Lois Thompson Honored by MALDEF for Work on Tucson School Desegregation Case
November 7, 2014 (Los Angeles) – Proskauer partner Lois Thompson was honored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund at its 2014 Los Angeles Awards Gala on November 5.
Ms. Thompson was selected to receive the Excellence in Legal Service award for her work as pro bono counsel in a major school desegregation case in Tucson, Arizona. The case was filed by MALDEF in 1974 in federal court and originally settled in 1978 with an agreement that the school district would undertake a number of acts to eliminate the vestiges of its past discrimination.
In a 2009 ruling, on an appeal in which Proskauer co-counseled with MALDEF and which Ms. Thompson argued, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Tucson Unified School District had not eliminated the vestiges of past discrimination and had not acted in good faith to implement the settlement agreement. The Ninth Circuit ordered TUSD to adopt a "Unitary Status Plan" to advance the integration of its schools and improve educational outcomes for minority students. It also returned the case to the district court for on-going judicial oversight. MALDEF and Proskauer have been actively involved in the negotiation of the unitary status plan and monitoring the school district's implementation of that plan.
In addition, the court recently awarded $245,000 to Proskauer for fees incurred since the Ninth Circuit's ruling, which the firm plans to donate to MALDEF.