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Case Name United States v. Morehouse Parish School Board SD-LA-0019
Docket / Court 3:69-cv-14429-RGJ-KLH ( W.D. La. )
Additional Docket(s) 3:13-cv-00833  [ 13-833 ]  Western District of LA (U.S.)
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On February 10, 1969, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The DOJ sued the Morehouse Parish School Board to enjoin the operation of a dual (segregated) school system in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana.
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On February 10, 1969, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The DOJ sued the Morehouse Parish School Board to enjoin the operation of a dual (segregated) school system in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana.

The district court (Judge Benjamin C. Dawkins Jr.) ordered the School Board to file a desegregation plan on or before July 5, 1969. However, the case was soon swept up in ongoing Fifth Circuit litigation about whether “freedom of choice” plans that allowed students to choose which schools to attend could adequately desegregate schools. It quickly became clear that freedom of choice plans would not pass constitutional muster, and the parties entered into negotiations to find a mutually agreeable desegregation plan. For more information on the Fifth Circuit litigation about freedom of choice plans, see this entry in the Clearinghouse.

On August 1, 1969, the district court approved the desegregation plan that Morehouse Parish School Board submitted to the district court on July 5, 1969. On November 4, 1969, the district court issued another decree stating “that a child shall attend the school in the district where his or her parents are domiciled and that any exception” to that rule “shall be presented by the Parents and the School Board affected” to the district court. The district court issued this decree following complaints to the court that certain students in Morehouse Parish were violating the August 1, 1969 decree of the district court by attending schools in Monroe City, a nearby city in neighboring Ouachita Parish.

On August 17, 1970, the court directed the School Board to partially close Morehouse Elementary School during the 1970-71 school year; the students (except for 130 African American students), would be registered in other schools as the court ordered, so long as the capacity of the schools was adequate. The district court also ordered that the portion of Morehouse Elementary School not used for the 130 African-American students be used for Special Education Classes and for integrated kindergartens established for parish wide attendance. On August 6, 1971, the court issued a decree modifying the August 1970 decree. These modifications included consolidation of schools and redistricting.

On February 21, 1978, twenty-nine individuals moved to intervene and also filed a proposed decree. On the same day, a joint motion to approve the Limited Exception Decree of November 4, 1969 was filed. This motion to intervene is presumably related to the district court approving an exception for some families living in Morehouse Parish to attend schools in the neighboring Ouachita Parish: On February 22, 1978, the district court granted a limited exception to families domiciled in Morehouse Parish to attend schools in Ouachita Parish, pursuant to the agreement and subject to approval by the Ouachita Parish School Board. This limited exception to the November 4, 1969 decree would expire at the end of the 1977-78 school year and “in no event” be allowed to extend past May 30, 1978. The district court also added that the November 4, 1969 decree would remain in full force and apply to all the other students and parents in the Parish beginning no later than March 30, 1978, about one month after the order granting the exception was given.

The docket has no entries between March 22, 1979 and April 17, 2006 when the School Board made a motion to consolidate schools and reassign students. This motion was granted two days later. On August 14, 2008 the district court issued a memorandum to clarify confusion related to the School Board’s reporting requirements. To clarify the confusion, the court amended the longstanding decree to require the School Board reports to contain: (a) enrollment by grade and race for each school for the current year; and (b) for each school, the name and race of each teacher employer for the current school year, notwithstanding any informal reporting agreements that the DOJ and Morehouse Parish agreed to.

In 2009, the School Board proposed further redistricting and consolidation of schools in Morehouse Parish. After a year of negotiation, on May 25, 2010, the district court issued an agreed-upon order ratifying changes along these lines. On March 29, 2012, the district court issued another memorandum after the DOJ and Morehouse Parish agreed that, after review, the Parish had complied with its desegregation obligations in the areas of extracurricular activities and facilities. However, the DOJ concluded that Morehouse Parish had not yet met its desegregation obligations with regard to student assignment, student transfers, faculty hiring and assignment, school construction and site selection, and quality of education, including discipline. The DOJ also did not take a position on whether or not Morehouse Parish had met its desegregation obligations with regard to transportation.

On February 28, 2013, the Morehouse Parish School Board sought a Declaration of Unitary Status--that is, an end to the case. On March 4, 2013, the district court agreed, closing the case 44 years after it was filed.

In April 2013, a group of African-American students attempted to revive the case, filing a new lawsuit, Madison ex rel. Z.M. v. Morehouse Parish Superintendent of School, No. 3:13-0833 (W.D. La. filed April 24, 2013), in which they alleged race discrimination in disciplinary decisionmaking. District Judge James Trimble rejected the new lawsuit on the basis of discovery non-cooperation by the plaintiffs and a failure to provide appropriate evidence in support of the claim. Judge Trimble did not further discuss the effort to revive the prior desegregation case. 2014 WL 2085207 (W.D. La. May 19, 2014).

Available Opinions
United States v. Morehouse Parish School Board, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62034 (W.D. La. Aug. 14, 2008)
United States v. Morehouse Parish School Board, 2013 WL 791578 (W.D. La. Mar. 4, 2013)
Madison ex rel. Z.M. v. Morehouse Parish Superintendent of School, 2014 WL 2085207 (W.D. La. May 19, 2014)

Alaael-Deen Shilleh - 04/30/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Busing
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Hire
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Remedial education
Reporting
Required disclosure
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-area
Zoning
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Buildings
Disciplinary procedures
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Education
Funding
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Racial segregation
Records Disclosure
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
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) Morehouse Parish School Board
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1969 - 2013
Filing Year 1969
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing SD-LA-0037 : Related School Desegregation Cases in the Western District of Louisiana (W.D. La.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
3:69-cv-14429 (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:69-cv-14429 (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/04/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Decree [ECF# 60] (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/1969
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Decree [ECF# 61] (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/04/1969
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 62] (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/17/1970
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 63] (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/1971
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order (2008 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 62034) (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0009.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/14/2008
Source: LexisNexis
Agreed Order [ECF# 79] (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/29/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling (2013 WL 791578) (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/04/2013
Source: Westlaw
Judgment [ECF# 92] (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0019-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/04/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Dawkins, Benjamin Cornwell Jr. (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-0002 | SD-LA-0019-0003 | SD-LA-0019-0004 | SD-LA-0019-0005
Hayes, Karen L. (W.D. La.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
James, Robert Gillespie (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-0006 | SD-LA-0019-0007 | SD-LA-0019-0008 | SD-LA-0019-0009 | SD-LA-0019-9000 | SD-LA-0019-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dann, Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
Goldschmidt, Iris (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
Hebert, Janice E. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
Marshall, Franz (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
McCarthy, Emily H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
Mitchell, John W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9001
Shaheen, Edward L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9001
Vincent, Katherine (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Katz, Stephen J. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9000
Kostelks, Robert W. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0019-9001

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