Reed v. Rhodes, C73-1300.

Decision Date06 February 1978
Docket NumberNo. C73-1300.,C73-1300.
Citation455 F. Supp. 546
PartiesRobert Anthony REED, III, et al., Plaintiffs, v. James A. RHODES et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio



James L. Hardiman, Cleveland, Ohio, Nathaniel R. Jones, Gen. Counsel, NAACP, New York City, Thomas I. Atkins, Roxbury, Mass., for plaintiffs.

Mark O'Neill, Weston, Hurd, Fallon, Paisley & Howley, Ohio State Bd. of Ed., Martin W. Essex, Ohio Dept. of Ed., George I. Meisel, Charles F. Clarke, Wm. C. Hartman, James P. Murphy of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, John H. Bustamante, Cleveland City Bd. of Ed., Cleveland, Ohio, for defendants.


BATTISTI, Chief Judge.

On August 31, 1976, this Court in a Memorandum Opinion and Order found

that the Cleveland Board of Education and the State Board of Education, through their constituent members and their appointed Superintendents, have violated the plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the laws by intentionally fostering and maintaining a segregated school system within the Cleveland Public Schools.

Reed v. Rhodes, 422 F.Supp. 708 (N.D.Ohio 1976). The decision was certified for an interlocutory appeal, and the defendants, local and state school officials, sought and received permission from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to prosecute an appeal.

On July 20, 1977, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, without reversing, vacating, or staying the original August 31, 1976, decision, remanded the case to this Court to reconsider its findings of facts and conclusions of law in the light of Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman, 433 U.S. 406, 97 S.Ct. 2766, 53 L.Ed.2d 851 (1977), and other recent United States Supreme Court decisions. In its remand order, the Court of Appeals noted that the August 31, 1976 Opinion was "extensive and careful", but that this Court "lacked sufficient clairvoyance to anticipate fully the test language which the majority of the Supreme Court now has declared to be critical." In a footnote, the Court of Appeals suggested "specific identification, by labeling or numbering, of the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law." In accordance with the remand of the Court of Appeals, this Court invited all parties to supplement the record with additional evidence. However, none chose to do so, concluding that the record as it existed was adequate.

This Court has carefully reviewed all the evidence and testimony in the record and has reconsidered its findings in light of Dayton and other recent decisions. Applying the standards of these decisions, this Court has determined that plaintiffs' evidence establishes numerous constitutional violations on the part of defendants; that defendants intended to and did in fact discriminate against plaintiffs by numerous acts and omissions, the purpose and effect of which were to foster and maintain a segregated dual school system; and that these numerous constitutional violations had systemwide impact entitling plaintiffs to a systemwide remedy.

The conclusion reached by the Court in this case is that both the City and State defendants are constitutionally liable for having maintained a de jure segregated public school system, consisting almost entirely of racially identifiable schools. To indicate how this conclusion was reached, the Court (1) will discuss the standards for liability established by recent Supreme Court decisions; (2) will comment on defendants' evidence; and (3) applying those standards, will detail the findings upon which defendants' liability depends.

In reconsidering its findings and conclusions, this Court means only to clarify what has gone before and not to substitute the present opinion for its earlier one. With this in mind, the Court has cited its earlier opinion, reported in 422 F.Supp. 708, whenever it has seemed appropriate or helpful. The findings reported herein are not new. In some instances, however, where the original decision left doubt as to a particular finding (of purpose, for example) the Court reviewed the supporting evidence with special care so that a more definite statement could be incorporated into this opinion.


In keeping with the request of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court here considers the recent Supreme Court decisions in Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman, 433 U.S. 406, 97 S.Ct. 2766, 53 L.Ed.2d 851 (1977), and Brennan v. Armstrong, 433 U.S. 672, 97 S.Ct. 2907, 53 L.Ed.2d 1044 (1977), along with School District of Omaha v. United States, 433 U.S. 667, 97 S.Ct. 2905, 53 L.Ed.2d 1039 (1977), to determine the significance of these decisions for this case.

The Supreme Court made clear in Dayton that federal courts have the authority to grant broad relief of the kind ordered in this case when systemwide constitutional violations on the part of the school officials are proven. In doing so, the Court was merely reaffirming well-settled general principles governing equitable remedy. These principles were summarized most recently by the Supreme Court in Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267, at 270, 97 S.Ct. 2749, 53 L.Ed.2d 745 at 4877 (1977). In this second Milliken case, the Supreme Court emphasized that the nature of any desegregation remedy is to be determined by the nature and scope of the constitutional violation; the remedy must be related to the condition that offends the constitution, and the remedy must be designed to restore the victims of discrimination to the position they would have occupied in the absence of such discrimination. The Milliken decision also makes clear that these remedial considerations apply in school districts segregated by intentional school board action as well as those segregated by statute. Dayton adopts these principles and indicates that the proper approach to a remedy in a school desegregation case requires the court to determine the consequence of defendant's constitutional violation and then "fashion a remedy in the light of the rule laid down in Swann, supra, and elaborated upon in Hills v. Gautreaux, 425 U.S. 284, 96 S.Ct. 1538, 47 L.Ed.2d 792 (1976)." 433 U.S., at 415, 97 S.Ct., at 2775. In this case, the consequence of defendants' constitutional violations was the establishment of a dual school system which was the constitutional equivalent of a legally mandated system of segregation warranting a comprehensive systemwide remedy.

The evidence in the Cleveland school case made out a prima facie case of de jure segregation according to the guidelines set forth in Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colo., 413 U.S. 189, 93 S.Ct. 2686, 37 L.Ed.2d 548 (1973). The proofs presented to the Court disclosed that a substantial portion of the students, teachers, and facilities had been intentionally segregated, and in the language of Keyes, it was necessary to conclude that there existed a predicate for a finding of the existence of a dual school system. Keyes, 413 U.S. at 201, 93 S.Ct. 2686. Plaintiffs were not required to prove de jure segregation as to each and every school and student in the system. 413 U.S. at 200, 93 S.Ct. 2686. Rather, once a prima facie case was established, defendants were required to overcome the presumption that the segregated schooling within the system was not adventitious. Defendants also had the burden of proving that segregation in other schools within the system was not the result of their intentionally segregative actions. Cf. Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 270-71 n. 21, 97 S.Ct. 555, 50 L.Ed.2d 450 (1977).

The defendants in this case were informed that plaintiffs' evidence, favorably construed, would constitute a prima facie case of de jure segregation (TR 2806). They failed either to discredit plaintiffs' proofs or to show that other segregated schooling did not result from their intentionally segregative acts. Therefore, the Court found defendants did not meet their burden of disproving the prima facie case of systemwide segregation. Absent such showing, there was "proof of state-imposed segregation in a substantial portion of the district (which would) suffice to support a finding by the trial court of the existence of a dual system." Keyes, supra, 413 U.S. at 203, 93 S.Ct. at 2695. The Supreme Court clearly makes Keyes relevant to the crucial matters of remedy by affirming that "if there has been a systemwide impact there may . . . be a systemwide remedy. Keyes, supra, at 312," 93 S.Ct. 2686. Dayton, supra, 433 U.S., at 415, 97 S.Ct., at 2775. Under Dayton, it would seem that defendants' failure to remove, by evidence at trial, any schools or geographic areas in Cleveland from the presumption, well supported by plaintiffs' case, that all were a part of one intentionally segregated system, entitles plaintiffs to a systemwide remedy.

The factual findings arising from trial disclose substantial and decisive differences between the Cleveland and Dayton cases. Although both school systems are de facto segregated in residentially segregated cities, Judge Rubin found no present segregative effect of the Dayton defendants' past intentional segregative actions. Rather, such segregation as exists in the Dayton schools today was held to be the result of housing patterns. The exact opposite is true in Cleveland. The intentionally segregative actions of the Cleveland defendants contributed to the present segregated housing patterns and have a continuing segregative effect on the schools of Cleveland.

In Dayton, the three "cumulative violations" found by the district court taken by themselves were simply not sufficient to support a comprehensive systemwide busing order. Despite proof that there existed a condition of segregation and that there had been three isolated instances of discriminatory or intentionally segregative behavior, the Dayton school officials were found, in effect, to be operating a unitary school system. In...

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17 cases
  • Reed v. Rhodes, C73-1300.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • September 23, 1980
    ...559 F.2d 1220 (6th Cir. 1977). Upon reconsideration, the original findings were carefully reviewed, affirmed and readopted, 455 F.Supp. 546 (N.D.Ohio 1978) and a Remedial Order was issued. 455 F.Supp. 569 (N.D.Ohio 1978). The state defendants again appealed from both the Remand and Remedial......
  • Reed v. Rhodes
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • June 10, 1999
    ...Reed v. Rhodes, 422 F.Supp. 708, 797 (N.D.Ohio 1976), remanded without opinion, 559 F.2d 1220 (6th Cir.1977), on remand to 455 F.Supp. 546 (N.D.Ohio), on remand to 455 F.Supp. 569 (N.D.Ohio On February 6, 1978, the district court reaffirmed its earlier conclusion that Defendants were consti......
  • People Who Care v. Rockford Bd. of Educ.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • February 18, 1994
    ...busing serves to "convert integrative opportunities to racially segregative nightmares for the children involved." Reed v. Rhodes, 455 F.Supp. 546, 563 (N.D.Ohio 1978). Intact busing not only is a constitutional violation, but also constitutes strong evidence of discriminatory intent. See R......
  • Mixon v. Ohio
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • June 8, 1999
    ...plan of actual desegregation" and the Cleveland schools remained under the supervision of the district court. Reed v. Rhodes, 455 F. Supp. 546, 568 (N.D. Ohio 1978). From 1978 through the early 1990s, the parties continued to litigate the specifics of the remedial order and eventually enter......
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