Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, No. 84-C-1103, Michael M. Mihm, Judge.
Before CUDAHY and RIPPLE, Circuit Judges, and ESCHBACH, Senior Circuit Judge.
RIPPLE, Circuit Judge. The Illinois State Board of Education (State Board) appeals the district court's dismissal of its counterclaim against the Board of Education of the City of Peoria, School District 150 (Peoria Board) for lack of standing. We affirm.
On March 26, 1984, the Peoria Board filed suit in district court against the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the State Board. The Peoria Board sought to enjoin the USDE from conducting an administrative hearing pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d et seq., on charges that the Peoria Board was intentionally operating a segregated educational program. The Peoria Board named the State Board as an additional defendant because the State Board was a respondent in the administrative proceedings which the Peoria Board sought to enjoin. The State Board filed a counterclaim.*fn1 It alleged that the Peoria Board was guilty of de jure segregation in the operation of its "Gifted Education Program."*fn2 It sought a declaratory judgment and requested temporary and permanent injunctive relief against the alleged discrimination.
Eventually, the Peoria Board reached a settlement with the USDE. Consequently, the USDE was dismissed as a party. The Peoria Board's complaint against the State Board was also dismissed. Finally, the Peoria Board moved to dismiss the State Board's counterclaim against it. It submitted that the State Board had no standing to assert the matters raised in the counterclaim. In the alternative, the Peoria Board requested that the district court abstain and postpone further proceedings on the counterclaim until state law issues could be resolved in a state court action between the two parties.
On August 30, 1985, the district court granted the Peoria Board's motion to dismiss. It held that the State Board lacked standing to challenge intentional racial segregation by the Peoria School District.
The Holding of the District Court
In its memorandum opinion, the district court characterized the "thrust" of Peoria's motion as a contention that the State Board "lacks standing to challenge intentional racial discrimination by a local public school district." R.22 at 2. The court held that, under the law of Illinois, the State Board did not have authority to initiate litigation to eliminate racial segregation. Rather, held the court, the law of Illinois contemplates that, if the State Board determines that segregation exists, it may request that the Illinois Attorney General apply to the appropriate court for relief. In reaching this determination, the district court relied heavily upon Aurora East Public School District No. 131 v. Cronin, 92 Ill. 2d 313, 442 N.E.2d 511, 66 Ill. Dec. 85 (1982).
The district court also held that no federal constitutional or statutory provision imposed an affirmative obligation on the State Board to bring such a suit. "It is neither the letter nor spirit of applicable federal law to create authority on the part of the [State Board] to take any particular type of action. Rather, it is left to the states to determine how to fulfill their responsibilities under the United States Constitution and applicable federal statutes." R.22 at 4.
Finally, the district court held that the State Board did not have standing to assert the constitutional rights of the students.