Fendall R. Ellis

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Fendall Ragland Ellis (1910–1986) was Charlottesville's superintendent of the city's public schools in the 1950's [1] and 1960's during desegregated.

In 1953 the Charlottesville School Board appointed Ellis superintendent of the city's public schools. A year later the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. On May 7, 1956 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named Ellis and the Charlottesville school board as defendants in a lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of forty-three black students denied admission to all-white public schools in the city. Before switching to a city-wide elected school board in 2006, the City Council appointed the board members. [2]

During Ellis's ten years as superintendent, Charlottesville's public school system expanded from six to nine buildings, the number of teachers increased from 160 to 254, the percentage of teachers with college degrees climbed to 94 percent, and teachers' average minimum salaries rose from $2,200 to $4,000. [3]

On March 22, 1963 Ellis was named director of research and pilot studies at the Virginia Department of Education, in Richmond. He retired from the Department of Education in 1975 but continued to work on educational issues.

Fendall Ragland Ellis was born on March 5, 1910 in Chesterfield County to Dora James Chalkley Ellis and Robert Benjamin Ellis, a farmer and carpenter. He graduated from the College of William and Mary with an A.B. in 1931, after which he taught history at Hopewell High School. Ellis left in 1934 to study at the University of Virginia and received an M.A. the following year. From 1940 to 1945 Ellis served as director of public instruction in Pittsylvania County and in the latter year was appointed superintendent of Wythe County's public school system. There he met Mary Marie Felts, whom he married in 1947. They had one son.

On May 8, 1986, while giving a speech in Richmond at a meeting of the Institute for Lifetime Learning, Ellis suffered a heart attack, collapsed, and died later that day at a local hospital. He was buried at Sunset Memorial Park, in Chester.

During the 1965-66 school year, all Charlottesville City Schools were completely desegregated.

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  1. Web. New Pupil Plan To Go Before City School Board, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, February 16, 1959, retrieved February 16, 2017 from University of Virginia Library.
  2. https://www.cvilletomorrow.org/articles/future-of-charlottesville-governance
  3. https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.php?b=Ellis_Fendall_Ragland>|

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