Case: Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board

5:65-cv-11055 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana

Filed Date: May 4, 1965

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This school desegregation case from Caddo Parish, Louisiana, was filed in 1965 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, with Judge Ben Dawkins presiding. As of 2020, it is still ongoing. On May 4, 1965, the parents of seven African American school children brought this putative class-action suit on their behalf against the defendants, Caddo Parish School Board, to enjoin the operation of a racially segregated school district. Shortly thereafter, the United States was al…

This school desegregation case from Caddo Parish, Louisiana, was filed in 1965 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, with Judge Ben Dawkins presiding. As of 2020, it is still ongoing.

On May 4, 1965, the parents of seven African American school children brought this putative class-action suit on their behalf against the defendants, Caddo Parish School Board, to enjoin the operation of a racially segregated school district. Shortly thereafter, the United States was allowed to intervene as a plaintiff and has remained actively involved in the case since then.

Initially, the Board pursued a freedom-of-choice approach to desegregation. The Fifth Circuit at first approved the use of freedom of choice plans in United States v. Jefferson. 372 F.2d 836 (5th Cir. Dec. 29, 1966). And even in the wake of Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430 (1968), in which the Supreme Court expressed frustration at the inadequacy of freedom-of-choice plans, the Western District continued to accept them as a viable option. See Adams v. Matthews, 401 F.2d 181 (5th Cir. Aug. 20, 1968); Conley v. Lake Charles School Board, 293 F.Supp. 84, 87 (W.D. La. Nov. 14, 1968) (including Caddo Parish). Ultimately, however, in Hall v. St. Helena Parish, a consolidated appeal of cases from across the Circuit, the Fifth Circuit ordered the district courts to reverse course and solicit alternative plans from the various defendant school boards. 417 F.2d 801 (5th Cir. May 28, 1969) (including Caddo Parish). Please see SD-LA-0037 for more information on freedom-of-choice.

By the early 1970s, there was a major split in the various factions of private plaintiffs, leading them to play less of an active role in the suit. During this time, the United States was involved with negotiations with the district court and the Board. In 1976, the Board filed a motion to have the school system declared unitary, which would have warranted the dismissal of the original suit. However, the United States opposed the motion. In 1977, the district court: (1) ruled that the Board had fully complied with the 1973 court-ordered desegregation plan, (2) declared the school system to be unitary, and (3) dismissed the suit against the Board. Thereafter, the United States filed a motion to amend the judgment, which suspended the finality of the judgment, claiming procedural irregularities and substantive deficiencies in the ruling. No private plaintiffs came forward to proceed with the suit, so the United States engaged in negotiations as the main plaintiff.

After five years of negotiations with the Board, the parties reached an agreement and on May 5, 1981, the district court entered a consent decree that largely still governs the Board's desegregation efforts. The consent decree stipulated that the Board was required to desegregate its public schools and to establish a unitary system that does not discriminate against black students. The decree, among other things, called for the establishment of magnet schools to achieve desegregation of certain schools, as well as developing programs that would result in integration of all-black schools.

By 1990, the district court found that the Board had met many of its targets from the 1981 consent decree and thus relieved the Board of its obligations under the consent decree as to magnet schools. However, the provisions of the consent decree applicable to all-black schools remained in force. The Board was still obligated to provide a level of education at two all-black schools (Booker T. Washington and Fair Park) that was qualitatively equal to that of the others in the system. The Board was also obligated to continue efforts to integrate these two all-black schools, which were deemed vestiges of past unconstitutional race discrimination.

In December 2013, Louisiana’s Recovery School District (“RSD”) intervened in the Board’s management of academically unacceptable schools, one of which was Fair Park. The RSD entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Board that imposed specific requirements for the management of these schools. Preliminary reports indicated that the actions taken had some desired effect of improving the academic performance of Fair Park students, but the Board voted to close this high school by the end of the semester.

In January 2017, the Board approved a plan to merge these two all-black schools into Booker T. Washington. A separate lawsuit, Cooksey v. Caddo Parish School Board (SD-LA-0049 in this clearinghouse), was filed in the same district court on May 5, 2017, by parents of some black students at Fair Park high school. They sued the Caddo Parish School Board for its abrupt decision to merge the two all-black schools as the solution for the Board’s alleged need to “right-size” the district and to generate funds to teacher pay raises. The plaintiffs alleged that the Board’s action was manifestly race-based in violation of the equal protection requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment, Louisiana’s state law, and the mandates of the 1981 consent decree. On February 20, 2018, the parties in the Cooksey lawsuit filed a stipulated dismissal. While the suit was pending, the school merger was completed, and the parties stipulated that the merger was ultimately unrelated to the 1981 consent decree.

In the original case filed in 1965, after many reassignments of judges over the decades, the case was reassigned to Judge Elizabeth Foote on May 23, 2011.

As of 2020, the school system had yet to attain unitary status and the district court retained its supervision of the Board's efforts to desegregate.

Available Opinions

United States v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 372 F.2d 836 (5th Cir. Dec. 29, 1966), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 840 (1967) (consolidated cases, allowing the United States to intervene as as party in various desegregation suits)

Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 392 F.2d 721 (5th Cir. Mar. 27, 1968)

Hall v. St. Helena Parish School Board, 417 F.2d 801 (5th Cir. May 28, 1969) (consolidated appeal of 36 school desegregation cases; rejecting freedom of choice plan)

Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 421 F.2d 313 (5th Cir. Jan. 6., 1970) (reversing district court’s approval of Board’s plan and remanding)

Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 487 F.2d 1275 (5th Cir. Oct. 31, 1973)

Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 499 F.2d 914 (5th Cir. Aug. 30, 1974)

Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 704 F.2d 206 (5th Cir. May 6, 1983)

Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 735 F.2d 923 (5th Cir. July 9, 1984) (en banc)

Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 204 F.R.D. 97 (W.D. La. Sept. 26, 2001)

Related cases

Cavalier ex rel. Cavalier v. Caddo Parish School Board, 400 F.3d 246 (5th Cir. Mar. 1, 2005) (white student challenging denial of admission to magnet school as discriminatory)

Summary Authors

Greg Margolis (2/25/2017)

Sichun Liu (3/1/2020)

Related Cases

Hall and United States of America v. St. Helena Parish School Board, Middle District of Louisiana (1952)

Cooksey v. Caddo Parish School Board, Western District of Louisiana (2017)

Conley v. Lake Charles School Board, Calcasieu Parish School Board, Western District of Louisiana (1964)

Related School Desegregation Cases in the Western District of Louisiana, Western District of Louisiana (1965)

People


Judge(s)

Foote, Elizabeth Erny (Louisiana)

Garwood, William Lockhart (Texas)

Godbold, John Cooper (Louisiana)

Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Louisiana)

Higginbotham, Patrick Errol (Texas)

Little, F. A. Jr. (Louisiana)

Rubin, Alvin Benjamin (Louisiana)

Williams, Jerre Stockton (Texas)

Wisdom, John Minor (Louisiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Stone, Jesse N. Jr. (Louisiana)

Judge(s)

Foote, Elizabeth Erny (Louisiana)

Garwood, William Lockhart (Texas)

Godbold, John Cooper (Louisiana)

Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Louisiana)

Higginbotham, Patrick Errol (Texas)

Little, F. A. Jr. (Louisiana)

Rubin, Alvin Benjamin (Louisiana)

Williams, Jerre Stockton (Texas)

Wisdom, John Minor (Louisiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Stone, Jesse N. Jr. (Louisiana)

Tureaud, A. P. (Louisiana)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Abrams, Reginald W. (Louisiana)

Arceneaux, M. Thomas (Louisiana)

Sutherland, Fred H. (Louisiana)

Other Attorney(s)

Allen, Frances O. (Louisiana)

Cooper, Charles Justin (District of Columbia)

Doar, John (District of Columbia)

Flanagan, William J. (Louisiana)

Heffernan, Brian F. (District of Columbia)

Keeling, Thomas M. (District of Columbia)

Keene, J. Ransdell (Louisiana)

Landsberg, Brian K. (District of Columbia)

Leifer, Elihu (District of Columbia)

Marshall, Franz (District of Columbia)

Norman, David L. (District of Columbia)

Owen, D. Robert (District of Columbia)

Reynolds, William Bradford (District of Columbia)

Ross, Alexander C. (District of Columbia)

Shaheen, Edward L. (Louisiana)

Stewart, Carl E. (Louisiana)

Turner, James P. (District of Columbia)

Yeomans, William R. (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Lee, Wayman (Massachusetts)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Sept. 20, 2006 Docket

Docket [PACER]

April 19, 2016 Docket

Brief for the United States

United States v. Caddo Parish School Board

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

April 25, 1966 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

372 F.2d 836

Dec. 29, 1966 Order/Opinion

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

392 F.2d 721

March 27, 1968 Order/Opinion

Opinion

St. Helena Parish School Board v. Williams

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

417 F.2d 801

May 28, 1969 Order/Opinion

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

421 F.2d 313

Jan. 6, 1970 Order/Opinion

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

487 F.2d 1275

Oct. 31, 1973 Order/Opinion

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

499 F.2d 914

Aug. 30, 1974 Order/Opinion
1-2

Consent Decree (1981)

Jones and United States v. Caddo Parish School Board

May 6, 1981 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

PAPER DOCKET SHEET of filings through 9/20/06. (Attachments: # 1 Additional counsel pages) (crt,Yocum, M) (Additional attachment(s) added on 9/3/2014: # 2 Consent Decree filed 5/7/81) (Lundy, N). (Entered: 09/20/2006)

Sept. 20, 2006
2

MINUTE ENTRY REASSIGNING CASE. Case reassigned to Judge Elizabeth E Foote. Judge F A Little, Jr no longer assigned to case. Issued by Tony R Moore, Clerk, on 5/23/2011. (crt,Williams, L) (Entered: 05/23/2011)

May 23, 2011
3

REQUEST from Cathy Bonds for Consent Decree dated 5/7/81 and copy of paper docket sheet. Clerk mailed Consent Decree dated 5/7/81 and copy of paper docket sheet on April 19, 2016. (Public entry, but no electronic notice.) (Attachments: # 1 Envelope) (crt,Whidden, C) (Entered: 04/19/2016)

April 19, 2016

State / Territory: Louisiana

Case Type(s):

School Desegregation

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 4, 1965

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs are African-American school children in the Caddo Parish, Louisiana school system.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Caddo Parish (Caddo), School District

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1965 - None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Busing

Student assignment

Discrimination Prohibition

Reporting

Monitor/Master

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Education

Racial segregation

School/University Facilities

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

Type of Facility:

Government-run