U.S. v. Hazelwood School Dist.

Decision Date25 May 1976
Docket NumberNo. 75-1422,75-1422
Citation534 F.2d 805
Parties12 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1161, 11 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 10,854 UNITED STATES of America, Appellant, v. HAZELWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT et al., Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Cynthia L. Attwood, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for appellant; Donald J. Stohr, U. S. Atty., J. Stanley Pottinger, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Walter W. Barnett and Cynthia L. Attwood, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., on the briefs.

William A. Ens, St. Louis, Mo., for appellee; William A. Ens and Don O. Russell, St. Louis, Mo., filed brief.

Before GIBSON, Chief Judge, CLARK, Associate Justice, Retired, * and BRIGHT, Circuit Judge.

Mr. Justice CLARK.

The Attorney General brought this suit on August 9, 1973, in the name of the United States, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 1 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, alleging racial discrimination in the employment practices of the Hazelwood School District (Hazelwood) in St. Louis County, Missouri. The Superintendent and Board of Education of Hazelwood were also parties defendant. Jurisdiction was invoked under Section 707 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-6, which authorizes the Attorney General to bring suit whenever he has reasonable cause to believe that any person has engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of the rights secured by Title VII of the Act.

In its complaint, the United States alleged that prior to 1955, Hazelwood employed no black faculty or staff in accordance with existing Missouri law which mandated racially segregated schools, and that since that time Hazelwood has continued to pursue such a pattern or practice of racial discrimination in employment by failing to employ black applicants who were as well or better qualified to teach than the white applicants who were actually employed. Injunctive relief was sought to require Hazelwood (1) to cease using discriminatory practices; (2) to take affirmative action to recruit black faculty and staff; and (3) to provide for back pay to those black applicants who were rejected because of such discriminatory patterns or practices. The district court held that the United States failed to prove that Hazelwood had engaged in discriminatory practices in violation of Title VII and the Fourteenth Amendment and denied any relief. United States v. Hazelwood School District, 392 F.Supp. 1276 (E.D.Mo.1975).

The United States claims that the court erred: (1) in failing to give any weight to Hazelwood's admitted pre-Title VII discrimination, (2) in applying an erroneous legal standard in determining that the United States had not demonstrated a statistical disparity between the racial composition of Hazelwood's work force and the relevant labor market; (3) in failing to recognize the relationship between the statistical evidence of discrimination and Hazelwood's standardless hiring practices; and (4) in holding that the United States had failed to prove that individual black applicants were rejected on account of race. The United States argues that it established, both by affirmative evidence and statistical summaries, a prima facie case of racial discrimination which shifted to Hazelwood the burden of proving that it had not engaged in any unlawful discrimination.

We have concluded that, from its establishment in 1949-1951 until at least March 1974, Hazelwood has engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatorily failing and refusing to hire blacks in violation of the Act, and that the United States and certain black teaching applicants are entitled to relief.


The Hazelwood School District occupies 78 square miles of territory and serves some 25,000 students, predominantly white, in some five communities in northern St. Louis County. The district borders for a short distance the St. Louis City School District. Prior to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873 (1954), the Constitution of the State of Missouri mandated racially segregated schools. Mo.Const. Art. IX, § 1(a) (1945).

Before Brown, the school districts in St. Louis County assigned black faculty to black schools exclusively and white faculty only to white schools. Because no blacks lived in the Hazelwood District prior to 1954, the District did not operate a black school. Accordingly, Hazelwood employed no black faculty in its schools. Hazelwood's teacher application forms prior to 1954 contained a space for identification of race, as well as one for a photograph; indeed, as late as the 1962-63 school year, some of the forms continued to have a space for designation of race. As late as 1962 an advertisement appearing in the Clarion-Ledger Jackson Daily News of Jackson, Mississippi, solicited applications for "Kindergarten and Elementary teachers (white only)". Sometime prior to 1964, Hazelwood adopted a policy "to hire all teachers on the basis of training, preparation and recommendations, regardless of race, color or creed." However, no black teacher was hired by Hazelwood until 1969.

In the past, Hazelwood has recruited teachers from predominantly white colleges and universities throughout Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma. No recruitment was done from either of the two predominantly black colleges in Missouri, Harris Teachers College and Lincoln University; nor did Hazelwood recruit from predominantly black colleges in any other state. There was also evidence presented at the trial concerning 55 black teachers who had applied at Hazelwood for positions but had been rejected. Twenty-five of these applicants testified in the case. The appellant sought to prove that in each instance, vacancies in the applicant's special field were filled by whites with less or no better qualifications.

Statistical information introduced by the United States demonstrated that Hazelwood employed only one black in 1969, and six blacks (0.6 percent of the total teachers in the district) in 1970-71. Thirteen blacks were employed out of a total of 1,197 teachers (1.1 percent) in 1972-73. During the 1973-74 school year, Hazelwood employed 22 black teachers out of a total of 1,231 (1.8 percent). In St. Louis City and County, however, over 15 percent of the teachers were black in 1970.

Hazelwood's hiring procedures may well be the crux of the problem. It uses virtually no standards in making its selections. Applicants complete an application form which is filed in the central personnel office. Each year all applicants are requested to update their forms, and those not updated are destroyed. An applicant must be interviewed to be hired. When a vacancy is anticipated or occurs, the principal of the school involved notifies the personnel office, and the director of the latter office then selects applicants in the relevant field from the application cards. Those selected are notified to arrange for interviews with the employing principal. When an application is filed, it is the practice of the personnel officer merely to check the eligibility of the applicant under Missouri certification requirements. 2

Upon receipt of a request from a principal to employ a new teacher, the director of the personnel office usually notifies those applicants who have recently come to the attention of the office or have kept the office advised of their continuing availability. 3 Groups of applicants generally meet with Hazelwood's secondary or elementary coordinator, who describes the District to them, and the respective school principal then interviews individually the applicants referred from the personnel office. The principal thereafter suggests a choice to the coordinator, who, in turn, makes a recommendation to the Superintendent. As a general rule, the choice of the principal is determinative. The principals are given no guidance as to how to select teachers beyond the general instruction to hire the "most competent" person available. Since there are 23 principals in Hazelwood, there are 23 different hiring standards within the general instruction of the Board to hire the "most competent" applicant. The Superintendent of Hazelwood testified that no standards had been developed; that the philosophy is that "the principal should have the leeway to employ the most competent people that he knows of or that he can find for the position"; that with regard to the efficacy of such a selection method "we have not conducted any studies along this line." The former Superintendent testified that Hazelwood "had no objective measurements other than your subjective opinions of the person hooked onto the recommendations and their file from the placement office." The Coordinator of Secondary Education for Hazelwood testified that he had been given no standards other than to hire "the best candidate for the position." The only minimum uniform standard applied in Hazelwood's hiring process is that a candidate must possess a health certificate and a Missouri Teachers Certificate prior to the first day of classes.

To rebut the Government's case, Hazelwood relied almost entirely upon its cross-examination of the Government's witnesses. Hazelwood introduced only one witness and several exhibits of its own. The witness testified to the total number of teachers who applied and were hired during the 1971-72 and 1973-74 school years 3,127 of which 234 were hired in 1971-72 and 2,373 of which 282 were hired in 1972-73. The exhibits consisted of the policy manual, policy book, staff handbook, and historical summary of the formation of the Hazelwood School District. Hazelwood argued that no discrimination could be proved because equal employment opportunity was the official policy of the District and because the small number of its black teachers was...

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