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Case Name Dandridge v. Jefferson Parish School Board SD-LA-0013
Docket / Court 2:64-cv-14801-KDE-JCW ( E.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Case Summary
On July 30, 1964, a group of African American families filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs included African American families whose children who were attending free public schools controlled by the Jefferson Parish School Board. The ... read more >
On July 30, 1964, a group of African American families filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs included African American families whose children who were attending free public schools controlled by the Jefferson Parish School Board. The plaintiffs—represented by private attorney Gideon T. Carter, III, who specialized in civil rights and desegregation cases—sued the Jefferson Parish School Board and its agents under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For more than ten years after Brown v. Board of Education was decided, the defendants had continued a compulsory bi-racial school system and assigned students and school personnel to schools based on race. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and sought a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent the defendant from segregating schools. Alternatively, the plaintiffs sought a decree requiring the defendants to present and initiate a plan to desegregate its schools.

Establishing a Consent Decree

During a hearing for the preliminary injunction in August 1964, the Court (Judge Herbert W. Christenberry) found that the plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary injunction. Because the Court found that issuing the injunction for the 1964-1965 school year would cause serious disruption to the school system, it delayed the entry of the order until January 25, 1965. On that date the Court issued a preliminary injunction effective at the start of the 1965-1966 school year and ordered the defendants to submit a desegregation plan.

The defendants submitted a desegregation plan in March 1965. The plan integrated one to three grades each year, until it reached all grades in 1970. The plaintiffs objected to the plan, saying it should take at most until 1968 to achieve full integration. The court held a hearing on the plan in June 1965 and ordered the defendants to implement a plan that would achieve full integration by 1968 and allow students to assign themselves to a school (subject only to overcrowding).

Immediately after African American students were enrolled in formerly all-white schools, there were numerous incidents between African American and white students. The plaintiffs filed a motion for additional relief alleging that law enforcement failed to provide adequate protection to African American students. In particular, a group of thirty-six newly enrolled students had been prevented from entering their classroom by white students. The principal had ignored their attempt to report the incident and ordered them out of his office, then suspended the group of students for departing from the school without permission. On September 30, 1965, the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order requiring the school to reinstate the students immediately. The defendants moved to dissolve the Order, but both the District Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request.

The parties continued to litigate for several years over the desegregation plan and the defendant’s compliance. On multiple occasions the Court granted motions to transfer students or to close schools and transfer the entire study body. Pursuant to the 1965 order, the defendants submitted a plan that would achieve full integration. The Court approved this plan on June 26, 1969.

In April 1971 the Supreme Court issued a decision in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education that upheld busing programs aimed to speed up the integration of public schools. In May 1971, the plaintiffs moved for further relief seeking a new desegregation plan pursuant to the holding in Swann and asking that the faculty of each school be integrated.

On July 9, 1971, the defendants submitted a follow-up plan that did not conform to the holding in Swann. While the Court had in 1966 declined to order desegregation of the busing system, in 1971 it found that the plaintiffs were entitled to further relief in light of the Supreme Court decision and refused to accept the defendants’ follow-up plan. The same day, the Court issued an order requiring that the defendants’ plan conform to the holding in Swann and requiring the defendants to integrate the faculty of each school such that the ratio of African American to white teachers in an individual school reflected the ratio of African American to white teachers in the school system as a whole.

The defendants submitted a new plan but presented evidence that instituting the new plan would be burdensome and cause some schools to be unable to begin the school year smoothly. On August 10, 1971, the Court adopted the plan submitted by the defendants, finding that the School Board’s concerns did not justify continuation of a less than unitary school system. 332. F. Supp. 590.

The defendants appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit seeking suspension and stay of the injunction pending appeal, but the Circuit Court denied the motion. The defendants then appealed to the Supreme Court seeking a stay of proceedings. The Supreme Court (Justice Marshall) denied certiorari, reasoning that the difficulties the parish would face in complying with the order were those normally incident to the transition to a unitary school system. The Court also noted its disapproval of the defendants’ efforts to drag the litigation out: “The schools involved have been mired in litigation for seven years. Whatever progress toward desegregation has been made apparently, and unfortunately, derives only from judicial action initiated by those persons situated as perpetual plaintiffs below. The rights of children to equal educational opportunities are not to be denied, even for a brief time, simply because a school board situates itself so as to make desegregation difficult.” 404 U.S. 1219.

On February 11, 1972, the Circuit Court affirmed the District Court’s decision from August 1971. The Circuit Court found that the 19 remaining one-race schools in Jefferson Parish were vestiges of former school segregation and that requiring the School Board to bus students was justified. 456 F.2d 552.

The 1971 plan was amended by consent decree in 1978 but otherwise remained in effect for many years.

Obtaining Unitary Status

In August 2006, a member of the School Board proposed a plan creating a “unitary” system that would end busing practices and allow children to attend schools closer to home, as well as a plan to seek federal grant money to overhaul low-performing schools. The proposal was met with strong resistance from critics who believed the plans would re-segregate schools, and the board member ultimately withdrew the proposal a few months later. However, the School Board still sought to convert four predominantly African American, low-performing schools into magnet schools in 2007 in the hopes of boosting academics and increasing school diversity.

On March 8, 2007, the parties filed a joint motion to supplement the desegregation plan to authorize the School District to use a magnet school program as a voluntary desegregation method. On the same day, the Court (Judge Jay C. Zainey) granted the motion and ordered the parties to file a report that identified which aspects of the school system remained segregated and what action was needed to desegregate them.

Judge Zainey then reassigned the case to Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in February 2008.

The parties proceeded to file a proposed consent order addressing the requirements from the March 2007 order. On March 14, 2008, the Court approved portions and rejected other portions of the proposed order with instructions to revise it and report back to the Court. On May 14, 2008, a fairness hearing was held regarding the revised proposed order and the order was approved. That order excluded magnet schools and decreed that a new consent order for those schools be submitted. The amended Consent Order and corresponding plan required the School Board to modify attendance zones and upgrade facilities consistent with its desegregation obligations. The order was set to terminate on June 30, 2011.

The defendants submitted a plan for the magnet schools in October 2008 and requested approval of the magnet schools. The Magnet Plan sought to redraw the school attendance zones that had been approved by the Court on May 14, 2008. On January 5, 2009, the Court approved the motion for approval of new magnet schools but denied the Magnet Plan itself, finding that the defendants could not show that the proposed change in attendance zones would not lead to fewer desegregated schools. The defendants filed an amended plan and on January 29, 2009, after a fairness hearing on the amended Magnet Plan, the Court approved the plan.

After the Magnet Plan was implemented, disputes arose regarding the School Board’s compliance with the Consent Order. In particular, the Court found that inaccurate information may have been provided to some parents of students regarding the magnet school application procedures and ordered the School Board to eliminate the confusion. Furthermore, allegations arose in 2010 that qualified African American students had been denied admission to one of the magnet schools. Issues with irregularities in admission to magnet schools lessened after the School Board adopted written guidelines for assessing applications beginning in the 2010-2011 school year.

Before the Consent Order expired, the Plaintiffs moved to extend the Consent Order and moved for further remedies and specific performance. In particular, the Plaintiffs claimed that the defendants had failed to undertake corrective action for the 2011-2012 school year, that the defendants’ efforts to recruit African American students into magnet schools and other advanced programs was inadequate, that African American students were subject to disparate treatment under the school system’s disciplinary process, and that the defendants were using the Consent Order as a pretext to conceal attempts to continue a system of racially segregated schools.

The Court granted an extension, but before the Court decided on the other motions, the parties reached a final agreement. The parties conferred and worked to resolve remaining issues that prevented Jefferson Parish from achieving unitary status. According to the Final Settlement Agreement, the School Board would continue to implement several plans, including the creation of new magnet school programs and Academic Academies, school modifications, modification of attendance zones, operation of a Majority-to-Minority Transfer Program, and implementation of other special educational programs and services. The Agreement included all essential steps that the School Board would have to take to achieve and maintain unitary status. The agreement would remain in effect for three years. On August 2, 2011, the Court approved the final settlement agreement and declared Jefferson Parish School System unitary. No further activity appeared on the docket during the next three years, so the case is presumably now closed.

Even after the litigation ended and the agreement terminated, the Dandridge task force overseeing the implementation of the Agreement criticized the school system’s compliance. The parties entered into a voluntary agreement in 2015 in an attempt to institutionalize the practices that had been mandated by the court order.

Available Opinions

Dandridge v. Jefferson Par. Sch. Bd., 332 F. Supp. 590 (E.D. La. 1971), aff'd, 456 F.2d 552 (5th Cir. 1972).
Dandridge v. Jefferson Par. Sch. Bd., 404 U.S. 1219 (1971).
Dandridge v. Jefferson Par. Sch. Bd., 456 F.2d 552 (5th Cir. 1972).
Dandridge v. Jefferson Par. Sch. Bd., 249 F.R.D. 243 (E.D. La. 2008).

Sara Stearns - 04/18/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Busing
Discrimination Prohibition
Magnet school
Monitoring
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Buildings
Disciplinary procedures
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Education
Funding
Racial segregation
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Jefferson Parish School Board
Plaintiff Description African American children enrolled in Jefferson Parish Public Schools
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 1965 - 2011
Filing Year 1964
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:64-cv-14801-KDE-JCW (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/22/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:64-cv-14801 (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/02/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
SD-LA-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/1964
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 8] (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/25/1965
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 90] (332 F.Supp. 590) (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/09/1971
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (404 U.S. 1219)
SD-LA-0013-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/30/1971
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (456 F.2d 552)
SD-LA-0013-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/11/1972
Source: Westlaw
Agreed Order [ECF# 117] (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Reasons [ECF# 137] (249 F.R.D. 243) (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/13/2008
Source: Westlaw
Consent Order [ECF# 164] (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Orders and Reasons [ECF# 190] (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/05/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 201] (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Extend the Consent Order and for Further Remedies or Specific Performance Pursuant to Paragraph 37 of the Consent Order, and Further for Contempt and Meaningful and Appropriate Sanctions, and to Continue the Hearing Set by the Court [ECF# 246]
SD-LA-0013-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Settlement Agreement [ECF# 261] (E.D. La.)
SD-LA-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/02/2011
Source: Pro Publica
Final Settlement Agreement [ECF# 261-1]
SD-LA-0013-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/02/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Christenberry, Herbert William (E.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0003 | SD-LA-0013-0004
Engelhardt, Kurt Damian (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0001 | SD-LA-0013-0008 | SD-LA-0013-0009 | SD-LA-0013-0010 | SD-LA-0013-0013
Gewin, Walter Pettus (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0006
Marshall, Thurgood (Second Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0005
Zainey, Jay C. (E.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Carter, Gideon T III (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0001 | SD-LA-0013-0007 | SD-LA-0013-0008 | SD-LA-0013-0011 | SD-LA-0013-0012 | SD-LA-0013-9000
Collins, Lionel R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0002 | SD-LA-0013-9001
Edler, Ronald (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-9000
Perque, Richard Gerard (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Fanning, Michael G (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0001 | SD-LA-0013-0012 | SD-LA-0013-9000
Grant, Jack A. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0007 | SD-LA-0013-0008 | SD-LA-0013-9000 | SD-LA-0013-9001
Patin, Charles L Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-0001 | SD-LA-0013-0007 | SD-LA-0013-0008 | SD-LA-0013-0012 | SD-LA-0013-9000
Rittenberg, William E. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-9000
Samuel, Charles M. III (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0013-9000

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