In December 1971, the Federal Civil Rights office reviewed Black House as well as Casa de la Raza to determine their legality.

This investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Arkansas Senator John D. McClellan, who had earlier resisted desegregation efforts in his home state. After fighting to protect segregation in Arkansas, McClellan publicly wondered why minorities in Berkeley were allowed to segregate themselves in schools, with the help of government funding.

Among the delegation, from Berkeley, who went to Washington to defend the two offsite schools were Berkeley Unified Public School District Superintendent Richard Foster; Lawrence Wells, Director of the Experimental Schools Project (ESP); Horace Upshaw, the Director of Black House; and Victor Acosta, the Director of Casa de la Raza.

Foster punched back at McClellan, charging that McClellan’s effort was “an attempt to embarrass the leader in desegregation in America [i.e. Berkeley] in order to have solace for their segregation.”