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Andrews v. Monroe City School Board

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

March 29, 2018





         Pending before the Court are cross-motions filed by the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Monroe City School Board (“MCSB”). The DOJ filed a Motion for Further Relief [Doc. No. 211] under the Second Amended Consent Decree to address MCSB's compliance with the provisions regarding the Carroll High School Medical Magnet Program. MCSB, joined by individual Defendant, Dr. Brent Vidrine (“Dr. Vidrine”), filed a Motion to Terminate Judicial Supervision and to Declare the Monroe City School District Unitary (“Motion to Terminate”) [Doc. No. 221]. Individual Plaintiffs Annie Faye Harris (“Harris”) and Benya F. Marshall (“Marshall”) have been notified of all proceedings, but neither Plaintiff has made any filings.[1]

         For the following reasons, the Court finds that the Monroe City School District (“the District”) has achieved unitary status in the sole remaining area of teacher and principal assignments. The Court further finds that the MCSB has achieved substantial compliance with the Second Amended Consent Decree [Doc. No. 141], such that further judicial supervision is unnecessary. Accordingly, the DOJ's Motion for Further Relief is DENIED, and MCSB's Motion to Terminate is GRANTED.


         For more than 50 years, MCSB 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 system.

         On August 1, 1969, the Court issued a desegregation decree. In this decree, the Honorable Ben C. Dawkins, Jr., approved a modified desegregation plan proposed by the School Board, which provided:

(1) Following a zoning plan proposed by the Monroe City School Board;
(2) Allowing any student in the majority race at his school to transfer to a school where he would be in the minority race;
(3) Refusing students the opportunity to transfer from a school in the District to a school under the direction of the Ouachita Parish School Board;
(4) Allowing the School Board to appoint a bi-racial advisory committee to assist in the desegregation of schools; and
(5) Submitting a plan by February 1, 1970, to accomplish full integration or desegregation of the school system.

         The August 1, 1969 decree was subsequently modified on November 4, 1969; February 11, 1970; February 24, 1970; August 5, 1970; July 30, 1971; January 27, 1972; August 16, 1973; August 30, 1973; August 15, 1988; June 7, 1989; July 6, 1992; April 29, 1998; August 4, 1998; December 18, 2000; July 26, 2000; August 8, 2005; March 30, 2010; July 25, 2011; June 20, 2012; December 11, 2015; March 24, 2016; and April 14, 2016.

         On February 16, 1970, the DOJ intervened as amicus curiae. On May 11, 1978, the Court granted DOJ's motion to formally intervene, and DOJ has been active in the case since that time.

         On July 6, 1992, the Honorable Tom Stagg granted MCSB'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 MCSB's motion in part, finding that the District was not unitary in the areas of teacher and principal assignments, student assignments, and transportation.

         On July 9, 1998, Marshall and Harris were permitted to join the case as individual Plaintiffs and remain actively involved.

         On March 26, 2010, the DOJ and MCSB filed a proposed Consent Decree with the Court. Plaintiffs did not object. On March 30, 2010, the Court signed the Consent Decree [Doc. No. 16], which again modified the August 1, 1969 Decree. The Consent Decree provided for specific actions to be taken by the School Board, culminating in a review of the District's unitary status at the end of June, 2014. Among other items, the parties agreed that the “District will offer the same courses at every high school in the District, including, but not limited to AP, pre-AP, Honors, Dual Enrollment, and Distance Learning courses.” Id. Information about the course offerings was to be disseminated to junior high and middle school students beginning in the seventh grade. Id. Additionally, MCSB agreed to “work with the Equity Assistance Center of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) in order to ensure that all students have equitable opportunity to participate in Gifted, Honors, pre-AP, and AP programming at all schools in the District.” Id.

         On July 25, 2011, the Court issued an Order [Doc. No. 38] granting the School Board's Motion for Partial Relief from Judgment, again modifying the August 1, 1969 Decree, to provide for the reassignment of sixth grade students at Cypress Point Elementary School to Sallie Humble Elementary School for the 2011-2012 school year. Additionally, the School Board was directed to “petition the Court to approve the School Board's proposed comprehensive attendance plan for implementation prior to the commencement of the 2012-2013 school year.” Id.

         Subsequently, MCSB retained a demographer, Michael Hefner (“Hefner”), to assist in the development of a new attendance zone plan. After Hefner completed his report and made his recommendations to MCSB, on May 25, 2012, in compliance with the Court's July 25, 2011 Order, MCSB filed a Motion for Partial Relief from Judgment [Doc. No. 48]. The DOJ did not oppose the motion, but Plaintiffs did oppose the motion. [Doc. No. 51]. The School Board also filed a reply memorandum [Doc. No. 52]. After review, on June 20, 2012, the Court granted the motion, making certain zoning changes, which remain in place.

         Between 2010 and 2014, MCSB filed the annual October 15 status reports required by the Court's August 14, 2008 Order and the annual June 30 status reports required by the March 30, 2010 Consent Decree. Neither the DOJ nor the individual Plaintiffs raised any concerns during this time period about the Green factors or MCSB's compliance with the March 30, 2010 Consent Decree.

         On May 13, 2014, the Court issued a minute entry [Doc. No. 75]. In that entry, the Court stated:

The parties' March 30, 2010 Consent Decree remains pending before the Court. In its June 19, 2012 Minutes [Doc. No. 55], the Court previously instructed the parties to identify and address any unresolved issues which would prevent the Court from conducting a unitary status review on or after June 30, 2014. If the parties could not resolve the issues amicably, they were instructed to notify the Court and request a hearing. 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 ...

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