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De facto racial segregation is the result of the actions of private individuals or societal forces rather than governmental action, law, or policy. De facto segregation can be distinguished from de jure segregation, a condition that is caused by governmental actions or law. De facto segregation is typically the result of housing patterns, population movements, and economic conditions that are often reinforced by governmental policies that are not aimed at creating segregation but have a segregative effect. For example, most American metropolitan areas have large single central-city school districts that serve primarily minority students; these systems are usually surrounded by suburban school districts that serve mostly White students. This entry looks at the history of de facto segregation and discusses key Supreme Court rulings.

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