United States v. School District 151 of Cook County, Ill.

Decision Date15 May 1969
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 68 C 755.
Citation301 F. Supp. 201
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. SCHOOL DISTRICT 151 OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS; Charles Watts, Superintendent of School District 151; Richard Graf, Wallace Davis, Louis Wiersma, Gerald Bennett, James Hendrix, Donald McGee, and Hobart Krillic, Members of the Board of Education of School District 151 of Cook County, Illinois, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois




Thomas A. Foran, U. S. Atty., Jack B. Schmetterer, Asst. U. S. Atty., Chicago, Ill., J. Harold Flannery, Robert Pressman, Attys., John N. Mitchell, Atty. Gen., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for plaintiff.

Louis Ancel, Marvin J. Glink and Ronald M. Glink, Chicago, Ill., John Merrill Van Der Aa, South Holland, Ill., for defendants.


JULIUS J. HOFFMAN, District Judge.

This is a civil rights action brought by the plaintiff under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000c-6(a) seeking an order directing the defendants to desegregate grammar schools in Illinois School District 151. On July 8th, 1968, and after extensive hearings, the district court determined that the defendants and their predecessors were guilty of denying Negro children in District 151 equal protection of the law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment by virtue of the defendants' invidiously discriminatory policies, decisions and practices based solely on the fact that the children are Negroes, and the district court, accordingly, issued its preliminary injunction order against the defendants based on its findings of fact and conclusions of law. See United States v. School District 151 of Cook County, Illinois, 286 F.Supp. 786 (N.D. Ill.1968). The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunctive order for the government, and remanded the cause to the district court for further proceedings upon the government's motion for a permanent injunction on December 17, 1968. See School District 151 of Cook County, Illinois v. United States, 404 F.2d 1125 (7th Cir. 1968). Pursuant to the directive of the Court of Appeals, the district court conducted hearings beginning with January 13, 1969, and ending on February 17, 1969. As a result of these hearings and a careful examination of the transcript of evidence consisting of 2,867 pages, together with all of the documentary exhibits, the court has determined that the government is entitled to a permanent injunction against the defendants.

For an American who is devoted to his country and wants to believe in the intelligence and good-will of its citizens it is very painful to contemplate and difficult to understand continued resistance to school desegregation. It should be, but apparently it is not, unnecessary to restate the fact that not only has the United States Supreme Court held segregation to be illegal and morally reprehensible (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873 (1954)) but also that social and educational research have corroborated the finding that it is damaging to the student's personality and intellectual development (United States v. School District 151 of Cook County, Illinois, 286 F.Supp. 786 (N.D.Ill.1968).

The separation of black and white children is in itself an inhibiting factor. In any community where one school is black and one predominantly white nobody needs to be told which is considered the good school. This is the case whether segregation is the result of an old housing pattern, the flight of white residents or the construction of a new school on a site beyond the walking distance of Negro children. The implication, and not infrequently the assertion, that the Negro school is "undesirable" disheartens both pupils and teachers and limits their expectations. Because it saps the pupil's motivation, his achievement level drops below his actual capacity and gives ostensible confirmation to the fear that he is somehow deficient. In other words, the school which should help him to resolve his self-doubts, strengthen his self-respect and encourage his aspirations actually does the reverse.

The correlation between high expectations and excellent performance, low expectations and poor performance is so obvious and well documented that even without test scores to prove the point, it should be obvious that Negro children make better progress in desegregated schools where success is the rule than in all-Negro schools where it is usually the exception. By this time also the apprehensions of white parents should have been dispelled by the reports and testimony of educators who have found that the performance of white children has not been adversely affected by the introduction of Negroes into their classes. The academic record of white children attending integrated schools has paralleled that of comparable white students in all-white schools and they have, in addition, received the bonus of interaction with members of a different race, a matter of vital importance in our pluralistic society.

Conversely, segregation harms the white as well as the black student. Just as racial isolation tends to cripple a black child by inducing a feeling of inferiority, it inflates the white child with a false belief in his superiority. These seeds of prejudice and animosity produce particularly noxious weeds when they are not planted adventitiously and merely permitted to sprout but when they are nourished by the deliberate practice of segregation.

The lack of white teachers in black schools and black teachers in white schools cannot be inadvertent or attributable to their place of residence, as in the case of children. When transfer privileges are applied unequally, when attendance areas are not clearly defined and boundary lines are shifted in such a manner as to keep the races apart, segregation cannot successfully be passed off as the incidental result of a neighborhood school policy. Opposition to bussing does not gain respectability by being verbalized as solicitude for the Negro child who might have to be bussed. This court has neither seen nor heard any evidence to indicate that transporting a Negro child to a desegregated school is more hazardous than transporting white children away from one. For many years, millions of children in rural districts and pupils with severe handicaps have withstood the "hardship" of long bus rides. Clearly, the important consideration from every point of view is not the trip in the yellow bus but the quality and composition of the school at the end of it.

Bussing costs money, to be sure, but the hidden costs of discrimination run much higher. They are incalculable in terms of the waste of human resources that occurs when schools award eighth grade diplomas to Negro students with a sixth grade reading level and a man-sized burden of frustration. Not only for the sake of the individual student but for the maintenance of American democracy, free public education must be free of bias as well as free of charge. Desegregation is a very small down payment on an investment whose dividends are good citizenship, justice and the welfare of the nation.

The time is long past when school boards can be permitted to shirk their full responsibility and fail to eliminate discriminatory practices without the necessity of a court order.

The court is of the opinion that the objections of the United States of America to the Kennedy School desegregation proposal should be sustained, and that the permanent relief sought by the plaintiff should be granted, based on the entry of its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law hereinbefore and as hereafter set forth in this memorandum of decision.

There will be an order providing that the objections filed on November 22, 1968 by the United States of America to the Kennedy School desegregation proposal submitted by the defendants on October 30, 1968, be and the same hereby are sustained and that the defendants, their agents, officers, employees and successors and all those in active concert and participation with them, be and they are permanently enjoined from discriminating on the basis of race or color in the operation of School District 151 and in the assignment of teachers and students to schools in that district. As set out more particularly in the body of the decree being entered by the court today, the defendants shall take affirmative action to disestablish school segregation and eliminate the effects of prior unlawful conduct in the operation of the school system.

In accordance with the provisions of Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, findings of fact and conclusions of law are included in this memorandum of decision together with the court's order.


(1) School District 151 is an elementary public school district organized and existing under the laws of the State of Illinois. It is located in Cook County, Illinois, and consists of portions of the communities of Phoenix, Harvey, and South Holland. The District has a total area of about 4.5 square miles (Answer, para. 3; Gov't Exs. C-5; P-4; E-2, p. 6; E-8, p. 1).

(2) Dr. Thomas Van Dam is Superintendent of School District 151. Richard Graf, Hannes Johnson, Louis Wiersma, Gerald Bennett, James Hendrix, Robert Zielenga and Hobart Krillic are the members of the Board of Education of School District 151. Under the laws of the State of Illinois, the members of the Board of Education and the Superintendent are charged with the responsibility of operating the public schools in District 151 (Answer of June 3, 1968, para. 6; Answers of December 19, 1968). Dr. Charles Watts was the Superintendent of School District 151 from about July 1, 1967 to August 16, 1968 (Tr. 736 (Watts); Gov't Ex. AAA, p. 2). Eli Bogolub was a member of the Board of Education of School District 151 from 1964 until April of 1968, during which...

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