Evelyn R. Ellis, a Minor, et al., Plaintiffs-appellants, v. the Board of Public Instruction of Orange County, Florida, Defendant-appellee, 423 F.2d 203 (5th Cir. 1970)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit - 423 F.2d 203 (5th Cir. 1970)

February 17, 1970


Norris D. Woolfork, III, Orlanda, Fla., Jack Greenberg, Norman Chachkin, James M. Nabrit, III, Drew S. Days, III, New York City, for plaintiffs-appellants.

James W. Markel, Winter Park, Fla., Joel H. Sharp, Charles R. Fawsett, Orlando, Fla., for defendant-appellee.

Before BELL, AINSWORTH and GODBOLD, Circuit Judges.

BELL, Circuit Judge:


The issue presented in this case is whether the Orange County Florida public school system is now unitary. The answer depends on a review of the posture of the system in light of two controlling decisions of the Supreme Court.1  In Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 1968, 391 U.S. 430, 88 S. Ct. 1689, 20 L. Ed. 2d 716, the mechanics of what must be done to bring about a unitary system were outlined. They were stated in terms of eliminating the racial identification of the schools in a dual system in six particulars: composition of student bodies, faculty, staff, transportation, extracurricular activities, and facilities. 391 U.S. at 435, 88 S. Ct. It was such dual systems, organized and operated by the states acting through local school boards and school officials, which were held unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, 1954, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (Brown I), and which were ordered abolished in Brown v. Board of Education, 1955, 349 U.S. 294, 75 S. Ct. 753, 99 L. Ed. 1083 (Brown II).

In Green the court spoke in terms of the whole system — of converting to a unitary, nonracial school system from a dual system. Then, in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, 1969, 396 U.S. 19, 90 S. Ct. 29, 24 L. Ed. 2d 19, the court pointed to the end to be achieved. The result, if a constitutionally acceptable system may be said to exist, must be that the school system no longer operates as a dual system based on race or color but as a "unitary school * * * [system] within which no person is to be effectively excluded from any school because of race or color." 396 U.S. at p. 20, 90 S. Ct. at p. 30, 24 L. Ed. 2d at p. 21.

Tested in this frame of reference, we conclude that the Orange County school system falls short of being a unitary system only in one respect: A part of the student desegregation plan. It follows that the motion for injunction pending appeal will be denied so as to afford the district court, along with the school board, an opportunity to complete the conversion from a dual to a unitary system. We take the case for final decision on the merits.2  The judgment of the district court will be affirmed in part, reversed in part, and the case remanded to the district court with direction.

THE ORANGE COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM

This system covers the whole of Orange County including the urban areas of Orlanda, Winter Park, Winter Garden and Apopka, as well as rural areas embraced in a county having a land area of 910 square miles, or almost the size of Rhode Island (1,049 square miles). The system is comprised of 26 secondary schools, 66 elementary schools, 3 vocational schools and 3 special education schools, or a total of 98 separate schools. There are 68,012 white and 14,856 Negro students in the system, or a total of 82,868 students as of the present time (February 2, 1970). The racial ratio of students is approximately 82 per cent white -18 per cent Negro. There are a total of 3,563 teachers in the system, 2,913 white and 650 Negro, or much the same racial ratio as students.

On February 1, teachers were transferred so as to establish a substantial racial ratio in each school.3  As an example, Jones High School which has a student population of 1,136 Negro students and 121 white students, now has a faculty composed of 66 white teachers and 14 Negro teachers, 82.5 per cent white and 17.5 per cent Negro. The greatest percentage departure in the system (Orange Center Elementary School) from the system-wide faculty ratio would involve the change of three faculty positions to be exact. Attached as Appendix I is the present faculty population by school and race.

In our recent decision in Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, 5 Cir., 1969, 419 F.2d 1211 (consolidated cases en banc) [Nos. 26285 et al., dated December 1, 1969], in order to mandate compliance with the Green and Alexander v. Holmes County decisions, we required, not later than February 1, 1970, that the faculty and staff be desegregated on the following basis:

"Effective not later than February 1, 1970, the principals, teachers, teacher-aides and other staff who work directly with children at a school shall be so assigned that in no case will the racial composition of a staff indicate that a school is intended for Negro students or white students. For the remainder of the 1969-70 school year the district shall assign the staff described above so that the ratio of Negro to white teachers in each school, and the ratio of other staff in each, are substantially the same as each such ratio is to the teachers and other staff, respectively, in the entire school system."

The Orange County system has complied with this directive as to faculty and staff. It has also agreed to comply in full with the Singleton provision as to continuing non-discriminatory practices in maintaining and replacing faculty and staff.

We also required that transportation systems, in those school districts having transportation systems, be designed to insure the transportation of all eligible pupils on a non-segregated and otherwise non-discriminatory basis. Orange County has been in compliance with this directive since 1964. In addition, a bi-racial committee will review the transportation system from time to time to insure non-discriminatory operation.4 

It also appears that all extracurricular activities, including sports, are being operated on a non-segregated basis and this is likewise true as to facilities.

The requirement of Singleton that all school construction, school consolidation and site selection (including the location of any temporary classroom) in the system be done in a manner which will prevent the recurrence of the dual school structure by taking into consideration residential housing patterns has also been adopted by Orange County. The bi-racial committee will consider and review matters falling into this category. Fn. 4, supra.

These facts demonstrate full compliance with five of the six criteria of Green: Faculty, staff, transportation, extracurricular activities and facilities, leaving only the question of student body composition.

In order to facilitate the integration of student bodies, we required a majority to minority transfer policy in Singleton as follows:

"The school district shall permit a student attending a school in which his race is in the majority to choose to attend another school, where space is available, and where his race is in the minority."

This policy is designed to facilitate the integration of all-white and all-Negro student body schools. The Orange County system has exceeded this directive. A majority to minority transfer rule has been promulgated wherein any transferee is to be furnished free transportation, and all parents have been notified of this provision. Moreover, the transferee is given absolute priority for space and thus the transfer is not dependent on space being available. Again, under the plan of desegregation, the bi-racial committee will review the operation of this rule from time to time in the interest of fairness and effectiveness. Fn. 4, supra.

This leaves for discussion the question whether the Orange County plan of student desegregation is deficient to the extent that it prevents the systems from being unitary. It is urged that all student assignment is on a neighborhood school basis, subject, of course, to the majority to minority transfer rule. The defendant school officials wish to maintain such a basis of assignment.

It was not clear from the opinion and findings of the district court that the defendants were in fact maintaining a neighborhood school system as we would define such a system. A neighborhood school system cannot be a system where variances are allowed to permit children a choice of not attending the nearest school to his or her residence and thereby avoiding assignment to a formerly Negro or formerly white school as the case may be.

The sum of the present assignment system is that ten elementary schools and one junior high school remain with all-Negro student bodies. There is no high school with an all-Negro student body. It appears that 7,518 Negro students attend these eleven schools (ten elementary and one junior high) with the result that 51 per cent of the total of 14,856 Negro students are assigned to schools having all-Negro student bodies.5 

In order to have full facts available, as to neighborhood assignment and the results obtained on a school to school basis, we required the district court, by order dated January 30, 1970, to file supplemental findings of fact within five days addressed to the specifics. They were promptly filed after a further hearing in the district court on short notice. These supplemental findings demonstrate that variances are now allowed from the neighborhood school assignment system with the result that some white students are attending schools located greater distances from their home than nearby schools where the student body is all Negro. As will be seen, this cannot be permitted in a school system operated on a neighborhood basis.

If not permitted in Orange County, eight of the eleven schools having all-Negro student bodies will have integrated student bodies. The percentage of Negro students attending schools having integrated student bodies will increase from 49 to 84 per cent. Moreover, the increase will be even greater if students avail themselves of the majority to minority transfer rule.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL SYSTEM

In the typical southern dual school system in operation prior to Brown I and II, the student was assigned to attend the school nearest his or her home. This so-called neighborhood assignment system was designed to eliminate transportation costs and to permit the student to remain as near home as possible. Under the dual system as ruled unconstitutional, a Negro student would be assigned to the nearest Negro school to his or her home and a white student would be assigned to the nearest white school. Negro students might pass a white school or schools en route to a Negro school. White students might pass a Negro school or schools en route to the white school. Under a neighborhood assignment basis in a unitary system, the student must attend the nearest school whether it be a formerly white school or a formerly Negro school. Orange County is generally using this approach but it is now apparent, under the current plan, that it is not being correctly observed.

As stated, based on the supplemental findings of fact, it appears that a true neighborhood assignment system, assigning students to the school nearest the student's home up to the capacity of the given school, will result in the desegregation of eight of the remaining eleven all-Negro student body schools in the Orange County system, leaving three elementary schools. In four of these eight schools, the number of whites assigned would be somewhat greater if an equidistance rule between schools was used as a basis for assignment rather than the capacity of the school.6  This would necessitate, however, increasing the size of the four schools in question.

Stated differently, under equidistance assignment, zone lines would be located equi-distant between two schools and all students within the zone would attend a given school without regard to the capacity of the school. On the other hand, under the nearest school to student assignment basis, the assignment would be limited by the capacity of the school, and those unable to be accommodated would go to the next nearest school to the home. We hold that the assignment system must take into consideration the existing capacity of the schools. Whether to expand present facilities is a question for the school authorities.

We also hold that the neighborhood system, based on school capacity, must be observed without exception. This will prevent any variance based on traffic conditions, such as are disclosed in the supplemental findings of fact with respect to 53 students who should go to Callahan school, or by zone line locations as is the case with five children who should be assigned to the Webster Avenue school. Variances by arbitrary zone lines, or for reasons of traffic, while reasonable on their face, may destroy the integrity and the stability of the entire assignment plan. If Orange County wishes to maintain a neighborhood assignment system, then it must do so without variances. Each student in the system must be assigned to attend the school nearest his or her home, limited only by the capacity of the school, and then to the next nearest school.

There are a number of all-white student body schools in the Orange County system. This is due to the preponderant white student population (82 per cent), and to residential patterns. The three all-Negro student body schools which will remain, if the neighborhood assignment system is properly invoked, are also the result of residential patterns. The majority to minority transfer provision under the leadership of the bi-racial committee is a tool to alleviate these conditions now. Site location, also under the guidance of the bi-racial committee, will guarantee elimination in the future. In addition, open housing, Title VIII, Civil Rights Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C.A. § 3601 et seq., Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 1968, 392 U.S. 409, 88 S. Ct. 2186, 20 L. Ed. 2d 1189, will serve to prevent neighborhood entrapment.

A view of the student body status of the eleven schools which now have all-Negro student bodies, once this order has been effectuated, can be had from Appendix II, attached. The present status of all of the schools in the system is reflected in Appendix III. The figures shown have not been adjusted to reflect what we are now requiring.

DEFICIENCIES TO BE REMEDIED

We conclude that five of the six elements which go to make up a unitary system have been accomplished in the Orange County system: faculty, staff, transportation, extracurricular activities, and facilities. We conclude also that the sixth element, student desegregation, will be accomplished once the district court requires and ascertains as a fact that the neighborhood student assignment system, based on the definition herein contained, is invoked and the transfers made necessary thereby have been made.7 

Once done, and when the district court, by the standards herein stated, has made its own conclusion as to the system being unitary, the district court must retain jurisdiction for a reasonable time to insure that the system is operated in a constitutional manner. As the Supreme Court said in Green, "* * * whatever plan is adopted will require evaluation in practice, and the court should retain jurisdiction until it is clear that the state-imposed segregation has been completely removed." 391 U.S. at 439, 88 S. Ct. at 1695.

Affirmed in part; reversed in part; remanded with direction.

 Orange County Public Schools INSTRUCTIONAL POSITIONS AS OF 1-27-70 Secondary Schools White Black Total Apopka Memorial 54 9 63 Apopka Junior 30 9 39 Boone 74 12 86 Carver Junior 41 8 49 Cherokee Junior 43 6 49 Colonial 92 14 106 Conway Junior 50 8 58 Edgewater 74 12 86 Evans 76 12 88 Glenridge Junior 47 7 54 Howard Junior 47 7 54 Jackson Junior 56 8 64 Jones 66 14 80 Lakeview 44 7 51 Lee Junior 43 7 50 Lockhart Junior 32 5 37 Maitland Junior 36 5 41 Meadowbrook Junior 44 5 49 Memorial Junior 48 7 55 Mid-Florida Tech 58 9 67 Oak Ridge 87 13 100 Ocoee 43 6 49 Robinswood Junior 46 7 53 Union Park Junior 45 7 52 Vocational 27 4 31 Walker 58 6 64 Winter Park Junior 31 5 36 Winter Park Senior 105 16 121 Wymore 21 7 28 ____ ____ ____ TOTALS: 1518 242 1760
Elementary Schools White Black Total Aloma 25 8 33 Audubon Park 22 7 29 Azalea Park 14 7 21 Blankner 21 6 28 Bonneville 14 4 18 Brookshire 22 7 29 Callahan 15 5 20 Catalina 21 6 27 Cheney 21 6 27 Chickasaw 25 8 33 Columbia 12 4 16 Conway 23 6 29 Cypress Park 9 3 12 Delaney 12 4 16 Dillard Street 12 4 16 Dommerich 26 8 34 Dover Shores 25 8 33 Dream Lake 28 9 37 Durrance 24 7 31 Eccleston 27 8 35 Engelwood 25 3 28 Fern Creek 24 7 31 Forrest Park 19 3 22
Gateway 25 3 28 Grand Avenue 14 7 21 Hiawassee 23 7 29 Hillcrest 12 3 15 Holden Street 25 7 32 Hungerford 15 5 20 Ivey Lane 23 7 30 Kaley 17 6 23 Killarney 24 7 31 Lake Como 22 6 28 Lake Silver 23 7 30 Lake Sybelia 15 4 19 Lake Weston 20 6 26 Lakemont 25 7 32 Lancaster 28 9 37 Lockhart 17 5 22 Lovell 27 8 35 McCoy 22 7 29 Magnolia 10 4 14 Maxey 16 5 21 Ocoee 13 4 17 Orange Center 26 2 28 Orlo Vista 21 6 27 Pershing 24 7 31 Pine Castle 22 6 28 Pine Hills 24 7 31 Pineloch 24 7 31 Princeton 15 4 19 Ray 22 6 28 Richmond Heights 23 7 30 Ridgewood Park 19 6 25
Riverside 15 4 19 Rock Lake 24 7 31 Rolling Hills 23 7 30 Sadler 21 7 28 Shenandoah 18 5 23 Spring Lake 22 6 28 Tangelo Park 21 7 28 Tildenville 15 4 19 Union Park 25 7 32 Washington Shores 26 8 34 Webster Avenue 14 4 18 Wheatley 23 7 30 Windermere 16 5 21 Winter Garden 12 4 16 Zellwood 18 6 24 ____ ____ ____ TOTALS 1395 408 1803 TOTAL COUNTY: Elementary 1395 408 1803 Secondary 1518 242 1760 ____ ____ ____ TOTALS 2913 650 3563

APPENDIX II

 School Population, By Race and Proximity Area Proximity Proximity Proximity Present Present Present Area Area Area School Grades White Black Total White Black Total Carver Jr. 7-9 1 1143 1144 47 1100 1147 Callahan Elem. K-6 1 389 390 101*  404 452 Eccleston Elem. 1-6 0 904 904 0 889 889 Holden St. Elem. K-6 1 717 718 0 725 725 Hungerford Elem. K-6 0 448 448 141 353 494 Maxey Elem. K-6 1 468 469 38 461 499 Org. Cen. Elem. 1-6 0 716 716 50 655 705 Rich. Hts. Elem. K-6 0 703 703 22 692 714 Wash. Shs. Elem. K-6 0 797 797 0 783 783 Web. Ave. Elem. 1-6 3 410 413 76**  352 423 Wheatley Elem. K-6 0 824 824 29 811 840
 *

Includes 53 now in other schools by reason of variance based on traffic conditions

 **

Includes 5 now in another school because of location of zone line

APPENDIX III

 School Population, By Race, As Of February 2, 1970 SECONDARY School Grades White Black Total Apopka Memorial High 9-12 903 366 1269 Apopka Junior High 7- 8 664 355 1019 Boone High 10-12 1869 102 1971 Carver Junior High 7- 9 1 1143 1144 Cherokee Junior High 7- 9 741 244 985 Colonial High 10-12 2355 6 2361 Conway Junior High 7- 9 1417 9 1426 Edgewater High 10-12 1720 209 1929 Evans High 10-12 1908 17 1925 Glenridge Junior High 7- 9 1325 3 1328 Howard Junior High 7- 9 813 364 1177 Jackson Junior High 7- 9 1597 3 1600 Jones High 10-12 121 1136 1257 Lakeview High 7-12 847 229 1076 Lee Junior High 7- 9 932 240 1172 Lockhart Junior High 7- 9 656 127 783 Maitland Junior High 7- 9 895 69 964 Meadowbrook Junior High 7- 9 1150 0 1150 Memorial Junior High 7- 9 1003 266 1269 Oak Ridge High 10-12 1986 149 2135 Ocoee High 7-12 855 265 1120 Robinswood Junior High 7- 9 1213 11 1224 Union Park Junior High 7- 9 1179 0 1179 Walker Junior High 7- 9 1591 33 1624 Winter Park High 10-12 2462 113 2575 Winter Park Junior High 7- 9 652 184 836 _____ _____ ______ Total 30855 5643 36498
ELEMENTARY School Grades White Black Total Aloma 1-6 869 2 871 Audubon Park K-6 802 0 802 Azalea Park K-6 854 2 856 Blankner 1-6 689 2 691 Bonneville K-6 450 0 450 Brookshire 1-6 722 1 723 Callahan K-6 1 389 390 Catalina K-6 667 21 688 Cheney K-6 718 0 718 Chickasaw K-6 857 0 857 Columbia 1-6 432 0 432 Conway K-6 760 0 760 Cypress Park 1-6 207 50 257 Delaney K-6 277 71 348 Dillard Street 4-6 272 79 351 Dommerich K-6 898 16 914 Dover Shores 1-6 821 0 821 Dream Lake K-6 862 84 946 Durrance 1-6 742 28 770 Eccleston 1-6 0 904 904 Engelwood K-6 736 2 738 Fern Creek K-6 817 3 820 Grand Avenue 1-6 188 233 421 Hiawassee 1-6 798 0 798 Hillcrest 1-6 328 1 329 Holden Street K-6 1 717 718 Hungerford 1-6 0 448 448 Ivey Lane 1-6 173 499 672 Kaley K-6 479 1 480 Killarney 1-6 808 4 812 Lake Como 1-6 751 0 751
School Grades White Black Total Lake Silver 1-6 787 1 788 Lake Sybelia 1-6 474 32 506 Lake Weston K-6 715 24 739 Lakemont 1-6 708 103 811 Lancaster 1-6 1005 2 1007 Lockhart K-6 530 0 530 Lovell K-6 898 6 904 McCoy 1-6 769 0 769 Maxey 1-6 1 468 469 Ocoee 1-6 365 1 366 Orange Center K-6 0 716 716 Orlo Vista 1-6 746 0 746 Pershing K-6 817 2 819 Pine Castle K-6 751 1 752 Pine Hills 1-6 809 1 810 Pineloch 1-6 738 0 738 Princeton K-6 480 9 489 Ray 1-6 722 8 730 Richmond Heights 1-6 0 703 703 Ridgewood Park 1-6 638 3 641 Riverside 1-6 547 5 552 Rock Lake 1-6 234 236 470 Rolling Hills K-6 600 1 601 Sadler 1-6 776 0 776 Shenandoah 1-6 490 14 504 Spring Lake 1-6 695 1 696 Tangelo Park K-6 532 199 731 Tildenville K-6 279 164 443 Union Park 1-6 878 4 882 Washington Shores K-6 0 797 797 Webster Avenue 1-6 3 410 413 Wheatley K-6 0 824 824
School Grades White Black Total Windermere 1-6 538 8 546 Winter Garden 1-3 336 80 416 Zellwood 1-6 354 248 602 _____ ____ _____ Total 35194 8628 43822 VOCATIONAL Mid-Florida Tech 1076 47 1123 Vocational 390 208 598 Wymore Tech 63 233 296 _____ ____ _____ Total 1529 488 2017 SPECIAL EDUCATION Forrest Park 117 15 132 Gateway 172 19 191 Magnolia Special Education Center 145 63 208 _____ _____ _____ Total 434 97 531 White Black Total Secondary 30855 5643 36498 Elementary 35194 8628 43822 Vocational 1529 488 2017 Special Education 434 97 531 ______ ______ ______ Total 68,012 14,856 82,868
 1

Lower court decisions, if any, which may be inconsistent with these Supreme Court decisions on the requirments for comverting from dual to unitary systems obviously must yield to the principles there enunciated

 2

Under the stringent requirements of Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, supra, which this court has carried out in United States v. Hinds County School Board, 5 Cir., 1969, 423 F.2d 1264 [Nos. 28030, 28042, Nov. 7, 1969], this court has judicially determined that the ordinary procedures for appellate review in school segregation cases have to be suitably adapted to assure that each system, whose case is before us, "begin immediately to operate as unitary school systems." Upon consideration of the record, the court has proceeded to dispose of this case as an extraordinary matter. Rule 2, FRAP

 3

The transfers are complete with the exception of 25 teachers whose transfer orders are being reviewed on the basis of hardship

 4

The bi-racial committee is constituted by the district court from names submitted by the parties to this suit. The membership of thirty will be divided equally between whites and Negroes. The chairmanship is to alternate annually between a white chairman and a Negro chairman. The committee is to review the operation of the transportation system and the majority to minority transfer rule, and also is charged with responsibility in the area of selecting school sites. The committee is authorized to hold hearings and make recommendations to the school board in connection with any of these activities

 5

Five of the eleven schools have three or less white students in attendance but we, as did the district court, considered these as schools with all-Negro student bodies

 6

There would be 44 additional white students in Orange Center, 143 additional in Webster, 9 in Wheatley, and 90 in Carver

 7

Under the facts of this case, it happens that the school board's choice of a neighborhood assignment system is adequate to convert the Orange County school system from a dual to a unitary system. This decision does not preclude the employment of differing assignment methods in other school districts to bring about unitary systems. There are many variables in the student assignment approach necessary to bring about unitary school systems. The answer in each case turns, in the final analysis, as here, on all of the facts including those which are peculiar to the particular system