United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
JIMMY ANDREWS, ET AL.
MONROE CITY SCHOOL BOARD, ET AL.
G. JAMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff United States of America's
(“the United States”) Motion for Order to Show
Cause [Doc. No. 144]. The United States contends that
Defendant Monroe City School Board (“the School
Board”) and Superintendent Brent Vidrine (“Dr.
Vidrine”) failed to meet deadlines and other
requirements of the Consent Decree in effect and failed to
take the required steps to desegregate the District's
faculty. The United States moves the Court to order the
School Board and Dr. Vidrine to show cause why they should
not be held in contempt. If the School Board and Dr. Vidrine
are found in contempt, the United States moves the Court to
order them to pay a civil fine of $100 per day for each day
of noncompliance, to pay a civil fine of double that amount
for each calendar week of continued noncompliance, and to
extend the deadline for the Carroll High School Medical
Magnet Program (“Medical Magnet Program”)
applications for the 2016-17 school year to at least one
month after the District has cured its related noncompliance.
response, the School Board filed a memorandum in opposition
[Doc. No. 152] and a “Motion for Relief under FRCvP
12(c) and (d).” [Doc. No. 181]. Dr. Vidrine filed a
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 170].
following reasons, the United States' Motion for Order to
Show Cause is DENIED, and Dr. Vidrine's and the School
Board's motions are DENIED AS MOOT.
Procedural History Leading up to the Filing of the Motion for
Order to Show Cause
more than 50 years, the School Board has operated the
District under a desegregation decree. On August 5, 1965, a
Complaint was filed in the name of then-minor students, Jimmy
Andrews and Tommy Ray Robertson, by their mothers, against
the City of Monroe (“the City”), the Mayor, the
members of the School Board, and the Superintendent. On
September 17, 1965, the Court issued a permanent injunction
prohibiting Defendants from operating a bi-racial school
August 1, 1969, the Court issued a desegregation decree. Over
the years, the original desegregation decree has been
modified numerous times.
6, 1992, United States District Judge Tom Stagg granted the
School Board's motion for unitary status in part and
declared the District unitary in the areas of facilities,
extracurricular activities, and hiring and retention of
teachers and administrators. Judge Stagg denied the School
Board's motion in part, finding that the District was not
unitary in the areas of teacher and principal assignments,
student assignments, and transportation.
9, 1998, Benya Marshall (“Marshall”) and Annie
Faye Harris (“Harris”) were permitted to join the
case as individual Plaintiffs.
1998 and 2008, there were limited proceedings in this case,
mainly addressing certain zoning issues and the continued
filing of status reports.
2008, the Court, on its own motion, began examining all
remaining desegregation cases on its docket. In this case,
the United States and the School Board began working together
to reach a consent decree for the Court's approval.
result, the parties submitted a proposed consent decree,
which the Court approved on March 30, 2010. [Doc. No. 16].
The March 30, 2010 Consent Decree was to be in effect for
five school years, or until June 30, 2014, when the parties
were to “conduct a full evaluation of the
District's compliance with the terms of [the Consent
Decree] and with the Fourteenth Amendment . . . . and
applicable federal law to determine the District's
eligibility to request a declaration of unitary status from
this Court” in the remaining areas. Id. at
18, 2012, the Court conducted a telephone status conference,
at which time
[t]he Court raised the issue of the pending March 30, 2010
Consent Decree. Under that Decree, a unitary status review is
set to take place after June 30, 2014. However, it is the
intent of the Court that the parties take affirmative steps
to address any issues that would prevent a unitary status
finding in 2014. As issues arise, the Court expects the
parties to attempt to reach an amicable resolution or to
contact the Court for a hearing to resolve the issues, rather
than waiting to conduct a review in 2014. In the upcoming
June 30, 2012 status report, the Court expects the School
Board to identify and address any unresolved issues.
13, 2014, the Court issued a minute entry which stated as
. . . The parties have not contacted the Court about
unresolved issues, nor have they requested a status
conference on this topic. Accordingly, the Court anticipates
that the parties will file a joint motion for unitary status
on or after June 30, 2014. If the Department of Justice, the
Monroe City School Board, or the individual Plaintiffs have
any remaining concerns about issues related to the
Green factors, they must file a motion for a status
No. 75]. No motion was filed.
22, 2014, the Court held a status conference with the parties
and ordered the School Board to file a motion for unitary
status or the parties to file a status report by August 18,
2014. However, in subsequent filings and status conferences,
the School Board's counsel reported that the School Board
had not authorized him to file a motion for unitary status.
During this time, the United States raised no concerns about
the District's desegregation efforts on the remaining
Green factor or the District's compliance with
the March 30, 2010 Consent Decree.
15, 2015, another status conference was held, and the Court
informed the parties that it intended to conduct a sua
sponte unitary status review. [Doc. No. 86]. The United
States stated that it did not intend to take any further
action. The following day, the Court set a unitary status
hearing for September 21, 2015. [Doc. No. 87].
September 8, 2015, at a pre-hearing conference, the United
States raised concerns about the District's compliance
with the March 30, 2010 Consent Decree for the first time
since 2010. [Doc. No. 97].
September 21, 2015, the unitary status hearing was held as
scheduled, and the Court took evidence and heard the
parties' arguments. At the conclusion, the Court declared
the District unitary in the areas of transportation and
student assignments. The Court found that the District had
not achieved unitary status in the area of “principal
and teacher assignments and has not fully complied with the
March 30, 2010 Consent Order.” [Doc. No. 107].
the hearing, the parties were able to reach an agreement to
amend the March 30, 2010 Consent Decree. The new Consent
Decree was approved by the Court on December 11, 2015. [Doc.
No. 113]. Sections V, VI, and VII of the 44-page
document provide the substantive actions the School Board
agreed to take with regard to monitoring and oversight
through the use of an independent court monitor
(“ICM”), teacher and principal assignments,
equitable access to course offerings, equitable access to
specialized academic programs, and the Medical Magnet
Program. “At a minimum, th[e] Consent Decree [was to]
remain in force until the conclusion of the 2016-17 school
year, ” but the parties “anticipate[d] that the
District will be in a position to be declared unitary by
September 30, 2017.” Id. at pp. 33-34.
January 12, 2016, by minute entry and at the request of the
parties, the Consent Decree was amended to extend the
deadline for notifying the Court of the selection of the ICM
to January 22, 2016.
months later, the parties sought another amendment to the
December 11, 2015 Consent Decree, which was approved by the
Court on March 24, 2016. [Doc. No. 133]. The amendment
extended and re-set a number of the deadlines in the December
11, 2015 Consent Decree, but the substantive provisions
remained the same.
April 14, 2016, the Court granted the parties' joint
motion for an extension of a deadline, and again amended the
December 11, 2015 Consent Decree. [Doc. Nos. 140 & 141].
The substantive provisions again remained unchanged.
27, 2016, the United States filed the instant Motion for
Order to Show Cause [Doc. No. 144], contending that the
School Board and Dr. Vidrine had violated the terms of the
December 11, 2015 Consent Decree, as amended on January 12,
2016; March 24, 2016; and April 14, 2016. The United States
moves the Court to order the School Board members and Dr.
Vidrine to show cause why they should not be held in contempt
for failing to meet the deadlines and cure their
noncompliance with Sections VI.A.2.i, VI.A.2.ii(2)(b),
VI.A.2.iii, VI.D.1.i, VI.D.1.ii, VI.D.1.iv, VI.C.1.v, and
V.B.2 of the Consent Decree. The United States moves the
Court to order the School Board members and Dr. Vidrine to
pay a civil fine of $100 per day for each day that they
continue to fail to comply with the Consent Decree and double
that as a fine for each calendar week of continued
noncompliance. Finally, the United States moves the Court
to order the School Board and Dr. Vidrine to extend the
deadline for the submission of applications for the Medical
Magnet Program for the 2016-17 school year to at least one
month after the District has cured its related noncompliance.
School Board filed a response. [Doc. No. 152]. The School
Board contends that it acted through Dr. Vidrine and his
staff, that any failures were not the result of conscious
refusal or indifference, and that partial, if not total,
compliance with the Consent Decree has been achieved. The
School Board argues further that civil contempt is not
appropriate because neither it nor the staff refused to
comply, the Consent Decree is a lengthy document, the School
Board was inexperienced, Dr. Vidrine was inexperienced as a
Superintendent, there has since been substantial compliance,
and everyone acted in good faith.
Court held an evidentiary hearing on July 6, 2016. Testimony
was taken regarding what the Consent Decree provided for
teacher and administrator assignment and related issues and
where the parties stand with reference to compliance on those
issues. The School Board and Dr. Vidrine were ordered to
provide a report to the Court and the United States on August
19, 2016, on the assignment of teachers and administration
(including Deans of Students) as of August 15, 2016. The
hearing was set to resume on September 19, 2016. However, on
that date, Dr. ...