students in East Baton Rouge Parish at least in the short term. However, moving to a voluntary desegregation policy stemmed the tide of white flight at the high school level in East Baton Rouge parish. In terms of school improvement findings, three points stand out. First, magnet students had positive attitudinal and behavioral changes due to the magnet programs, but community based students were not affected. Second, dropout rates at all three schools are high, consistent with rates in urban schools. Third, the high percentage of non-certified teachers impedes success of any educational initiative.