Oct. 19, 1970: The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and the law firm of Rauh and Silard file suit against the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), charging the department's Office Per Civil Rights with "general and calculated default" in its enforcement of federal school desegregation guidelines. The suit accuses HEW of dragging its feet instead of cutting off federal school funds for districts not in compliance with the law.

Nov. 16, 1972: U.S. District Court Judge John Pratt rules that HEW has unlawfully refrained from cutting off funds to school districts not in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Feb. 16, 1973: Pratt orders HEW to begin proceedings to cut off federal funds to school districts and state college systems not complying with desegregation requirements.

March 14, 1975: Pratt orders HEW to act swiftly to enforce desegregation guidelines in 125 school districts in 16 southern and border states, citing "an overreliance . . . on the use of voluntary negotiations over protracted time periods." The court also sets up a procedure for handling future complaints of noncompliance.

Dec. 29, 1977: The court issues a broad decree that orders review of HEW enforcement activities in all 50 states and sets down procedural steps to be used when complaints against school systems are received.

March 24, 1983: The court orders the Department of Education, which now oversees the Office Per Civil Rights, to demand new plans from Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and North Carolina, states where desegregation has not moved ahead quickly enough. If the states do not comply, the department is ordered to begin formal enforcement proceedings against them by Sept. 15.