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Case Name United States v. Lincoln Parish School Board SD-LA-0015
Docket / Court 3:66-cv-12071-RGJ ( W.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On June 8, 1966, the United States Department of Justice filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The Department of Justice sued to enjoin the operation of a dual school system in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana. This lengthy case involves a number of appeals and ... read more >
On June 8, 1966, the United States Department of Justice filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The Department of Justice sued to enjoin the operation of a dual school system in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana. This lengthy case involves a number of appeals and consolidations with other school desegregation cases proceeding in parallel in the Western District of Louisiana.

Obtaining a Consent Decree

On July 28, 1966, the defendants’ counsel admitted that Lincoln Parish operated a segregated school system. The court (Judge Benjamin C. Dawkins Jr.) responded by requiring the School Board to submit a desegregation plan within five days. On August 3, 1966, the District Court ordered a “phased in” desegregation plan requiring the School Board to advertise that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th, 11th and 12th grades would be desegregated in the 1966-1967 school year. The School Board was also required to desegregate the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades in the 1967-1968 school year. Then on August 8, the Department of Justice filed exceptions to the School Board’s proposed desegregation plans and proposed their own desegregation plan.

No additional docket entries were made until March 31, 1967. One possibility for this gap is that the court decided to see how United States v. Jefferson County School Board would turn out. (This case was not, however, consolidated with Jefferson.) On December 29, 1966, the Fifth Circuit decided Jefferson, holding that the Constitution compels formerly de jure segregated public school systems to shift to non-racial systems. 372 F.2d 836 (1966). As schools continued to drag their feet in implementing desegregation orders, Jefferson was re-heard en banc. The Fifth Circuit ruled that school boards have an affirmative duty to bring about integrated, unitary school systems. 380 F.2d 385 (1967).

In this case, on April 5, 1967, the Department of Justice moved to stay the proceedings and requested a hearing on whether a new desegregation order should be entered in light. of Jefferson. While the docket is not entirely clear, it suggests that the court issued a decree on April 5, 1967 ordering the School Board to implement a freedom of choice plan (a plan that allowed students to choose which schools to attend). If so, the decision was in tension with the Supreme Court’s decision in Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430 (1968), which expressed frustration at the use of freedom of choice plans to desegregate.

The Fifth Circuit reconsidered the issue of freedom of choice plans in Adams v. Mathews in which many school desegregation cases, including this case, were consolidated. On August 20, 1968, the Fifth Circuit remanded the cases to a three-judge district court to reconsider the issue. 403 F.2d 181 (1968). On remand, on November 14, 1968, the three-judge district court approved freedom of choice plan in this and 28 other cases. Conley v. Lake Charles School Board, 293 F. Supp. 84 (W.D. La. 1968). The plaintiffs appealed Conley, and the Fifth Circuit finally rejected the use of freedom of choice plans. See Hall v. St. Helena Parish School Board, 417 F.2d 801 (1969). For more information on the Lake Charles and St. Helena cases, please see here and here in the Clearinghouse.

In this case, on August 1, 1969, the District Court issued a decree which incorporated a new desegregation plan for Franklin Parish that complied with the Fifth Circuit’s decision in St. Helena. Modifications were made over the next two years, although their terms are not available on the docket.

Judge Dawkins recused himself via a handwritten note on a motion on April 30, 1973. Judge Edwin F. Hunter replaced Judge Dawkins.

On January 10, 1977, the Department of Justice made a motion to consolidate this case with case with Copeland v. Lincoln Parish School Board. The court approved the consolidated of the two cases on January 31, 1977. The plaintiffs in Copeland consisted of parents of children in the district and the Grambling United League of Voters. The plaintiffs in Copeland sought to represent all black parents who had children in public school. The individual plaintiffs had obtained class certification, but the Voters League was dismissed because it lacked standing and was not a necessary party.

The Copeland plaintiffs challenged the site selections for two new schools as racially motivated, because both were located within the same ward. The School Board contended that the chosen locations would reduce the number of student miles of transportation in a racially-balanced way.
In addition to the Copeland plaintiffs’ request, the Department of Justice moved on July 22, 1977 to add the laboratory schools at Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech University as defendants in order to litigate a modification of the consent decree to include these schools. The District Court denied both requests, and the plaintiffs appealed.

On July 13, 1979, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s determination that the Board’s choice of locations for new schools was not racially motivated. The Fifth Circuit was satisfied that the School Board’s committee studied each location with an eye to centrality, maintenance of racial balance, racially balanced decrease in overall student transportation mileage, ease of access and availability of transportation arteries, accessibility of utilities, and size and shape compatible with planned construction, further expansion, and community growth. In addition, the Fifth Circuit reasoned that “because the composition of the Grambling and Louisiana Tech schools clearly lay outside the scope of the consent decree, the School Board officials reasonably disregarded those schools in its selection of sites.” However, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s exclusion of laboratory schools from the desegregation order. It reasoned that that the laboratory schools were initially established as part of a dual school system and for “clarity,” the cases should be consolidated so as to avoid “possible duplicative actions and orders.” 598 F.2d 977 (1979).

Obtaining Unitary Status

After years of reports, the district court in 2009 starting meeting with the parties in all active desegregation cases to determine what steps needed to be taken to achieve unitary status. On May 24, 2012, District Judge Robert G. James approved a superseding consent decree requiring the School Board to take additional actions to comply with student assignment obligations. 2016 WL 1651873 (2016).

On June 2, 2015, the District Court approved another supplemental consent decree negotiated by the School Board and the Department of Justice that would compel four elementary schools in the parish to re-assign students after 22 of the 87 homerooms in the four elementary schools at issue were classified as “racially identifiable.” The Department of Justice also agreed that the School Board could then move for a declaration of unitary status on the issue of student assignment.

On October 23, 2015, Grambling State University, a historically Black university, made a motion to transfer the Grambling Laboratory Schools to Grambling High Foundation (“GHF”). The motion was modified twice before the District Court finally decided on April 25, 2016 that Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech could close the laboratory schools due to a significant reduction in funding. The motion to close the laboratory schools was not opposed by any of the other parties in the litigation. The District Court also approved the Grambling State and Louisiana Tech motion to transfer control of the laboratory schools to GHF, a new charter school, but only if GHF was subject to the desegregation conditions in the 1984 consent decree.

On May 4, 2016, GHF moved to intervene, and the district court told the Department of Justice and GHF to negotiate a proposed order concerning the laboratory schools. On July 7, 2016, GHF filed an Emergency Motion for a settlement conference after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the Department of Justice. The District Court finally approved GHF’s intervention on July 19, 2016. GHF and the Department of Justice again reached an impasse on two key issued on August 2, 2016 and GHF asked the court for permission to open. On August 4, 2016, the District Court granted GHF’s oral motion for authorization to open a charter school for the 2016-2017 school year, albeit with the conditions that “GHF would have a baseline of 370 students,” “will file a letter of financial commitment for the construction of new facilities no later than October 1, 2017” and that the two parties “will file a proposed consent decree no later than September 6, 2016” or the two parties would be required to “file separate proposed desegregation plans” by that same date. On August 15, 2016, the district court released the School Board for any obligation relative to the Grambling Laboratory Schools or AEP (Louisiana Tech Laboratory School).

On January 18, 2017, the District Court granted the School Board unitary status after finding that the School Board met its obligations in the 2012 superseding consent decree and the 2015 supplemental consent decree.

Shortly thereafter on August 1, 2017 Judge James ordered GHF to increase its enrollment of white students enrolled at its Lincoln Prep school to be within 20% of the number of white students enrolled in Lincoln Parish schools and placed a cap on the number of Black students who could enroll in the school. He also ordered GHF to meet certain enrollment targets, provide annual reports to the court, and increase the quality of the education it provided in various ways.

On June 14, 2019, after two years of reporting, Judge James found that GHF had not enrolled enough white students and was not in compliance with his earlier orders. However, he permitted GHF to continue operating its Lincoln Prep school for another school year.

In March of 2019, GHF moved for both a declaration of unitary status and to have the case dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the grounds that there was no evidence that GSU's laboratory schools were de jure segregated. Judge James deferred ruling on both motions in the summer of 2019, but on January 8, 2020, he denied them both. He found that the GSU laboratory schools were "identifiable as Black Schools," and thus he had subject matter jurisdiction to desegregate them. Judge James also denied GHF's motion for unitary status, as GHF was not in compliance with his earlier orders regarding the enrollment of Black students. He also noted that Lincoln Prep's "poor facilities," location on the campus of a historically Black university, and academic issues were all "barriers to desegregation. Accordingly, he ordered GHF to move Lincoln Prep to a location off of GSU's campus and limited the ways that Lincoln could draw on GSU's resources, such as banning Lincoln from using GSU's athletic facilities.

The case remains pending.

Available Opinions

Adams v. Mathews, 403 F.2d 181 (5th Cir. 1968)
Conley v. Lake Charles School Bd., 293 F. Supp. 84 (W.D. La. 1968)
Hall v. St. Helena Parish School Bd., 417 F.2d 801 (5th Cir. 1969)
Copeland v. Lincoln Parish School Bd., 598 F.2d 977 (W.D. La. 1979)
U.S. v. Lincoln Parish School Bd., 922 F. Supp. 2d 582 (W.D. La. 2013)
U.S. v. Lincoln Parish School Bd., 2016 WL 1651873 (W.D. La. 2016)
U.S. v. Lincoln Parish School Bd., 2016 WL 4146148 (W.D. La. 2016)

Alaael-Deen Shilleh - 04/30/2017
Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 08/25/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Busing
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Magnet school
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-area
Zoning
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Buildings
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Education
Funding
Racial segregation
Records Disclosure
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
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) Grambling State University
Lincoln Parish School Board
Louisiana Tech University
Plaintiff Description The United States Department of Justice and African-American parents and guardians of children attending public schools.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1969 - n/a
Filed 06/08/1966
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing SD-LA-0037 : Related School Desegregation Cases in the Western District of Louisiana (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0014 : Conley v. Lake Charles School Board, Calcasieu Parish School Board (W.D. La.)
SD-LA-0026 : Hall and United States of America v. St. Helena Parish School Board (M.D. La.)
SD-AL-0001 : U.S. v. Jefferson County Bd. of Ed./Stout v. Jefferson County Bd. of Ed. (N.D. Ala.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
W.D. La.
12/01/2008
3:66-cv-12071
SD-LA-0015-9001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
01/07/2021
3:66-cv-12071-RGJ
SD-LA-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
U.S. Court of Appeals
08/20/1968
Opinion (403 F.2d 181)
SD-LA-0015-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
W.D. La.
11/14/1968
Opinion (293 F.Supp. 84)
SD-LA-0015-0019.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
05/28/1969
Opinion (417 F.2d 801)
SD-LA-0015-0021.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
07/13/1973
Opinion (598 F.2d 977)
SD-LA-0015-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
01/20/1978
Brief for The United States
SD-LA-0015-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: Papers of Alexander (Sandy) Ross
W.D. La.
04/30/2012
Joint Motion for Extension of Time [ECF# 48]
SD-LA-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: Pro Publica
W.D. La.
05/24/2012
Superseding Consent Order [ECF# 55]
SD-LA-0015-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
02/07/2013
Ruling [ECF# 69]
SD-LA-0015-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
02/07/2013
Order and Opinion [ECF# 70] (922 F.Supp.2d 582)
SD-LA-0015-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
W.D. La.
05/15/2013
Order Granting Joint Motion [ECF# 89]
SD-LA-0015-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: Pro Publica
W.D. La.
05/24/2013
Unopposed Motion to Extend Response and Reply Deadlines [ECF# 90]
SD-LA-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: Pro Publica
W.D. La.
07/19/2013
Memorandum of Lincoln Parish School Board in opposition to the United States Motion for Further relief [ECF# 97]
SD-LA-0015-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: Pro Publica
W.D. La.
07/31/2013
Order [ECF# 112]
SD-LA-0015-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
04/25/2016
Order and Opinion (2016 WL 1651873)
SD-LA-0015-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
W.D. La.
07/19/2016
Order [ECF# 221]
SD-LA-0015-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
08/04/2016
Order and Opinion (2016 WL 4146148)
SD-LA-0015-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
W.D. La.
08/15/2016
Order and Opinion (2016 WL 4291106)
SD-LA-0015-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
W.D. La.
08/15/2016
Order [ECF# 232]
SD-LA-0015-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
08/15/2016
Order [ECF# 234]
SD-LA-0015-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
09/20/2016
Order [ECF# 246]
SD-LA-0015-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
01/18/2017
Consent Order Declaring Unitary Status and Dismissing Action [ECF# 265]
SD-LA-0015-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
08/01/2017
Memorandum Order [ECF# 287]
SD-LA-0015-0022.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
06/14/2019
Memorandum Ruling and Order [ECF# 360]
SD-LA-0015-0023.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. La.
01/08/2020
Memorandum Ruling and Order [ECF# 376]
SD-LA-0015-0024.pdf | Detail
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Judges Brown, John Robert (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0020
Godbold, John Cooper (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0021
James, Robert Gillespie (W.D. La.) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0002 | SD-LA-0015-0005 | SD-LA-0015-0006 | SD-LA-0015-0007 | SD-LA-0015-0008 | SD-LA-0015-0009 | SD-LA-0015-0010 | SD-LA-0015-0011 | SD-LA-0015-0012 | SD-LA-0015-0013 | SD-LA-0015-0014 | SD-LA-0015-0015 | SD-LA-0015-0016 | SD-LA-0015-0022 | SD-LA-0015-0023 | SD-LA-0015-0024 | SD-LA-0015-9000 | SD-LA-0015-9001
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0018
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barnett, Walter W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0017
Cage, Joseph S. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9001
Days, Drew S. III (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0017
DeCuir, Winston G. Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
DeCuir, Brandon James (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Edwards, Jerry (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Finley, Stephanie A. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012
Gross, Mark L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0017
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012
Hill, Eve L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012
Jondahl, Andrew Kuffel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Marshall, Franz (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Martin, Dawn V (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9001
Newton, Jonathan D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Simons, Shaheena A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012
Storms, Tyler G. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Vincent, Katherine (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0001 | SD-LA-0015-0012 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Wardenski, Joseph J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0001 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Yeh, Teresa (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adkins, Tom (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9001
Blackmun, Carmack (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9001
DeCuir, Winston G Sr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0003 | SD-LA-0015-9000 | SD-LA-0015-9001
Dill, Pamela W (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0001 | SD-LA-0015-0004 | SD-LA-0015-0012 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Guice, Jon K (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Hammonds, Robert L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0012 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Hanchey, Ben R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Henry, W. Craig (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-0003 | SD-LA-0015-9000
Irvine, Dianne M. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Kavalir, Justin Kyle (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Kron, Harry Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9001
Lee, Drake Jr (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9001
Levy, Robert Wallace (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Reinboth, Alexander T (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000
Wilton, Patricia Hill (Louisiana) show/hide docs
SD-LA-0015-9000

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