839 F.2d 1296 (8th Cir. 1988), 87-1837, Little Rock School Dist. v. Pulaski County Special School Dist. No. 1
|Docket Nº:||87-1837, 87-1921, 87-2071, 87-2150, 87-2180, and 87-2371.|
|Citation:||839 F.2d 1296|
|Party Name:||LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT, Appellee, Lorene Joshua, as next friend of minors Leslie Joshua, Stacy Joshua and Wayne Joshua; Rev. Robert Willingham, as next friend of minor Tonya Willingham; Sara Matthews as next friend of Khayyam Davis, Alexa Armstrong and Karlos Armstrong; Mrs. Alvin Hudson as next friend of Tatia Hudson; Mrs. Hilton Taylor as ne|
|Case Date:||February 09, 1988|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit|
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Submitted Nov. 3, 1987.
Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied March 24, 1988.
Norman Chachkin, New York City, and John Walker, Little Rock, Ark., for appellant Joshua.
Phil Kaplan, Little Rock, Ark., for appellant Little Rock.
Richard Roachell, Little Rock, Ark., for appellant Knight.
Phil Neal, Chicago, Ill., for appellee PCSSD.
Randy McNair for appellee State of Arkansas.
Sam Perroni, Little Rock, Ark., for appellee Rayburn.
Phillip Lyon and Stephen Jones, Little Rock, Ark., for appellee North Little Rock.
Bob Cabe, Little Rock, Ark., for McKinney Intervenors.
Before HEANEY, ARNOLD, and WOLLMAN, Circuit Judges.
HEANEY [*], Circuit Judge.
We are asked in this appeal to review several decisions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas bearing on the desegregation of the three school districts in Pulaski County. After a careful review of the record, we reaffirm our order of November 5, 1987. We further hold: (1) that the March 1987 student assignment plan of the Pulaski County Special School District does not meet constitutional standards and that a new plan must be submitted by that district; (2) that compensatory education plans fully funded by the State of Arkansas must be promptly instituted in those Little Rock elementary schools that had a black student population equalling or exceeding 81% as of September 13, 1987; (3) that the District Court did not err in finding Little Rock School District in contempt for failing to comply fully with its orders relating to magnet schools and that the Joshua Intervenors will be given representation on the Magnet Review Committee;
(4) that the District Court may set aside a negotiated teacher assignment plan only if the plan interferes with the overall plan to desegregate the schools of Pulaski County; (5) that the District Court's decision with respect to the relative seniority of former teachers of Pulaski County Special School District and Little Rock School District is vacated, and the parties are directed to proceed with arbitration unless the parties are able to resolve the dispute through negotiation; and (6) that in all other respects the decision of the District Court is affirmed.
Progress is being made towards establishing three independent but cooperating integrated school districts in Pulaski County. However, much remains to be done if all the children of that county, black and white, are at long last to receive the equal education entitled them. The lawyers, school board members, administrators, teachers, and parents can devote themselves to no nobler task than the quick and resolute removal of the last vestiges of segregation.
I. THE DECEMBER 12 SPECIAL ELECTION IN LRSD
Little Rock School District (LRSD) appeals the District Court's order mandating a special school-board election for residents in two of its seven geographical zones on December 8, 1987. 1 The form and timing of elections to the LRSD Board of Directors came before the District Court after this Court ordered that a significant amount of land within the City of Little Rock, formerly part of Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD), be assigned to LRSD. Little Rock School Dist. v. Pulaski County Special School Dist. No. 1, 778 F.2d 404, 435 (8th Cir.1985) (en banc), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1186, 106 S.Ct. 2926, 91 L.Ed.2d 554 (1986). Under Arkansas law, Ark.Code Ann. Sec. 6-13-607 (1987), school districts which have an average daily attendance in excess of 24,000 must be divided into geographic zones for the purpose of electing school-board members. Before the adjustment of the boundaries between PCSSD and LRSD in 1985, LRSD's seven school-board members were elected at large; afterward, LRSD's enrollment increased beyond 24,000 as a result of its annexation of territory from PCSSD. Consequently, LRSD was obligated under state law to change its form of governance to representation by zones, and it submitted a proposal for doing this for approval by the District Court as part of its general desegregation plan in December, 1986.
The District Court issued an order on December 18, 1986, approving LRSD's election plan, which divides the District into seven contiguous zones of roughly equal population. No party has challenged the substance of LRSD's court-approved plan, nor does any party question the District Court's authority to review its terms. We therefore proceed on this appeal on the assumption that the District Court's 1986 approval of LRSD's plan was proper.
LRSD's present appeal concerns a one-time problem in managing the transition from at-large to zoned representation. The District Court approved LRSD's proposal to allow previously elected at-large incumbents to serve out their terms. Since the terms of LRSD board members are staggered, this provision created the temporary anomaly that seats previously held by at-large board members would become available to be filled by zone representatives only on a piecemeal basis. In other words, some zones would be able to place resident representatives on the Board before others. This comparative disenfranchisement of some LRSD zones appeared all the more acute in light of the fact that four of the seven zones lacked residents who served as incumbents at large.
To correct this apparent inequity, the District Court approved LRSD's proposal that the two seats which would become vacant in March, 1987, be filled by representatives
elected from two "enhanced election zones," composed of pairings of the four zones which lacked resident incumbents. In March, 1987, LRSD Zones 1 and 6 jointly elected a resident of Zone 1; Zones 5 and 7 jointly elected a resident of Zone 5. Under LRSD's court-approved proposal, the next two vacancies on the board, open in March, 1988, would be filled by representatives elected, respectively, from Zones 6 and 7, the two zones without resident board members. At this point, each of the seven zones would have a resident serving on the board, and the transition to LRSD's zoned representation plan could proceed without further complications.
Thus far, LRSD's baroque scheme for the transition between representation plans was uncontroversial. Two subsequent events disrupted this equilibrium. After the District Court's December 18, 1986, order approving LRSD's proposal for March 1988 elections for zones without resident incumbents, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 969 of 1987, which changed the date of annual school elections in Arkansas from March to September. At about the same time, the LRSD superintendent resigned, and the LRSD board's selection process for a new superintendent began in July, 1987. Four LRSD patrons who reside in Zones 6 and 7 moved to intervene, concerned that the Legislature's six-month postponement of their zones' school-board elections would deny the voters in their zones representation in the Board's "crucial" selection of a new superintendent.
The District Court issued an order on October 1, 1987, requiring the postponed elections for Zones 6 and 7 to be moved to December 8, 1987. 2 The Court did not end the terms of any incumbents, but instead provided that the LRSD Board would temporarily become a nine-member body between the December 1987 elections and the expiration of the terms of two incumbents in March, 1988. LRSD now appeals the District Court's order, claiming that the District Court abused its discretion by altering the state-imposed election date without evidence of an independent constitutional violation.
We affirm the District...
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