997 F.2d 1394 (11th Cir. 1993), 92-6033, Elston v. Talladega County Bd. of Educ.

Docket Nº:92-6033.
Citation:997 F.2d 1394
Party Name:Quintin ELSTON, a/k/a Augustus Elston, a/k/a Cardella Elston; Rhonda Elston, a/k/a Augustus Elston, a/k/a Cardella Elston; Tiffanie Elston, a/k/a Augustus Elston, a/k/a Cardella Elston; Loretta Beavers, a/k/a Dorothy Beavers; Lecorey Beavers, a/k/a Ronnie Beavers; Delicia Beavers, a/k/a Dorothy Beavers; Kierston Ball, a/k/a Gwynethe Ball; Darius Ba
Case Date:August 13, 1993
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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997 F.2d 1394 (11th Cir. 1993)

Quintin ELSTON, a/k/a Augustus Elston, a/k/a Cardella

Elston; Rhonda Elston, a/k/a Augustus Elston, a/k/a

Cardella Elston; Tiffanie Elston, a/k/a Augustus Elston,

a/k/a Cardella Elston; Loretta Beavers, a/k/a Dorothy

Beavers; Lecorey Beavers, a/k/a Ronnie Beavers; Delicia

Beavers, a/k/a Dorothy Beavers; Kierston Ball, a/k/a

Gwynethe Ball; Darius Ball, a/k/a Gwynethe Ball; Roslyn

Cochran, a/k/a Johnnie Cochran; Jerrk Evans, a/k/a Kate

Evans; Damien Garrett, a/k/a Althea Garrett; Vernon

Garrett, a/k/a Estella Garrett; Kereyell Glover, a/k/a

Delilah Glover; Stephanie Y. Hill, a/k/a Connally Hill;

Ernest Jackson, a/k/a Rollen Jackson, a/k/a Helen Jackson;

Rayven Jackson, a/k/a Rollen Jackson, a/k/a Helen Jackson;

Carla Jones, a/k/a Willie Jones, a/k/a Bertha Jones;

Danielle Jones, a/k/a Donald Jones; Paul Jones, a/k/a

Willie Jones, a/k/a Bertha Jones; Datrea Morris, a/k/a

Robert Morris; Jeffery Morris, a/k/a Lela Morris; Quintin

Morris, a/k/a Robert Morris; Quinedell Mosley, a/k/a

Quinell Mosley; Quinton Morris, Willie Morris, Tonya

Shepard, a/k/a Mary Alice Jemison; Donyae Swain, a/k/a

Gwendolyn Swain; Kedrick Swain, a/k/a Gwendolyn Swain;

Terry Swain, a/k/a Gwendolyn Swain; Tiffani Swain, a/k/a

Gwendolyn Swain; Cora Tuck, a/k/a Louise Tuck; Jacques

Turner, a/k/a William Tuck, Jr., a/k/a Veronica Tuck;

Wendell Ware, a/k/a John W. Ware; Montina Williams, a/k/a

Angie Williams; Richard Williams, a/k/a Angie Williams,

Plaintiffs-Appellants,

Torrance Beck, a/k/a Albert Beck, Jr., Plaintiff,

v.

TALLADEGA COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION; Lance Grissett; Dan

Limbaugh; Watson; Gay Langley; Joseph Pomeroy;

Larry Morris; Beulah Garrett;

Talladega City Board of

Education,

Defendants-

Appellees.

No. 92-6033.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

August 13, 1993

As Amended Aug. 31, 1993.

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Cleophus Thomas, Jr., Anniston, AL, Janell M. Byrd, Washington, DC, Julius L. Chambers, Norman J. Chachkin, New York City, for plaintiffs-appellants.

George C. Douglas, Jr., Gaines, Gaines & Gaines, Talladega, AL, O. Stanley Thornton, Wooten, Thornton, Carpenter, O'Brien & Lazenby, Talladega, AL, for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Before KRAVITCH and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges, and HILL, Senior Circuit Judge.

ANDERSON, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs-appellants, who represent a class of black children and their parents residing in Talladega County, Alabama, brought this suit against the Talladega County Board of Education, its individual members, and the Talladega County School Superintendent (collectively referred to as "the Board"). 1 Plaintiffs challenge several actions the Board took in the course of its recent efforts to restructure its school system. They claim that in taking these actions, the Board violated the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the United States Department of Education regulations promulgated pursuant to Title VI, the First Amendment, and Alabama Code § 36-12-40 ("the Alabama Open Records Act"), and committed breach of contract. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' First Amendment, breach of contract, and Alabama Code § 36-12-40 claims; refused to require defendants-appellees to provide discovery regarding any matter prior to the 1985-86 school year; denied plaintiffs' request to supplement the record on remand after a previous appeal; and, after a trial on the claims, decided that plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate any Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause, Title VI, or Title VI regulations violation. Plaintiffs appeal, arguing that the district court's decisions were erroneous. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand the case to the district court.

I. FACTS

The Talladega County Board of Education has had a long history of involvement in

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school desegregation litigation. In 1963, black parents residing in Alabama filed Lee v. Macon County Board of Education on behalf of black school children, in an effort to desegregate Alabama's public schools. In 1967, a three-judge district court held that an unconstitutional, segregated school system was being maintained throughout the state. The court ordered state-wide desegregation and directed each school system within the state to adopt a desegregation plan consistent with standards laid out in the court's order. 2 Talladega County submitted a school desegregation plan to the district court and the plan was approved, as supplemented and modified, on February 3, 1970. 3

For over a decade, the Talladega County public schools operated under federal court supervision. On November 7, 1983, however, the Talladega County Board of Education filed a motion requesting that the district court relinquish jurisdiction over the Talladega County schools. See Lee v. Talladega County Board of Education, 963 F.2d 1426, 1428 (11th Cir.1992), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 113 S.Ct. 1257, 122 L.Ed.2d 655 (1993). The Board later amended its motion by filing a resolution, adopted on November 22, 1983, stating that the Board would operate the school system "at all times so as to conform with the United States Constitution, laws passed by Congress, and all previous orders of" the district court. See id.; Plaintiffs' Trial Exhibit 49. On March 13, 1985, federal court supervision of the Talladega County schools came to a close when the district court, pursuant to a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal, 4 declared the Talladega County school system unitary and dismissed the Lee v. Macon County case as applied to Talladega County ("the County").

All the actions plaintiffs challenge in this case were taken after the district court declared the Talladega County school system unitary. The actions challenged principally involved four Talladega County Schools: the Talladega County Training High School ("the Training School"), 5 the Jonesview Elementary School, the Idalia Elementary School, and the Hannah Mallory Elementary School. To evaluate the challenged actions, it is important to understand the history of each school; therefore, we provide short descriptions of the schools' racial and grade compositions.

The Training School is an historically black school which continued to have a virtually all-black student population up to the time of trial. At the time of trial, the Training School served grades K-12. Jonesview was an historically white grades K-6 school; the proportion of black students at the school increased during the 1980's and in the 1988-89 school year the school was 65% black. Idalia was historically a white grades K-6 school located in a white community. In 1986 the Idalia facility burned down; Idalia's K-4 students thereafter attended school in portable classrooms at the Idalia site, while its grade 5 and grade 6 students were transferred to another middle school. During the 1988-89 school year, Idalia's K-4 student population was 46% black. Hannah Mallory was an historically black grades K-6 school until 1985, when it was closed; its student population was 100% black during that year.

On July 22, 1985--shortly after the district court relinquished jurisdiction over the Talladega County schools--the Board adopted a resolution to close the Hannah Mallory Elementary School. Talladega County School Superintendent Lance Grissett thereafter subdivided the Hannah Mallory attendance zone into three parts. One section was assigned to the Jonesview school zone, another section was assigned to the Childersburg school zone, and the third section was assigned to the Training School zone. The

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majority of Hannah Mallory students were assigned to the Training School, and portable classrooms were needed at the Training School to accommodate the incoming students. The portion of the old Hannah Mallory attendance zone that became a new Training School K-6 zone was not contiguous with the rest of the Training School's K-6 zone, although it was contiguous with an existing Training School 7-12 zone.

Two years after the closing of Hannah Mallory, in June 1987, the Board approved the purchase of a site immediately adjacent to the Idalia school for the construction of a new, 500-pupil consolidated elementary school, to be named the Stemley Bridge Road School. 6 According to the Board's plan, grades K-6 at the Training School would be discontinued and the Jonesview school would be closed. Then, areas previously assigned for grades K-6 to the Training School, Jonesview, and Idalia, would be assigned to the new consolidated school. While the Board decided to close grades K-6 at the Training School, it did not plan to close the other Training School grades. Rather, it intended to renovate the Training School for continued use as a grades 7-12 facility. By the time of trial, the Board had stated that it would spend $500,000 on the Training School renovations. Students residing in the former Jonesview K-6 and Training School K-6 zones were to attend the renovated Training School for grades 7-12. As of the time of trial, the Board had not finally decided where it would assign Stemley Bridge Road School graduates who resided in the former Idalia zone. It had decided, however, that many of them would not attend the Training School for junior high and high school, but instead would attend Drew Middle School for grades 7-8 and Lincoln High School for grades...

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