Castaneda v. Pickard, No. 79-2253

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore THORNBERRY, RANDALL and TATE; RANDALL
Citation648 F.2d 989
Docket NumberNo. 79-2253
Decision Date23 June 1981
PartiesElizabeth and Katherine CASTANEDA, by their father and next friend, Roy C. Castaneda, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Mrs. A. M. "Billy" PICKARD, President, Raymondville Independent School District, Board of Trustees, et al., Defendants-Appellees. . Unit A

Page 989

648 F.2d 989
Elizabeth and Katherine CASTANEDA, by their father and next
friend, Roy C. Castaneda, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Mrs. A. M. "Billy" PICKARD, President, Raymondville
Independent School District, Board of Trustees, et
al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 79-2253.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Unit A
June 23, 1981.

Page 992

James A. Herrmann, Texas Rural Legal Aid, Inc., Harlingen, Tex., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Michael K. Swan, Jeffrey A. Davis, Houston, Tex., for Pickard, et al.

Barbara C. Marquardt, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Texas, Austin, Tex., for Brockette, et al.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before THORNBERRY, RANDALL and TATE, Circuit Judges.

RANDALL, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs, Mexican-American children and their parents who represent a class of others similarly situated, instituted this action against the Raymondville, Texas Independent School District (RISD) alleging that the district engaged in policies and practices of racial discrimination against Mexican-Americans which deprived the plaintiffs and their class of rights secured to them by the fourteenth amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1976), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. (1976), and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq. (1976). Specifically, plaintiffs charged that the school district unlawfully discriminated against them by using an ability grouping system for classroom assignments which was based on racially and ethnically discriminatory criteria and resulted in impermissible classroom segregation, by discriminating against Mexican-Americans in the hiring and promotion of faculty and administrators, and by failing to implement adequate bilingual education to overcome the linguistic barriers that impede the plaintiffs' equal participation in the educational program of the district. 1 The original complaint also named the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) as a defendant and alleged that the department, although charged with responsibility to assure that federal funds are spent in a nondiscriminatory manner and cognizant of the school district's noncompliance with federal law, had failed to take appropriate action to remedy the unlawful practices of the school district or to terminate its receipt of federal funds. By an amended complaint, the plaintiffs also named the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as a defendant and charged that the TEA had failed to fulfill its duty to assure that the class represented by the plaintiffs was not subjected to discriminatory practices through the use of state or federal funds.

The case was tried in June 1978; on August 17, 1978 the district court entered judgment in favor of the defendants based upon its determination that the policies and practices of the RISD, in the areas of hiring and promotion of faculty and administrators, ability grouping of students, and bilingual education did not violate any constitutional or statutory rights of the plaintiff class. From that judgment, the plaintiffs have brought this appeal in which they claim the district court erred in numerous matters of fact and law.

Although upon motion of the plaintiffs, HEW was dismissed as a defendant in this suit before trial, the agency remains an important actor in our current inquiry because this private litigation involves many of the same issues considered in an HEW administrative investigation and fund termination proceeding involving RISD. In April 1973, following a visit from representatives of HEW's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), HEW notified RISD that it failed to comply with the provisions of Title VI and administrative regulations issued by the Department to implement Title VI. HEW requested that RISD submit an affirmative plan for remedying these deficiencies. Apparently,

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RISD and the OCR were unable to negotiate a mutually acceptable plan for compliance and in June 1976, formal administrative enforcement proceedings were instituted in which the OCR sought to terminate federal funding to RISD. RISD requested a hearing on the allegations of noncompliance and in January 1977, a five day hearing was held before an administrative law judge. Thereafter, the judge entered a decision which concluded that RISD was not in violation of Title VI or the administrative regulations and policies issued thereunder. The judge ordered that the suspension of federal funds to the district be lifted. This decision was affirmed in April 1980, by a final decision of the Reviewing Authority of the OCR.

The extensive record of these administrative proceedings, including the transcript of the hearing before the administrative law judge and the judge's decision, was received into the record as evidence in the trial of this case and included in the record on appeal. The defendants have moved to supplement the appellate record by including the decision of the Reviewing Authority. This motion was carried with the appeal. Since the record in this case already includes extensive material from this administrative proceeding, which involved many of the same questions of fact and law as this case, we see no reason why the final administrative determination of those questions should not also be included. The defendants' motion to supplement the appellate record in this cause to include the final decision of the Reviewing Authority of OCR is, therefore, granted.

Before we turn to consider the specific factual and legal issues raised by the plaintiffs in their appeal of the district court's judgment, we think it helpful to outline some of the basic demographic characteristics of the Raymondville school district. Raymondville is located in Willacy County, Texas. Willacy County is in the Rio Grande Valley; by conservative estimate based on census data, 77% of the population of the county is Mexican-American and almost all of the remaining 23% is "Anglo." The student population of RISD is about 85% Mexican-American.

Willacy County ranks 248th out of the 254 Texas counties in average family income. Approximately one-third of the population of Raymondville is composed of migrant farm workers. Three-quarters of the students in the Raymondville schools qualify for the federally funded free school lunch program. The district's assessed property valuation places it among the lowest ten percent of all Texas counties in its per capita student expenditures.

The district operates five schools. Two campuses, L.C. Smith and Pittman, house students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The student body at L.C. Smith is virtually 100% Mexican-American; Pittman, which has almost twice as many students, has approximately 83% Mexican-American students. There is one junior high school, which has 87% Mexican-American students, and one high school, in which the enrollment is 80% Mexican-American.

I. A THRESHOLD OBSTACLE TO APPELLATE REVIEW

In their brief on appeal, the plaintiffs contend first, that the analysis of the memorandum opinion in which the district court concluded that the challenged policies and practices of the RISD did not violate the fourteenth amendment, Title VI or the Equal Educational Opportunities Act is pervasively flawed by the court's failure to make findings concerning the history of discrimination in the RISD in assessing the plaintiffs' challenges to certain current policies and practices. Plaintiffs contend that these issues were properly raised by the pleadings and that there was ample evidence in the record to support findings that RISD had, in the past, segregated and discriminated against Mexican-American students and that, as yet, RISD has failed to establish a unitary system in which all vestiges of this earlier unlawful segregation have been eliminated because the virtually 100% Mexican-American school, L.C. Smith, is a product of this earlier unlawful policy of segregation. Although the plaintiffs in this case did not challenge the current student

Page 994

assignment practices of the RISD (which are no longer based on attendance zones but rather on a freedom of choice plan) or request relief designed to alter the ethnic composition of the student body at L.C. Smith, the evidence of past segregative practices of RISD was relevant to the legal analysis of two of the claims the plaintiffs did make.

The plaintiffs here challenge the RISD's ability grouping system which is used to place students in particular sections or classes within their grade. We have consistently stated that ability grouping is not per se unconstitutional. In considering the propriety of ability grouping in a system having a history of unlawful segregation, however, we have cautioned that if testing or other ability grouping practices have a markedly disparate impact on students of different races and a significant racially segregative effect, such practices cannot be employed until a school system has achieved unitary status and maintained a unitary school system for a sufficient period of time that the handicaps which past segregative practices may have inflicted on minority students and which may adversely affect their performance have been erased. United States v. Gadsden County School District, 572 F.2d 1049 (5th Cir. 1978); Morales v. Shannon, 516 F.2d 411 (5th Cir. 1975); McNeal v. Tate County School District, 508 F.2d 1017 (5th Cir. 1975); Moses v. Washington Parish School Board, 456 F.2d 1285 (5th Cir. 1972); Lemon v. Bossier Parish School Board, 444 F.2d 1400 (5th Cir. 1971); Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, 419 F.2d 1211, 1219 (5th Cir. 1969).

The question whether RISD has a history of unlawful discrimination is also relevant to the analysis of plaintiffs' claim regarding the district's employment practices. In cases involving claims similar to those made here regarding a pattern or practice of discrimination in the employment of...

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89 practice notes
  • E.E.O.C. v. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Nos. 81-1536
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • January 11, 1983
    ...only if adequate supportive subsidiary findings are made. Hicks v. United States, 368 F.2d 626, 631 (4th Cir.1966); Castaneda v. Pickard, 648 F.2d 989, 1001 (5th Cir.1981) (with particular reference to a "discrimination" finding in Title VII actions). Apart from this statement, the District......
  • Harris v. Marsh, No. 81-60-CIV-3
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • December 28, 1987
    ...Medical Center, 660 F.2d 1217 (7th Cir.1981); Ste-Marie v. Eastern Railroad Association, 650 F.2d 395 (2d Cir.1981); Castaneda v. Pickard, 648 F.2d 989, 1002 (5th Cir.1981). Aside from further errors in Parrow's analysis, including a failure to do a thorough job analysis, defendant's statis......
  • Collins v. Thurmond, F075781
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 27, 2019
    ...as preventing behavior "coextensive with that prohibited by the fourteenth amendment ...." ( Castaneda v. Pickard (5th Cir. 1981) 648 F.2d 989, 1000–1001.) California courts regularly consider and resolve equal protection claims brought under the Fourteenth Amendment, including in this case......
  • Collins v. Thurmond, F075781
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 5, 2019
    ...behavior "coextensive with that prohibited by the fourteenth amendment ...." ( 258 Cal.Rptr.3d 855 Castaneda v. Pickard (5th Cir. 1981) 648 F.2d 989, 1000–1001.) California courts regularly consider and resolve equal protection claims brought under the Fourteenth Amendment, including in thi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
89 cases
  • E.E.O.C. v. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Nos. 81-1536
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • January 11, 1983
    ...only if adequate supportive subsidiary findings are made. Hicks v. United States, 368 F.2d 626, 631 (4th Cir.1966); Castaneda v. Pickard, 648 F.2d 989, 1001 (5th Cir.1981) (with particular reference to a "discrimination" finding in Title VII actions). Apart from this statement, the District......
  • Harris v. Marsh, No. 81-60-CIV-3
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • December 28, 1987
    ...Medical Center, 660 F.2d 1217 (7th Cir.1981); Ste-Marie v. Eastern Railroad Association, 650 F.2d 395 (2d Cir.1981); Castaneda v. Pickard, 648 F.2d 989, 1002 (5th Cir.1981). Aside from further errors in Parrow's analysis, including a failure to do a thorough job analysis, defendant's statis......
  • Collins v. Thurmond, F075781
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 27, 2019
    ...as preventing behavior "coextensive with that prohibited by the fourteenth amendment ...." ( Castaneda v. Pickard (5th Cir. 1981) 648 F.2d 989, 1000–1001.) California courts regularly consider and resolve equal protection claims brought under the Fourteenth Amendment, including in this case......
  • Collins v. Thurmond, F075781
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 5, 2019
    ...behavior "coextensive with that prohibited by the fourteenth amendment ...." ( 258 Cal.Rptr.3d 855 Castaneda v. Pickard (5th Cir. 1981) 648 F.2d 989, 1000–1001.) California courts regularly consider and resolve equal protection claims brought under the Fourteenth Amendment, including in thi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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