Case: Scott v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth Cty. Bd. of Educ.

6:68-00174 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina

Filed Date: Oct. 2, 1968

Closed Date: 1971

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Case Summary

In October 1968, plaintiffs brought this lawsuit against the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education (the Board) alleging a racially discriminatory dual system of public education and seeking the complete desegregation of the schools through preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. The case was assigned to Judge Jack Murphy Gordon. Both the plaintiffs and the Board proposed desegregation plans for the district’s elementary, junior high, and senior high schools. Judge Gordon rejected…

In October 1968, plaintiffs brought this lawsuit against the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education (the Board) alleging a racially discriminatory dual system of public education and seeking the complete desegregation of the schools through preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. The case was assigned to Judge Jack Murphy Gordon.

Both the plaintiffs and the Board proposed desegregation plans for the district’s elementary, junior high, and senior high schools. Judge Gordon rejected the plaintiff’s proposed plan, known as the Larsen plan, for the junior high and senior high schools, finding the proposed busing would have gone far beyond what was constitutionally required. At the same time, Judge Gordon rejected the Board’s proposed plan for elementary schools, and thus ordered the integration of 8 such schools. In one set of schools, the population was to be 61% white/49% black, and the other set would be 66% white/34% black, both within a five percent margin. Also included in this order was a prohibition of minority-to-majority school transfers, with few exceptions, and a liberal majority-to-minority transfer policy, including the assurance of transportation. The Board requested reconsideration of the order, arguing the cost was exorbitant, but the district court denied the request arguing the order met the reasonableness requirements of the Fourth Circuit. Scott v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Bd. of Educ., 317 F.Supp. 453 (M.D.N.C. 1970).

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the Fourth Circuit consolidated Scott with a number of other cases from North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. On June 10, 1971, the Circuit vacated the judgments of the district courts in these desegregation cases and called for new briefs, arguments, and desegregation plans from the parties. Citing Swann, the court emphasized the importance of eliminating segregation even when it is not de jure. The Board was to submit a new plan by July 1, with the district court holding an hearing by July 16, to allow time for the implementation of the plan by the start of the 1971-72 school year. The court also suggested the Larsen plan, with modifications, would meet the requirements of Swann. Adams v. Sch. Dist. No. 5, Orangeburg Cty., S.C., 444 F.2d 99 (4th Cir. 1971).

In response to the Adams decision, the Board proposed changing from a 6-3-3 grade structure to a 4-2-2-2 structure, and all schools were to have white majority student bodies, although not all would reach the proportionality of the district as a whole. Plaintiffs objected that: (1) the choice of schools for grades 1-4 would result in a disproportionate number of black students being assigned to schools far from their homes and (2) the plan would convert the only remaining high school in the black community to junior high status. The district court approved the plan without modification, to be implemented in the 1971-72 term.

Chief Justice Burger, as Circuit Justice, denied a petition to stay the enforcement of the order, but expressed concern that school boards and lower federal courts were misreading the April school decisions as calling for substantial racial balance in all or most of the individual schools in a system. Chief Justice Burger noted Swann had expressly negated any requirement that all schools must reflect the racial composition of the entire school population. District judges were instead to use racial balance as a starting point in the shaping of a remedy. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Bd. of Educ. v. Scott, 404 U.S. 1221 (1971)

While an opinion announcing unitary status has not been located, it appears such a finding was made in 1971. See Scott v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth Cty. Bd. of Educ.400 F.Supp. 65 (M.D.N.C. 1974) (an opinion concerning attorney’s fees, stating that the district court found the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system to have achieved unitary status on December 3, 1971). The case appears closed.

Available Opinions

Scott v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Bd. of Educ., 317 F.Supp. 453 (M.D.N.C. 1970)

Adams v. Sch. Dist. No. 5, Orangeburg Cty., S.C., 444 F.2d 99 (4th Cir. 1971)

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Bd. of Educ. v. Scott, 404 U.S. 1221 (1971)

Scott v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth Cty. Bd. of Educ.400 F.Supp. 65 (M.D.N.C. 1974)

Summary Authors

Bryce Freeman (2/12/2018)

Related Cases

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Board of Education, Western District of North Carolina (1965)

Adams v. School District No. 5, Orangeburg County, SC, District of South Carolina (1984)

Allen v. State Bd. of Educ. of N.C., Middle District of North Carolina (1969)

People


Judge(s)

Boreman, Herbert Stephenson (West Virginia)

Bryan, Albert Vickers (Virginia)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Craven, James Braxton Jr. (Virginia)

Gordon, Eugene Andrew (North Carolina)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Russell, Donald Stuart (South Carolina)

Winter, Harrison Lee (Maryland)

Judge(s)

Boreman, Herbert Stephenson (West Virginia)

Bryan, Albert Vickers (Virginia)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Craven, James Braxton Jr. (Virginia)

Gordon, Eugene Andrew (North Carolina)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Russell, Donald Stuart (South Carolina)

Winter, Harrison Lee (Maryland)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

6:68-00174

Memorandum and Order

Scott v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education

317 F.Supp. 453

June 25, 1970

June 25, 1970

Order/Opinion

14694

15030

15110

15044

15045

15046

15185

15186

15187

15188

Order and Opinion

Winston-Salem/Forsyth City Board of Education v. Scott

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

444 F.2d 99

June 10, 1971

June 10, 1971

Order/Opinion

71-00274

Opinion

Winston-Salem/Forsyth City Board of Education v. Scott

Supreme Court of the United States

92 S.Ct. 1236

Aug. 31, 1971

Aug. 31, 1971

Order/Opinion

6:68-00174

Memorandum

Scott v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education

400 F.Supp. 65

Oct. 31, 1974

Oct. 31, 1974

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 31, 2022, 3:23 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: North Carolina

Case Type(s):

School Desegregation

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 2, 1968

Closing Date: 1971

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education (Forsyth), School District

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Busing

Student assignment

Issues

General:

Education

Racial segregation

School/University Facilities

Transportation

Race:

Black