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HS Unit I: Free But Far From Equal: The African American Experience in Massachusetts, 1780–1863 Lesson C: The Fight for Equal Education, 18001855: Two Case Studies of School Desegregation
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Document HS I-14: The Legislature Takes Action: Massachusetts Chapter 256, Desegregating Public Schools, 1855

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

Section 1. In determining the qualifications of scholars: studentsscholars to be admitted into any public school, or any district school in this Commonwealth, no distinction: separationdistinction shall be made on account of the race, color, or religious opinions, of the applicant or scholar.

Section 2. Any child who, on account of his race, color, or religious opinions, shall be excluded from any public or district school in this Commonwealth, for admission to which he may be otherwise qualified, shall recover damages: to sue for monetary settlementrecover damages therefor, in an action of tort: wrongful act tort to be brought in the name of said child, by his guardian or next friend, in any court of competent jurisdiction to try the same, against the city or town by which such school is supported.

Section 3. In filing interrogatories for discovery: type of legal documentsinterrogatories for discovery in any such action, the plaintiff may examine any member of the school committee, or any other officer of the defendant city or town, in the same manner as if he were party to the suit.

Section 4. Every person belonging to the school committee, under whose rules or direction any child shall be excluded from such school, and every teacher of such school, shall on application by the parent or guardian of any such child, state in writing the grounds and reasons of such exclusion.

Section 5. This Act shall take effect from and after the first day of September next (1855).