302 F.Supp. 136 (E.D.Ark. 1969), LR-68-C-151, Graves v. Board of Ed. of North Little Rock, Arkansas, School Dist.

Docket Nº:LR-68-C-151.
Citation:302 F.Supp. 136
Party Name:Carnell GRAVES, Richard J. Graves, Vickie Ann Graves, Meredith D. Graves, Debra M. Graves, and Kevin R. Graves, minors, by their father and next friend, Floyd Graves, Plaintiffs, v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, SCHOOL DISTRICT, a public body corporate, and F. B. Wright, Superintendent of Schools of the North Little Rock Sc
Case Date:July 25, 1969
Court:United States District Courts, 8th Circuit, Eastern District of Arkansas
 
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Page 136

302 F.Supp. 136 (E.D.Ark. 1969)

Carnell GRAVES, Richard J. Graves, Vickie Ann Graves, Meredith D. Graves, Debra M. Graves, and Kevin R. Graves, minors, by their father and next friend, Floyd Graves, Plaintiffs,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, SCHOOL DISTRICT, a public body corporate, and F. B. Wright, Superintendent of Schools of the North Little Rock School District, Defendants.

No. LR-68-C-151.

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division.

July 25, 1969

Page 137

John W. Walker, Little Rock, Ark., for plaintiffs.

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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

HENLEY, Chief Judge.

On August 8, 1968, Negro patrons of the Public School District of the City

Page 138

of North Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, filed this suit against the Board of Directors of that District and the Superintendent of Schools to compel No. 2, Jefferson County, Arkansas,

The Board answered in due course and came forth with a desegregation plan. The plan contemplated that students in the first six grades would continue to be assigned to schools on the basis of freedom of choice, and that students in the upper six grades would be assigned on high school and elementary school zones. It was further contemplated that the top three grades of the all-Negro Scipio A. Jones High School would be phased out over a one year period with the 10th grade being eliminated this fall and with the 11th and 12th grades being eliminated as of the close of the 1969-70 school year. 1 As to faculty the plan was nothing more than a pledge that the District would refrain from racial discrimination in hiring, compensating, promoting, demoting, and discharging professional employees, and that reductions of force caused by desegregation would be handled in a racially nondiscriminatory manner.

The case was tried to the Court and on April 29, 1969, the Court filed a memorandum opinion and entered a decree. The District was enjoined mandatorily to disestablish effective this year its existing dual system of recially identifiable schools and to replace it with a unitary integrated system. Specifically, the Court approved the attendance zones for junior and senior high school students and the phase out of the senior high school grades at Jones. The Court disapproved the freedom of choice plan for elementary students and found that the plan was inadequate as far as staff and faculty were concerned. Graves v. Board of Education, E.D.Ark., 299 F.Supp. 843.

Pursuant to the directive of the Court, the Board filed on May 14, 1969, a new plan proposing to assign elementary students by zones and giving its projections for elementary school enrollments this year based on the zones. The plan was accompanied by a map showing the zones as laid out by the Superintendent of Schools and approved by the Board.

On May 23 plaintiffs objected to the plan contending that it will leave the elementary schools still racially indentifiable. Plaintiffs also objected to the plan's provisions for staff and faculty v. Parham, 8 Cir., 403 F.2d 12. In the to the phasing out of Grades 10-12 at Jones.

Three days later plaintiffs filed a motion requesting an evaluation of all employees of the District and their assignment to schools and courses on the basis of qualifications and objective criteria.

On June 9 a number of patrons of the effectively integrated, staff and faculty leave to intervene in the case alleging that their interests would not be adequately represented by either side. On June 19 the defendants objected to the proposed intervention, and the Court reserved ruling until the new plan should be heard on the merits.

A plenary hearing was held on June 25 and June 27. Plaintiffs, defendants, and the would-be intervenors were all represented. At the commencement of the hearing the Court indecated that it was still reserving ruling on the motion for leave to intervene, but that any patron desiring to be heard would be permitted to testify, and some patrons availed themselves of the opportunity. The Court also announced that it would consider the views expressed by certain patrons in letters addressed to the Court.

In the course of the hearing counsel for plaintiffs moved orally that three athletic coaches now employed at Jones be permitted to intervene for the purpose of protecting their employment

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rights; ruling on that motion was reserved.

About a week after the hearing counsel for plaintiffs with leave of Court filed a memorandum suggesting some changes in the boundaries of the zones established for four elementary schools but stipulating that plaintiffs would not be satisfied even if the suggestions were adopted.

On July 15 counsel for the defendants responded to plaintiffs' memorandum and objected to the proposed changes; counsel also furnished the Court with some admittedly incomplete and inaccurate enrollment projections should plaintiffs' proposed changes be adopted. Without stopping to elaborate, the Court will say that the District's objections to the changes appear valid; and in view of the fact that plaintiffs would not be satisfied even if the changes were made, the Court will confine its consideration to the zones proposed by the Board.

Certain issues tendered by plaintiffs and would-be intervenors are not without importance, but they are subordinate to the basic problem with which the Court and the District are confronted.

The basic issues in this case are generally single unitary high school on the formerly Dollarway School Case, this day decided, Cato v. Parham, E.D.Ark., 302 F.Supp. 129, and the Court considered the two cases at the same time. The Court would suggest a reading of the Cato opinion, supra, before further consideration of this opinion. However, the Court will observe that there are distinctions between the situations of the two Districts which are mentioned in the Dollarway opinion and which will also be mentioned at a later point in this opinion. And continue 'in transition' for at least one last analysis each school desegregation case must be decided in the light of its own facts and circumstances.

The Court's original opinion in this case approving the senior and junior high school zones was filed prior to the publication on June 30 of the opinion of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Henry v. Clarksdale Municipal Separate School District, 409 F.2d 682.

A reading of that opinion has caused the Court to reconsider its approval of the high school and junior high school zones in North Little Rock, and for reasons to be stated the Court adheres to its original ruling as far as those two sub-systems are concerned. The Clarksdale opinion is discussed in some detail in Cato, supra, and that discussion will not be repeated in this opinion.

For a description of the defendant District, including its geography, population distribution, and desegregation, reference is made to the Court's April opinion.

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