Horton v. Orange County Board of Education, C-140-D-69.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtLucius M. Cheshire, of Graham & Cheshire, Hillsborough, N. C., for defendant
Citation342 F. Supp. 1244
PartiesStella HORTON and The North Carolina Teachers Association, a corporation, et al., Plaintiffs, v. The ORANGE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, a public body corporate, Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. C-140-D-69.,C-140-D-69.
Decision Date02 July 1971

342 F. Supp. 1244

Stella HORTON and The North Carolina Teachers Association, a corporation, et al., Plaintiffs,
The ORANGE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, a public body corporate, Defendant.

No. C-140-D-69.

United States District Court, M. D. North Carolina, Durham Division.

July 2, 1971.

Conrad O. Pearson, Durham, N. C., J. LeVonne Chambers, of Chambers, Stein, Ferguson & Lanning, Charlotte, N. C., and Jack Greenberg, James M. Nabritt, III, and Conrad K. Harper, New York City, for plaintiffs.

Lucius M. Cheshire, of Graham & Cheshire, Hillsborough, N. C., for defendant.

342 F. Supp. 1245


EDWIN M. STANLEY, Chief Judge.

The plaintiff, Stella Horton, alleges that the defendant, Orange County Board of Education, terminated her employment as a school teacher at the close of the 1968-1969 school year because of her race, and without according her due process of law. Reinstatement in the same or comparable position is sought. The plaintiff further alleges that, pursuant to a plan for desegregating the public schools of Orange County, defendant discriminated against its black pupils by arbitrarily closing the all-black Cedar Grove Elementary School. Injunctive relief is sought against the refusal of the defendant to utilize the school.

The case was tried by the Court without a jury. At the conclusion of the trial the parties were given specified times within which to file requests for findings and conclusions, and briefs. After requests and briefs were filed, the parties appeared before the Court and orally argued their respective contentions.

After giving due consideration to the testimony offered by the parties, including exhibits, the requests and briefs filed, and argument of counsel, the Court now makes and files herein its findings of fact and conclusions of law, separately stated:


1. Jurisdiction is vested in this Court by 28 U.S.C. § 1343. The rights sought to be redressed are rights allegedly secured by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

2. Plaintiff, Stella Horton, is a black citizen of the United States and of the State of North Carolina, and was employed by the Orange County Board of Education as a teacher for the school years 1967-1968 and 1968-1969.

3. Plaintiff, North Carolina Teachers Association, is a professional teachers association consisting primarily of black teachers, including black teachers in the Orange County School System. Among its purposes are the promotion of education and the improvement of the status of teachers, and particularly eliminating discrimination against black teachers engaged in public education. The remaining individual plaintiffs are black citizens residing in Orange County, North Carolina, and may be affected by the practices of the Orange County Board of Education. The action is brought on behalf of the individual plaintiffs and all others in the Orange County School System similarly situated. The action is a proper class action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

4. Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the defendant from employing, assigning and dismissing, or refusing to employ black teachers and professional school personnel on the basis of race or color, or on a basis which discriminates against, or deprives the plaintiff, Stella Horton, and others of her class, of due process and equal protection of the law. Plaintiff Horton further seeks an injunction ordering her reinstatement as a teacher in the same or comparable position. Additionally, the plaintiff seeks to enjoin the defendant from discriminating on the basis of race or color in the operation or administration of the Orange County public schools, or from arbitrarily closing and refusing to utilize a formerly all-black school in the desegregation of the Orange County School System.

5. Plaintiff Horton attended the public schools of Pittsboro, North Carolina, where she graduated from high school in 1962 as valedictorian of her graduating class. She attended St. Augustine's College at Raleigh, North Carolina, from 1962 through 1964 as a history and government major. She transferred from St. Augustine's to A & T State University at Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1964. While attending A & T State University, she majored in history and graduated Magna

342 F. Supp. 1246
Cum Laude in 1966. In her college years she was cited in "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities," was a member of Alpha Kappa Mu, National Education Society, and a member of Sigma Rho Sigma, National Social Science Honorary Society. She did further study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the North Carolina Central University at Durham, North Carolina. She also did practice teaching in the Orange County public schools at Hillsborough, North Carolina, in the spring of 1966

6. In September, 1966, plaintiff Horton was employed by the Orange County Board of Education as a History Social Studies teacher, and was assigned to the then all-black Central High School where she taught for two years. She encountered no difficulties with students, parents and teachers while at the predominantly black senior high school, and was regarded by her principal as a superior teacher.

7. Beginning with the 1968-1969 school year, grades 10, 11 and 12 of the formerly all-black Central High School were transferred to the Orange High School. The defendant's plan had initially been to transfer only grade 10, but all students at Central High School chose to go to Orange High School, and, consequently, all three grades were moved. All teachers teaching in those grades were similarly transferred to Orange High School. The defendant's plan had been adopted to bring about total integration of the public schools of Orange County. Said plan had been brought about as a result of several conferences with representatives of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the plan had been approved by said agency.

8. As a result of combining the two high schools, there was a certain amount of racial turmoil in the Orange High School during the 1968-1969 school year. Plaintiff Horton identified herself with the black students in seeking redress for alleged grievances at such school.

9. On October 7, 1968, a delegation of approximately nine white people met with the defendant Board and complained that plaintiff Horton was teaching communism in the schools. The Board instructed the superintendent to investigate the complaint to determine whether it had any substance. In following the instructions of the Board, the superintendent only asked the plaintiff Horton if she had taught that communism was a superior form of government, and upon her denial of the charge, he reported to the Board that there was insufficient evidence to discharge her. Following the report of the superintendent, the Board, by letter dated October 16, 1968, advised the plaintiff Horton that it found no substance in the complaint and reaffirmed its confidence in her as a teacher.

10. Subsequently, parents of students, both black and white, lodged several complaints against the plaintiff Horton during the school year of 1968-1969. On November 4, 1968, a delegation of white parents attended a School Board meeting to present complaints concerning the plaintiff Horton. Included in this group were Mr. Bob Haas and Mr. Roland Scott, both of whom were members of the School Board at the time the Board voted to terminate the contract of the plaintiff Horton. Mr. Haas made the motion to terminate the plaintiff's contract and both Haas and Scott voted in favor of the motion. During the school year 1968-1969, there were 67 black teachers in the Orange County School System, and no complaints were received against any other black teacher in the system.

11. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 115-142, the validity of which is not challenged in this suit, the plaintiff's contract with the Orange County Board of Education was a continuing one unless terminated by the Board of Education. On May 22, 1969, the Board met and, pursuant to the recommendation of Mr. Fred Claytor, Principal of Orange High School, voted to terminate plaintiff's contract of

342 F. Supp. 1247
employment as of the end of the 1968-1969 school year. The reasons given to the Board by Mr. Claytor for recommending the termination of plaintiff Horton's contract were

(a) Miss Horton was attempting to undermine the Principal's position, and cause distrust of the...

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2 cases
  • Bean v. Darr, C-173-WS-72.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • 22 février 1973
    ...affirming by reference the district court opinion by the late Honorable Edwin M. Stanley, Horton v. Orange County Board of Education, 342 F.Supp. 1244 (M.D.N.C.1971). This argument is not novel, having been advanced by the plaintiff, Verriah V. Kota, in Kota v. Little, 473 F.2d 1 (4th Cir.,......
  • Horton v. Orange County Board of Education, 71-1837.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 13 juin 1972
    ...of the case, the late Honorable Edwin M. Stanley stated comprehensive and careful fact findings. Horton v. Orange County Bd. of Educ., 342 F. Supp. 1244 (W.D.N.C.1971). Because of their accuracy and clarity, we adopt them as ours. Any attempt by us to do as well would simply be unhelpful re......

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