People ex rel. Lynch v. San Diego Unified School Dist.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtCOUGHLIN
Citation19 Cal.App.3d 252,96 Cal.Rptr. 658
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of California, Petitioner and Appellant, v. SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent. Civ. 10335.
Decision Date13 August 1971

Page 658

96 Cal.Rptr. 658
19 Cal.App.3d 252
The PEOPLE of the State of California, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent.
Civ. 10335.
Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1, California.
Aug. 13, 1971.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 31, 1971.

Page 660

[19 Cal.App.3d 256] Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., Robert H. O'Brien and Andrea Sheridan Ordin, Deputy Attys. Gen., for petitioner and appellant.

[19 Cal.App.3d 257] Thomas A. Shannon, Schools Atty. of San Diego Unified School District, Higgs, Jennings, Fletcher & Mack, H. Pitts Mack, and Donald R. Lincoln, San Diego, for respondent.

OPINION

COUGHLIN, Associate Justice.

The People of the State of California, acting through the Attorney General, hereinafter referred to as petitioner, appeal from an order dismissing a petition for writ of mandate, directing the San Diego Unified School District, hereinafter referred to as The District, 'to exercise its discretion to take reasonably feasible steps to prevent, alleviate and eliminate racial imbalance' in its schools. The District had filed a general and special demurrer to the petition. The court sustained the general demurrer with leave to amend, but did not pass upon the special demurrer. Petitioner did not amend. The order of dismissal followed.

In ruling upon a general demurrer facts expressly alleged in a petition, and also facts supplied by inference or implication from the facts expressly alleged, are deemed true. (Daar v. Yellow Cab Co., 67 Cal.2d 695, 713, 63 Cal.Rptr. 724, 433 P.2d 732; Harvey v. City of Holtville, 271 Cal.App.2d 816, 819, 76 Cal.Rptr. 795.) We state the facts in the case accordingly.

The petition classifies the Negro, Oriental, Mexican-American and Indian-American pupils in The District's schools as an ethnic group which is a minority of the total school population. In this opinion, as a matter of convenience, we shall refer to these pupils as the minority group and to the remaining pupils as the majority group.

'Student racial imbalance' 1 exists in The District's schools; the number of racially imbalanced schools is substantial; in 25 elementary, 3 junior high and 4 high schools the ratio between the number of pupils in the minority group in each school and the number of all pupils in the school exceeds by 15% The ratio between the number of pupils in the minority group in the school system and the number of all pupils in the system; and in 54 elementary, 3 junior high and 4 high schools the ratio between the number of pupils in the majority group in each school and the number of all pupils in the school exceeds by 15% The ratio between the number of pupils

Page 661

in the majority group in the system and the number of all pupils in the system.

The existence of student racial imbalance in its schools is known to The District in that (1) a survey in August, 1966, the results of which were [19 Cal.App.3d 258] set forth in a report to it by its Citizens Committee, showed the Negro pupil population of the schools in the district was 10.7% Of the total pupil population whereas there were 15 elementary, 2 junior high and 2 high schools where the Negro pupil population in each school was over 50% Of the total pupil population in the school; (2) the student racial imbalance in The District's schools has not improved since it received the aforesaid report; and (3) a survey made in October 1968 showed the Negro pupil population of the schools in the district was 12.6% Of the total pupil population and the Mexican-American pupil population was 10.1% Of the total pupil population whereas in 15 elementary, 2 junior high and 2 high schools the Negro pupil population of each school exceeded 50% Of the total pupil population in the school, and in 1 elementary school the Mexican-American pupil population exceeded 50% Of the total pupil population in the school.

There are several reasonably feasible plans available to The District for correcting the student racial imbalance in its schools, but The District refuses 'to take adequate, reasonably feasible steps, or any steps at all, to prevent, alleviate or eliminate racial imbalance' in The District's schools; and 'has, Inter alia, by a policy of maintaining neighborhood attendance zones and optional attendance zones, and by other devices, perpetuated and extended racial imbalance in its schools, and will continue to do so.'

The District's acts and 'failure to take reasonably feasible steps to prevent, alleviate and eliminate substantial racial imbalance in its schools resulted in and will continue to result in irreparable injury to the People of the State of California in that attendance at racially imbalanced schools denies students an equal educational opportunity, causes social and psychological injury to said students, and thwarts the ability of students to learn and exchange views with other students.'

At the outset we consider and reject The District's contention the attorney general lacks standing to bring the action. Our conclusion is premised on the settled rule in California the attorney general is authorized 'to file any civil action for the enforcement of the laws of the state or the United States Constitution, which in the absence of legislative restriction he deems necessary for the protection of public rights and interests.' (People ex rel. Lynch v. Superior Court, 1 Cal.3d 910, 912, fn. 1, 83 Cal.Rptr. 670, 671, 464 P.2d 126, 127.) It is in the public interest to require a school district to comply with the provisions of the United States Constitution guaranteeing equal protection of the laws. There is no legislative restriction in the premises. The District's contention to the contrary is without merit.

In concise summary, the complaint alleges student racial imbalance[19 Cal.App.3d 259] exists in The District's schools; attendance at racially imbalanced schools denies students equal educational opportunities, causes them social and psychological injury, and thwarts their ability to learn; there are several reasonably feasible plans available to The District to correct the existing racial imbalance in its schools; The District refuses to take steps invoking these plans or any steps to prevent, eliminate or reduce the racial imbalance in its schools; instead, The District by its policies, has perpetuated and extended racial imbalance in its schools.

The issue on appeal is whether the foregoing facts constitute a cause of action in mandamus for an order directing The District to take available, reasonably feasible steps to alleviate the racial imbalance in its schools.

We consider, first, pertinent principles of law; secondly, the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint to state a cause of action in mandate under these

Page 662

principles; and, interjectionally, questions whether the existence of certain material facts is a determination made by the court as a matter of law or is dependent upon a finding on an issue of fact supported by evidence.

In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 691, 98 L.Ed. 873 (Brown I), the Supreme Court of the United States held state action effecting racial segregation of children in public schools denies 'the minority group' equal protection of the law; violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution; and is subject to appropriate remedial judicial decree. In a later decision in the same case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 349 U.S. 294, 298, 75 S.Ct. 753, 755, 99 L.Ed. 1083 (Brown II), the court referred to its former holding as a declaration of the 'fundamental principle that racial discrimination in public education is unconstitutional' to which all 'provisions of federal, state, or local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield.' (See also Green v. County School Bd. of New Kent Co., Va., 391 U.S. 430, 88 S.Ct. 1689, 20 L.Ed.2d 716.) The Brown decisions concerned a school system maintaining separate, racially segregated schools. In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1, 5, 91 S.Ct. 1267, 1271, 28 L.Ed.2d 554, the Supreme Court eiptomized its decision in Brown I as a mandate 'to eliminate racially separate public schools established and maintained by state action.' The decision in Brown I was premised on the determination, as a matter of law, state enforced segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives the 'minority group' of equal educational opportunities. (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Supra, 347 U.S. 483, 493, 74 S.Ct. 686, 691, 98 L.Ed. 873.) Basic to this determination was the conclusion, also as a matter of law, 'separate educational facilities [19 Cal.App.3d 260] are inherently unequal' because the segregation in public schools of a minority group from a majority group, solely on the basis of race, 'generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.' (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Supra, 347 U.S. 483, 493--494, 74 S.Ct. 686, 691, 692, 98 L.Ed. 873; see also Jackson v. Pasadena City School Dist., 59 Cal.2d 876, 880, 31 Cal.Rptr. 606, 382 P.2d 878; San Francisco Unified School Dist. v. Johnson, 3 Cal.3d 937, 949, 92 Cal.Rptr. 309, 479 P.2d 669.) Hereinafter we consider further the rationale in Brown I and its relation to some of the issues at hand.

The principles declared and conclusions reached in Brown I have been applied not only to school systems effecting racial segregation by the use of separate schools for separate racial groups, which was the situation in both Brown I and Swann, but also to those regulating the assignment of students to particular schools in a manner producing an imbalance in the ratio between racial groups in the particular schools when compared with the ratio between the racial groups in the school system. (Jackson v. Pasadena City School Dist., Supra, 59...

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13 practice notes
  • United States v. Yonkers Bd. of Educ., No. 80 Civ. 6761 (LBS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 20, 1985
    ...law where such segregation denies minority students equal educational opportunities. See People v. San Diego Unified School District, 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658 (1971). The California appellate court based this duty on the previous judicially-established state law principle that sc......
  • Tinsley v. Palo Alto Unified School Dist.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 13, 1979
    ...Yellow Cab Co. (1967) 67 Cal.2d 695, 713, 63 Cal.Rptr. 724, 433 P.2d 732; People ex rel. Lynch v. San Diego Unified School Dist. (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 257, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658, cert. den. 405 U.S. 1016, 92 S.Ct. 1288, 31 L.Ed.2d After setting forth the status of petitioners (see part II ab......
  • Crawford v. Board of Education
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 28, 1976
    ...also relies upon language contained in the Court of Appeal decision in People ex rel. Lynch v. San Diego Unified School Dist., (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658, (hereinafter Lynch). In Lynch, the California Attorney General had sought a writ of mandate directing the San Diego Unif......
  • Oliver v. Michigan State Bd. of Ed., Nos. 74-1104
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • December 9, 1974
    ...37 L.Ed.2d 1041 (1973); Branche v. Board of Education, 204 F.Supp. 150 (E.D.N.Y.1962); People v. San Diego Unified School District, 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658 (Ct.App.1971); Johnson v. San Francisco Unified School District, 339 F.Supp. 1315, 1318 (N.D.Cal. 1971), app. for stay deni......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • United States v. Yonkers Bd. of Educ., No. 80 Civ. 6761 (LBS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 20, 1985
    ...law where such segregation denies minority students equal educational opportunities. See People v. San Diego Unified School District, 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658 (1971). The California appellate court based this duty on the previous judicially-established state law principle that sc......
  • Tinsley v. Palo Alto Unified School Dist.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 13, 1979
    ...Yellow Cab Co. (1967) 67 Cal.2d 695, 713, 63 Cal.Rptr. 724, 433 P.2d 732; People ex rel. Lynch v. San Diego Unified School Dist. (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 257, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658, cert. den. 405 U.S. 1016, 92 S.Ct. 1288, 31 L.Ed.2d After setting forth the status of petitioners (see part II ab......
  • Crawford v. Board of Education
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 28, 1976
    ...also relies upon language contained in the Court of Appeal decision in People ex rel. Lynch v. San Diego Unified School Dist., (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658, (hereinafter Lynch). In Lynch, the California Attorney General had sought a writ of mandate directing the San Diego Unif......
  • Oliver v. Michigan State Bd. of Ed., Nos. 74-1104
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • December 9, 1974
    ...37 L.Ed.2d 1041 (1973); Branche v. Board of Education, 204 F.Supp. 150 (E.D.N.Y.1962); People v. San Diego Unified School District, 19 Cal.App.3d 252, 96 Cal.Rptr. 658 (Ct.App.1971); Johnson v. San Francisco Unified School District, 339 F.Supp. 1315, 1318 (N.D.Cal. 1971), app. for stay deni......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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