Bradley v. School Board of City of Richmond, Virginia

Decision Date10 January 1972
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 3353.
Citation338 F. Supp. 67
PartiesCarolyn BRADLEY et al. v. The SCHOOL BOARD OF the CITY OF RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, et al.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia



Louis R. Lucas, Memphis, Tenn., James R. Olphin, M. Ralph Page, Richmond, Va., William L. Taylor, Washington, D. C., Jack Greenberg, James M. Nabrit, III, Norman J. Chachkin, New York City, for plaintiffs.

J. Segar Gravatt, Blackstone, Va., Chesterfield Co. School Bd., Robert D. McIlwaine, III, Petersburg, Va., Henrico Co. School Board & Bd. of Supervisors, J. Mercer White, Jr., County Attorney, Richmond, Va., Henrico Co. School Bd. & Bd. of Supervisors, Daniel T. Balfour, Asst. City Atty., Richmond, Va., Richmond City, Frederick T. Gray, Richmond, Va., Chesterfield Bd. of Supervisors, George B. Little, Richmond, Va., Richmond School Bd., William G. Broaddus, Asst. Atty. Gen., Andrew P. Miller, Atty. Gen., Richmond, Va., The State Board of Education and The Supt. of Public Instruction, L. Paul Byrne, Richmond, Va., Henrico Co. Bd. of Supervisors, for defendants.


MERHIGE, District Judge.

The hearing on the issues currently before the Court in this school desegregation case, which has been before the Court in one posture or another for many years, encompassed weeks of trial, involving eight separate groups of parties, each represented by a team of lawyers, and included the introduction of more than three hundred and twenty-five exhibits.

The primary defendants in the instant issue are members of the Virginia State Board of Education; the State Superintendent of Public Instruction; and the members of the respective school boards and boards of supervisors of Henrico and Chesterfield Counties, both of which adjoin the City of Richmond, Virginia; and the School Board and City Council of the City of Richmond.

The task of complying with the requirements of F.R.Civ.P. 52 in setting out the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law requires that this memorandum be divided generally into a brief history of the litigation, general findings of fact and conclusions of law, and a section containing precise and specific findings as illustrative instances of the more general findings.

The Court has jurisdiction over all necessary parties in this appropriate class action, 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) and (4); 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Rule 23(a) and (b) (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Excerpts from this Court's opinion in Bradley v. School Board of City of Richmond, D.C., 317 F.Supp. 555 (1970), establish the present stage of this litigation. At the time, the schools of the City of Richmond were being operated under a freedom of choice plan, and the plan was approved primarily to insure the opening of schools on the then planned date in September 1970.

History of Litigation:

Excerpts from Bradley, supra

"On March 10, 1970, the plaintiffs filed a motion for further relief, based upon the mandates of our appellate courts requiring school boards to put into effect school plans which would promptly and realistically convert public school systems into ones which were unitary, nonracial systems, removing all vestiges of racial segregation.

On March 12, 1970, the Court ordered the defendants to `* * * within ten days from this date, advise the Court if it is their position that the public schools of the City of Richmond, Virginia, are being operated in accordance with the constitutional requirements to operate unitary schools as enunciated by the United States Supreme Court.'

On March 19, 1970, defendants filed a statement to the effect that `they had been advised that the public schools of the City of Richmond are not being operated as unitary schools in accordance with the most recent enunciations of the Supreme Court of the United States,' and further that they had `requested the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to make a study and recommendation as to a plan which would ensure the operation of a unitary school system in compliance with decisions of the United States Supreme Court,' said plan to be ready by May 1, 1970.

A pre-trial conference was held in open court on March 31, 1970, at which time the Court having some doubt as to the effect or intent of the defendants' statement of March 19, 1970, `that they had been advised that the public schools of the City of Richmond are not being operated as unitary schools in accordance with the most recent enunciations of the Supreme Court of the United States,' inquired as to whether defendants were desirous of an evidentiary hearing as to the plan they were then operating under, i. e. freedom of choice.

The defendant school board, by counsel, advised the Court that such a hearing would not be necessary and admitted that their freedom of choice plan, although operating in accord with this Court's order of March 30, 1966, was operating in a manner contrary to constitutional requirements.

As a consequence thereof, the Court on April 1, 1970, entered a formal order vacating its previous order of March 30, 1966, and mandatorily enjoining the defendants to disestablish the existing dual system of schools and to replace same with a unitary system, the components of which are not identifiable as either `white' or `Negro' schools.

The defendant school board was directed to file its proposed plan by May 11, 1970. Plaintiffs were to file exceptions by June 8, 1970, and hearings were set for June 19, 1970.

The Court heard and considered motions to intervene and permitted all who so moved to intervene, pursuant to Fed. Rules Civ.Proc. Rule 24(b), 28 U.S.C.

Exceptions to the H.E.W. plan were filed by the plaintiffs and those intervenors described as Northside residents.

The hearing on all proposed plans and exceptions thereto was commenced on June 19, 1970, and concluded on June 26, 1970, at which time the Court, recognizing the necessity for expeditious rulings and intending to file these more detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law, advised the defendant school board that its proposed H.E.W. plan was not acceptable — a conclusion which the Court felt then and still feels should have been patently obvious in view of the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 431 F.2d 138 (4th Cir. 1970), which had been rendered on May 26, 1970.


As of May 1, 1970, the Richmond public school system enrolled approximately 52,000 students. The racial composition of the school student population was roughly 60% Black and 40% White. The board operated 61 school facilities.

High Schools

Of the seven high schools, three were 100% Black; one was 99.26% White; one was 92% White; one 81% White and one 68% Black, the latter being John Marshall located on the Northside of the City.

Middle Schools

Of the middle schools, three were over 99.91% Black (99.92%, 100%, 100%); one was 88% Black; one 73% Black; three were over 91% White (91%, 97%, 98%), and one was 69% Black.

Elementary Schools

Seventeen elementary schools were 100% Black; four others were in excess of 99.29% Black; one was 78% Black; one was 37% Black; and another was 30% Black.

Two schools were 100% White; thirteen others were 90% or better White; two others were 86% or better White; five others were between 53% and 70% White.

As to the twelve schools with special programs, two were 100% Black; one was 92% Black; one was 83% Black; two others 60% or better Black; four schools had White students ranging from 78% to 100%; two others were 53% or better White.

Faculty and Staff

Out of a total faculty and staff of 2,501, excluding special program schools,

4 had 100% White faculty and staff 13 had 100% Black faculty and staff 16 others had 90% or better White faculty and staff 12 others had 90% or better Black faculty and staff 8 others had 80% or better White faculty and staff 4 others had 80% or better Black faculty and staff. Faculty and Staff by Area East End side of City 92.2% Black — 7.8% White Southside area 30% Black — 70% White Annexed Area 2.5% Black — 97.5% White West End — Northside 50.6% Black — 49.4% White

There is little doubt that under freedom of choice Richmond public schools had not achieved a unitary system as required by law — see Green v. County School Board of New Kent, supra 391 U.S. 430, 88 S.Ct. 1689, 20 L.Ed.2d 716. In 1965 the defendant school board was directed to desegregate the faculties and staffs of the public schools, Bradley v. School Board of City of Richmond, 382 U.S. 103, 86 S.Ct. 224, 15 L.Ed.2d 187 (1965); yet out of a total of 658 faculty and staff members in the East End area schools, 607 were Black and 51 White; in the Southside area schools, 108 were Black and 252 were White; in the West End-Northside area schools, 459 were Black and 448 were White (even there the assignment of faculty and staff was such as to create in the separate schools disparities ranging from 57.1% White and 42.9% Black in one school to other schools in which there were either 100% Black or 100% White).

That the respective Richmond public schools with rare exception, were as to student population and staff readily identifiable as either Black or White schools is too obvious to warrant any further discussion. The defendant school board's admission in this regard was well warranted, and the Court so finds.

De Jure Segregation

The City of Richmond's present pattern of residential housing contains well defined Black and White areas, which undoubtedly is a reflection of past racial discrimination contributed in part by local, state and federal government.

The City of Richmond has itself described the residential pattern of development as being one in which there has been `a total isolation and segregation of the Negro.'

Schools have been built on land in...

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