Cavalier ex rel. Cavalier v. Caddo Parish School, No. 03-30395.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtGarwood
Citation403 F.3d 246
PartiesKevin Paul CAVALIER, on behalf of Hunter Paul CAVALIER; Julie Ann Cavalier, on behalf of Hunter Paul Cavalier, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CADDO PARISH SCHOOL BOARD; Phillip R. Guin; Willie D. Burton; Ginger Armstrong; Eursla D. Hardy; Alvin Mims; Mark Milam; Michael J. Thibodeaux; Wanda J. Wright; Jerry Tim Brooks; Miles Hitchcock; Mildred B. Pugh; and Mike Powell, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date01 March 2005
Docket NumberNo. 03-30395.

Page 246

403 F.3d 246
Kevin Paul CAVALIER, on behalf of Hunter Paul CAVALIER; Julie Ann Cavalier, on behalf of Hunter Paul Cavalier, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
CADDO PARISH SCHOOL BOARD; Phillip R. Guin; Willie D. Burton; Ginger Armstrong; Eursla D. Hardy; Alvin Mims; Mark Milam; Michael J. Thibodeaux; Wanda J. Wright; Jerry Tim Brooks; Miles Hitchcock; Mildred B. Pugh; and Mike Powell, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 03-30395.
United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.
March 1, 2005.
As Amended on Denial of Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc March 29, 2005.*

Page 247

Kevin Paul Cavalier, Shreveport, LA, pro se.

Julie Ann Cavalier (argued), Shreveport, LA, pro se.

Julie Mobley Lafargue (argued), Abrams & Lafargue, Shreveport, LA, for Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

Before GARWOOD, WIENER and DeMOSS, Circuit Judges.

GARWOOD, Circuit Judge:


Plaintiffs-appellants Kevin Paul Cavalier and Julie Ann Cavalier (the Cavaliers), on behalf of their minor son, Hunter Cavalier, appeal the summary judgment dismissal of their lawsuit against defendant-appellee Caddo Parish School Board (School Board) complaining that the School Board illegally discriminated against Hunter Cavalier on the basis of his race when he was denied admission to Caddo Middle Magnet School.1 We reverse and remand.

Facts and Proceedings Below

In 2002, Hunter Cavalier (Hunter), who is white, applied for admission to the sixth grade at Caddo Middle Magnet School (CMMS), an academic and performing arts magnet school covering grades six, seven and eight, for the 2002-2003 school year. His application was denied because his achievement test score was not high enough for a white student applicant, although it was high enough for a black student applicant. The Cavaliers claim that but for a race-conscious admission policy, Hunter would have been admitted to CMMS. The School Board has not denied this.

The School Board has admitted that its admission policy for CMMS does employ racial classifications in order to meet a

Page 248

particular racial balance at CMMS. The procedure for admission to CMMS is contained in School Board Policy JECC. To qualify for admission to CMMS, an applicant must: 1) have high motivation toward excellence, as evidenced by consistent achievement and acceptable behavior; 2) be performing on grade level or better; 3) have a grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or better in reading and math and 2.5 or better overall; and 4) have 95% or better attendance. In addition, the student must take a standardized achievement test, the California Achievement Test (CAT), for ranking purposes.2

After the initial qualifications are taken into account, the number of qualified applicants usually far exceeds the number of available openings. To determine which students will be offered admission, CMMS gives priority to qualified siblings of students who also attend CMMS and to black students who would otherwise attend a school with over 90% black student enrollment. CMMS then ranks the remaining qualified applicants based on their CAT test score. Regarding these latter rankings, the policy states that CMMS "will maintain a list of rankings for black students and a list of rankings for white students." The vacancies are then filled so that CMMS will have a racial mix of 50% white and 50% black, plus or minus 15 percentage points.3 CMMS accepts qualified applicants of any race subject to the number of openings available by race, according to the required racial mix, and no applicant of any race who does not meet the initial admission requirements is accepted.

Hunter met the initial admission requirements for entrance into CMMS for the 2002-2003 school year. However, based on his CAT test score, and due to the number of slots available for white students, he was not admitted.

For the 2002-2003 school year at CMMS, the lowest CAT test score for a nonsibling white applicant given admission to the sixth grade was 142; the lowest CAT test score for a nonsibling black applicant given admission was 117. Hunter's CAT test score was 140. There were seven nonsibling white applicants not selected for admission who had scores of 141 and six, including Hunter, who had scores of 140. Sixty-seven black students who scored less than Hunter (140) on their CAT test were admitted to the sixth grade.

The 2002-2003 sixth grade CMMS class consisted of 449 students. Fifty-one siblings were admitted, of whom 42 were white and 9 were black. Another 398 nonsibling students were admitted on the basis of their CAT test score ranking, of whom 259 were white and 139 were black. While the incoming sixth grade class was 67% white and 33% black, the total student composition of CMMS for the 2002-2003 school year was 65% white and 35% black, a result barely within the School Board-required racial mix for CMMS of 50% black/white, plus or minus 15 percentage points.4

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The Cavaliers, on behalf of Hunter, filed suit against the School Board, and twelve of its members, alleging that Hunter was discriminated against on the basis of his race when he was denied admission to CMMS. The Cavaliers sought declaratory and injunctive, compensatory damages, and attorneys' fees and costs, under the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 2000d. The parties consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a magistrate judge, and the district court referred the case to a magistrate judge. The School Board filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment on the ground that the admission procedure for CMMS is pursuant to a court-ordered consent decree and, therefore, is constitutional. The magistrate judge granted the defendants' motion, dismissing all claims against all parties.5 The Cavaliers subsequently filed a timely motion for reconsideration, which the magistrate judge denied. The Cavaliers then timely appealed.

Discussion

The Board attempts to justify its admission policy based on a consent decree entered in 1981 involving the Board. Because this consent decree no longer applies to CMMS, it cannot justify the Board's policy, and because the Board shows no other compelling governmental interest for its racial classification, we hold that on this record it was error to grant the School Board's motion for summary judgment and the policy is unconstitutional. Furthermore, because the Board has not shown that it has considered any race-neutral means to achieve its desired racial mix and relies exclusively on a racial quota, the policy is not narrowly tailored. Therefore, we reverse and remand.6

Page 250

I. Standard of Review

We review de novo the magistrate judge's grant of summary judgment.7 Austin v. Will-Burt Co., 361 F.3d 862, 866 (5th Cir.2004). Summary judgment is proper only if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record establishes "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

II. Constitutionality of the Admission Policy

A. Strict Scrutiny Review

We apply strict scrutiny review to the School Board's race-conscious admission policy: "It is by now well established that `all racial classifications reviewable under the Equal Protection Clause must be strictly scrutinized.'" Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 123 S.Ct. 2411, 2427, 156 L.Ed.2d 257 (2003) (quoting Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 115 S.Ct. 2097, 2111, 132 L.Ed.2d 158 (1995)) (emphasis added). To pass strict scrutiny review, the School Board must demonstrate that the "use of race in its current admission program employs `narrowly tailored measures that further compelling governmental interests.'" Gratz, 123 S.Ct. at 2427 (quoting Adarand, 115 S.Ct. at 2113) (emphasis added).

B. Compelling Governmental Interest

1. Remedying Current Effects of Past Segregation

Because the School Board previously operated a dual school system, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, it bears the "primary responsibility to `eliminate from the public schools all vestiges of state-imposed segregation.'" Davis v. East Baton Rouge Parish Sch. Bd., 721 F.2d 1425, 1434, 1436 (5th Cir.1983) (quoting Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267, 97 S.Ct. 2749, 2762, 53 L.Ed.2d 745 (1977)). Remedying the present effects of past discrimination is a compelling interest that in particular circumstances may justify appropriate use of certain racial classifications. Dallas Fire Fighters Ass'n v. City of Dallas, Tex., 150 F.3d 438, 441 (5th Cir.1998).

In justifying its admission policy, the School Board has relied exclusively on a consent decree entered by the Western District of Louisiana in 1981 directing the desegregation of the Caddo Parish school system (the 1981 Consent Decree). The School Board has not identified any current effect or condition at CMMS that is traceable to the past segregation within the school system.8 Therefore, whether the School Board's use of racial classifications serves a compelling governmental interest by seeking to remedy the current effects of past segregation depends entirely on whether the 1981 Consent Decree obligates the School Board to use racial classifications in its current admission policy.

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As we conclude that the 1981 Consent Decree is no longer applicable to CMMS, it cannot justify the School Board's race-conscious admission policy.

a. Background of the 1981 Consent Decree

The 1981 Consent Decree has it roots in litigation that began in 1965 and that has been the subject of multiple cases within this circuit. The following historical background comes from two earlier cases involving the 1981 Consent Decree: Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 735 F.2d 923, 924-26, (5th Cir.1981) (Jones I), and Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 204 F.R.D. 97, 98-100 (W.D.La.2001) (Jones II):

In 1965, the parents of seven black children commenced a suit against the...

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  • Cowan v. Bolivar Cnty. Bd. of Educ., Civil Action No. 2:65–CV–00031–GHD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Mississippi
    • 28 March 2012
    ...Id. at 494 (citing Swann, 402 U.S. at 31–32, 91 S.Ct. 1267);see also Anderson, 517 F.3d at 299 (citing Cavalier v. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd., 403 F.3d 246, 260 (5th Cir.2005) (racial imbalance is relevant to the inquiry, but “racial imbalance, without more, does not violate the Constitution”)).......
  • Cowan v. Bolivar Cnty. Bd. of Educ., CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:65-CV-00031-GHD
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Mississippi
    • 28 March 2012
    ...1430 (citing Swann, 402 U.S. at 31-32, 91 S. Ct. 1267); see also Anderson, 517 F.3d at 299 (citing Cavalier ex rel. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd, 403 F.3d 246, 260 (5th Cir. 2005) (racial imbalance is relevant to the inquiry, but "racial imbalance, without more, does not violate the Constitution"))......
  • Anderson v. School Bd. of Madison County, No. 06-60902.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 11 February 2008
    ...for that purpose, racial imbalance, without more, does not violate the Constitution. Cavalier ex rel. Cavalier v. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd., 403 F.3d 246, 260 (5th Cir.2005). "Once the racial imbalance [in student assignment] due to the de jure violation has been remedied, the school district i......
  • Keller Foundations, Inc. v. Wausau Underwriters Ins. Co., No. 08-50253
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 19 November 2010
    ...in favor of the Keller Companies and RENDER summary judgment in favor of Wausau. 1 Cavalier ex rel. Cavalier v. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd., 403 F.3d 246, 250 (5th Cir.2005). 2 Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). 3 3 Couch on Insurance § 35:7 (Westlaw 2010). 4 Id.; see also N. Ins. Co. of N.Y. v. Allied Mut. Ins......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Cowan v. Bolivar Cnty. Bd. of Educ., Civil Action No. 2:65–CV–00031–GHD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Mississippi
    • 28 March 2012
    ...Id. at 494 (citing Swann, 402 U.S. at 31–32, 91 S.Ct. 1267);see also Anderson, 517 F.3d at 299 (citing Cavalier v. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd., 403 F.3d 246, 260 (5th Cir.2005) (racial imbalance is relevant to the inquiry, but “racial imbalance, without more, does not violate the Constitution”)).......
  • Cowan v. Bolivar Cnty. Bd. of Educ., CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:65-CV-00031-GHD
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Mississippi
    • 28 March 2012
    ...1430 (citing Swann, 402 U.S. at 31-32, 91 S. Ct. 1267); see also Anderson, 517 F.3d at 299 (citing Cavalier ex rel. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd, 403 F.3d 246, 260 (5th Cir. 2005) (racial imbalance is relevant to the inquiry, but "racial imbalance, without more, does not violate the Constitution"))......
  • Anderson v. School Bd. of Madison County, No. 06-60902.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 11 February 2008
    ...for that purpose, racial imbalance, without more, does not violate the Constitution. Cavalier ex rel. Cavalier v. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd., 403 F.3d 246, 260 (5th Cir.2005). "Once the racial imbalance [in student assignment] due to the de jure violation has been remedied, the school district i......
  • Keller Foundations, Inc. v. Wausau Underwriters Ins. Co., No. 08-50253
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 19 November 2010
    ...in favor of the Keller Companies and RENDER summary judgment in favor of Wausau. 1 Cavalier ex rel. Cavalier v. Caddo Parish Sch. Bd., 403 F.3d 246, 250 (5th Cir.2005). 2 Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). 3 3 Couch on Insurance § 35:7 (Westlaw 2010). 4 Id.; see also N. Ins. Co. of N.Y. v. Allied Mut. Ins......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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