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Clay v. Fort Wayne Community Schools

February 16, 1996

DR. JUANITA L. CLAY, ELIZABETH DOBYNES, VICKIE GAMBOA, ARCHIE LUNSEY, WILLIE MAE WARREN, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, LANDON GAMBOA BY HIS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND VICKIE GAMBOA; LAUREN HAYDEN BY HIS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND WILLIE MAE WARREN, AND ALL AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDENTS IN THE FORT WAYNE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, AND ALL OTHER PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED,

PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

FORT WAYNE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS; BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR FORT WAYNE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS; AND MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES: CARL L. JOHNSON, LESLYE E. MOHRMAN, BENJAMIN A. EISBART, CAROL J. COEN, STEPHEN CORONA, JOSEPH S. MCCOMB AND JEANETTE S. QUILHOT,

DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No. 94 C 285--Allen Sharp, Chief Judge.

Before COFFEY, ESCHBACH, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

ESCHBACH, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED JANUARY 11, 1996

DECIDED FEBRUARY 16, 1996

Five adult residents of Fort Wayne, Indiana, brought the instant class action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, alleging that the Board of Trustees of the Fort Wayne Community School System discriminated against African-Americans in the Board's search to hire a superintendent of schools. The plaintiffs amended their complaint to include as named plaintiffs students in the Fort Wayne Community School System (collectively "the student plaintiffs"). The student plaintiffs were included as representatives of a student class of plaintiffs. The defendants filed motions to dismiss both the original and the amended complaints, arguing that both the adult and the student plaintiffs lacked standing to bring a claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). The district court granted the defendants' motions. Both groups of plaintiffs appeal. We AFFIRM.

I.

The position of superintendent of schools for the Fort Wayne Community School System was vacated sometime prior to April of 1994. *fn1 In April, the Board of Trustees for the Fort Wayne Community Schools commenced a search for a new superintendent. The search produced two candidates, both of whom are Caucasian. Dr. Juanita L. Clay, Elizabeth Dobynes, Vickie Gamboa, Archie Lunsey and Willie Mae Warren, all of whom are African-American residents of Fort Wayne, viewed the Board's efforts to hire a new superintendent as racially discriminatory. In an effort to halt the Board's alleged discriminatory practices and prevent the Board from selecting one of the two candidates, the five plaintiffs (collectively "the adult plaintiffs") brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 alleging that the Board's conduct: violated their rights to equal protection, due process, and equal representation; constituted an unconstitutional delegation of authority; and abridged their right to vote. *fn2

In support of their legal claims, the adult plaintiffs offered the following, largely conclusory, allegations. According to the adult plaintiffs, the Board: refused to consider African-American applicants for the superintendent position; deliberately "conducted the business of said school system in a way to discourage and undermine the candidacy for said position of African-American persons"; "violated the confidence of an African-American person who manifested interest in the vacant . . . position"; ignored the "candidacies" of African-American educators Eugene White, James Easton, and Percy Clark even though they were more qualified for the position than Caucasian applicants; *fn3 and "never instructed a Search Committee not to consider the candidacy of Caucasian persons" for the superintendent position.

In addition to being residents and taxpayers, plaintiffs Gamboa and Warren are parents of children in the Fort Wayne schools; however, they brought their claims personally--not as representatives of their children. Lunsey is president of the Fort Wayne City Council; however, he also joined the suit personally, "[i]n furtherance of his obligation to represent his constituents, and as a parent whose children have attended" the Fort Wayne schools. (Appellants' Brief at 2). The adult plaintiffs brought their claims as a class action, seeking to represent all others similarly situated. Notably, none of the named plaintiffs applied for the superintendent position.

The defendants (collectively "the Board") filed a motion to dismiss the suit pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(1), arguing that the adult plaintiffs lacked standing. The adult plaintiffs responded by petitioning the court for leave to amend their complaint, and submitting a First Amended Verified Complaint. In addition to setting forth the same claims outlined in the original complaint, the amended complaint included as plaintiffs Landon Gamboa, as represented by his mother Vickie Gamboa, and Lauren Hayden, as represented by his mother Willie Mae Hayden. Landon Gamboa and Lauren Hayden are students in the Fort Wayne Community School System. The student plaintiffs brought their claims as representatives of a student class of plaintiffs consisting of all African-American students in the Fort Wayne School System. The amended complaint alleged that the Board's discrimination violated the students' constitutional rights and harmed the children by making them feel "demotivated" and "discouraged." The complaint also charged that the Board "do[es] not and ha[s] not engaged in a pattern and practice" of conduct designed to be "demotivating and discouraging" to white pupils. All plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The Board moved to dismiss the amended complaint.

Approximately three months after receiving the amended complaint, the district court granted the adult plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend. The court simultaneously granted the Board's motions to dismiss both the original and the amended complaints. The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal that named only the adult plaintiffs. The notice of appeal made no mention either of the student plaintiffs, or of any adult serving as a representative of the student plaintiffs.

II.

As a preliminary matter, we must consider whether we have jurisdiction to hear the appeals of all plaintiffs named in the amended complaint. The Appellants' briefs raise arguments on behalf of both the adult and the student plaintiffs. However, the notice of appeal made no reference to the student plaintiffs. The Board argues that the failure to include the student plaintiffs in the notice of appeal deprives us of jurisdiction to consider the merits of the students' arguments. We agree.

We begin our analysis with the plain language of the Federal Rules. Federal Rule of Appellate ...


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