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

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, W. D


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 entire
    district.*fn12

    b. Encourage voluntary transfers where space is
    available and such transfers contribute to
    integration of the district.

c. (1) Establish special interests in:*fn13

(a) Read Reading-Language Arts;*fn14

(b) Science and Mathematics;

(c) Social Studies;

(d) Environmental Education;

(e) Health & Safety; and

(f) Living Arts (music, dance, drama, etc.).

    (2) Students in grades 3 through 6 shall be
    transported from their regular schools to three
    integrated special interest centers of their
    choice, for a total of 15 days during the
    school year. These centers would provide
    facilities for both advanced and remedial
    study.*fn15 The sessions would consist of five
    consecutive days each and would be scheduled
    three times during the school year.

    (3) The programs would be so designed that
    limited multi-age grouping could occur and
    curriculum material would be handled in a unit
    approach. While major emphasis would be placed
    on the center's core curriculum content, other
    related learning activities would be used to
    enrich or remediate as the need arose.*fn16

    d. Retain the present alternative schools and
    establish additional alternatives

    to reflect parent interest and staff
    abilities.*fn17

    e. Retain the Target Schools to improve
    educational opportunities in areas with a prior
    history of low achievement.

f. Establish magnet schools in future years.

    g. Exempt special education personnel and
    pupils from the parameters of any desegregation
    plan since these youngsters require special
    facilities and equipment and are already being
    integrated into regular classrooms wherever
    possible.

    h. The Cost Factor — Opening the special
    interest centers would probably require between
    15 and 25 additional staff members. Some of the
    possible sites are schools that have available
    space for these centers. Other buildings would
    require some renovation in order to be used.
    Transfer of pupils to the special interest
    centers, the voluntary transfers, the attendance
    of alternative schools are all financed by
    district funds under present Board policy.
    Shuttle transfer of students to the special
    interest centers would increase transportation
    costs. Basic equipment and texts for the centers
    should generally already be available.

2.  Middle Schools

    a. Open enrollment to continue — Voluntary
    transfers are to be encouraged.

    b. More effective utilization of present
    facilities — The Washington Middle School
    physical plant would be utilized more fully. More
    white youngsters would be assigned to Wilson
    School and the transfer of minority youngsters
    from that building to other buildings with a low
    percentage of minority enrollment would be
    encouraged. Also the southeast quadrant of the
    city would be provided with a middle school.

    c. Possible development of special interest
    centers at the middle school level — This would
    allow the School District to further utilize the
    Area Vocational Centers.

    d. Some boundary changes might be feasible and
    the School Board is studying this problem.
    Jefferson High School could revert to its
    middle school status in the future. This is a
    long-range plan that would provide for
    construction of a new and larger high school.
    Boundaries would be arranged so that both of
    these facilities would open with an integrated
    population. Morris Kennedy Middle School would
    be closed.

    e. In-service teacher training under the same
    objectives as outlined for the elementary
    schools.

    f. Continuation of the alternative middle
    school and possible future development of other
    alternatives if requested by parents and staff.

    g. The Cost Factor — The cost of transportation
    of students under the voluntary enrollment policy
    depends on the numbers involved. An approximate
    cost has been developed per bus and could be
    applied to enrollment projections. Development of
    a new high school might cost as much as $5
    million and could not be expected without a bond
    referendum. Actually, the School Board contends
    that construction of two new high school
    buildings could be justified on the basis of
    present high school enrollments. Without
    additional space, the extended day program
    remains a necessity for the high schools.
    Further, boundary changes might help alleviate
    racial impaction at some schools but the need for
    these changes would depend on voluntary
    enrollment patterns.

3. High Schools.

    a. Maintain the voluntary enrollment policy and
    encourage voluntary transfers.

    b. Establish an alternative high school at the
    9th grade level for 1975-1976.

    c. Establish boundary changes as necessary if
    voluntary transfers fail to achieve desirable
    racial balances. These boundary changes would
    go into effect during the 1975-1976 school year
    for new enrollments only and would continue in
    effect until racial isolation is significantly
    reduced.

    d. Construct a new high school as soon as
    possible after approval by a public referendum.

    e. The overcrowding at East and Jefferson High
    Schools would be reduced. The majority student
    enrollment in Auburn and the minority student
    enrollment in Gilford would be increased.

    f. The Cost Factor — The cost of transportation
    would depend on the number of youngsters choosing
    to participate in any of the above programs.
    There would be some cost in notifying parents of
    7th graders this year as to which high school
    their child would attend if boundary changes are
    necessary. Construction of a new high school
    could cost at least $5 million, depending on the
    type of structure and equipment. The high school
    principals, the Assistant Superintendent, the
    Superintendent and the architect and business
    department would cooperate in the planning of
    such a facility. Parents and students would also
    be involved in working out educational
    specification for Board review.

4. Parent Participation.

a. Plans for Parent Input.

    (1) Each school will have a Community Advisory
    Council of at least three people, one member to
    be the principal of the school. That committee
    will be charged with recording the racial
    enrollment of the school and the neighborhood
    and reporting changes to the Area Chairman of
    the Elementary Schools or the Middle or High
    School Chairman. These chairmen will report to
    the Director of Attendance. If a neighborhood
    pattern or enrollment pattern appears to be
    changing drastically, steps can be taken to
    enroll newcomers to a neighborhood at another
    nearby school when this will help maintain that
    neighborhood school's racial balance. It will
    be up to the neighborhood committee to make
    this initial recommendation and to keep other
    residents informed of such changes.

    (2) Each family will receive a booklet
    describing the philosophy and special
    attributes of the interest centers, alternative
    schools, magnet schools and elementary school
    programs in their attendance area.

    (3) The Advisory Council of each school will
    make recommendations to the Board about the
    desirable minority/majority percentage of
    enrollment.

    (4) The Advisory Council of each school will
    work closely with the parent organization at
    each school to keep parents informed of its
    conclusions and recommendations.

    (5) An area council of one member of each
    school's Advisory Council and parent
    organization should be established to meet at
    least once a year and become informed of new
    educational programs and issues. Reports on
    district accomplishments and needs should be
    communicated to each parent organization.

b. Method to be Used.

    (1) Appointment of the Advisory Council to be
    made from the parents of the children enrolled
    at the school. Appointments to be approved

    by parent organization at the school.

    (2) The administrative staff shall work
    together to provide information for booklets to
    be edited by the Director of Public Relations
    and printed by the district's printing
    department. The booklets shall be distributed
    to parents with the first report cards.

    (3) Development of the Area Council, which
    would also hopefully include teachers and
    administrators, will depend on the degree of
    interest by participating schools.

c. The Cost Factors —

    (1) Cost of the booklets can be estimated at
    about $2,000; this is necessarily a preliminary
    estimate.

    (2) The School Board recommends that the annual
    district meeting be a dinner meeting with a
    meal served at a school cafeteria. Participants
    can help defray this cost which should not
    exceed $200.

B. An Evaluation of the School District Plan.

It is clear to this Court that the Rockford School Board, mindful of its affirmative duty to comply with the dictates of the United States Constitution and the State of Illinois' school desegregation policy, has submitted its plan to solve minority isolation and the problems attendant to that condition. The Rockford School Board has adroitly articulated the benefits inherent in their plan. Many of the programs which the School Board has suggested implementing in its desegregation plan allegedly have, on a smaller scale, a record of proven performance.

The School Board has operated a special interest center for many years, called the Environmental Education Center.*fn18 This program has been set up by the Board for students in the fifth and sixth grades within the District to attend the center for two and one half days each year. This program allegedly has been a fully integrated program and has been designed so that at any period of time there has been a mixture of schools with high and low minority enrollment in the program so that it presents an experience in integration as well as an experience in environmental education. This program has required that parents pay a fee which is to cover the cost of the food furnished to the children during their stay at the Environmental Education Center. The parents and guardians of any child are given the right to withdraw their child from the Environmental Education program. Despite the requirement of making payment and despite the right of withdrawal, only a very small percentage of children have been withdrawn and the involvement in the programs exceeds 90% of the children in the Rockford School District. Based on this experience, it is the opinion of the School Board that the parents and guardians who will take the affirmative step to file a written request for withdrawal of their child from any desegregation program will be miniscule.

The School Board's alternative school program which was established beginning with the year 1973-1974 has allegedly been a highly successful program both in education and in providing a racial integrated program to those participants.*fn19 There are at the present time three alternative schools: Lathan Park, Haight Art School and Rockford Alternative Middle School. The program and guidelines presented by the School Board for desegregation calls for establishment of additional alternative schools where sufficient interest has been demonstrated. The School Board believes that at least one additional alternative school may be established in the year 1974-75 based on the present waiting list of in excess of 250 students for enrollment in present alternative schools.

The target school program, according to the School Board, has also had an outstanding record of achievement. These are eight schools in which special programs, teachers and additional money were provided in order to raise the achievement level of those eight schools which were found to have had a low achievement record. By the use of various educational techniques, a lower teacher to pupil ratio, and other innovative educational techniques, the target schools have succeeded in raising the achievement level of their students substantially. All of these schools encompass a comparatively high minority enrollment. The parents of the children who are enrolled in these schools are, according to the School Board, extremely anxious that their children continue to attend the target schools.

The School Board at present is operating a bilingual-bicultural program that is to be expanded as the need arises and which allegedly has been successful. The Rockford Board of Education passed a voluntary plan for the school year 1973-1974 and the first implementation of that program occurred at the beginning of the school year in September 1973.

This program has allegedly had an impact on the problem of minority isolation and has produced additional racial integration within the Rockford School District.*fn20 The present proposed plan of the School District will involve the increased implementation of alternative schools, bilingual and bicultural schools, target schools and special interest centers which have been successful and attractive educational programs and which can allegedly achieve desegregation without mandatory busing.*fn21 In addition to this, where feasible without undue busing, the School Board has planned that there will be changes made in the attendance units to foster integration.*fn22

The School Board plan is alleged to be virtually entirely voluntary and to have a projected student participation for the school year 1974-75 of 14,504 out of 37,291.*fn23

The following table is a breakdown of the projected student participation for the 1974-75 school year in the School Board's Proposed School Desegregation plan:*fn24

Desegregation Participation Summary

1974-1975 (Projected)

Pupils at Special Interest Centers              11,292

  Enrollment at Alternative Billingual
  and Bicultural Schools                             400

  Projection of voluntary transfers resulting
  from the open enrollment policy                    552

Enrollment at Alternative Schools                  400

Enrollment at Target Schoo's                     1,860

                Total number of pupils
                participating in the
                desegregation plan                14,504
--------------------------------------------------------
  Projected enrollment for 1974-75                39,291

  Special Education students exempt
  from participation in desegregation
  plans because of their special needs            -2,000
                                                  ------
                Total enrollment eligible
                for desegregation involvement
                                                  37,291

These figures indicate that about 40% of the eligible students in School District 205 will be participating in the School Board's proposed program during the first year of its operation.*fn25 The School Board is hopeful that additional involvement will take place in future years as parents are made more aware of the various educational opportunities available to their children.

The School Board has identified the approximate cost of its proposed desegregation plan and anticipates that with federal funding there will be sufficient funds for the implementation of its program.*fn26 The School Board has claimed that not only is its program financially feasible and organizationally sound but also and more importantly educationally beneficial and will achieve the desegregation of the School District.

However, while there appears to be advantages to the School Board's plan there are some disadvantages and some serious questions as to its feasibility. First, the School Board, in its plan, which is the most specific of all the proposals, does not completely explicitate the details of the plan's implementation. Without a full explicitation of these details of the program it is impossible to fully and properly assess the true benefit of the plan and whether it can succeed in adequately reducing minority isolation. The further delineation of the specifics of the proposed plan should be combined with a reassessment of financing the plan with a view to whether the present budget can support the program without additional sources of revenues.

Second, the vast majority of the School Board's plan involves student participation in special interest centers which only provide integration one twelfth of the time. While special interest centers may be both educationally attractive and sound, it remains to be proved whether they are the best means of sufficiently integrating the School District.

Third, the School Board has failed to adequately state what if any mandatory busing will be required and the necessity for such busing. If any student may voluntarily withdraw from all aspects of the program then the School Board must adequately demonstrate that such a voluntary system will lead to significant reduction of minority isolation.

II. ROCKFORD EDUCATION ASSOCIATION'S PLAN FOR DESEGREGATION.

A. The Plan.

  1.  Maintain the five existing high schools
      with suggested boundary changes. REA contends
      that by doing this it can achieve improved
      minority ratios in all five schools. In some
      areas gerrymandering of school boundaries may
      be required to curtail heavy concentrations of
      minority groups in any one area. Recognizing
      the geographical distances of the high schools,
      REA contends that many students are presently
      using some means of transportation to attend
      school. REA feels the indicated boundary
      changes will not significantly alter this
      amount of transportation.*fn27

  2.  Establish middle school attendance
      centers in each high school area.

      a. Use the following middle schools: Wilson,
      J. F. Kennedy, Washington, Eisenhower,
      Lincoln and Roosevelt.

      b. Maintain Marsh Elementary School,
      eliminate the middle school program, and
      establish Beyer as a middle school. With this
      change, the School District can maintain a
      middle school center in each high school
      attendance zone and reduce the amount of
      transportation required.

      c. Presently, because of location in the high
      school attendance zone, the REA suggests that
      Morris Kennedy be continued as a middle
      school, although the REA strongly recommends
      it be replaced as soon as possible.

      d. Establish a new feeder plan for middle
      school attendance. These changes will bring
      about, the REA contends, an improved racial
      balance in the middle schools.

  3.  At the elementary level parent
      involvement and transportation are a
      paramount concern. Also, because of housing
      patterns in Rockford, the question of minority
      enrollment

      is a major issue. With this in mind, the REA
      plan is:

      a. Divide the city into three elementary
      attendance zones.*fn28 By designating three
      main attendance areas, it becomes possible to
      guarantee more adequate minority enrollments
      and to minimize the transportation needs.

      b. Within each attendance zone, establish a
      Community Advisory Council. In establishing
      the Community Advisory Council, the REA
      recommends that the elementary attendance
      zones be divided into areas. Community,
      staff, and student representatives would be
      chosen to serve on a zone council.
      Establishing these councils in the elementary
      zone centers does not preclude participation
      by the middle school and high school
      attendance zones as stated in these
      guidelines.

      c. Establish a minimum number of interest
      centers in each attendance zone. In
      establishing these interest centers the
      following should be considered:

(1) suggestions from the area Council;

      (2) experience and expertise of the
      professional staff;

      (3) availability of established physical
      plants (buildings for these centers should be
      selected on the basis of program needs).

      d. Guarantee minority enrollment by altering
      the enrollment process.

      (1) Direct that all elementary schools
      establish a minority majority percentage
      enrollment, to be determined by each zone
      Community Advisory Council.

      (2) A child shall be given the opportunity to
      attend any elementary school in his/her
      attendance zone.

      e. Guarantee parent involvement in the
      selection of an educational program for their
      child.

      (1) Each family will receive a booklet
      describing the philosophy and special
      attributes of each elementary school in their
      attendance zone.

      (2) Parents select the most appropriate
      school for their child's particular needs. On
      a priority basis, parents list six schools
      they would like their child to attend. These
      choices are sent to the Board of Education by
      a predetermined date. Vacancies in each
      building shall be filled as applications are
      received. Unless otherwise indicated, all
      elementary students of an individual
      household will attend the same school. Unless
      the parent or guardian chooses to have their
      child participate in the proposed plan, all
      kindergarten children will attend the school
      in the area in which they live.

B. An Evaluation of the REA's Plan.

The REA has stated that by the very nature of the guidelines submitted earlier they cannot give details of schools or the exact number of pupils needing transportation and to do so would require information not available to REA at this time.

Further, REA contends that a further explicitation of the details of the plan would deny community involvement which is so essential to the success of any plan and an inherent part of the REA plan. Likewise, REA, has not attempted a specific cost analysis since it does not have access to figures and personnel that are available to the School Board. REA, therefore, feels that a cost analysis is the School Board's responsibility. Also REA feels that the economic question should not be the final determining factor in whether an educationally sound plan for integration is adopted or not.

While the REA plan has some sound educational benefits, the plan as it is presently drafted raises some very serious problems.*fn29

First, the REA plan is vague and fails to adequately explicitate the necessary details for implementation. While the REA is afraid to infringe on the putative right of their self-styled "Community Advisory Council", before any plan can be properly assessed and approved there should be some detailed delineation of what immediate plans and changes will be implemented and what their projected effect will be. This lack of essential details makes it virtually impossible to properly assess the REA plan at this time.

Second, some of the changes suggested by REA appear to be educationally and organizationally unsound. For example, the REA recommends closing Beyer Elementary School as part of its plan. Beyer School now has a 34.8% minority enrollment. Beyer School was built as an elementary school and not as a middle school. To change Beyer School into a middle school would again result in a deprivation to those required to attend that school, because to have an educationally sound program, schools should be used as they were built to be used. Beyer School apparently has many deficiencies in its equipment and in its arrangement for its use as a middle school. Thus, there are some serious problems posed by the altered use of Beyer School. Further, the transfer of students from Beyer to another elementary school might well require additional and unnecessary busing.

Third, the REA plan is clearly not a voluntary program and will involve mandatory busing without an adequate showing of the absolute need for such busing. Under the REA plan the selection of a school that a student would attend would be determined by the Community Advisory Council. Assuming new students would be coming into the school system each year, a child, theoretically, could attend six different schools within the attendance zone in six years depending on the luck of the draw and the caprice of the Community Advisory Council.*fn30 It appears that such Advisory Councils would be nothing more than a mini-school board. The Advisory Council would make student assignments, determine racial quotas, and select the curriculum. The function of the School Board would merely confirm the actions of these Councils. The creation of such Councils might well violate the existing state law. Under Illinois law the School Board is charged with the responsibility of supervising the education of the children within the district, the raising of revenue by tax levy, hiring teachers and maintaining schools. School District #88 v. Kooper, 380 Ill. 68, 43 N.E.2d 542 (1942); see Chap. 122 § 10-20 et seq. of the Ill.Rev.Stat. The School Board is vested with the power to appoint and supervise teachers, to select and assure uniformity of textbooks, to establish attendance units, to control and supervise school buildings and to establish the curriculum to be taught.*fn31 There is nothing in the statute which authorizes a school board, duly elected by the voters of the school district to delegate its responsibilities and duties in administering a school district to an advisory council. The state legislature vested responsibility for the supervision and maintenance of a school district with the school board and did not authorize the delegation per se of its powers to any advisory committee. Board of Education v. Rockford Education Association, 3 Ill.App.3d 1090, 280 N.E.2d 286 (1972); Cf. Reif v. Barrett, 355 Ill. 104, 188 N.E. 889 (1934); Toplis & Harding, Inc. v. Murphy, 384 Ill. 463, 51 N.E.2d 505 (1943).*fn32 It is also questionable whether such Community Advisory Councils can adequately provide both equal educational opportunities and a truly integrated school system.*fn33

Fourth, while pecuniary interests should not be a major obstacle to the implementation of the best school desegregation program in the Rockford School District, it is apparent that part of the assessment of a program will involve its economic feasibility. The REA, if it wishes to develop a more acceptable plan should work with the School Board to determine the economic and practical feasibility of its program.

III. THE PLAINTIFFS' PLAN FOR SCHOOL DESEGREGATION.

A. The Plan

1. The Elementary Schools

    a. The plaintiffs endorse the REA plan of three
    elementary zones. Plaintiffs' plan also
    includes the REA's proposal of a Community
    Advisory Council in each zone, to be composed
    of community, staff and student
    representatives. This Council must be as
    representative as possible of all the ethnic,
    economic and social groups within the zone, and
    should be subject to confirmation by no other
    group than the School Board. An appeal process
    should be built into creation of the Council,
    to insure broad representation.

    b. Plaintiffs further endorse the REA plan for
    development of unique programs in each of the
    elementary schools within each zone. This would
    permit parents to submit six ranked choices for
    enrollment of their children. The Advisory
    Council would determine a maximum minority
    enrollment for each school.

    c. Plaintiffs urge that many unique approaches
    to teaching the commonly accepted elementary
    curriculum be developed by the staff and parent
    group of each elementary school. Such
    approaches may include, but should certainly
    not be limited to: a bilingual school, science
    and environmental education specialty,
    science-math specialty, fine arts emphasis,
    language experience emphasis, independent study
    learning center emphasis, student government
    emphasis, performing arts emphasis, etc.

    d. Plaintiffs suggest the Environmental
    Education Center at New Milford be continued as
    a residential center for enriched science and
    environmental studies. The plaintiffs prefer,
    if a center is to be created

    for periodical day programs of special
    emphasis, that the center be devoted to fine
    arts, and that this center, as in Dayton, be
    utilized for a special after school program as
    well. Plaintiffs urge transportation be
    provided to this after school center from all
    parts of the city for the children of working
    parents. A single center should be centrally
    located. However, a case could be made for an
    after school arts center in each elementary
    zone. Census studies show that probably 10,000
    pupils of the Rockford District, aged six to
    thirteen, are from families where both parents
    work, or where there is a single-parent head of
    the household.

2. Middle Schools

    a. Plaintiffs have assigned middle schools with
    sufficient capacity to each of the elementary
    zones to provide space for the estimated number
    of middle school students. Where several middle
    schools will serve a given zone, plaintiffs
    have not made an attempt to indicate how middle
    school students shall be assigned to a given
    building. Plaintiffs are willing to attempt
    analysis of this sort, if desired. However, it
    is plaintiffs' feeling that middle school
    attendance should be based on elementary school
    attended, rather than residence. This will
    guarantee that the elective process for a
    choice of elementary school will still provide
    the individual student with a continuity of
    classmates (and parent groups, with a
    dependable progression of co-workers)
    throughout his school career.

    b. In addition, plaintiffs have placed sixth
    graders in middle schools city-wide. Plaintiffs
    call for the implementation of the middle
    school concept, in full, as provided at the
    time of the conversion from a junior high
    program to middle schools. The concept was
    adopted because of deep concerns for the
    sophisticated educational needs of today's
    sixth graders, which could be more readily met
    in a middle school setting, with more elective
    classes. If this concept was viable in 1969, it
    is all the more so today. If it is viable for a
    large proportion of the sixth graders of the
    West Side, it is equally viable for all the
    sixth graders of Rockford. Plaintiffs use of
    the existing buildings provides for
    accommodating the increased number of middle
    schoolers. c. By reducing the number of
    resident students in Lincoln Middle School,
    plaintiffs feel sufficient space should be
    created for additional rooms devoted to
    elective subjects, i. e., shop, home economics,
    art, music, language, etc. The middle schoolers
    in the four satellite buildings in the park
    could shuttle to Lincoln for part of each day
    for elective work in the added space, also for
    use of cafeteria, if needed, and expanded
    library facilities; plus use of pool. Equipment
    could be purchased under Title VII. A director
    of the entire park should be employed, in
    addition to building principals, who would
    remain if they desired to work with this age
    group.

    d. In addition, the park offers an unparalleled
    opportunity for an after school program for the
    children of working parents who attend (offered
    also to other young people on a space-available
    basis). With five gyms, one pool, five
    playgrounds, and special interest rooms.
    Plaintiffs recommend such an after school
    program be established. Coordination and
    possible joint funding with the Park District
    should be explored. It is suggested that Haight
    Elementary School should be employed in a
    similar manner and relationship to the John F.
    Kennedy building, to accommodate additional
    middle school students.

  3. High Schools

    a. Plaintiffs suggest that assignment to high
    schools follow in a steady progression based on
    the elementary school elected for attendance,
    rather than residence.

    b. Plaintiffs also believe the district is now
    ready for a full scale citizens' study of
    building needs for the next ten years.
    Plaintiffs regret, with the REA, that
    plaintiffs were not able to recommend the
    closing of Morris Kennedy Middle School, since
    it seems to be the desire of many knowledgeable
    persons. Long-range demographic studies need to
    be done, and more information on the high
    school situation than was available to
    plaintiffs needs to be provided. Plaintiffs
    will be willing, as always, to work diligently
    toward constructive remediation.

B. Evaluation of the Plaintiffs' Plan.

Since the plaintiffs' plan relies heavily on the plan of the REA, the evaluation of the REA plan is also applicable to plaintiffs' plan. The plaintiffs' plan lacks the essential details and cost analysis necessary for proper evaluation. Also, the plaintiffs' plan, like the REA plan, poses serious problems of feasibility and the legality of the Community Advisory Councils.*fn34

IV. THE DEFENDANT-INTERVENORS' COMMENTS.

While the defendant-intervenors did not submit a plan for school desegregation, they did submit their comments on the various proposed plans.

The following is the major thrust of the defendant-intervenors' comments:

  1.  The defendant-intervenors seek a workable and
      effective voluntary desegregation proposal.

  2.  Each of the parties in their proposals have
      failed to demonstrate the economic
      feasibility, workability and reasonableness
      of their plans.

  3.  Since the plaintiffs have objected to every
      desegregation proposal submitted by School
      District #205 the Court should allow this
      cause of action to proceed to trial on the
      merits without passing upon the acceptability
      of any of the proposals submitted to the
      Court.

  4.  This Court should invoke its power as a
      chancellor in equity and approve a voluntary
      desegregation plan.

It is the opinion of this Court, after carefully examining the proposed plans and comments of the respective parties and the voluminous materials filed in support of their respective plans, that no plan to date is sufficiently developed and documented to be deemed an acceptable and ultimate plan for school desegregation in the School District. All plans lack an extensive study of their long and short range operational feasibility and their cost and funding potential. Without such a study and a fuller explicitation of the specifies of the plans, it is impossible for this Court to properly assess their true educational benefits and ability to lead to significant school integration. It is vital that any plan which is to be implemented must not only be operationally and economically feasible but also must maintain and to the degree necessary upgrade, the quality of education for all children in the School District.

It must be remembered that an integrated school system does not mean, and indeed could not mean, in view of the residential patterns of most of our major metropolitan areas, that every school must in fact be an integrated unit. A school which happens to be all or predominantly white or all or predominantly black is not a "segregated" school in an unconstitutional sense if the system is a genuinely integrated one and there are equal educational opportunities provided to all students. The goal is equal educational opportunities and not the mere shuffling of students.

From the facts set forth above there appear to be problems of underachievers, a high number of drop-outs, poor facilities and supplies in certain Rockford schools which have a high percentage of minority students. These problems might very well be related and to some extent caused by minority isolation. Further, School District #205 presently fails to comply with the state standards relating to minority integration.

This Court has been encouraged by the willingness and devotion of the parties, especially the School Board, in attempting to develop a program that will comply with the state standards and solve the problem of minority isolation. Thus it is the opinion of this Court that at this time it would not be appropriate for the Court to become an activist and formulate a program of integration for the School District.*fn35

It appears to this Court that the wiser course of action lies in permitting the parties to further develop, delineate, amend and study their respective school desegregation plans in light of the principles and comments stated above so that an intelligent and informed decision can be made as to which program would most practically and efficiently eliminate minority isolation and its ill effects. It is obvious that the instant ruling will de facto allow the School Board to go ahead and implement its 1974-75 school desegregation plan. Such action by the School Board should have the beneficial result of providing in 1974-75 an empirical insight into what effect the different programs in the School Board's plan had on the problem of minority isolation. These insights might well guide the parties and this Court in determining what would be the best school desegregation program for the School District. The School Board's desegregation plan was by far the best developed, documented and presented of all the proposals. Also the voluntary nature of the School Board's plan appears to allow beneficial experimentation without inflicting forced cooperation. Thus, in the first part of 1975 this Court will review not only the well developed and documented proposals of the parties but also will examine the progress of the School Board's plan.

At that time the Court will be better able to determine the appropriate course of action in order to insure the swift but just elimination of minority isolation and its ill effect from the Rockford School System.

Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that the parties, in cooperation with the School Board, have until March 1, 1975 to further develop or amend their respective plans and to conduct more extensive factual and statistical analysis of their plans especially in regard to their operational and economic feasibility. Further, the parties will present their carefully drawn plans and a report on the progress of the School Board's efforts at the 1975 Spring Term of the Court in Freeport, Illinois.

 


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