United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
M.C. MOORE, ET AL.
TANGIPAHOA PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is the Tangipahoa Parish School Board's
“Motion for Reconsideration of Facilities Order.”
Rec. Doc. 1475. Plaintiffs filed an opposition. Rec. Doc.
1489. For the reasons discussed below, IT IS
ORDERED that the motion (Rec. Doc. 1475) is
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
motion to reconsider is part of a long-running school
desegregation case, the facts of which have been discussed at
length in the underlying Order and Reasons. See Rec.
Doc. 1472. To recap the most relevant history, the Board is
under a desegregation consent decree with respect to,
inter alia, its facilities. See Rec. Docs.
876, 956, 1264. In April 2017, the Board moved for unitary
status in the area of facilities. See Rec. Doc.
1455. Plaintiffs filed an opposition (Rec. Doc. 1456) and the
Board filed a reply (Rec. Doc. 1462). In July 2017, the Court
granted provisional unitary status in the area of facilities,
subject to a two-year probationary period during which the
Court Compliance Officer will conduct semiannual compliance
reviews. See Rec. Doc. 1472. The Board subsequently
filed the instant motion for reconsideration. Rec. Doc. 1475.
Board seeks reconsideration of the Order granting provisional
unitary status in the area of facilities (Rec. Doc. 1472)
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). See
Rec. Doc. 1475-1 at 3-4. “Rule 59(e) serves the narrow
purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law
or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.”
Templet v. HydroChem, Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th
Cir. 2004). “A Rule 59(e) motion . . . is not the
proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or
arguments that could have been offered or raised
before” the order was issued. Id. at 478-79. As a
result, the “extraordinary remedy” available
under Rule 59(e) “should be used sparingly.”
Id. at 479.
the Board argues that the provisional grant of unitary status
in the area of facilities, with a two year period of
continued supervision, is a “manifest legal
error” stemming from incorrect application of
Youngblood v. Bd. of Pub. Instruction, 448 F.2d 770
(5th Cir. 1971). See Rec. Doc. 1475-1 at 4-9. The
Board asserts that it is entitled to full unitary status in
the area of facilities, without any further supervision,
under an “incremental approach” to resolving
desegregation cases. See Rec. Doc. 1475-1 at 5-9.
The Board's current position is undermined by the
references in its motion for unitary status to “the
three (3) year period of [unitary status] required by this
jurisdiction” before a defendant is released from court
supervision. See Rec. Docs. 1455 at 1, 1455-1 at 25.
This is the same period of time that the Board now argues is
inapplicable under the incremental approach. Moreover, none
of the cases cited by the Board hold that the Fifth
Circuit's incremental approach is inconsistent with
imposing a temporary probationary period under
fact, quite the opposite is true. In Overton, the
district court imposed a probationary period under
Youngblood before finding that the school district
had reached unitary status. See United States v.
Overton, 834 F.2d 1171, 1173-74, 1177 (5th Cir. 1987).
The same occurred in Flax v. Potts, 915 F.2d 155,
157 (5th Cir. 1990). And in United States v. Midland
Indep. Sch. Dist., the Fifth Circuit merely held that it
was not an abuse of discretion to grant unitary status
without a final hearing when a district court has otherwise
“develop[ed] intimate knowledge of the school
district's operations . . . [and] attain[ed] the same
substantive goals achievable by using the Youngblood
procedures.” 48 F. App'x 102, *1 (5th Cir. 2002).
Midland does not prohibit a district court from
imposing a probationary period under Youngblood
before fully releasing a defendant from part of a
desegregation order. See Id. The two-year
probationary period imposed in the Order and Reasons (Rec.
Doc. 1472) is consistent with Fifth Circuit doctrine and
there is no basis for reconsideration under Rule 59(e).
the Board argues that the Court improperly decided to impose
the two-year probationary period by imputing the bad faith
comments of a single school board member to the whole school
board. See Rec. Doc. 1475-1 at 9-13. But the Court
did not find that the school board acted in bad faith. The
Court observed that the school board had complied with court
orders and concluded that the school board had
“minimally yet sufficiently demonstrated a commitment
to desegregation.” Id. at 8, 13-14. In
recognition of these efforts and guided by Fifth Circuit
doctrine, the Court granted provisional unitary status in the
area of facilities. See Id. at 15-16. But because
the board must continue to act in good faith during the
probationary period, the Court again highlighted its
lingering concern that at least one member of the school
board had expressed a desire to reverse the board's hard
work toward achieving desegregation once full unitary status
was achieved. See Id. at 15-16.
the Board objects (see Rec. Doc. 1475-1 at 13-15) to
the second to last sentence of the order (see Rec.
Doc. 1472 at 16), which reads, “The CCO is authorized
to take reasonable measures to enforce compliance with this
and related orders as he deems necessary.” The Board
argues that this sentence impermissibly expands the COO's
authority in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 53.
See Rec. Doc. 1475-1 at 13-15. But the sentence does
not alter the CCO's authority. Rather, it simply
reiterates the COO's mandate to “ensure compliance
with the orders of the court . . . [by] [(1)] monitor[ing]
and insur[ing] that the letter and spirit of case law and
orders of the court are followed regarding school board
responsibility to desegregate schools and [(2)] ensur[ing]
that the court and all parties are informed of any action
which may be contrary to the orders of the court.” Rec.
Doc. 703-1 at 1. Because the Order and Reasons (Rec. Doc.
1472) does not tread new ground with respect to the CCO's
authority, reconsideration is inappropriate.
 Plaintiff's motion is properly
analyzed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) because
it was filed within twenty-eight days after the Court
provisionally granted unitary status in the area of
facilities. See Texas A&M Research Found. v. Magna
Transp., Inc., 338 F.3d 394, 400 (5th Cir.
 One of the cases cited by the Board
does not actually involve the termination of a desegregation
order and simply discusses the incremental approach to
achieving unitary status. See Hull v. Quitman Cty. Bd. of
Educ., 1 F.3d 1450, 1454 (5th Cir. 1993) (“This
appeal does not present exactly th[e] [unitary status] issue,
for [defendant] has not sought to terminate its desegregation
case.”). Another case does not address the
Youngblood question because the decision under
review is from the Eleventh Circuit. See Freeman v.
Pitts, 503 U.S. 467 (1992). Moreover, in
Freeman, the district court found that the school