Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Volume 118 / Number 3
Virginia's Pupil Placement Board and the Practical Applications of Massive Resistance, 1956–1966
- Sara K. Eskridge, pp. 246–76
In 1956, Virginia's legislature passed a series of laws designed to prevent public school desegregation. Though the federal court system eliminated most of these laws swiftly, the Pupil Placement Act (PPA) proved the most long-lived. This law, along with its accompanying Pupil Placement Board (PPB), remained in place for nearly ten years. The PPA technically adhered to the standards set forth by the Brown v. Board of Education decision, as it did not specifically refer to race. As the PPB administered the law, there were also no technical legal violations. The board's purpose was to remove the responsibility of placing children in schools from the local school boards and place it with the state government. In order to fulfill this duty, the board required an application from every eligible student regardless of race. Despite its seeming compliance with Brown, the PPB soon attracted the attention of the NAACP and black parents interested in placing their children in white schools. The board consistently and as a matter of policy refused to allow any desegregation in Virginia schools without a court order. As the level of legal action against the PPB increased, so did the level of public scrutiny. These problems had a direct inverse affect on the willingness of Virginia counties to adhere to the law, and they eventually led to a gradual decline in the PPB's legal standing.