729 F.Supp. 533 (W.D.Tex. 1990), A-87-CA-483, Price by Price v. Austin Independent School Dist.

Docket NºA-87-CA-483.
Citation729 F.Supp. 533
Party NameSamantha PRICE, by her mother as next of kin, Ruth PRICE; Najda Stegall, by her mother as next of kin, Dorothy Stegall; Brandon and Ryan McMurthy, by their parents as next of kin; Reginald Robert Williams, Jr., by his mother as next of kin, Joanne Williams; George Bertram Powell, by his mother as next of kin, Elaine Powell; Minique Kindred, by her
Case DateJanuary 12, 1990
CourtUnited States District Courts, 5th Circuit, United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas

Page 533

729 F.Supp. 533 (W.D.Tex. 1990)

Samantha PRICE, by her mother as next of kin, Ruth PRICE; Najda Stegall, by her mother as next of kin, Dorothy Stegall; Brandon and Ryan McMurthy, by their parents as next of kin; Reginald Robert Williams, Jr., by his mother as next of kin, Joanne Williams; George Bertram Powell, by his mother as next of kin, Elaine Powell; Minique Kindred, by her mother as next of kin, Avonne Kindred, Oscar Herrera, by his mother as next of kin, Lillian Herrera; Santos Salinas, by his father as next of kin, Daniel Salinas; Jessica Amezquita, through her mother and next friend, Sandra Amezquita, Elias Flores Harrington, through his parents and next friends, Rebecca Flores Harrington and James Harrington; Central Texas Chapter, ACLU, United South Austin, Plaintiffs,

v.

AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT; Dr. John Ellis, Individually and in his official capacity as Superintendent of Austin Independent School District; Nan Clayton, Individually and in her capacity as School Board President of Austin Independent School District; Ed Small, Individually and in his official capacity as School Board Member of Austin Independent School District; Gary McKenzie, Individually and in his official capacity as School Board Member of Austin Independent School District; Bernice Hart, Individually and in her official capacity as School Board Member of Austin Independent School District; John Lay, Individually and in his official capacity as School Board Member of Austin Independent School District; Abel Ruiz in his official capacity as School Board Member of Austin Independent School District; Lidia M. Perez, in her official capacity as School Board Secretary of Austin Independent School District, Defendants.

No. A-87-CA-483.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division.

Jan. 12, 1990

As Amended Jan. 19, 1990.

Page 534

Norma V. Cantu, San Antonio, Tex., for MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educ. Fund).

Julius L. Chambers and Napoleon B. Williams, Jr., New York City, and Lydia Gardner, Co-counsel for NAACP, Austin, Tex., for NAACP (Nat. Ass'n for the Advancement of Colored People).

David Van Os, Van Os, Deats, Rubinett & Owen, Austin, Tex., for ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

Page 535

William H. Bingham, James R. Raup and John Spurgin, McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore, Austin, Tex., for AISD (Austin Independent School Dist., et al.).

AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION

NOWLIN, District Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 7, 1987, Plaintiffs filed this action claiming that in adopting a new student assignment plan and "Educational Excellence Plan" affecting elementary school students (grades pre-K-5), the Austin Independent School District ("AISD") acted with discriminatory intent to create racially and ethnically segregated schools in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974. All parties having the benefit of a period of approximately two (2) years to prepare for trial, this case was tried to the Court during the period from November 6, 1989 through November 9, 1989, at which time the Court heard the testimony of witnesses and argument of counsel for the several parties and received exhibits into the record.

AISD has been the subject of a desegregation suit since 1970. In a veritable litany of cases the Fifth Circuit has found that AISD discriminated against Black and Mexican-American students by intentionally operating a dual school system in violation of federal statutes and the United States Constitution. 1 Subsequent to repeated review by the Circuit, a Memorandum Opinion and Order was entered by this Court on November 5, 1979 calling for the submission of an integrative student assignment plan to the Court by January 15, 1980. The 1970 litigation eventually culminated in settlement, with all parties agreeing to a Consent Decree entered by the Court on January 2, 1980.

The 1980 Consent Decree represented the resolute commitment of all parties to transform AISD into a unitary school system. The decree provided for the implementation of busing, alteration of attendance-zone lines, as well as other integrative actions. Under the decree, the Court would retain jurisdiction over the case for three years. Upon the expiration of the three-year period, subsequent to notice and the opportunity to object, AISD would be declared a unitary school system and the case dismissed. In 1983, Plaintiff-Intervenors filed objections to AISD being declared unitary. Following negotiations, all parties filed an Agreed Motion to Dismiss on June 14, 1983. Subject to a Stipulation filed with the Court, the parties agreed that AISD would be declared unitary and the case dismissed with prejudice. By Order of this Court filed June 14, 1983 AISD was declared to be a unitary school district. Pursuant to the Stipulation, the Court retained jurisdiction to hear motions for further relief for an additional three years or until construction of Kealing Junior High School was completed whichever occurred later. With the junior high school construction complete in September 1986, this Court's jurisdiction in Cause No. A-70-CA-80 expired, as did its power to enforce the Stipulation and the Consent Decree. United States v. Overton, 834 F.2d 1171 (5th Cir.1987).

The present case was born of an attempt by Plaintiffs to reopen United States v. Texas Education Agency, A-70-CA-80 ( Overton ), by filing a motion for further relief and preliminary injunction in that cause on July 2, 1987. 2 Movants (Plaintiffs herein) sought to enjoin the implementation

Page 536

of an elementary school student assignment plan adopted by AISD on April 13, 1987. On July 24, 1987 this Court determined that the relief sought by Plaintiff-Intervenors could not be obtained in A-70-CA-80, ordered the motion dismissed; and, in consideration of the fact that the Fall 1987 school term would soon commence, declared that Plaintiff-Intervenors should promptly file a new complaint and seek injunctive relief in connection with that complaint. 671 F.Supp. 484. Rather than immediately filing a new complaint, Plaintiff-Intervenors appealed this Court's order. The Fifth Circuit refused to issue a preliminary injunction and to consider the appeal on an expedited schedule. As a result, this suit was filed three weeks before AISD students were scheduled to report to school for the 1987-88 school year.

In the Complaint filed August 7, 1987 Plaintiffs launched an across-the-board attack on the new student assignment plan alleging intentional discrimination against Black and Mexican-American elementary school students as evidenced by the increased number of racially identifiable elementary schools, ineffective transfer policies, disparity in the quality of minority school grounds and facilities as compared to those at predominantly white schools, the lack of educational reasons for adopting the neighborhood school boundaries as adopted April 13, 1987, and alleging AISD's commitment to the Priority Schools Program illusory. A hearing on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed in the present case was held August 13, 1987 before the Honorable Walter S. Smith, Jr. in Waco, Texas. The motion was denied by written order filed August 21, 1987. The Fifth Circuit reviewed the Court's Orders of July 24, 1987 under A-70-CA-80 and August 21, 1987 under A-87-CA-483 in United States v. Overton, 834 F.2d 1171 (5th Cir.1987). The Circuit affirmed the orders of this Court in all respects, holding the 1980 Consent Decree no longer enforceable, and the preliminary injunction properly denied.

II. ISSUE

The sole question presented to the Court for resolution in this case can be succinctly stated: Did the Board of Trustees of the Austin Independent School District in adopting and implementing an elementary school student assignment plan on April 13, 1987 intend to discriminate against elementary school students because of their race or ethnicity? In resolving this question the Court has reviewed all of the evidence presented to it, both direct and circumstantial, and recognized both the segregative history of the District prior to 1980 and its unitary status by virtue of the Consent Decree of 1983.

III. FINDINGS OF FACT

Defendant AISD at present operates sixty-four (64) public elementary grade level schools in Austin, Texas, with a total elementary school population of 35,545 students. Of this total, 18.9% are Black, 35.9% are Hispanic, and 45.1%are Anglo. Among the sixty-four (64) elementary schools, twenty (20) schools have an enrollment of which 80% or more of the total number of students are racial or ethnic minorities. Prior to the implementation of the April 13, 1987 student assignment plan by the District, six (6) elementary schools of a total of sixty-five (65) such schools then existing had an enrollment of students of which 80% or more of the total number of students were racial or ethnic minorities. Although implementation of a neighborhood school concept as part of the new student assignment plan significantly contributed to this increase in the number of predominantly minority elementary schools, increases and shifts in District population since Court ordered desegregation through student transportation (1980) have also played a major part in the racial and ethnic make-up of these schools.

The AISD Board of Trustees is composed of seven (7) members elected at large from within the school district. AISD encompasses the City of Austin metropolitan area as well as surrounding residential areas in Travis County, Texas, and is a public school district organized and operating under the laws of the State of Texas.

Page 537

On April 13, 1987, the AISD Board of Trustees adopted a student assignment plan which eliminated most busing of elementary school students and established neighborhood schools. AISD began...

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