United States v. Hazelwood School District, 73C 553 (A).

Decision Date11 April 1975
Docket NumberNo. 73C 553 (A).,73C 553 (A).
Citation392 F. Supp. 1276
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. HAZELWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

Daniel L. Bell, II, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for plaintiff.

Don O. Russell, St. Louis, Mo., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

HARPER, District Judge.

This "pattern and practice" suit was brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the United States, seeking relief from alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U. S.C. § 2000e-6(b).

Defendants, Hazelwood School District, its superintendent and members of the Hazelwood Board of Education, are charged with maintaining a number of employment practices which have the effect of discriminating against black applicants for employment in faculty and staff positions with the Hazelwood District. The various individual claims of the plaintiff may be summarized as follows: (1) The district has not taken affirmative steps to overcome the discriminatory effects of previously operating a purportedly dual school system; (2) evidence of employment statistics establishes a prima facie case of racial discrimination; (3) defandants utilize recruiting and interview techniques which are discriminatory per se; and (4) during recent school years defendants failed to hire numerous black applicants who were better qualified for vacant teaching positions than were the white applicants ultimately chosen to fill those positions. Plaintiff requests that the Court order imposition of numerical hiring quotas, institution of an affirmative recruitment program aimed at attracting black applicants, development of nondiscriminatory employment criteria, and individual offers of employment with back pay to black applicants who were refused employment.

A rudimentary description of the location and history of Hazelwood School District is contained in a pre-trial stipulation filed by the parties. The district covers 78 square miles in northernmost St. Louis County. It was formed from thirteen rural school districts between 1949 and 1951 by process of annexation. At that time the district maintained eight schools with an enrollment of 811 and a faculty of 27. For the school year 1954-1955 the same eight schools remained in existence and the ninth grade of a future four-year high school was initiated.

The first realization that black students might be present in the district apparently came in 1954. The minutes of the Hazelwood Board of Education show that the superintendent informed the Board on November 20, 1954, that blacks had rented property in the district, but that he no knowledge as to whether they had children of school age. The Board instructed the superintendent to admit any children of black residents, but "in view of their being so decidedly in the minority * * * to offer payment of tuition to negro pupils to a school of more predominantly negro enrollments." (Plf's Ex. 57).

Plaintiff's Exhibit 55 discloses that by the 1967-68 school year the total enrollment in the Hazelwood District was 17,550, of which 59, or approximately one-third of one percent, were black. For the year 1970-71 there were a total of 24,256 students in the Hazelwood system. Black students during that year numbered 250, or one percent of the total enrollment. During 1972-73 defendant had a black enrollment of 576, which was approximately two percent of the total 25,166 students in attendance.

Hazelwood did not hire its first black teacher until the 1969-70 school year (Hord Dep. 45-46). During the 1970-71 school year the district employed six black teachers out of a staff of 957. In the fall of 1972 defendants' teaching staff numbered 1,107, out of which 13 were black (Plf's Ex. 55). The black teaching staff was increased to 16 by the end of that school year. For the year 1973-74 defendant maintained a full-time professional faculty of 1231, of which 22 were black (Plf's Ex. 55).

J. W. Hord, personnel director for the Hazelwood schools since 1962, stated that he is the only person involved in the recruiting of teachers (Hord Dep. 9). When he first came to the Hazelwood district most of its teachers came from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (Hord Dep. 11). He stated that at that time there was a "tremendous shortage" of teachers and that the heavy recruiting at Southeast Missouri State occurred because the Hazelwood staff had many contacts at that college. Hord was instructed to try to attract teachers from other colleges and universities in order to obtain a broader distribution of schools. Thereafter, the district recruited at numerous colleges, selected primarily for their availability of candidates and proximity to St. Louis (Hord Dep. 9). The list of schools includes many of those in Missouri as well as a few from Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma (Defendants' Answer to Plaintiff's Request for Admission No. 46). All of the colleges listed have predominantly white student bodies. During the period in question Missouri had two four-year colleges, Lincoln University and Harris Teachers College, which offered teaching degrees and which had a substantial number of black students (Plf's Ex. 51). Hazelwood district did not do any recruiting at Harris Teachers College. Hord made one visit to Lincoln University in 1963 or 1964, where he inquired as to prospective teacher candidates. He stated that the reaction from the placement director was "not very favorable" because of the teacher shortage which existed at the time (Hord Dep. 8). At the trial Hord testified that while it was necessary to "search constantly" to find teachers in the early 1960's, today the district has 2300 applications on file and has reduced its recruiting efforts (Tr. 38). For the 1971-72 school year Hazelwood had 3,127 applicants competing for 234 teaching vacancies (Tr. 358); the following year there were 2,373 applications filed and only 282 openings.

Employment applications are sent to everyone requesting them (Hord Dep. 12). Candidates are requested to furnish information concerning their activities, experience with youth organizations, education, prior teaching experience, extent of reading and travel, and additional related training. Formerly the application forms contained spaces for nationality, religion and a picture of the applicant. This practice was officially discontinued in 1954 (Kirby Dep. 56-57), although some application forms still contained space for designating the applicant's race until the 1962-63 school year (Defendants' Answer to Plaintiff's Interrogatory No. 12, March 1, 1974). Each fall the district asks all applicants to update their files; any that are not so updated are destroyed (Tr. 35).

When the personnel office is notified of vacancies within the district, they contact applicants to arrange for interviews (Hord Dep. 13). At one time every applicant was notified of each vacant position, but with the large number of applications on file today the district first notifies those applicants who have recently come to the attention of the personnel office or who have otherwise informed the district of their continuing availability (Hord Dep. 14-15). The personnel office checks to see that each applicant has a Missouri certification to teach. In certain fields, such as home economics, certification is required in a particular area of specialization within the applicant's field (Hord Dep. 16, 32-33; Huss Dep. 24). The only other minimum requirement for faculty positions is a health certificate (Defendants' Answer to Plaintiff's Interrogatory No. 6).

The practice at Hazelwood is to invite several applicants at a time to a group meeting with the elementary or secondary coordinator who describes the district to them. The applicants are then sent to one or more schools where vacancies exist. Actual interviews are conducted by the respective school principal or by a department chairman or program coordinator. The only instruction given to persons in charge of hiring is to obtain the "most competent" person available for the position (McDonald Dep. 18). There are no other specific standards for employment (McDonald Dep. 51). In addition to the information supplied on the candidate's application form, the interviewer relies on a number of intangibles such as personality, disposition, appearance, poise, voice, articulation, and ability to deal with people (Hord Dep. 25; Huss Dep. 24). Forms used by the interviewer contain spaces for evaluation of an applicant's personal attributes, including knowledge of teaching responsibilities, knowledge of subject area, personal appearance, voice, confidence, personality, attitude toward profession, etc. The applicant is rated as above average (or superior), average, or below average as to each of these traits. In addition, there is space provided for the interviewer's comments.

The most comprehensive explanation of how a teacher is selected appears in the deposition of Frank Fox, principal of Hazelwood Junior High School. He stated that he discusses vacancies with his assistants and department chairman in order to determine what sort of individual is required with respect to personality, philosophy of education, and how particular teaching situations need to be handled (Fox Dep. 7). They then examine individual applicants in order to discover their background experience and type of activities in which they participated in school. Of particular interest are types of employment, both teaching and non-teaching, and contacts with youth groups such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (Fox Dep. 7). Fox does not prefer a master's degree over a bachelor's degree and does not necessarily select the person with the most experience, placing more emphasis on the quality of the experience (Fox Dep. 8). Most other...

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