302 F.Supp. 129 (E.D.Ark. 1969), PB-67-C-69, Cato v. Parham

Docket Nº:PB-67-C-69.
Citation:302 F.Supp. 129
Party Name:Samuel Wayne CATO et al., Plaintiffs, v. Lee PARHAM et al., Defendants.
Case Date:July 25, 1969
Court:United States District Courts, 8th Circuit, Eastern District of Arkansas
 
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Page 129

302 F.Supp. 129 (E.D.Ark. 1969)

Samuel Wayne CATO et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

Lee PARHAM et al., Defendants.

No. PB-67-C-69.

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas

July 25, 1969

George Howard, Jr., Pine Bluff, Ark., for plaintiffs.

Robert V. Light, Little Rock, Ark., for defendants.

Page 130

Memorandum Opinion

HENLEY, Chief Judge.

This school desegregation case, involving Dollarway Public School District No. 2, Jefferson County Arkansas, is before the Court once again, and once again the Court finds itself unable to give full or lasting approval to the latest desegregation plan submitted by the District's Board of Directors.

The plan involves geographical attendance zones for students in the junior grades; the plan also involves faculty grades; the plan also involves faculty desegregation. The case presents questions generally similar to those presented in Graves v. The Board of Education of the North Little Rock, Arkansas, Public School District, D.C., 302 F.Supp. 136, this day decided. Defendants in both cases are represented by the same attorneys, and the contentions in both cases are similar. The Court has considered the two cases at the same time, and this opinion should perhaps be read in connection with the North Little Rock opinion.

While conditions in the two Districts are generally similar, the Court thinks it well to say at the outset of this opinion that there are certain distinctions to be made between them. The Dollarway District is a small district with comparatively few students and with few schools; the North Little Rock District is a large district with many students and many schools. The Dollarway District has traditionally provided transportation for a substantial number of its students whereas the North Little Rock District has never transported any students and owns no school busses. More important, the Dollarway District has been in litigation ever since 1958 and has resisted desegregation of its student bodies and faculties every step of the way; the North Little Rock District was not drawn into litigation until the summer of 1968. Having noted these distinctions, the Court now turns to the instant case.

On July 25, 1968, the Court found that the freedom of choice method of assigning students to the schools of the District had not and would not disestablish a dual school system of racially identifiable schools, and entered a decree commanding the District to replace freedom of choice with something else. Cato v. Parham, E.D.Ark., 293 F.Supp. 1375. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Cato v. Parham, 8 Cir., 403 F.2d 13. In the course of the argument on appeal counsel for the District assured the Court that the District was going to solve its integration problems by rationally created geographical attendance zones.

The Court of Appeals accepted that assurance at face value and also took the view that if the student bodies were effective integrated, staff and faculty desegregation would take care of itself. Both the decree of this Court and the opinion of the Court of Appeals ordered the dual school system to be disestablished as of the opening of the 1969-70 school year. 1

Following the decision of the Court of Appeals the District worked out five attendance zones for its elementary schools and for its combination junior senior high schools and submitted its plan, based on the zones to the Court for its approval. On March 25 of the current year the Court filed a memorandum opinion and entered a decree refusing to approve the zones. Cato v. Parham, E.D.Ark., 297 F.Supp. 403. Reference is made to that opinion for a full discussion of the Dollarway situation in relation to attendance zones.

The Court's decree read in part as follows:

'3. That the defendant District be, and it hereby is, mandatorily enjoined to proceed to disestablish, effective with the opening of school in September 1969, the existing dual school system

Page 131

being operated by the District and to replace it with a unitary system free from racial discrimination, and in that connection is further mandatorily enjoined and commanded to restructure its schools in a manner not inconsistent with the aforesaid Memorandum Opinion of this Court.

'4. That not later than May 1 of the current year the defendant District file with the Court a written report reflecting the method of restructuring of its schools which it plans to put into effect and reflecting what the District proposes to do in the area of staff and faculty integration.'

On April 29, 1969, the Board filed its report, in the form of a resolution, which report was based on studies made by a committee of the Board, the Superintendent of Schools, his staff, and counsel for the Board. A copy of the report last mentioned was attached to the resolution of the Board so that both reports are of record here.

In substance, what the Board proposed to do was: (1) Abandon for the time being its traditional '6-6' organization and operate at least for a time on a '6-3-3' basis; (2) Establish a unitary high school on the formerly all white Dollarway campus in which instruction would be offered to students in Grades 10-12, the high school to be put into operation this year; (3) To use for purposes of assigning students in Grades 1-9 the same attendance zones that the Court had disapproved a month earlier. A study of the report attached to the Board's resolution indicated that the Board's committee, the Superintendent of Schools, the administrative staff, and counsel for the Board desired to continue 'in a transition' for at least one more year and perhaps longer.

On May 7 the Court on its own motion filed a letter opinion disapproving the new plan. The Court found that the plan would not disestablish the dual school system at the elementary and junior high school levels this year. The Court also found that the plan was completely lacking in specificity with respect to faculty desegregation and based on its past experience with the District the Court predicted that should the plan be approved it would produce only token faculty desegregation which the Court had held earlier to be unconstitutional.

The Court then proceeded to suggest the possibility...

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