United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TANGIPAHOA PARISH SCHOOL BOARD,
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is the Tangipahoa Parish School Board's
(“the Board”) “Motion for Unitary Status:
Facilities.” Rec. Doc. 1455. Plaintiffs timely filed an
opposition memorandum. Rec. Doc. 1456. The Board then
requested (Rec. Doc. 1459), and was granted (Rec. Doc. 1461),
leave to file a reply memorandum (Rec. Doc. 1462). For the
reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that the motion for
unitary status in the area of facilities (Rec. Doc. 1455) is
school desegregation cases, “the court's end
purpose must be to remedy the violation and, in addition, to
restore state and local authorities to the control of a
school system that is operating in compliance with the
Constitution.” Freeman v. Pitts, 503 U.S. 467,
489 (1992) (citing Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S.
267, 280-81 (1977) (“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”)). “‘[L]ocal
autonomy of school districts is a vital national
tradition'” and “[r]eturning schools to the
control of local authorities at the earliest practicable date
is essential to restore their true accountability in our
governmental system.” Freeman, 503 U.S. at 490
(quoting Dayton Bd. of Ed. v. Brinkman, 433 U.S.
406, 410 (1977)). Before a school may achieve full unitary
status, it must be free from racial discrimination in several
areas, commonly referred to as the “Green
factors”: student assignment, faculty assignment, staff
assignment, extracurricular activities, transportation, and
facilities. Green v. Cty. Sch. Bd. of New Kent Cty.,
Va., 391 U.S. 430, 435 (1968); see also
Freeman, 503 U.S. at 486. If a school district has achieved
partial unitary status in one or more of these areas, the
court “has the discretion to order an incremental or
partial withdrawal of its supervision and control.”
Freeman, 503 U.S. at 489-90. This is because
“remedies must be narrowly structured to address the
scope of a violation and . . . consequently, once the need
for close supervision of a particular facet of a school
desegregation plan ceases, a court must not continue to
supervise that particular facet.” Flax v.
Potts, 915 F.2d 155, 159 (5th Cir. 1990).
Among the factors which must inform the sound discretion of
the court in ordering partial withdrawal are the following:
whether there has been full and satisfactory compliance with
the decree in those aspects of the system where supervision
is to be withdrawn; whether retention of judicial control is
necessary or practicable to achieve compliance with the
decree in other facets of the school system; and whether the
school district has demonstrated, to the public and to the
parents and students of the once disfavored race, its
good-faith commitment to the whole of the court's decree
and to those provisions of the law and the Constitution that
were the predicate for judicial intervention in the first
Freeman, 503 U.S. at 491; see also Bd. of Educ.
of Okla. City Pub. Sch. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 89, Okla. Cty.,
Okla. v. Dowell, 498 U.S. 237, 248 (1991)
(“Dissolving a desegregation decree after the local
authorities have operated in compliance with it for a
reasonable period of time properly recognizes that
‘necessary concern for the important values of local
control of public school systems dictates that a federal
court's regulatory control of such systems not extend
beyond the time required to remedy the effects of past
intentional discrimination . . . .'”) (citations
omitted). Further, “[a] district court in [the Fifth
Circuit] does not dismiss a school desegregation case until
at least three years after it has declared the system
unitary.” Flax, 915 F.2d at 158 (citing
Youngblood v. Bd. of Pub. Instruction of Bay Cty.,
Fla., 448 F.2d 770, 771 (5th Cir. 1971)).
facilities, “the first remedial responsibility of
school authorities is to eliminate invidious racial
distinctions, ” for example, “with regard to the
maintenance of buildings and the distribution of
equipment.” Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd.
of Ed., 402 U.S. 1, 18 (1971). “Courts
consider ‘facilities' synonymous with ‘school
buildings, ' so they assess this factor by comparing the
quality of different, racially identifiable schools within
the district in question.” United States v.
Jefferson Cty. Sch. Dist., 63 F.Supp.3d 1346, 1353 (N.D.
Fla. 2014) (citing Thomas Cty. Branch of N.A.A.C.P. v.
City of Thomasville Sch. Dist., 299 F.Supp.2d 1340, 1364
(M.D. Ga. 2004), aff'd in part, vacated in part,
rev'd in part sub nom. Holton v. City of Thomasville Sch.
Dist., 425 F.3d 1325 (11th Cir. 2005); Valley v.
Rapides Par. Sch. Bd., 646 F.2d 925, 932, on
reh'g, 653 F.2d 941 (5th Cir. 1981)).
COMPLIANCE WITH COURT ORDERS
Tangipahoa Parish School System (“the System”)
consists of thirty-one schools. Rec. Doc. 1455-1 at 1. With
regard to those facilities, this Court has issued several
specific orders. For example, on March 4, 2010, the Court
ordered the Board to construct O. W. Dillon Elementary
School. Rec. Doc. 876 at 2 (the “2010 Order”). On
June 4, 2013, the Board approved a certificate of substantial
completion of the school. Rec. Doc. 1455-3 at 2.
2010 Order also required Court approval for all repairs to
existing facilities exceeding $125, 000. Rec. Doc. 876 at 25.
It appears that the Board substantially complied with this
Order. See Rec. Doc. 1455-37 at 2-4 (summarizing all
facilities-related motions and orders filed into the record
between June 18, 2010 and August 31, 2016).
the 2010 Order required the System to “take affirmative
steps to eliminate any remaining vestiges of prior de
jure segregation at its historically and/or racially
identifiable black schools . . . .” Rec. Doc. 876 at
24. The Court then specifically listed fourteen (14) schools
that were identifiable as “black.” Id.
at 25. Of course, the names of some of those schools have
changed, so the Board supplied the Court with a list of those
schools with their current names. Rec. Doc. 1455-1 at
7.The Board maintains that “it has
complied with this requirement based on its fulfilment of its
constitutional obligations to maintain all of its schools in
an equitable and nondiscriminatory manner.”
Id. The Court systematically compared the facilities
below, using photographs supplied by the Board.
2010 Order also recognized that the System reviewed the
facilities needs at the schools previously identifiable as
black and agreed to implement a plan to address those needs.
Rec. Doc. 876 at 25 (citing Rec. Doc. 876-3 at 11). However,
the funding for those projects depended on certain tax
revenue or bonds. Rec. Doc. 876-3 at 13-14. Ultimately, these
taxes were not made available to the Board. Rec. Doc. 935-1
at 1. Thus, the Court ordered that
those provisions of the court's Order (R. Doc. No. 876)
that were to be funded by proceeds of the new taxes provided
for in said Order, with the exception of the above-ordered
new elementary schools and needed renovations and/or new
construction at Kentwood High School for housing of the
Career Education Center, shall be held in abatement pending
further orders . . . . All other provisions of said Order ...