Hoots v. Com. of Pa.

Decision Date27 October 1978
Docket NumberNo. 78-1224,78-1224
Citation587 F.2d 1340
PartiesDorothy HOOTS, Individually and as mother of her children Janelle Hoots and Jamie Hoots, Mrs. Addrallace Knight, Individually and as mother and natural guardian of her children Ronald Knight, Loretta Knight, Terrence Knight, Pamela Knight, Darryl Knight, Marc Knight and Byron Knight, Barbara Smith, Individually and as mother and natural guardian of her children Tawanda Smith, Tevela Smith, Joseph Smith, Wesley Smith and Eric Smith, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Appellants, v. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Edward X. Hallenberg, President of the AlleghenyCounty Board of School Directors, the Allegheny County Board of SchoolDirectors, W. Deming Lewis, Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board ofEducation, thePennsylvania State Board of Education, Michael Sullivan, President of theSchool District of the Borough of Braddock, the School District of the Boroughof Braddock, Andrew Lisyak, President of the School Board of the SchoolDistrict of the Boroughof Rankin, the School District of the Borough of Rankin, Leo Campbell,President of the School Board of the School District of the Borough of NorthBraddock, the School District of the Borough of North Braddock, the AlleghenyIntermediate Unit Boardof School Directors and Edward X. Hallenberg, President of the AlleghenyIntermediate Board of School Directors.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

Thomas C. Reed, Irvin S. Bails, James Shilliday, Pittsburgh, Pa., for appellants.

Goehring, Rutter & Boehm, Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa., for appellee Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Atty. Gen., J. Justin Blewitt, Jr., Deputy Atty. Gen., Chief, Civil Litigation, Robert P. Kane, Atty. Gen., Dept. of Justice, Harrisburg, Pa., for appellees Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, its Board of Education and W. Deming Lewis.

J. Robert Maxwell, Maxwell & Huss, Pittsburgh, Pa., for intervenor Churchill Area School District.

Before GIBBONS, HUNTER and GARTH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

GARTH, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs, mothers of children who attend public schools in the General Braddock School District in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, brought this action on behalf of themselves and other parents of children attending those schools, 1 alleging that the consolidation of various school districts in that county had created racially segregated schools. The district court, in an opinion and order filed on May 15, 1973, held that the creation of the General Braddock School District by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education was an act of de jure discrimination in violation of the fourteenth amendment. 2 The defendants were ordered to prepare and submit to the court a plan for desegregation which was to include modifications in the boundary lines of the General Braddock School District and, "as appropriate, of adjacent and/or near-by school districts." 3 A plan designated as Plan "22-W" was submitted in 1973 but was rejected And Now, November 18, 1977 the Motion of Defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for approval of its Reorganization Plan (Plan A) filed September 30, 1975 in this matter (Docket No. 178) is hereby Denied and any necessary injunctive order to implement such plan is likewise Denied, without prejudice to the right of any party to submit further plans or proposals and evidence in support thereof. Any such plan involving the joinder or consolidation of school districts not now parties of record must be accompanied by the necessary joinder of such parties.

by the court after a hearing. Thereafter, in 1975, the Commonwealth filed a plan (Plan "A") for the consolidation of the General Braddock School District with neighboring districts. In an opinion and order filed on November 18, 1977, the district court denied the Commonwealth's motion for approval of Plan A. The district court's order reads as follows:

Because we hold that the district court's order of November 18, 1977 is neither a final order nor an appealable interlocutory order which can vest this Court with appellate jurisdiction, we are obliged to dismiss plaintiffs' appeal.

I.

Prior to 1971, the area presently included in the General Braddock School District was served by the school districts of the Boroughs of Braddock, North Braddock and Rankin. 4 In 1968, the Pennsylvania legislature, pursuant to its longstanding policy of consolidating school districts, enacted Pub.L. 299, No. 150, Pa.Stat.Ann. tit. 24, § 2400.1 et seq. (Purdon Supp.1978) ("Act 150"), which directed the county school boards to prepare and submit to the state board of education plans for the reorganization of their constituent school districts. 5 The state board promulgated standards for the approval of such plans. 6 The standards provided for consideration of, Inter alia, pupil population, community characteristics, and facilities; however, race was not to be a factor in the formulation of any plan. 7

After considering plans which would have consolidated the schools in the Boroughs of Braddock, North Braddock and Rankin with the school districts in neighboring municipalities which have predominantly white enrollments, 8 the county board, on October 7, 1968, approved a plan which created the General Braddock School District as the school system for the three boroughs. The adjacent Turtle Creek and Swissvale Area School Districts and the nearby Edgewood School District were created under that plan as well. The state board approved the formation of the General Braddock School District on May 9, 1969, and the new district came into being on July 1, 1971. 9

On June 9, 1971, the plaintiffs' complaint in this action was filed. As thereafter amended, it alleged two causes of action under the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment and under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 (1970). In Count I, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Board of School Directors, 10 had intentionally and The district court found that the percentage of non-white enrollment was "much greater" in the General Braddock School District than in any of the surrounding districts or in almost any other district in Allegheny County. 12 It further found that the school-age population of Braddock, North Braddock and Rankin was becoming increasingly non-white and that this trend had been accelerated by the establishment of the General Braddock School District. 13 It was the court's conclusion that the defendants knew or should have been aware of these facts in 1968-1969, and that they must have known that the establishment of General Braddock as a school district would "perpetuate, exacerbate and maximize segregation of school pupils." 14 The district court found that the board's purpose in forming the General Braddock School District was not to further any educational goals but was "to satisfy the desires of as many of the surrounding municipalities as possible to be placed in a school district which did not include Braddock and Rankin." 15 The district court, after finding that the school district boundaries in the central eastern area of Allegheny County bore no rational relation to any legitimate purpose, thereupon concluded that "race was a factor, at least indirectly, in the formation of the school district composed of Braddock, North Braddock and Rankin." 16

knowingly established the boundary lines of the General Braddock School District so as to create a racially segregated district. Count II alleged that the school district so established lacked the economic resources to provide educational opportunities comparable to those available to pupils attending public schools in the surrounding districts. After trial, the district court filed an opinion and order on May 15, 1973, in which, after recording its findings of fact and conclusions of law, it held that the demarcation of the boundaries of the General Braddock School District by the county and state boards was "an act of De jure discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment." 11

In the Order which was also filed on May 15, 1973, 17 the district court required the defendants Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state board and its chairman ("the Commonwealth defendants") to submit within forty-five days a comprehensive plan for school desegregation in the central eastern area of Allegheny County. The court directed that the plan was to go into effect as soon as possible and that it was to be an educationally sound and practicable mode of achieving the greatest possible degree of desegregation. The order also required that the plan "alter the boundary lines of the General Braddock Area School District and, as appropriate, of adjacent and/or near-by school districts." 18

Approximately one month after the May 15, 1973 Order had been entered and two years after the action had been commenced, two of the districts adjacent to the General Braddock district, Turtle Creek and Churchill, filed petitions to intervene as parties in interest. The district court denied the petitions but subsequently invited all districts (including Turtle Creek and Churchill) which would be directly affected by the Commonwealth's desegregation plans to intervene for the limited purpose of offering objections to those plans. 19 Turtle Creek and Churchill again sought to intervene generally (as distinct from the limited intervention allowed by the court). 20 Their petitions In compliance with the court's May 15, 1973 order, 23 the Commonwealth defendants filed Plan "22-W" in September, 1973. That plan, among other features, would have abolished the General Braddock School District and created two new school districts. One district would have included the Borough of Rankin with other districts with predominantly white enrollments, and the other new district would have included the Braddock and North...

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26 cases
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