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Case Name Johnson v. Jackson Parish School Board SD-LA-0012
Docket / Court 3:65-cv-11130-RGJ-KLH ( W.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
Background

On June 2, 1965, African-American students in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, filed this school desegregation lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs sued the Jackson Parish School Board to enjoin the operation of a racially ... read more >
Background

On June 2, 1965, African-American students in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, filed this school desegregation lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs sued the Jackson Parish School Board to enjoin the operation of a racially segregated school system in the parish. At various times during its lengthy history, this case involved consolidated hearings with parallel school desegregation cases from Alabama and other parts of Louisiana.

The plaintiffs promptly moved for a preliminary injunction. On July 27, 1965, the court (Judge Benjamin C. Dawkins Jr.) ordered the Parish to terminate its compulsory system of racial segregation and propose a desegregation plan to the court, which the defendants submitted and to which the plaintiffs objected. On October 5, 1965, the court approved a “phased in” desegregation plan that permitted students in the 1st, 2nd, 11th and 12th grades to apply for transfer during a four-day window between January 3rd and January 7th, 1966. The plaintiffs were displeased with the court’s plan and, joined on February 7, 1966 by the United States as an intervenor-plaintiff, appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

Consolidated Appeals

The February 1966 appeal began a period in which this case was consolidated in a series of appeals that defined the Fifth Circuit’s approach to school desegregation. In the first appeal, the Fifth Circuit rejected the school districts’ basic argument that Brown v. Board of Education required only that African-American children be allowed to apply for admission to white schools. Instead, the Fifth Circuit declared that “[t]he only school desegregation plan that meets constitutional standards is one that works.” It remanded the cases for the district courts to desegregate more effectively. United States v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 372 F.2d 836. The Fifth Circuit then re-heard the case en banc. The en banc court affirmed the panel’s opinion and clarified that school districts have an affirmative duty to desegregate. United States v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 380 F.2d 385. For more details on the lead case in the consolidated litigation (from Alabama, then part of the Fifth Circuit), please see the case page in the Clearinghouse.

On remand in 1967, the district court issued new injunctions requiring action on desegregation. The United States was not satisfied with the new injunction’s contents and appealed on August 2, 1968. Moreover, the legal landscape had shifted in the plaintiffs’ favor: the Supreme Court in Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430 (1968), had expressed frustration at the inadequacy of freedom of choice plans.

This case was again consolidated on appeal, and the Fifth Circuit curtailed the use of freedom of choice plans. Adams v. Mathews, 403 F.2d 181 (1968). The consolidated cases were remanded to a three-judge district court that nevertheless approved freedom of choice plans in this and 28 other cases on November 14, 1968. Conley v. Lake Charles School Board, 293 F. Supp. 84 (W.D. La. 1968). That produced another appeal, and on May 28, 1969, the Fifth Circuit definitively ruled that freedom of choice plans were inadequate to achieve desegregation of public schools. Hall v. St. Helena Parish School Board, 417 F.2d 801 (1969). For more information on the Lake Charles case, see the case page in the Clearinghouse. For more information on the St. Helena case, please see the case page in the Clearinghouse.

On August 4, 1969, the district court approved another desegregation plan submitted by the Jackson School Board. The August 1969 desegregation adjusted busing rules and named formerly African-American schools to be closed for the 1970-71 school year. The plaintiffs appealed, alleging that these plans did not establish racially unitary school systems. On December 9, 1969, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s approval of desegregation plans in Jackson and three other parishes, again remanding to the district court to choose desegregation plans that would establish unitary school systems. Johnson v. Jackson Parish School Board, 420 F.2d 692 (1969).

Individual Appeals

The district court approved another desegregation plan on January 27, 1970 after the Supreme Court ruled in Carter v. West Feliciana Parish, 396 U.S. 290 (1970) that there would be no deferral of integration. The January 27, 1970 desegregation plan called for closing three previously all-African American schools and using geographic zoning to integrate the remaining schools. The desegregation plans and court orders did not mention the manner in which students were to be assigned to classes within the schools, which would allow a system of “integrated” schools with segregated classrooms. Upon re-hearing to clarify the December 9, 1969 ruling, the Fifth Circuit modified their mandate to ensure the School Boards would desegregate both the schools and the classrooms within the schools. Johnson v. Jackson Parish School Board, 423 F.2d 1055 (1970).

Consent Decree

On August 20, 1970, the district court issued a decree directing the defendants to take all reasonable and necessary steps to terminate the operation of a segregated school system and implement a unitary, non-segregated school system. The decree also required the School Board to file reports with the court until the court declared the school system to be unitary.

Since the 1970s, the School Board has continued to file reports with the district court. Over the years, the School Board has made several motions to change bus routes, consolidate schools and build new schools. On July 18, 2005, the students of Chatham School filed a motion to intervene, hoping to stop the Jackson Parish School Board from closing Chatham Japer Henderson High School. The district court denied the motion to intervene for a lack of standing on August 10, 2005.
On September 30, 2009, the School Board moved to clarify the court order after some confusion regarding the hiring of someone to fill the Supervisor of Federal Programs position, which was granted by Judge James on January 7, 2010. 2010 WL 102771.

On July 29, 2013, the court found that the School Board had demonstrated good-faith efforts to maintain nondiscriminatory operations in the areas of facilities, transportation, and extracurricular activities, and as such, unitary status was granted in those areas. 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105973. This order did not affect areas including student assignment and faculty and staff assignment and hiring.

On September 30, 2009, the School Board moved to clarify the court order after some confusion regarding the hiring of someone to fill the Supervisor of Federal Programs position, which was granted by Judge James on January 7, 2010. 2010 WL 102771.

On July 29, 2013, the court found that the School Board had demonstrated good-faith efforts to maintain nondiscriminatory operations in the areas of facilities, transportation, and extracurricular activities, and as such, unitary status was granted in those areas. 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105973. This order did not affect areas including student assignment and faculty and staff assignment and hiring.

On December 17, 2018, the School Board of Jackson Parish filed an unopposed motion for declaration of total unitary status and motion to dismiss. The next day, Judge Robert G. James granted the motion, finding that the Board had complied with the consent order in good faith and that it had fulfilled its desegregation obligations. Judge James dissolved all remaining injunctions and dismissed the case with prejudice. The case is now closed.

Available Opinions

U.S. v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Educ., 372 F.2d 836 (1966)
U.S. v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Educ., 380 F.2d 385 (1967)
Conley v. Lake Charles Sch. Bd., 293 F.Supp. 84 (1968)
Adams v. Mathews, 403 F.2d 181 (1968)
Hall v. St. Helena Parish Sch. Bd., 417 F.2d 801 (1969)
Johnson v. Jackson Parish Sch. Bd., 420 F.2d 692 (1969)
Johnson v. Jackson Parish Sch. Bd., 423 F.2d 1055 (1970)
Johnson v. Jackson Parish Sch. Bd., 2010 WL 102771 (2010)
Johnson v. Jackson Parish Sch. Bd., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105973 (2013)

Alaael-Deen Shilleh - 04/30/2017
Elizabeth Helpling - 11/24/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Busing
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Hire
Monitoring
Preliminary relief granted
Reporting
Required disclosure
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Buildings
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Education
Racial segregation
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Jackson Parish School Board
Plaintiff Description African-American schoolchildren and the United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1965 - 2018
Filing Year 1965
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing SD-LA-0037 : Related School Desegregation Cases in the Western District of Louisiana (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0014 : Conley v. Lake Charles School Board, Calcasieu Parish School Board (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0026 : Hall and United States of America v. St. Helena Parish School Board (M.D. La.)
SD-AL-0001 : U.S. v. Jefferson County Bd. of Ed./Stout v. Jefferson County Bd. of Ed. (N.D. Ala.)
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
65-cv-11130 (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0012-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:65−cv−11130−RGJ−KLH (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/18/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Brief for the United States of America, Intervenor
SD-LA-0012-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/25/1966
Source: Papers of Alexander (Sandy) Ross
[Order] (372 F.2d 836)
SD-LA-0012-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/29/1966
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (380 F.2d 385)
SD-LA-0012-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/29/1967
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (403 F.2d 181)
SD-LA-0012-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/20/1968
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (293 F.Supp. 84) (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0012-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/14/1968
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (417 F.2d 801)
SD-LA-0012-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/28/1969
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (420 F.2d 692)
SD-LA-0012-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/09/1969
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (423 F.2d 1055)
SD-LA-0012-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/25/1970
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Order [ECF# 28] (2010 WL 102771) (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0012-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/07/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minutes of Proceeding [ECF# 62]
SD-LA-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2013
Source: Pro Publica
CONSENT ORDER DECLARING PARTIAL UNITARY STATUS AND DISMISSAL IN FACILITIES, TRANSPORTATION, AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/29/2013
Source: Pro Publica
Consent Order Declaring Partial Unitary Status and Dismissal in Facilities, Transportation, and Extracurricular Activities [ECF# 70] (2013 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 105973) (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0012-0012.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/29/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 120] (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0012-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/18/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Brown, John Robert (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0006
Cabot, Ted (S.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0006
Cox, William Harold (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0003
Dawkins, Benjamin Cornwell Jr. (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0004
Dyer, David William (S.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0007 | SD-LA-0012-0008
Gewin, Walter Pettus (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0007 | SD-LA-0012-0008
Godbold, John Cooper (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0006
Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0005 | SD-LA-0012-0007 | SD-LA-0012-0008
Hayes, Karen L. (W.D. La.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0011 | SD-LA-0012-9000
Hunter, Edwin Ford Jr. (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0004
James, Robert Gillespie (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0001 | SD-LA-0012-0002 | SD-LA-0012-0012 | SD-LA-0012-0013 | SD-LA-0012-9000 | SD-LA-0012-9001
Morgan, Lewis Render (N.D. Ga., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0005
Putnam, Richard Johnson (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0004
Thornberry, William Homer (W.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0003
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0003 | SD-LA-0012-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barrett, St. John (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0009
Bronstein, Alvin J. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Cummings, Torey B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0002 | SD-LA-0012-0012 | SD-LA-0012-9000
Dallo, Amanda K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Doar, John (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0009
Douglas, Nils R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000 | SD-LA-0012-9001
Dunbaugh, Frank M. III (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0009
Landsberg, Brian K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Marshall, Franz (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Norman, David L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0009
Ollivierre, Ethel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Pergam, Albert S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0009
Rachlin, Carl (New York) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Shaheen, Edward L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0009
Strickler, George Marion Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000 | SD-LA-0012-9001
Taylor, Lisa M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Vincent, Katherine (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0012 | SD-LA-0012-9000
Walter, Donald Ellsworth (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Wilson, Ryan C (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baker, William H. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Blanchard, John Richard (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Dill, Pamela W (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Guice, Jon K (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Hammonds, Robert L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-0002 | SD-LA-0012-0012 | SD-LA-0012-9000
Henderson, Hal R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Jackson, Fred L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Johnson, J. B. Jr. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Whitten, Leon H. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9001
Other Lawyers Culpepper, Bobby L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000
Rountree, James A. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0012-9000

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