366 F.Supp. 813 (W.D.Tex. 1973), Civ. A. DR-70-CA-14, Morales v. Shannon

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
Citation366 F.Supp. 813
Date13 February 1973
PartiesMorales v. Shannon
Docket NumberCiv. A. DR-70-CA-14

Page 813

366 F.Supp. 813 (W.D.Tex. 1973)

Geneoveva MORALES, as next friend of Daniel Morales, a minor, et al.

v.

E. P. SHANNON, Individually and as Principal of Robb Elementary School, Uvalde County, Texas, et al.

Civ. A. No. DR-70-CA-14.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Del Rio Division.

Feb. 13, 1973

Order Aug. 16, 1973.

Page 814

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 815

Pat Maloney, San Antonio, Tex., for plaintiffs.

Grant Cook, Reynolds, White, Allen & Cook, Houston, Tex., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN H. WOOD, Jr., District Judge.

This action is brought by a Mexican-American 1 parent residing in the Uvalde Independent School District ("School District") as a class action on behalf of her children and all of the other Mexican-American school children enrolled in elementary schools in the School District. The plaintiff claims that the Mexican-American elementary school pupils in the School District have been and are presently subjected to discrimination in the educational process

Page 816

and are thereby being denied an equal educational opportunity in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000d]. She seeks equitable relief, apparently by way of a remedial decree calling for what is commonly known as a "desegregation plan", money damages and attorneys' fees. Subsequent to the filing of this suit, an administrative proceeding was instituted against the School District by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare seeking to terminate all federal financial assistance to the District. A few weeks prior to the trial of this case, a hearing was held in those proceedings, and the parties here have, by agreement, submitted to the Court as part of the record in this trial the voluminous transcript of those proceedings which has been carefully reviewed together with the other evidence presented at this trial.

The essence of the plaintiff's Complaint is that Mexican-American students are, by the attendance zoning plan of the School District, partially segregated from their Anglo counterparts at the elementary grade level; that the English language deficiencies of the Mexican-American elementary school students have not been adequately dealt with by the School District; and finally, that the School District has discriminated against Mexican-American applicants for faculty and administrative positions by its failure to employ them in greater numbers.

FACTS

The Uvalde Independent School District includes within its boundaries all of the area of the town of Uvalde, Texas, as well as a substantial area surrounding the town, which has been generally referred to as the rural portion of the School District. It operates one (1) high school, one (1) junior high school, four (4) elementary schools and a location for kindergarten students. The School District has a total scholastic enrollment of approximately 3,853 students of whom 61% are Mexican-American, 38.6% are Anglo and .4% are Negro. The City of Uvalde is divided roughly into four quadrants by U.S. Highway 90 running in a generally east-west direction and State Highway 55 running in a generally north-south direction. The intersection of those two main thoroughfares is located at the approximate center of the town. The four elementary schools are located basically within the four quadrants of the town, roughly equidistant from the center of town defined by the intersection of those highways. Uvalde is a fairly old town by South Texas standards, the School District having been originally organized in 1907. Prior to that time the children of the area were apparently educated in various separate school facilities scattered around the county. The present high school building was constructed in 1963; the junior high school (being the original high school) in 1929; and the elementary schools in 1937 (Benson), 1954 (Dalton and Robb) and 1966 (Anthon). The ethnic composition (disregarding the miniscule percentage of Negroes) of the individual elementary schools is: Dalton-35% Mexican-American; Benson-55% Mexican-American; Anthon-98% Mexican-American; and Robb-97% Mexican-American; approximately 68% of all elementary students are Mexican-American. The faculty ethnicity (Mexican-American) is approximately: High School-20%; Junior High School-10%; Robb Elementary-9%; Dalton Elementary-6%; Benson Elementary-10%; and Anthon Elementary-14%. The adult population, according to the 1970 census of the community, is approximately 60% Mexican-American.

There is no evidence that the School District has ever operated more than one high school or junior high school (with the exception of separate facilities for Negroes pursuant to State law prior to 1955). The student assignment plan presently in use is a zone plan which presents the classic neighborhood school concept in that the zone lines were fairly

Page 817

and reasonably drawn to encompass the residential areas surrounding the various elementary schools. In that connection, the Court specifically finds that those boundaries were originally drawn in 1966 in an effort to place the elementary school students nearest their homes, consistent with the capacities of the various schools, natural barriers, major thoroughfares and the like. Prior to the 1965-66 school year, there were no zones for any students in the District and any elementary student could attend any elementary school. The Anthon elementary school, the newest school in the system, was opened in September, 1966. The site selected for that school was chosen after a lengthy study and investigation by the school officials in connection with assistance from the Texas Education Agency. That school site and the zoning plan which ultimately resulted was enthusiastically approved and endorsed by that State Agency. Prior to the opening of the Anthon elementary school, the School Board appointed a committee of an equal number of Anglo and Mexican-American members to make a study and recommendation to the District as to the best method to be utilized in the assignment of students in view of the opening of the new elementary school. The committee ultimately recommended that a survey be taken of all of the parents in the District to determine which of the four elementary schools they would select in the coming year in which to enroll their children. The results of that survey were that most of the Mexican-American parents selected Robb School (which had had the highest percentage of Mexican-American theretofore) of the three schools previously in operation and a very low percentage of people, both Mexican-American and Anglo, indicated a choice for the new elementary school (Anthon). The bi-ethnic committee went on to recommend that if the results of the survey projected an imbalance among the four elementary schools in relationship to their capacities, a zoning plan should be devised in order to place the elementary students in the school nearest their homes. Thus, the zoning plan came into being beginning with the 1966-67 school year. The zone lines originally established in 1966 have never been changed. No effort was or has been made to zone the elementary students residing in the rural portions of the District who ride the school busses. Instead, those children, who are the only ones who ride busses, were allowed to continue in a freedom of choice plan, subject to the capacity of the elementary schools, and this system is still in effect with the exception that bussed students from the rural areas cannot attend Benson elementary school by reason of overcrowding. Only about 7% of the total enrollment ride busses and the cost is borne entirely by the State as opposed to the District. The eligibility of the students to be transported is determined in accordance with State regulations on the basis of the distance of that child's home from the nearest school. Approximately 59% of the students presently riding busses are Mexican-American and 41% are Anglo.

As noted above, the Dalton and Robb elementary schools were constructed and opened at the same time. Additions have been made to both schools from time to time since their construction in 1955. They are substantially identical in physical characteristics. Prior to their opening, the District operated only two elementary schools: the present Benson school, which is located just north of the center of town, and the West Garden elementary school, which was located very near the center of town. The West Garden school was abandoned at about the time that Robb and Benson were opened because of its age and condition. The Dalton school was located in the northeast quadrant of the District, which is the area in which almost all of the new residential subdivision activity was then taking place. That area is a predominantly Anglo area. The Robb school was located south of the center of town in a densely populated Mexican-American residential area. The residential separation of the

Page 818

Mexican-American and Anglo residents of Uvalde is quite clearly defined, with almost all of the Mexican-Americans living in the central, southern and southwestern portions of the town, and the Anglos living in the north and northeastern portions. The ethnicity of the elementary schools reflects the ethnic breakdown of the various school zones.

STUDENT ASSIGNMENT AND NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

I find no evidence of discriminatory intent, past or present, in the assignment of pupils to the elementary schools in the District. It is undisputed that two of the four elementary schools have more than 90% Mexican-American enrollment, as compared to the fact that 68% of all of the elementary students are Mexican-American. While it is true that the locations of the elementary schools were selected by school officials, I find no discriminatory intent on the part of the District in making those selections nor in...

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3 practice notes
  • 587 F.2d 1022 (9th Cir. 1978), 76-2029, Guadalupe Organization, Inc. v. Tempe Elementary School Dist. No. 3.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 18, 1978
    ...School District No. 51, 408 F.Supp. 162 (D.Colo.1975), Vacated on other grounds, 568 F.2d 1312 (10th Cir. 1978) and Morales v. Shannon, 366 F.Supp. 813, 821-23 (W.D.Tex.1973), Rev'd on other grounds, 516 F.2d 411 (5th Cir.), Cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1034, 96 S.Ct. 566, 46 L.Ed.2d 408 (1975). ......
  • 506 F.Supp. 405 (E.D.Tex. 1981), Civ. A. 5281, United States v. State of Texas
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • January 12, 1981
    ...facts of both cases render them inapplicable to the instant case. An additional case which warrants discussion is Morales v. Shannon, 366 F.Supp. 813 (W.D.Tex.1973), reversed 516 F.2d 411 (5th Cir. 1975), cert. denied 423 U.S. 1034, 96 S.Ct. 566, 46 L.Ed.2d 408 (1976). The plaintiffs in Mor......
  • 378 F.Supp. 640 (W.D.Tex. 1974), Civ. A. A-71-CA 142, Graves v. Barnes
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • January 28, 1974
    ...District (1973), 413 U.S. 189, 93 S.Ct. 2686, 37 L.Ed.2d 548, and further relied upon in my Opinion in Morales et al. v. Shannon et al., 366 F.Supp. 813 (1973, W.D.Tex.) It appears beyond dispute, therefore, that the 'de jure-de facto' dichotomy remains an important legal concept which is c......

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