Reed v. Rhodes, 1:73 CV 1300.

Decision Date08 May 1996
Docket NumberNo. 1:73 CV 1300.,1:73 CV 1300.
Citation934 F. Supp. 1533
PartiesRobert A. REED, 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, Ohio, David W. Whitaker, Beachwood, Ohio, for Plaintiffs.

Wanda Rembert Arnold, Cleveland Board of Education, Law Department, Cleveland, Ohio, for Local Defendants.

Stephen M. O'Bryan, Margaret Anne Cannon, Kelley, McCann & Livingston, Cleveland, Ohio, Mark O'Neill, Weston, Hurd, Fallon, Paisley & Howley, Cleveland, Ohio, for State Defendants.


KRUPANSKY, Circuit Judge, Sitting by Designation.

On August 31, 1976, after a lengthy trial, the late Judge Frank J. Battisti of this Court concluded that from the 1950s through the 1970s, students in the Cleveland Public Schools were increasingly segregated by race through the intentional conduct of the State and Local Defendants. Reed v. Rhodes, 607 F.2d 714, 723 (6th Cir.1979), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 935, 100 S.Ct. 1329, 63 L.Ed.2d 770 (1980).

On February 6, 1978 Judge Battisti reaffirmed his earlier conclusion that "defendants (City Cleveland School District and State Ohio State Board of Education and its Superintendent of Instruction) ... discriminated 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," Reed v. Rhodes, 455 F.Supp. 546, 550 (N.D.Oh.1978), and that both the City and State Defendants are constitutionally liable for having maintained a de jure segregated public school system, id. at 568, in sum, A STATE-IMPOSED DE JURE SEGREGATED PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.

The Remedial Order continued that "findings of systemwide de jure segregation mandate a comprehensive, systemwide plan of actual desegregation which ELIMINATES THE SYSTEMATIC PATTERN OF SCHOOLS SUBSTANTIALLY DISPROPORTIONATE IN THEIR RACIAL COMPOSITION TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT FEASIBLE." Id. at 568. (Emphasis added). See also Reed v. Rhodes, 662 F.2d 1219 (6th Cir.1981), cert. denied sub nom. Ohio St. Bd. of Educ. v. Reed, 455 U.S. 1018, 102 S.Ct. 1713, 72 L.Ed.2d 135 (1982) (affirming state liability). (Emphasis added).

Judge Battisti issued exhaustive Instructions and Guidelines and implemented an elaborate procedure to develop what ultimately became his Remedial Order dated February 6, 1978 (Seminal Order). The Court's efforts embraced the appointment of a Special Master and two sociological desegregation experts. The Special Master initiated protracted hearings which included testimony from six Cleveland Board of Education administrative personnel, five Cleveland board members, and three State Board of Education employees. Members of the general public were invited to present testimony and recommendations before the Special Master. The hearings entertained forty-one representatives from community civic organizations, a representative of the Cleveland Teachers Union, and five private individuals. In addition, voluminous written responses incorporating supplemental advice and proposals were entered into the record at those hearings. Information developed during the course of the hearings, including additional comments and suggestions from concerned citizens of the city and data submitted by the Cleveland Schools superintendent, were considered in fashioning the final Remedial Order which became the seminal document that charted the course to be implemented by the State and Local Defendants for a period that has now exceeded some eighteen years.

The Remedial Order of February 6, 1978 that evolved from arduous community participation defined with particularity the following compliance requirements:

1. desegregation of administrative and certified supervisory and teaching personnel; and
2. desegregation of non-certified personnel; and
3. desegregation of school facilities â I buildings and classroom enrollment resulting from student assignment practices; and
4. development of creative educational curriculums, including innovative reading and other programs designed to correct the effects of prior segregated schooling as is reasonably possible; and
5. other ancillary adjunct relief calculated to (1) remedy the academic effects of prior segregation, (2) ensure that existing and future programs are administered in a non-discriminatory fashion, (3) maintain a secure, integrated school environment in which the rights of all students are protected, and (4) guarantee that court-ordered educational provisions are successfully implemented by:
(a) testing and tracking
(b) counseling and career guidance
(c) magnet school programs
(d) cooperation with universities, and business and cultural institutions
(e) extracurricular activities
(f) staff development and student training in human relations
(g) student rights
(h) school community relations
(i) safety and security
(j) management capability and financial integrity

to dismantle the existing segregated dual school system that had been imposed by the State and Local Defendants as necessary to achieve total unitary desegregated status of that system.

In his February 6, 1978 Order, Judge Battisti announced that the Defendants' progress and/or success in purging the local school system of STATE-IMPOSED SEGREGATION would be measured against an intractable mathematical formulation: "a fifteen percent deviation from the percent ratio of the district population as a whole is the maximum deviation that would be reasonable." See Reed v. Rhodes, 472 F.Supp. 615, 617 (N.D.Oh.1979). Given the then existing geographic residential demographics of the City of Cleveland, the Court suggested that the Defendants "employ the techniques of contiguous and noncontiguous pairing and clusterings, boundary changes, grade structure changes, and feeder pattern changes, to effectuate the designation of the Cleveland public school district," as recommended in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1, 91 S.Ct. 1267, 28 L.Ed.2d 554 (1971). Reed v. Rhodes, 455 F.Supp. 569, 573 (N.D.Oh.1978).

In his Remedial Order, id. at 571-72. Judge Battisti recognized and adopted the Supreme Court's admonition in Brown v. Board of Education ("Brown II"), 349 U.S. 294, 299, 75 S.Ct. 753, 756, 99 L.Ed. 1083 (1955) that:

School authorities have primary responsibility for elucidating, assessing, and solving these problems.

The role delegated to the courts pursuant to Brown II was to

consider whether the action of school authorities constitutes GOOD FAITH IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GOVERNING CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES.

Id. (Emphasis added).

The Supreme Court has consistently cautioned that:

the federal courts in devising a remedy must take into account the interests of state and local authorities in managing their own affairs, consistent with the Constitution

and that federal-court decrees must directly address and relate to the constitutional violation itself. Missouri v. Jenkins, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 115 S.Ct. 2038, 2054, 132 L.Ed.2d 63 (1995), citing Milliken v. Bradley (Milliken II), 433 U.S. 267, 280-82, 97 S.Ct. 2749, 2757-58, 53 L.Ed.2d 745 (1977).

Heeding the dictates of the Supreme Court, this Court reiterated that issues of fiscal stability and managerial effectiveness of a local school system were concerns of the Court only to the extent that they impacted the ability of the local school authorities to implement the Court's desegregation remedial orders.

Responding to that pronounced direction, this Court, in its March 3, 1995 order1 declared:

Hopefully, the Board, the District and the entire community is prepared to recognize the existing realities of the crisis confronting the Cleveland school system and the need for immediate, decisive, and perhaps unpopular action required to eliminate all vestiges of discrimination and expediently return the control of the schools to local authorities without judicial supervision at the earliest practicable date, thereby making the board accountable to the citizenry and the political elective process of the Cleveland School District.

Order of March 3, 1995, at 1560-1561. (Emphasis added).

Prior to 1992, the Defendants had been methodically and successfully addressing compliance with the components of desegregation identified in that February 6, 1978 seminal order and its progeny with a view toward achieving total unitary status and the return of the local Cleveland School District to the control of local authority without judicial supervision at the earliest practicable date, thereby making its administrative supervisory authorities accountable to the citizenry and the political elective process of that District.

In fact, after the District achieved a succession of substantive successes along its route to total desegregation, Dr. Gordon Foster, the parties' joint desegregation expert, declared in his 1988 report entitled "A Study of Desegregated Student Assignments in the Cleveland Public Schools" that

Before the court-ordered assignment plan, 88 percent of all students attended one-race schools; after implementation, every school was desegregated. The District is now racially stabilized at 70 percent Black. It is the only majority Black, large city system in the country which is totally desegregated.

Foster Report, Introduction, at i-ii. (Emphasis added).

His opinion was supported by reports of the Office on School Monitoring and Community Relations (OSMCR) generated in July of 1991 (See page 15, paragraph #3). (SDXDD, p. V-1-II Tab 30; T. 24-25).

The systematic, successful compliance efforts of the defendants were substantially disrupted, however, by disastrous outside political interferences into the internal affairs of the School District from 1992 until the court-ordered intervention of the State Board of Education and its Superintendent of...

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3 cases
  • Reed v. Rhodes
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • 10 Junio 1999
    ...unitary status as to student assignments, and (3) vacating all student assignment remedial orders. See Reed v. Rhodes, 934 F.Supp. 1533 (N.D.Ohio 1996) (hereinafter "Termination Order" ). These appeals present several issues for this Court. First, we must address whether the district court ......
  • Mixon v. Ohio
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • 8 Junio 1999
    ...State Superintendent to "assume immediate supervision and operational, fiscal and personnel management of the District." See Reed v. Rhodes, 934 F. Supp. 1533, 1560 (App. A) (N.D. Ohio, 1996). On May 8, 1996, the district court modified the school desegregation Consent Decree and terminated......
  • Reed v. Rhodes
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • 27 Marzo 1998
    ..."an effective program of cooperation with universities, and businesses and cultural institutions." Reed v. Rhodes, 934 F.Supp. 1533, 1552 (N.D.Ohio 1996) (Krupansky, J.). 3. Plaintiffs stipulated that it "would be easiest to reach agreement on or stipulate to compliance as defined in Sectio......

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