Reed v. Rhodes

Decision Date25 May 1994
Docket NumberNo. C73-1300.,C73-1300.
Citation869 F. Supp. 1274
PartiesRobert Anthony REED, III, et al., Plaintiffs, v. James A. RHODES, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio

Thomas I. Atkins, Brooklyn, NY, James L. Hardiman, Cleveland, OH, David W. Whitaker, Beachwood, OH, for plaintiffs.

Frederick R. Nance, Dennis R. Terez, Squire Sanders & Dempsey, Wanda Rembert Arnold, Cleve. Bd. of Ed., Law Dept., Ricardo B. Teamor, Adrian D. Thompson, Teamor, Agyeman & Thompson, Cleveland, OH, Maree Sneed, Hogan & Hartson, Washington, DC, for Local defendants.

Stephen M. O'Bryan, Margaret Anne Cannon, Kelley, McCann & Livingstone, Mark

O'Neill, Weston, Hurd, Fallon, Paisley & Howley, Cleveland, OH, for State defendants.

Daniel McMullen, Cleveland, OH, for Office on School Monitoring & Community Relations (OSMCR).

Mark B. Cohn, Jeffrey A. Huth, McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Haiman, Sam A. Zingale, Granville H. Bradley, Jr., Forbes, Forbes & Associates, Cleveland, OH, for intervenors.


BATTISTI, District Judge.

On March 15, 1994, the Plaintiffs, Cleveland Defendants, and State Defendants (the "Parties") filed a comprehensive Settlement Agreement with this Court. Following a hearing on April 13, 1994, the Parties jointly submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. In accordance with the discussion below, the Court APPROVES the Settlement Agreement and hereby enters the same as a Consent Decree.


In its initial liability order, this Court found that the Defendants had discriminated against African-American students through race-based student, faculty, staff and administrative assignments and school zoning, construction, and abandonment decisions. Reed v. Rhodes, 422 F.Supp. 708, 715-88 (N.D.Ohio 1976). Thereafter, in the exercise of its "equitable powers to remedy past wrongs," the Court ordered a comprehensive remedial plan designed to address the various harms caused by these constitutional violations. Reed v. Rhodes, 455 F.Supp. 546, 568 (N.D.Ohio 1978), aff'd, 607 F.2d 714 (6th Cir.1979), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 935, 100 S.Ct. 1329, 63 L.Ed.2d 770 (1980).

Determining that "federal courts must on occasion address educational issues ... to eliminate the effects of prior segregation," Reed, 455 F.Supp. at 597, the Court instructed the Defendants "to develop educational programs that will correct the effects of prior segregated schooling to the greatest extent possible." Id. Specifically, the Defendants were directed to include such programs intended to improve reading achievement, enhance counseling and career guidance services, create magnet school opportunities, encourage greater cooperation with universities, businesses and cultural institutions, ensure equity in extra-curricular activities, provide staff development in human relations, protect student rights, and build stronger school-to-community relations. Id. at 598-602. These educational programs were intended to help make whole the Plaintiff school children by, among other things, remedying "the academic effects of prior segregation." Id. at 598.

In 1987, after years of recalcitrance, the Cleveland Defendants ("the District") concluded that they were "prepared to shift their focus to the educational outcomes that are the heart of the Remedial Order." Local Defendants' Status Report and Motion for Expedited Payment at 7-9 (filed September 1, 1987). The District subsequently adopted a "Mission Statement" that acknowledges the interrelation between quality education and the Defendants' constitutional obligation to desegregate:

The District shall guarantee the equal protection of all affected classes of students and of each individual student and shall pledge to affirmatively address the effects of past segregation as it strives for excellence and equity and to prepare students to be happy, healthy, and productive participants in a pluralistic society.

Board Policy, § 9710 (adopted January 11, 1990).

In 1990, the Court established a process to determine the status of compliance with the remedial orders in this case. See July 10, 1990 Order. That process resulted in three reports from the Office on School Monitoring and Community Relations ("OSMCR"). OSMCR Report Pursuant to Order of July 10, 1990 (July 29, 1991) ("OSMCR Report"); OSMCR Supplemental Report (May 6, 1992); OSMCR Second Supplemental Report (November 12, 1993). While OSMCR reported that the Defendants "have made efforts to eliminate racially discriminatory practices," it also noted the Court's pronouncement that, "the remedial orders ... were not intended to produce equal access to mediocre schools." OSMCR Report at II-1 (quoting Proceedings before the Court, November 2, 1987). OSMCR further noted that the Defendants have not complied with some remedial orders "intended to eliminate educational vestiges of past discrimination." Id. OSMCR's reports detailed the factual bases for its recommendation that the Defendants

propose such changes to Remedial Orders as may be appropriate to better meet their constitutional obligation to develop educational programs that will "correct the effects of prior segregated schools," eliminate "the vestiges of a dual educational system" and restore "administrative competence, financial stability, and academic excellence."

Id. at II-3 (quoting Remedial Order at 72 (February 6, 1978), Memorandum Opinion and Order at 40 (July 25, 1980), and Remand Opinion at 48 (February 6, 1978)).

After the submission of these OSMCR reports, the Parties were ordered to meet and discuss these issues. Reed v. Rhodes, 1992 WL 80626, 1992 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 4723 (N.D.Ohio, April 2, 1992). The Defendants were directed to include in their discussions and planning "any aspect of the operation of the school district where such vestiges may appear. Indeed, you are encouraged to address all areas where such vestiges appear." Id. at *3. The Parties were prompted to "think about innovative programs and undertakings, where such programs offer a realistic promise of eliminating remaining vestiges." It was also noted that the Parties could consider "reasonable methods of student assignment." Id. at *4. The Court reiterated that "the State must be actively involved in helping the District improve the relevant day-to-day practices that bear on vestiges of past discrimination and affect educational outcomes." Id. at *4.

In response to these directives, the District analyzed data on educational achievement by race in the Cleveland Public Schools, and concluded that the performance disparities between racial groups were due in part to the Defendants' failure to fully comply with their constitutional obligations. Joint Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law Proposed by the Parties at ¶ 6.

In part to address these deficiencies and better to assure stable desegregated enrollments, the District created a new educational plan known as VISION 21 with the goal of fully complying with this Court's mandate that segregation be eliminated "root and branch." See Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430, 438, 88 S.Ct. 1689, 1694, 20 L.Ed.2d 716 (1968). In designing this educational plan, the District sought to increase substantially the opportunity for all students, particularly African-American students, to receive a high-quality education in a desegregated environment through the systematic upgrading of the general curriculum, the creation of community model schools, a substantial broadening of the magnet school program based upon demonstrated demand, and the gradual implementation of a controlled-choice student assignment plan. Joint Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law Proposed by the Parties at ¶ 7.

The first year of implementation of key components of VISION 21 is in progress. Pursuant to the Parties' agreement reflected in the Court's Order of July 21, 1993, the State agreed to pay fifty percent of the cost of five components of VISION 21 for the 1993-94 school year.

Pursuant to this Court's instructions of October 18, 1993, the District continued to negotiate its remedial proposals with the State and Plaintiffs in an effort to reach a consensus on "what changes, if any, are to be implemented in the 1994-95 school year and thereafter, including how they are to be paid for." Oct. 18, 1993 Proceedings at 52. The extensive negotiations, which have been ongoing since the fall of 1993, have involved all of the Parties and OSMCR. On February 24, 1994, the Parties presented to this Court a Memorandum of Points of Agreement between the Parties to Reed v. Rhodes. The Settlement Agreement submitted to the Court on March 15, 1994 is an elaboration of this Memorandum of Points of Agreement and the final result of these negotiations.

As anyone who has followed the long (and often bitter) struggle that has accompanied this litigation must realize, it is simply impossible to overstate the profound significance of the Parties finally reaching a negotiated settlement. Similarly, it would be virtually impossible to overstate the impact that attorney Daniel J. McMullen, the Director of OSMCR, has had in bringing about this historic event. Nevertheless, the Court deems it appropriate to add a few words about Mr. McMullen's exemplary and tireless efforts.

At Mr. McMullen's counsel, the course to the just and orderly resolution of this case was charted with the issuance of the Court's remarks to the Parties at the March 13, 1992 status conference. Throughout the negotiation process, Mr. McMullen persistently and effectively encouraged the parties to negotiate rather than litigate, deftly guiding their discussions around many apparent impasses as an impartial mediator. In this role, he conducted himself according to the highest standards of his profession.

Despite these words of honor, those who have not been closely involved with these proceedings may never realize how crucial a role Daniel J. McMullen has played in facilitating the agreements...

To continue reading

Request your trial
6 cases
  • Mixon v. Ohio
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • June 8, 1999
    ...After a detailed hearing, the district court converted the settlement agreement into an enforceable Consent Decree. Reed v. Rhodes, 869 F. Supp. 1274 (N.D. Ohio 1994). Despite the school district's successful compliance with the desegregation orders, however, political turmoil threatened th......
  • Lazy Oil Co. v. Witco Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Pennsylvania
    • December 31, 1997
    ...can be fair notwithstanding a large number of objectors, citing Cotton v. Hinton, 559 F.2d at 1331. See also, Reed v. Rhodes, 869 F.Supp. 1274, 1281 (N.D.Ohio 1994) (a court should not withhold approval merely because some class members object to the 22. Moreover, numerous courts have appro......
  • Simmons-Harris, Et Al v. Zelman
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • June 20, 2000
    ...directing the Ohio Superintendent of Education to address the educational crisis in Cleveland's public schools. See Reed v. Rhodes, 869 F.Supp. 1274 (N.D. Ohio 1994). The Ohio legislature and the state's governor responded with the voucher program that is before us today. See Ohio Rev. Code......
  • Reed v. Rhodes
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • March 27, 1998
    ...Hearing, the Court issued an Order converting the Settlement Agreement into an enforceable Consent Decree. Reed v. Rhodes, 869 F.Supp. 1274 (N.D.Ohio 1994)(Battisti, J.). As noted in the Consent Decree in 1994, the District confronted severe financial problems. The financial condition of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT