Case: Nesbitt v. Statesville City Board of Education

5:64-cv-00486 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina

Filed Date: March 14, 1964

Closed Date: 1972

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 14, 1964, the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The plaintiffs, African-American minor school children by and through their parents, sued the defendant Statesville City Board of Education to enjoin the operation of a racially segregated school district. The were represented by, among others, Jack Greenberg, for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Board conceded that the district was segregated. But to combat the problem, …

On March 14, 1964, the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The plaintiffs, African-American minor school children by and through their parents, sued the defendant Statesville City Board of Education to enjoin the operation of a racially segregated school district. The were represented by, among others, Jack Greenberg, for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

The Board conceded that the district was segregated. But to combat the problem, since the Court's decision in Brown in 1954, the Board had merely assigned students to the schools they attended the previous year and allowed for voluntary transfers. In the summer of 1963, thirty black students applied for transfer to all-white schools; those who were denied brought this suit. The district court (Judge J. Braxton Craven) denied the plaintiffs' preliminary injunction, approving the Board's current freedom of choice plan. It concluded: "Within certain limits, it is not required that a federal district judge substitute his own judgment for that of a conscientious school board as to what may be wise or unwise, hasty or slow. The responsibility for the operation of the schools is still in the school boards and not in the courts.” Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education, 232 F.Supp. 288, 293 (W.D.N.C. Aug. 4, 1964).

On April 7, 1965, the Fourth Circuit, en banc, vacated the district court's decision, finding that it had failed to scrutinize the Board's plan sufficiently. Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education, 345 F.2d 333 (4th Cir. Apr. 7, 1965) (en banc)

On remand, the parties began negotiations, attempting to arrive at an acceptable desegregation plan. Unable to reach agreement, the case came to trial on May 27, 1968. And on January 9, 1969, the district court reached its decision, entering a desegregation plan that called for, among other things, the consolidation of middle schools and the continuation of certain freedom of choice elements.

On appeal again, the Fourth Circuit again disapproved. In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, the court concluded: "The clear mandate of the Court is immediacy. Further delays will not be tolerated in this circuit." Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education, 418 F.2d 1040, 1042 (4th Cir. Dec. 2, 1969). The Fourth Circuit ordered the Board to submit a new desegregation plan.

After further negotiations, on June 15, 1970, the district court approved the Board's plan, which included student and teacher reassignment. Not two years later, the district court, on January 10, 1972, issued a show cause order why the case should not be dismissed and the district declared unitary. With no objections, the court entered that order and dismissed the case on February 11, 1972.

One follow up note about Statesville: In 1991, the Statesville City school district merged with the surrounding Iredell County school system, which was declared unitary in 1970. Chambers v. Iredell County Board of Education, 423 F.2d 613 (4th Cir. 1970) (upholding the district court's grant of unitary status).

Available Opinions

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education, 232 F.Supp. 288 (W.D.N.C. Aug. 4, 1964)

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education, 345 F.2d 333 (4th Cir. Apr. 7, 1965) (en banc)

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education, 418 F.2d 1040 (4th Cir. Dec. 2, 1969)

Chambers v. Iredell County Board of Education, 423 F.2d 613 (Feb. 27, 1970) (en banc).

Summary Authors

Greg Margolis (3/5/2017)

People


Judge(s)

Boreman, Herbert Stephenson (West Virginia)

Bryan, Albert Vickers (Virginia)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Craven, James Braxton Jr. (Virginia)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Jones, Woodrow Wilson (North Carolina)

Sobeloff, Simon E. (Maryland)

Winter, Harrison Lee (Maryland)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bell, Derrick A. Jr. (New York)

Brown, Calvin L. (New York)

Judge(s)

Boreman, Herbert Stephenson (West Virginia)

Bryan, Albert Vickers (Virginia)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Craven, James Braxton Jr. (Virginia)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Jones, Woodrow Wilson (North Carolina)

Sobeloff, Simon E. (Maryland)

Winter, Harrison Lee (Maryland)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bell, Derrick A. Jr. (New York)

Brown, Calvin L. (New York)

Chambers, J. LeVonne (New York)

Greenberg, Jack (New York)

Pearson, Conrad O. (North Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Collier, Robert A. Sr. (North Carolina)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Feb. 11, 1972 Docket

[Order]

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education

232 F.Supp. 288

Aug. 4, 1964 Order/Opinion

[Order]

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

345 F.2d 333

April 7, 1965 Order/Opinion

[Order]

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

418 F.2d 1040

Dec. 2, 1969 Order/Opinion

[Order]

Chambers v. Iredell County Board of Education

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

423 F.2d 613

Feb. 27, 1970 Order/Opinion

Show Cause Order

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education

Jan. 7, 1972 Order/Opinion

Order of Dismissal

Nesbit v. Statesville City Board of Education

Feb. 10, 1972 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: North Carolina

Case Type(s):

School Desegregation

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 14, 1964

Closing Date: 1972

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs are African-American minor school children, by and through their parents, who attended schools in Statesville, North Carolina.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Statesville City (Statesville), 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

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1969 - 1972

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Preliminary relief denied

Reporting

Student assignment

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Education

Racial segregation

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

Type of Facility:

Government-run