396 F.2d 224 (5th Cir. 1968), 25357, Louisiana High School Athletic Ass'n v. St. Augustine High School

Docket Nº:25357.
Citation:396 F.2d 224
Party Name:LOUISIANA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, Appellant, v. ST. AUGUSTINE HIGH SCHOOL et al., Appellees. Melodysse F. DYSON, on behalf of her minor, Melodye Dyson, pupil at Coghill's School et al., Appellants, v. LOUISIANA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION et al., Appellees.
Case Date:May 08, 1968
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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396 F.2d 224 (5th Cir. 1968)



ST. AUGUSTINE HIGH SCHOOL et al., Appellees.

Melodysse F. DYSON, on behalf of her minor, Melodye Dyson, pupil at Coghill's School et al., Appellants,



No. 25357.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

May 8, 1968

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Thomas McFerrin, Kenneth C. DeJean, Jack P. F. Gremillion, Atty. Gen. of La., Baton Rouge, La., for appellant.

John P. Nelson, Jr., Nelson, Ormond & Nelson, New Orleans, La., for appellees.

Before GODBOLD and SIMPSON, Circuit Judges, and McRAE, District Judge.

GODBOLD, Circuit Judge:

This is a class action brought by a private high school with an all-Negro student body and by Negro students attending public high schools, all in the State of Louisiana. The plaintiffs seek to enjoin the maintenance and operation of a racially segregated system of interscholastic high school athletics in Louisiana by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) and the Louisiana State Board of Education. The crux of plaintiffs' claim is that the State of Louisiana pursues a policy and practice of maintaining and operating a racially segregated athletic system through the means of allowing LHSAA to regulate and direct interscholastic athletics for white 1 high schools and allowing the Louisiana Interscholastic Athletic and Literary Organization (LIALO) to do the same for Negro high schools.

St. Augustine is an accredited private high school in New Orleans, maintained by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic religious order. The individual plaintiffs are minor Negroes who attend public high schools with predominantly Negro student bodies, which are not members of LHSAA.

St. Augustine maintains a policy of admitting any qualified applicant regardless of race, but its student body consists of about 750 Negro males. When this case was heard in the district court there was not, and never had been, any white students at the school. It is a member of LIALO.

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In August, 1964 St. Augustine applied for admission to LHSAA, which is an unincorporated association nominally of high school principals, actually of schools. It coordinates interscholastic athletics for approximately 400 Louisiana schools, 85 per cent of which are public schools and 15 per cent private. This Association has exclusive supervision of interscholastic activities between white public schools in Louisiana.

Until 1962 LHSAA had consisted of schools with all-white student bodies and faculties. The 'white only' membership clause of the Constitution was deleted in 1962. When St. Augustine applied all the public school members were schools formerly white but now integrated by court orders. Negro students at LHSAA member schools may compete in interscholastic athletics.

When St. Augustine applied for membership in LHSAA no school except a non-academic trade school had applied for admission and been refused. The application, in accordance with past procedure of some 45 years, was scheduled to come before the 10-man executive committee of LHSAA at the annual meeting of the Association in January, 1965 for acceptance or rejection. It did not. Instead at that annual meeting the constitution was amended to require that an application must first be approved by two-thirds of the schools in the LHSAA district in which the applicant, if admitted, will compete, then by a two-thirds vote of the schools present at the annual meeting. During 1965 and pursuant to this new procedure St. Augustine secured the necessary two-thirds approval from the schools in its district. 2 Its application was submitted to the general membership at the January 1966 annual meeting and voted down 185 to 11. It is admitted that St. Augustine met all requirements for membership except the two-thirds vote of those present at the annual meeting. During 1965 other schools secured the necessary approval in their respective districts under the new procedure. All except St. Augustine were by vote of the assembly admitted to membership at the January 1966 general meeting.

This class action then was filed by St. Augustine and individual Negro children on behalf of other Negro children and schools similarly situated in Louisiana. The district court correctly treated the action as on behalf of all high schools in Louisiana who are or properly may become applicants for membership in LHSAA regardless of what may be the racial composition of their student bodies. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a), (b)(2) and (c)(4); Order Amending Fed.R.Civ.P. (Feb. 28, 1966) 383 U.S. 1031, see, also, 39 F.R.D. 213; see St. Augustine High School v. Louisiana High School Athletic Ass'n, 270 F.Supp. 767, 774 & n.8 (E.D.La.1967). The district court ordered that St. Augustine be immediately admitted to membership. It enjoined LHSAA from refusing membership to any high school, whether attended by only Negro or only white students, or otherwise, which meets all of the express requirements for membership contained in the constitution of the Association, solely on the basis of an arbitrary vote of its membership or on the basis of any failure of the applicant to meet any standard or qualification not specifically and expressly established by the Association and set forth in the constitution, by-laws, or other acceptable document of the Association. Also the court enjoined LHSAA from engaging in any practice, procedure or activity the purpose of which is to discriminate against any high school of the state by reason of the race, creed or color of the students or faculty of such school.

The Association was not prohibited 'from establishing specific proper, reasonable and objective qualifications for membership in addition to those presently

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contained in its Constitution, nor * * * from readjusting its membership pursuant to such additional standards and qualifications as it may from time to time establish, provided that such additional qualifications be reasonable, nondiscriminatory, and do not have as their object the facilitation of unjust discrimination, and provided that before any member be expelled pursuant to any such additional standard,...

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