Gilyard v. South Carolina Dept. of Youth Services, Civ. A. No. 3:84-992-15.

Decision Date05 September 1985
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 3:84-992-15.
Citation667 F. Supp. 266
CourtU.S. District Court — District of South Carolina

William L. Pyatt and Herbert E. Buhl, Columbia, S.C., for plaintiff.

William Edgar Salter, III and Vance Bettis, Gignilliat & Savitz, Columbia, S.C., for defendant.

On Motion for Attorney's Fees September 5, 1985.


HAMILTON, District Judge.

The present action arises under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The plaintiff herein, a former principal at the Reception and Evaluation Center School (hereinafter the "R & E School") contends that when the R & E School was merged with Willow Lane Junior High School (hereinafter "Willow Lane"), he was denied the position of principal of the merged schools on account of his race. The plaintiff also contends that the merger itself was accomplished for the racially discriminatory purpose of ousting him. The matter is before the court upon the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

The defendant, the South Carolina Department of Youth Services (hereinafter "DYS"), is a state agency responsible for the custody, supervision and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders committed to its custody by the Family Courts of South Carolina. S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-3210 (Law Co-op.1976). DYS is designated as a special school district to operate on a twelve month basis, and the Department of Education Division of DYS is charged with providing academic and vocational training at the R & E School, Birchwood High School and Willow Lane. S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-3240 (Law.Co-op.1976). Commitment to the Reception and Evaluation Center (hereinafter the "R & E Center"), however, is only a temporary commitment for evaluation purposes, and pursuant to law may not exceed forty-five days. S.C. Code Ann. § 20-7-2170 (Law.Co-op.1976).

The plaintiff, Willie Gilyard, is a black male who has served as principal at the R & E School from October 1, 1976, until on or about December 31, 1982.1 In December of 1982, the R & E School was merged with Willow Lane, which was the DYS school designed to provide long term academic and vocational training to juveniles in grades 7 through 9 who have been committed to DYS for correctional and rehabilitative purposes. The reason given for the consolidation was that, in order for a DYS school to receive federal funds, the facility must certify that the average length of stay of a student at the school was thirty days or more. 34 C.F.R. § 203.2 (1984). DYS asserts that, in the fall of 1982, the average stay of a student at the R & E School had declined to twenty-eight days, and the downward trend was expected to continue, since state law mandated that no youth be retained at the R & E Center for a period exceeding forty-five days. In order to avert the loss of over Seventy Thousand Dollars ($70,000) in federal funds, the defendant asserts that it decided to merge the R & E School into Willow Lane, since the average length of stay at the larger Willow Lane school exceeded six months. By joining the two schools into one facility, the average length of stay of the combined student body would substantially exceed the federal thirty day requirement, and no federal funds would be lost. As a result of the merger of the two schools, the R & E School became an annex of Willow Lane (hereinafter the "Annex") and the existing principal of Willow Lane continued in his position as principal of Willow Lane, as merged. Plaintiff's position of principal of the R & E School was eliminated, and he was appointed assistant principal of Willow Lane and was in charge of the campus of the Annex. Furthermore, plaintiff was assigned instructional duties in addition to his administrative duties as assistant principal.

The plaintiff's complaint alleges that he was discriminated against because he was not named as principal of the merged school. Furthermore, during discovery, plaintiff has asserted that the merger itself was motivated by a desire to demote him on the basis of his race. The defendant has moved for summary judgment, contending (a) that plaintiff cannot make out a prima facie case of discrimination, and (b) that even if plaintiff has made out a prima facie case of discrimination, the defendant has asserted a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its actions (i.e., the loss of federal funding) and plaintiff has failed to rebut the same with evidence that the reason is pretextual.

In a disparate treatment case arising under Title VII, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of proving a prima facie case of discrimination. A prima facie case, as used in the context of Title VII, refers to the "establishment of a legally mandatory, rebuttable presumption" rather than "the presentation of enough evidence to permit the trier of fact to infer the fact in issue." Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 254 n. 7, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 1094 n. 7, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981). Once the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden of production shifts to the defendant to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the action it took. Should the defendant carry this burden, the plaintiff must then prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the reasons offered by the defendant were not legitimate and not its true reasons, but were a pretext for discrimination. At the second stage of the analysis, it is only the burden of production which shifts to the defendant; the burden of persuasion remains at all times with the plaintiff. Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981); Cuthbertson v. Biggers Brothers, Inc., 702 F.2d 454 (4th Cir.1983).

In the first allegation, i.e., that the defendant discriminated against him in failing to hire him as principal of the merged schools, the plaintiff must satisfy the traditional McDonnell Douglas test. In order to establish a prima facie case of discrimination in hiring, a plaintiff must prove: (a) that he belonged to a protected minority; (b) that he applied for and was qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants; (c) that, despite his qualifications, he was rejected; and (d) that, after his rejection, the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applicants from persons of complainant's qualifications. Cooper v. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 467 U.S. 867, 104 S.Ct. 2794, 81 L.Ed.2d 718 (1984); McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). Plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case of discrimination against the defendant due to its failure to hire him as principal, since the second element in the McDonnell Douglas test cannot be established. When the R & E School and Willow Lane were merged, the position of principal of Willow Lane never became vacant. Prior to the merger, Clarence Fouché was principal of Willow Lane; subsequent to the merger, Mr. Fouché remained principal of Willow Lane as merged. The position of principal of Willow Lane simply never became vacant, and defendant never sought applicants to fill this position. Absent some evidence that the defendant had a vacant position for which it was seeking applicants, plaintiff cannot establish a Title VII action for his failure to be appointed to that position.

Throughout his deposition, plaintiff has raised the claim that, when the two schools were to be merged, the defendant should have vacated the principal's position of the resulting merged school and allowed him and Mr. Fouché to compete for this position. Plaintiff contends that his credentials exceed those of Mr. Fouché, and had the position been open to competition, he would have been selected. The legal error in this argument is that the defendant had no duty to open certain positions for competition upon the closing of the R & E School. The court has been able to find only one situation involving school closings when this duty would arise. The courts have held that in situations where a school is closed in implementing desegregation, if the plan reduces the number of positions available, the school system must consider all faculty for the remaining positions on the basis of objective, racially neutral criteria. Reynolds v. Abbeville County School District No. 60, 554 F.2d 638 (4th Cir.1977); Chambers v. Henderson City Board of Education, 364 F.2d 189 (4th Cir.1966). See also Campbell v. Gadsden County District School Board, 534 F.2d 650 (5th Cir.1976); Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, 419 F.2d 1211 (5th Cir.1969). The requirement of opening remaining positions to competition, however, does not arise when reductions in school personnel are unrelated to desegregation. Lee v. Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, 591 F.2d 324 (5th Cir.1979); Wright v. Houston Independent School District, 569 F.2d 1383 (5th Cir.1978). The merger of Willow Lane and the R & E School was not effected to implement the integration of schools, and accordingly the defendant was under no obligation to declare the position of principal vacant and allow competition for that job. Plaintiff cannot support his allegation of discriminatory hiring by alleging that the principal's position of the merged schools was never open to competition.

Plaintiff has also contended that the merger itself was motivated by the desire to discriminate against him on the basis of race. In considering this claim, the court must determine which test of proving a prima facie case is most analogous to the present situation. Plaintiff claims he was "demoted" to assistant principal, while defendant contends that the plaintiff's job was completely eliminated with the merger and there was no demotion. In a "demotion" case, a prima facie case is established by a showing that: (a) the plaintiff was in the protected...

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  • Hon v. Marshall
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    ...F.2d 71 [summary judgment granted after plaintiff failed to make prima facie showing of discrimination]; Gilyard v. South Carolina Dept. of Youth Services (D.S.C.1985) 667 F.Supp. 266 [plaintiff presented no factual matters which would justify denial of summary judgment]; Soto v. Romero Bar......
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