Topeka A group picked by city officials to redevelop a school central to the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case has backed away.
Pioneer Group Inc. had hoped to get state tax credits to convert Sumner Elementary School into affordable housing for Topeka senior citizens. However, the group has been unable to secure its financing, putting a different group, Community First, in position to acquire the property.
The school was central to the 1954 school desegregation case. Plaintiff Oliver Brown tried to enroll his daughter in the third grade at the school, which was closer to their Topeka home, but was denied because the school was for white children only. Linda Brown was told to enroll at Monroe Elementary School, about a mile away. That school was dedicated in 2004 as a national historic site.
The ensuing legal battle resulted in the Brown ruling, which overturned school segregation laws.
Community First plans to convert Sumner into a community center, including a charter school, health clinic and space for adult education and senior programs.