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Diversity Milestones

Historical Perspective:

  • 1954 – Brown v. Board of Education
  • 1964 – Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • 1968, 1973 – Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Congress; she was the first African-American woman to run for president with a major political party.
  • In the early 1980s, a federal school desegregation lawsuit led to the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation Program. Under this program, black students attending city schools are transferred to predominantly white schools in the county.  
  • 2007-08 – The first woman, first African-American and oldest candidates are the final three for presidential office from the Republican and Democratic parties.
  • 2008 – Barack Obama is elected as the United States’ first African-American President.
  • 2016 – Donald Trump is elected as the president of the United States. His win led to nationwide protests predominantly led by women and minorities.


  • African-American students represent 9% of the enrollment


  • First female board member Shirley Kransberg was elected.


  • Participation in the desegregation program raised African-American enrollment to the mandated 25% of total student enrollment.


  • Ladue Horton Watkins High School African-American students walked out over a Panorama article.


  • The High School Student Congress sponsored its first Special Olympics volleyball competition.


  • Anita MacDonald became the first African-American Board of Education member.


  • Diversity committees were established at all schools.
  • The C.U.R.E. (Community Understanding Respect Education) Committee was started by Superintendent Dr. David Benson.
  • The first female administrator was hired at a secondary school (Ladue Middle School).
  • The Board of Education changed membership from mostly male to mostly female.


  • The first woman principal was hired at Ladue Horton Watkins High School.
  • All building principals were female.


  • The Ladue Sparkle Effect began at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, supported by the National Sparkle Effect Organization, a program that provides special education students an opportunity to participate in school spirit organizations like cheerleading and dance teams with typical peers.


  • After the death of Michael Brown in August and the ensuing events unfolded in Ferguson, educators in the Ladue School District recognized the need to use the events in the community as teachable moments, as opportunities to talk to students about these tough issues and have difficult conversations in the classrooms. Students, staff, and alumni also supported in concrete ways: gathering food donations for the Ferguson-Florissant School District when teachers there banded together to provide lessons, supervision and lunch to students while the schools were closed.


  • After the presidential election in November, many educational institutions throughout the area and across the nation experienced unrest, including the Ladue School District. Following student protests at the high school and middle school on Nov. 16 and 17, the district engaged with a number of organizations in the area to provide additional and immediate assistance. The district also implemented additional plans, including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training for staff, hiring more diverse staff members and developing a website for diversity that provides a central hub for work done at the school and district levels.