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QUALITY ED. FOR ALL CHILD., INC. v. SCHOOL BD.

June 27, 1974

QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL CHILDREN, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SCHOOL BOARD OF SCHOOL DISTRICT #205 OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bauer, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This cause comes on the submission by the respective parties of their various proposals for school desegregation.

The named plaintiffs are all citizens of the United States and residents of School District #205 of Winnebago County, Illinois. Some of the named plaintiffs are individuals while others are community organizations which are allegedly voluntary associations of citizens, most of whom are also citizens of the school district and taxpayers of the State of Illinois. The defendant is the School Board of School District #205 of the Winnebago County Schools, State of Illinois.

On January 4, 1974 this Court allowed the parents of certain school children attending school in School District #205 to intervene in these proceedings as self styled defendant-intervenors. On February 15, 1974, the Rockford Education Association, Inc. ("REA"), which is the teachers' union for the school district, was allowed to intervene in this litigation as a defendant.

The instant suit is a class action, brought by the plaintiffs (qua individual taxpayers and voluntary associations) on behalf of other residents and taxpayers similarly situated in School District #205 of Winnebago County, State of Illinois ("School District"), pursuant to Rule 23(a) and Rule 23(b)(2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The class represented by the named plaintiffs allegedly consists of all residents of the School District including both black and white citizens.*fn1

The instant suit seeks to redress the alleged deprivation of the plaintiffs' civil rights by the alleged racial discrimination and imbalanced educational opportunities existing in the defendant School District in violation of the Tenth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. See Quality Education for All Children, Inc. et al. v. School Board of School District #205 of Winnebago County, Illinois, 362 F. Supp. 985 (N.D.Ill. 1973). This Court allegedly has jurisdiction over the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

This Court in its Memorandum Opinion and Order dated August 16, 1973 clearly explicated the relevant facts which strongly suggest a problem of minority isolation in the School District. See Quality Education for All Children, Inc. et al. v. School Board of School District #205 of Winnebago County, Illinois, supra. It was clear that the School District failed to comply with state standards relating to minority integration.*fn2 This Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order dated August 16, 1973 contains, inter alia, the following facts which are important to the proper evaluation of any school desegregation program:

1. Minority Isolation.

    Minority enrollment in the School District is
    approximately 15% (6,233 out of 41,364
    students). In the school year of 1971-72, there
    were a total of 5,362 minority students in the
    School District and 2,386 (44.4%) of those
    minority students were attending schools in
    which minority attendance exceeded 50% of the
    enrollment. From figures submitted by the
    School Board it was projected that these
    statistics would increase in the school year
    1973-74 to 6,233 minority students, 2,758
    (44.2%) in schools which have 50% or more
    minority attendances*fn3 enrollment.*fn4
    Table 1, from the Order of August 16, 1973,

    summarizes these statistics in noncomplying
    schools for the year 1972-73 and the projection
    for the following school year.*fn5
                                  TABLE 1
                                  -------
                MINORITY ENROLLMENT IN NON-COMPLYING SCHOOLS
                --------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    School Year 1972-73               School Year 1973-74
             -------------------------------------------------------------------
                          No. of     % of                    No. of     % of
               Total     minority   minority     Total      minority  minority
School       enrollment  students   enrollment  enrollment  students  enrollment
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Barbour         431        317        73.5        431        317        73.5
Beyer           355        137        38.5        355        137        38.5
Dennis          400        370        92.5        400        370        92.5
Ellis           435        343        78.8        408        316        77.4
Haskell         432        285        65.9        432        284        65.7
Henrietta       178        136        76.4        178        132        74.1
Lathrop         305        219        71.8        305        319        71.8
Lincoln Pk.     532        299        56.2        532        299        56.2
McIntosh        459        171        37.2        459        171        37.2
Muldoon         290        226        77.9        290        226        77.9
(to be
closed
'73-'74)
Rock River      456        195        42.7        456        195        42.7
Washington      579        350        60.4        579        350        60.4
Wilson         1236        610        49.3       1236        509        49.2
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  2.  High Minority Enrollment Correlated to
    High Minority Underachievement.
    Many witnesses who testified for the plaintiffs
    at the Hearing on July 2-3, 1973, expressed the
    opinion that schools with high minority
    enrollment have high minority
    underachievement.*fn6 Certain statistics seem
    to indicate higher underachievement among
    minority students

    in schools cited for non-compliance with
    Illinois State Standards, as Table 3 from the
    Order of August 16, 1973 demonstrates:*fn7
                        TABLE 3
                        -------
           MEAN SCORES OF 5th GRADE STUDENTS
  (for percentages of minority enrollment see Table 1)
------------------------------------------------------------
                Minority      Non-Minority    All Students
             -----------------------------------------------
SCHOOL       Reading   Math  Reading   Math  Reading   Math
------------------------------------------------------------
Barbour       36.77   34.89   46.30   40.76   38.80   36.14
Beyer         30.63   44.05   36.88   44.60   34.18   44.30
Dennis       ................. NO 5th GRADE ................
Ellis        ................. NO 5th GRADE ................
Haskell       31.67   31.92   38.54   35.63   34.70   33.56
Henrietta    ................. NO 5th GRADE ................
Lathrop       45.14   47.00   47.08   46.16   45.63   46.63
Lincoln Pk.   28.87   29.24   42.12   37.47   33.36   32.03
McIntosh      30.44   27.27   41.31   36.95   35.76   32.01
Muldoon       29.21   29.61   40.11   28.92   31.39   29.47
Rock River    32.30   36.19   41.69   35.05   37.75   35.57
                    MEAN SCORES OF 7th GRADE STUDENTS
Washington    31.94   33.92   38.76   39.59   35.20   36.64
Wilson        27.68   34.59   38.88   42.57   33.83   38.97
All City      29.63   34.30   49.94   53.27   47.52   51.01
------------------------------------------------------------
    Additional data deems to reveal that schools
    with higher minority enrollment also have
    higher drop-out rates. For example, Auburn and
    West, which had respectively 30% and 15.7%
    minority enrollment in 1972-73, had a
    considerably higher drop-out rate over the year
    than Gilford, which had only .9% minority
    enrollment. It should be noted that high
    schools in School District #205 have
    considerably less minority isolation than the
    elementary or middle schools. Table 4 from the
    Order of August 16, 1974, clearly demonstrates
    this:
                            TABLE 4
                            -------
                    DROP-OUT RATE IN SCHOOL
                 DISTRICT #205 FOR GRADES 9-12
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Percent of   Percentage of drop-outs to the total enrollment
            minority    -------------------------------------------------
           enrollment
School      1972-73       1970-71            1971-72            1972-73
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Auburn       30.7        11.0 (227)         12.5 (252)         12.1 (237)
East         10.4         8.0 (192)          7.4 (186)          7.2 (195)
Gilford        .9         4.0 (110)          2.6 (68)           2.2 (55)
Jefferson     7.0         8.0 (167)         10.9 (258)         10.9 (247)
West         15.7         7.0 (164)          9.2 (205)          9.9 (946)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Although some witnesses testified that many of
    the drop-outs were members of a minority, no
    data has been submitted to this Court
    concerning the percentage of drop-outs who were
    members of a minority. Thus, the roll that
    minority isolation plays in drop-outs cannot be
    adequately assessed at this time.
  3.  Attendance Boundaries Drawn So As to
      Foster Minority Isolation.
    The data does show a problem with minority
    isolation, at least insofar as the schools
    which were cited by Dr. Bakalis for
    non-compliance with state standards. The School
    Board has stated that six factors entered into
    drawing of school attendance boundaries:
1.  Educational needs of students.
2.  Proximity to school.
3.  Safety of students.
4.  Ages of students served.
5.  Nature of educational program housed.
6.  Racial/ethnic balance.
    The report of the Central Committee on
    Desegregation most significantly urged
    reassignment of students to meet a goal of 7 to
    21 percent minority enrollment in all schools
    by the end of the 1974-75 school year. The
    School Board's most recent plan, submitted on
    April 1, 1974 at least attempts to solve this
    problem on the middle and high school level.

4. A Low Number of Minority Teachers.

    School District #205 in school year 1972-73 had
    1,679 school teachers. Approximately 100 or
    5.95% of these teachers are members of a
    minority; further, 4.74% of all high school
    teachers are members of a minority; 7.55% of
    all middle school teachers are members of a
    minority; and 5.63% of all elementary school
    teachers are minority teachers. The School
    Board has a five year program to increase
    minority staff members and from all statements
    made the program is moving forward at a good
    pace (see this Court's Memorandum Opinion and
    Order dated August 16, 1973, pages 15-19.*fn8
  5.  School Facilities and High Minority
      Schools.
    The members of the American Association of
    University Women and the League of Voters
    completed a survey of elementary school needs.
    This survey concluded, inter alia, that the
    southeast quadrant of the city (an area of high
    minority enrollment) has schools that suffer from
    a lack of materials and up-to-date texts; that
    buildings in the southeast section are somewhat
    crowded and special purpose rooms are
    lacking.*fn9

On January 4, 1974, pursuant to the mandate of this Courts' Memorandum Opinion and Order dated August 16, 1973, the School Board submitted its Grade Exchange Plan for school desegregation.*fn10 On March 1, 1974 this Court refused to approve this plan and ordered that there should be a more extensive factual and statistical analysis by the parties of the proposed plan and an exploration by the parties of other alternative measures which would not necessarily involve forced busing of school children or such an extensive use of busing.

In the Order dated March 1, 1974, this Court articulated the following five principles which are helpful in evaluating the present school desegregation plans submitted by the parties:

  1. While bus transportation has been an integral
    part of the public education system for years,
    and was perhaps the single most important
    factor in the transition from the one-room
    schoolhouse to the consolidated school,
    "busing" should be reluctantly used to solve
    the problem of school segregation. Such
    "busing" poses numerous problems and
    inconveniences on parents, students and school
    officials. Thus the busing of school students
    in order to solve school segregation should
    only be utilized when all other remedial
    measures appear impractical and ineffective.
  2. One of the principal tools employed by school
    planners and by courts to break up a segregated
    school system has been a frank and sometimes
    drastic gerrymandering of school districts and
    attendance zones. An additional step has been
    pairing, "clustering" or "grouping" of schools
    with attendance assignments made deliberately
    to accomplish the transfer of minority students
    out of formerly segregated schools and the
    transfer of white students to formerly minority
    schools. While the School Board's Grade
    Exchange Plan does utilize a modification of
    this "clustering" principle, it fails, with one
    exception, to make use of the remedial measure
    of altering the School District's attendance
    zones. A "racially neutral" assignment plan may
    fail to counteract the continuing effects of
    past school segregation resulting from
    discriminatory location of school sites or
    distortion of school size in order to achieve
    or maintain an artificial racial separation.
    When school authorities present a "loaded game
    board", affirmative action in the form of
    remedial altering of attendance zones is proper
    to achieve truly nondiscriminatory assignments.
    In short, an assignment plan is not acceptable
    simply because it appears to be neutral; it
    must also affirmatively enhance racial
    integration.
  3. The use of mathematical ratios is no more than
    a starting point in the process of shaping a
    remedy, rather than an inflexible requirement.
    From that starting point the School Board can
    proceed to frame a solution to its particular
    problem of racial segregation. Awareness of the
    racial composition of the whole school system
    is likely to be a useful starting point in
    shaping a remedy to correct past constitutional
    violation. The mere balancing of mathematical
    ratios does not assure that the dilatory
    effects of racial segregation have been cured.
  4. A school desegregation plan which solely
    utilizes a grade exchange program is probably
    incapable of truly desegregating a school
    system or a single school. Such a plan in
    reality creates segregated classrooms within a
    school which is "desegregated" as far as
    mathematical ratios.
  5. All things being equal, it might well be
    desirable to assign pupils to schools nearest
    their homes. But all things are not equal in a
    system that has been deliberately constructed
    and maintained to enforce racial segregation.
    The remedy for such segregation may be
    administratively awkward, inconvenient, and
    even bizarre in some situations. Burdens may be
    imposed on some. But all awkwardness and
    inconvenience cannot be avoided during the
    interim period of change when remedial
    adjustments are being made to eliminate a
    segregated school system. For the greater good
    all must be willing to sacrifice a transitory
    inconvenience.
  Pursuant to this Court's Order dated March 1, 1974, the defendant School Board, the plaintiffs, intervening defendants, as well as representatives of the community had many meetings and discussions to attempt to work out a general agreement on desegregation in the School District.

On April 1, 1974 the School Board filed "A Report To The Rockford Board of Education on Desegregation Proposals." This report states that there is general agreement between the parties on the following matters:

    "1.  Any desegregation program for the Rockford
  Public Schools should concern itself with
  improving educational opportunities for ALL
  children.
    2.  An integrated school system is a desirable
  objective.
    3.  The neighborhood school concept should be
  retained as far as possible.
    4.  There is a reluctance to resort to forced
  transportation of pupils simply to reduce the
  statistics of racial isolation.
    5.  It is desirable for any desegregation plan
  to fit the limitations of the school budget.
    6.  In-service training for teachers is an
  essential factor in making any desegregation
  program workable.
    7.  Voluntary participation on the part of the
  public should be encouraged, and be an important
  part in any desegregation program.
    8.  Steps should be taken to provide a
  continuing program to maintain the effectiveness
  of any desegregation plan. Citizens should play a
  key role in this procedure.
    9.  Special interest centers and alternative
  schools can be an important ingredient of the
  district's desegregation proposal.
    10. Efforts should be made to keep the public
  informed about the development of new programs,
  special interest centers and alternative schools.
  This type of information may promote greater
  participation in these programs."

On April 3, 1974 this Court held a hearing in this matter and all parties present had an opportunity to present their proposed school desegregation plan and to comment on plans proposed by the other parties. The parties have been given ample opportunity after this hearing to file written material in support of their plan or comments on the proposed plans of the other parties. The obligation of this Court, as it always has been, is to help assess the effectiveness of the proposed plans in achieving desegregation. There is no universal answer to the complex problems of desegregation. There is obviously no one plan that will do the job in every case. The instant proposed plans must be assessed in light of the prevailing conditions and structure of the Rockford School System and the available options which are feasible and practical under these circumstances.

I. THE SCHOOL BOARD'S PLAN FOR DESEGREGATION.*fn11

A. The Plan.

1.  Elementary Schools.
    a. Maintain the present open enrollment policy
    for alternative schools, as well as the ...

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