355 F.Supp. 1044 (D.Md. 1972), Civ. 72-375, Vaughns v. Board of Ed. of Prince George's County

Docket Nº:Civ. 72-375
Citation:355 F.Supp. 1044
Party Name:Vaughns v. Board of Ed. of Prince George's County
Case Date:December 13, 1972
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, District of Maryland

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355 F.Supp. 1044 (D.Md. 1972)

Sylvester J. VAUGHNS, Jr., et al.



Civ. No. 72-375.

United States District Court, D. Maryland.

Dec. 13, 1972


FRANK A. KAUFMAN, District Judge.

The Issues in this Case

This case presents the issue of whether Prince George's County School Board (the Board) is:

(1) maintaining its public school system 1 in violation of the commands of

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the Constitution of the United States; and

(2) if so, what relief is required; and

(3) how and when that relief should be implemented.

History of this Case and Purposes of this Memorandum

This suit was instituted on March 29, 1972. On July 25, 1972, 355 F.Supp. 1034, at 1037 this Court filed an Opinion in which it concluded 2 that the federal constitutional standards enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States 3 "command a discontinuation of the current lack of desegregation in the schools of Prince George's County. That lack stems from a pre- Brown I segregated system which has never been effectively dismantled and which was not, in its origin, 'a consequence of other types of state action, without any discriminatory action by the school authorities' ( Swann at 23 of 402 U.S., at 1279 of 91 S.Ct.)." That holding was compelled by the facts in this case, jointly stipulated by the parties, which reveal the great concentration of white students in some schools and black students in others.

The history of this case, to and including December 4, 1972, is set forth in the documents in the official court file in this case. That history will be referred to but will not be reviewed in any great detail in this Memorandum, the incidental purpose of which is to update the history of this case but the main purposes of which are to review the legal principles which control the determination of the issues presented and to chart the course which Court, counsel and parties will follow.

The July 25, 1972 Order and Opinion of this Court called for both the Board and a consultant hired by it 4 to present student attendance plans to this Court by August 22, 1972 "so as to bring the Prince George's County school system into total compliance with the Brown-Swann standards to the fullest extent possible by September 5, 1972, or if that is not feasibly possible, then to bring that system into such compliance in part to the fullest extent possible by that date. The burden of establishing the

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need for any delay or delays in whole or in part shall rest upon defendants." 5

On August 22, 1972, the School Board filed a report. Following lengthy hearings which included interim testimony by an official of the School Board's consulting firm, this Court filed an Opinion on August 31, 1972, 355 F.Supp. 1038 in which it rejected the plaintiffs' plea for implementation of any desegregation order effective September 5, 1972, even as to the tenth and eleventh grades, finding that such early implementation could only become effective if seventeen senior high schools were to remain closed for a period approximating one month. In its August 31, 1972 Order, this Court required that "the desegregation plans for all three levels, elementary, junior high and senior high, should be coordinated and completed at one time. Such a total proposed overall plan shall be presented to this Court on or before December 4, 1972." 6 Additionally, for reasons stated in the August 31, 1972 Opinion, this Court concluded that the change-over at the elementary and junior high levels should become effective January 29, 1973 at the beginning of the second half of the 1972-1973 school year and that the change-over affecting the tenth and eleventh grades should occur in September, 1973. Counsel for all parties have suggested almost from the beginning of this case, and the Court has tentatively concurred, that no changes with regard to the twelfth grade should become effective until September, 1973.

On October 12, 1972, in a per curiam opinion, the Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc in connection with an interlocutory appeal in this case, wrote 7 that it "perceive[d] among the substantive questions tendered only one of substantiality," namely, "justification for that portion of the order on this record, when the plans are as yet unformulated", which postpones implementation of the tenth and eleventh grade change-over until September, 1973.

Subsequently, in an Order 8 calling attention to the Fourth Circuit's opinion, this Court required that the School Board submit by December 4, 1972:

(1) A plan pursuant to which the changeover (a) with regard to the tenth and eleventh grades would take place on January 29, 1973 at the same time as the changeover will take effect with regard to the elementary and junior high schools, and (b) with regard to the twelfth grade would take place in the fall of 1973; and

(2) A plan pursuant to which the changeover with regard to the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades would take place on January 29, 1973 at the same time as the changeover will take effect with regard to the elementary and junior high schools; and

(3) A plan pursuant to which the changeover with regard to the elementary and junior high grades will take place on January 29, 1973 and the changeover with regard to the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades would take place in the fall of 1973. In connection with that said third alternative plan, all parties are hereby requested, on the one hand, to present to this Court all available facts and opinions with regard to the alleged deleterious effects of a mid-semester changeover with regard to the tenth and eleventh grades, and, on the other hand, all available facts and opinions with regard to, using the Fourth Circuit's words, the "advantages of coordinating the change at all levels" at the same time. Further, counsel for both sides are asked to file with this Court, as soon hereafter as possible and in any event no later than November 15, 1972, citations of cases in which federal courts have ordered mid-year changeovers or changeovers

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at times other than the commencement of the academic term in the fall of the year.

Developments Beginning December 4, 1972

On December 4, 1972 and since that date the School Board has presented a number of alternative plans to this Court, several of which are variants of the principal approach adopted by the School Board. Hearings have been commenced but not completed in connection therewith, and some testimony has been taken. In addition, this Court, with the agreement of the parties and their respective counsel, has discussed on several occasions in chambers with counsel and the staff members to whom the School Board has delegated the major responsibility for preparing the detailed plans, the facts relating to each of the 232 schools in the system, 9 the legal principles which either require or do not require changes in each of them, the effect of transfers of students from one school to another upon still other schools, the effect of any transfer upon transportation schedules and costs, and, above all, the desirability of achieving constitutional standards with regard to desegregation and at the same time limiting the number of students who, by the impact of such standards, will

(1) be transferred to a school other than the one they would otherwise be attending;

(2) become school bus riders rather than walkers; or

(3) be caused to ride additional miles on school busses.

In its August 31, 1972 Opinion, this Court noted 10 that an official of the consulting firm engaged by the School Board had testified that he believed that his firm's "proposals, when completed and coordinated with the plans of the school staff, will permit desegregation of the entire school system, including all twelve grades, without additional transportation expense and perhaps at a reduced total transportation cost; and without invoving more than a minimum increase in the total number of students transported, in the miles each such student would be transported, and in the daily transportation time such additional transportation would require." Unfortunately, that "consummation devoutly to be wished" 11 is not in the cards. There is seemingly nothing to be gained by any further consideration of the reasons why the joint efforts of the staff of the School Board and of the consulting firm have not proved fruitful and why the School Board has at its own request been permitted by this Court to continue without the aid of the consultants. The record in this case sufficiently reveals the history of the relationship. 12 Nor does this Court believe that any current attention should be devoted to plaintiffs' December 4, 1972 petition to this Court to cite the defendants for contempt of its preceding Orders. That petition is hereby denied. While, for reasons discussed below, this Court does not believe that any plan yet presented by the School Board attains constitutional dimensions, it does not find that there has been conduct amounting to contempt. On the other hand, the record discloses repeated and continuing attempts by the School Board to avoid changes required by the law, to develop varying methods for circumvention of the law, to delay any changes which are Court-ordered, and to state as reasons for delay, problems which are

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capable of at least partial solution without the sacrifice of constitutional rights and principles.

The Law

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system involved in the Swann case had about 84,000 students in 107 schools in the 1968-1969 school year, of which about 29% were black and 71% white. 13 In this case, the current Prince George's County school population is about 160,000, approximately 22.4% of whom are black and 77.6% white. 14 The areas in both cases are large-in Swann, "550 square miles-spanning roughly 22 miles east-west and 36 miles north-south"...

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