430 F.2d 883 (5th Cir. 1970), 29332, Davis v. Board of School Com'rs of Mobile County

Docket Nº:29332
Citation:430 F.2d 883
Party Name:Birdie Mae DAVIS et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants-Cross Appellees, and United States of America, Etc., Plaintiff-Intervenor-Appellants-Cross Appellees, v. BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS OF MOBILE COUNTY et al., Defendants-Appellees-Cross Appellants, and Twila Frazier et al., Intervenors-Appellees.
Case Date:June 08, 1970
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 883

430 F.2d 883 (5th Cir. 1970)

Birdie Mae DAVIS et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants-Cross Appellees, and United States of America, Etc., Plaintiff-Intervenor-Appellants-Cross Appellees,

v.

BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS OF MOBILE COUNTY et al., Defendants-Appellees-Cross Appellants, and Twila Frazier et al., Intervenors-Appellees.

No. 29332

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

June 8, 1970

Page 884

Vernon Z. Crawford, Mobile, Ala., Jack Greenberg, New York City, for Birdie Mae Davis.

Jerris Leonard, Asst. Atty. Gen., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., C.S. White-Spunner, Jr., U.S. Atty., Mobile, Ala., for the United States.

Abram L. Philips, Jr., George F. Wood, Samuel L. Stockman, Mobile, Ala., for appellees.

Before BELL, AINSWORTH, and GODBOLD, Circuit Judges.

BELL, Circuit Judge:

We consider again the effort to convert the Mobile County School System from dual to unitary status. This is the ninth appeal of the matter to this

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court. 1 The system is now operating on a student assignment system fashioned by the district court after considering a school board plan of assignment, three separate HEW plans, and one plan submitted by the Department of Justice.

In Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, supra, fn. (1), we approved the student assignment plan of the Mobile County system then in effect for all schools located west of Interstate Highway 65. This appeal basically complains only of the student assignments in the schools located east of I-65. However, in an effort finally to adjudicate the status of this system from the standpoint of all of the essentials required to convert a dual school system into a unitary school system, we have obtained supplemental findings of fact from the district court. See Ellis v. Board of Public Instruction of Orange County, Florida, 5 Cir., 1970, 423 F.2d 203; Mannings v. Board of Public Instruction of Hillsborough County, Florida, 5 Cir., 427 F.2d 874 (1970), as examples of the same approach.

In Ellis v. Orange County and in Mannings v. Hillsborough County, we adverted to the school desegregation requirements set out in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, 1969, 396 U.S. 19, 90 S.Ct. 29, 24 L.Ed.2d 19; Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 1968, 391 U.S. 430, 88 S.Ct. 1689, 20 L.Ed.2d 716, and the decision of this court in Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, supra. In Ellis v. Orange County, we said:

'* * * In Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, * * * the mechanics of what must be done to bring about a unitary system were outlined. They were stated in terms of eliminating the racial identification of the schools in a dual system in six particulars: composition of student bodies, faculty, staff, transportation, extracurricular activities, and facilities * * *. It was such dual systems, organized and operated by the states acting through local school boards and school officials, which were held unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, 1954, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873 (Brown I), and which were ordered abolished in Brown v. Board of Education, 1955, 349 U.S. 294, 75 S.Ct. 753, 99 L.Ed. 1083 (Brown II).

'In Green the court spoke in terms of the whole system-- of converting to a unitary, nonracial school system from a dual system. Then, in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, * * * the court pointed to the end to be achieved. The result, if a constitutionally acceptable system may be said to exist, must be that the school system no longer operates as a dual system based on race or color but as a 'unitary school * * * (system) within which no person is to be effectively excluded from any school because of race or color.' * * *' 423 F.2d at p. 204.

We thus proceed to a determination of the status of the Mobile system with respect to each of the six essential elements which go to disestablisha

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dual school system. 2 We find the system deficient in student assignment in certain schools and also in faculty and staff assignment.

The Mobile system covers the whole of Mobile County including the City of Mobile. The county is quite large in area, embracing 1,222 square miles. There are a total of 96 schools in the system in 91 buildings, and the 96 schools consist of senior high, junior high, and elementary schools plus one special school. Some of the buildings house separate elementary or junior high or high schools; others house combinations of these. There were 73,504 students in the system as of September 26, 1969. This total breaks down into 42,620 or 58 per cent white students, 30,884 or 42 per cent Negro students. Under the present plan 18,623 or 60 per cent of the Negro students in the system are assigned to schools having all or virtually all Negro student bodies. These Negro students are housed in 12 elementary, 3 junior high schools, 1 combination junior-senior high, and 3 senior high schools.

FACULTY AND STAFF

The faculty and staff desegregation standard enunciated in Singleton v. Jackson, supra, requires assignment on a basis whereunder the ratio of Negro to white teachers and staff members in each school is substantially the same as each such ratio is to teachers and staff in the entire school system. The faculty ratio for the system is approximately 60 per cent white and 40 per cent Negro. As of April 7, 1970, there were 1,642 white faculty members and 1,098 Negro members or a total of 2,740. We have no information on staff ratios.

The Mobile County school system has almost totally failed to comply with the faculty ratio requirement although ordered to do so by the district court on August 1, 1969. Only a few schools approach the 60-40 faculty ratio. The district court is directed to require strict compliance with the Singleton v. Jackson rule for faculty and staff on or before July 1, 1970.

TRANSPORTATION, FACILITIES AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

In the 1967-68 school term, 207 school buses transported 22,094 students daily. The facts disclose that school buses are used in all rural areas of the county and in the outlying areas of metropolitan Mobile and that they are operated on a non-segregated, non-discriminatory basis. The facts also demonstrate that all extra-curricular activities and facilities are operated on the same basis. Indeed, there is no complaint regarding transportation, facilities and extracurricular activities. The district court is directed to enter an order requiring the continued desegregation of facilities and extracurricular activities and to include the requirements of Singleton v. Jackson, supra, as to transportation, school construction and school site selection as a part of the order.

STUDENT ASSIGNMENT

We have examined each of the plans presented to the district court in an effort to determine which would go further toward eliminating all Negro or virtually all Negro student body schools while at the same time maintaining the neighborhood school concept of the school system. Unlike Orange County (Ellis v. Orange County, supra), Mobile does not purport to use the strict neighborhood assignment system. It employs zones based on discretionary zone lines. In that sense it is like the Hillsborough County system (Mannings v. Hillsborough

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County, supra), and the situation, as in Hillsborough, can be greatly improved by pairing some schools located in close proximity to each other. See the description of neighborhood pairing used in Mannings v. Hillsborough County. The situation can also be improved by recasting the grade structure in some of the buildings but, at the same time, maintaining the neighborhood school concept.

The plan submitted by the Department of Justice on January 27, 1970, contemplates both pairing and the recasting of grades. It produces a result of 9 all or virtually all Negro student body elementary schools instead of 12 as at present, and 1 senior high school of the same type instead of 7 junior and senior high schools as at present. Instead of 60 per cent of the Negro students being assigned to such schools, the result under the...

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