History of TPS

Our Vision:

Topeka Public Schools will be recognized nationally for:

  • academic excellence,
  • post-secondary and career success,
  • and achievement in the arts, athletics and extracurricular activities.

Strengthened by diversity and a welcoming and inclusive environment, our district will cultivate partnerships with staff, families, business and industry, and the greater community to develop students' educational, physical, and social-emotional well being.

Our Mission:

Engage students in the highest quality learning
Prepare students for responsible, productive citizenship
Inspire excellence for a lifetime

TPS Facts

  • TPS is the largest school district in Shawnee County, serving almost 14,000 students
  • Student ethnicity: 38% White, 32% Hispanic, 17% African-American, 13% Other
  • More than 1,300 teachers and 1,100 support staff
  • Two magnet schools: Scott Dual Language and Williams Science & Fine Arts
  • Five signature campuses: Ross-Eisenhower (Music), State Street-Chase (Performing Arts), Topeka West (Leadership), Jardine Academy (STEAM), and Quincy (Fine Arts)
  • Home of Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers (TCALC)
  • Home of Kanza Education and Science Park
  • All students involved in college and career ready program

Brown V. Board of Education

Sitting at the Capital

In the fall of 1950, in response to numerous unsuccessful attempts to ensure equal opportunities for all children, African American community leaders and organizations stepped up efforts to change the dual segregated education system. Members of the Topeka, Kansas, Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) agreed to again challenge the "separate but equal" doctrine governing public education.

The strategy was conceived by the chapter president, McKinley Burnett; the secretary Lucinda Todd; and attorneys Charles Scott, John Scott, and Charles Bledsoe. The law permitted segregated schools only at the elementary level in first-class cities (cities with populations of 15,000 or more). Filing suit was a final attempt to secure integrated public schools.

The African American schools appeared equal in facilities and teacher salaries, but some programs were not offered and some textbooks were not available. In addition, there were only four elementary schools for African American children as compared to eighteen for white children.

Oliver Brown, the father of nine-year-old Linda Brown, was assigned as lead plaintiff, principally because he was the only man among the plaintiffs. Linda Brown in turn became the face of the Brown V Board case, and a symbol of equality and justice for people to this day. On February 28, 1951, the NAACP filed their case as Oliver L. Brown, et .al., v. The Board of Education of Topeka (KS). The District Court ruled in favor of the school board and the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court level, their case was combined with other NAACP cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The combined cases became known as Oliver L. Brown, et. al., v. The Board of Education of Topeka, et. al.

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that it was unconstitutional, violating the 14th Amendment, to separate children in public schools for no other reason than their race. The case helped establish the precedent that “separate-but-equal” education and other services were not equal at all, and propelled a civil rights movement which inspired all races to work together to end segregation in other public venues like transportation.

On October 26, 1992, the Monroe school, which housed Topeka's African American schoolchildren prior to Brown V Board, was established as a historic site by the National Parks Service and is visited annually by thousands of people from all over the world wishing to learn more about the civil rights movement that began in Topeka in 1954. For more information about the Brown V Board case and its long-reaching implications, visit the Kansas Historical Society's website at https://www.kshs.org.

Topeka Public Schools would like to thank the Kansas Historical Society and the National Parks Service for contributing information for this article.


Moving To Topeka?

Congratulations on choosing to make a home in Topeka! We welcome you and invite you to make Topeka Public Schools the home of learning for your student(s).

We would like to send you a packet of information to assist with your transition into Topeka Public Schools. Please contact our Communications Office and let them know your current address, your new Topeka address, and any special needs or interests of your children. We will assemble an information kit just for you, and send it to you at no cost.

TPS Communications
624 S.W. 24th St.
Topeka, KS 66611
[email protected]

You are welcome to visit our Administrative Center at the address above or stop by your neighborhood schools for a tour or for answers to your questions.

Engage students in the highest quality of learning • Prepare students for responsible, productive citizenship • Inspire excellence for a lifetime
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