Responding to concerns voiced by Arkansas Senator John McClellan, the Office of Civil Rights within the Nixon Administration’s Housing, Education and Welfare Department (HEW) warned that Berkeley’s Black House and Casa de la Raza were in “probable non-compliance” with civil rights statutes.

For Berkeley school administrators, this warning had potentially dire consequences: HEW could withdraw its multi-million grant in support of the Berkeley Experimental School Project (BESP), creating a financial crisis within the district, if a new understanding was not reached.