The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cohill, Senior District Judge.
This case comes before us on motions filed by defendants Woodland Hills
School District ("WHSD" or "the District") and the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, seeking a declaration of unitary status and the end of
judicial supervision of the District's schools. Plaintiffs, representing
a class of children and parents in the District, oppose these motions.
For the reasons set forth below, we will grant defendants' motions in
part and deny them in part, and thus commensurately curtail our oversight
of the District's schools.
The underlying facts of this case have been well documented numerous
times throughout the past twenty-nine years. To provide a context for our
consideration of the question of unitary status, however, we will briefly
summarize the relevant developments in this litigation.
During the 1960s, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted legislation to
consolidate smaller school districts in the Commonwealth's public school
Commonwealth ultimately approved the creation of the General Braddock
Area School District, which combined the school districts of the Boroughs
of Braddock, North Braddock, and Rankin in eastern Allegheny County.
These were all financially troubled districts, and they also contained
the largest concentration of minority students in this portion of the
county. The Commonwealth also approved the creation or preservation of
several neighboring school districts which were overwhelmingly white and
economically affluent, including the school districts of Turtle Creek,
Swissvale Area, Churchill Area, and Edgewood. This case was originally
filed in 1971, when plaintiffs, representing a class of parents and
children in the General Braddock Area School District, challenged the
newly created district as racially discriminatory.
The late Judge Gerald Weber conducted a trial on plaintiffs' claims,
and determined that the creation of the General Braddock Area School
District was an act of de jure discrimination, in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment. Hoots v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Hoots II),
359 F. Supp. 807, 823 (W.D.Pa.); aff'd, 495 F.2d 1095 (3d Cir. 1974);
cert. denied, 419 U.S. 884, 95 S.Ct. 150, 42 L.Ed.2d 124 (1974).
This finding of liability against the then defendants Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, state Board of Education, and Allegheny County Board of
School Directors, marked the beginning of the next phase of the case.
Judge Weber directed the defendants to prepare a comprehensive school
desegregation plan to remedy the Constitutional violations. There
followed a series of proposed remedies, each of which the Court
determined to be inadequate.*fn1 In the spring of 1981, the plaintiff
class presented a merger plan, proposing a consolidation of the General
Braddock Area School District with several neighboring districts serving
predominantly white populations. Following a hearing on this proposal, the
Court adopted the plaintiffs' plan and ordered the immediate merger of
the General Braddock Area School District with the districts of
Edgewood, Churchill, Swissvale, and Turtle Creek. Hoots VIII,
545 F. Supp. 1 (W.D.Pa. 1981). The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
affirmed both the merger and the underlying finding of de jure
discrimination. Hoots IX, 672 F.2d 1107 (3d Cir.), cert. denied,
459 U.S. 824, 103 S.Ct. 55, 74 L.Ed.2d 60 (1982).
What was then known as the "New District" and later became the Woodland
Hills School District, began operation with the 1981-82 school year. The
second decade of this litigation saw the gradual development and
implementation of remedial student assignment and transportation plans,
designed to desegregate all of the District's schools. Judge Weber
ordered an interim arrangement to desegregate the secondary schools
during that first year, and directed the School Board to submit a plan
for full desegregation of all the New District's schools. Ultimately, the
School Board proved unable to do so.*fn2
Following hearings on plans submitted by both parties, the Court
adopted a comprehensive student assignment plan covering grades 1-12 for
the 1982-83 school year. Hoots XIII, 539 F. Supp. 335 (W.D.Pa 1982),
aff'd, Hoots XIV, 703 F.2d 772 (3d Cir. 1983). At the elementary level,
the assignment of students was based upon "paired" or "clustered"
schools, configured as K-3 and 4-6; this arrangement successfully
integrated the student populations, maintained two elementary facilities
in the minority community, and required that both black and white
students share the burden of transportation.
In 1987, the parties successfully negotiated a district-wide
reorganization involving building utilization, grade structure, and
student assignments. This configuration remains in effect at the present
time, although changes from a junior high to a middle school structure
The pairing of schools continues, and the burden of transportation
remains shared by all students. Students in the former General Braddock
Area School District travel to schools in the predominately white
communities for grades K through 3; then all students at those schools
attend grades 4-6 in facilities located in the minority community.
Students throughout the District are transported to the junior and senior
By 1987, then. the attendance plan placed all children in desegregated
facilities and imposed the burden of transportation on both black and
white students. However, the discriminatory effects of the constitutional
violation remained evident in such areas as student. activities, guidance
and discipline, educational programs, including special education, and
staff assignments. Thus the defendants, with much prodding by the Court,
began the process of implementing programs to remedy the vestiges of
discrimination. Many of these racial disparities and remedies were first
articulated in a Consent Decree, which was negotiated by the parties and
presented to the Court on July 12, 1988.*fn4
Judge Weber passed away in August, 1989, before any agreement could be
reached on a remedial plan. This case was then assigned to the
undersigned. The Court appointed a Hearing Officer, Mark T. Fatla,
Esquire, to conduct a hearing on the parties' conflicting implementation
plans. After six weeks of hearings, he issued a Report and Recommendation
Regarding Desegregation Remedies on August 20, 1990 ("1990 R & R").
The Court then heard argument and adopted the Report and Recommendation,
with three exceptions. including activities, in an unpublished Opinion
and Order dated January 16, 1991 ("1991 Opinion & Order").
Recognizing that the vestiges of discrimination were embedded deep in
all aspects of school life, we ordered that remedies for the
constitutional violation proceed along several fronts at once. To assure
that all students in the District received an equal education, we ordered
a comprehensive redesign of curriculum and testing, so that the
curriculum would be appropriate for heterogeneous, multicultural,
detracked classrooms*fn5 and that the effectiveness of this redesigned
curriculum would be carefully monitored through proper assessments. We
recognized, however, that merely providing an equal educational
opportunity from 1991 forward would not address the existing gap between
the races in academic performance. (1991 Opinion at 4.) Children who were
already behind as a result of a segregated school system needed
additional help, and, to that end, we ordered the District to implement
appropriate compensatory and remedial programs beginning at the elementary
We also acknowledged the difficulties inherent in expecting teachers
who were familiar only with tracked, homogeneous classrooms, to teach in
the District's multicultural, detracked setting. Therefore, as part of
the remedy we ordered the District to provide appropriate in-service
training and workshops for its teachers and other staff.
To address the clear racial disparities in discipline, we ordered the
District to reorganize the guidance department and to hire a number of
new guidance counselors.
Our 1991 Opinion and Order included a variety of other miscellaneous
remedial relief, including the hiring of certain specified personnel,
although we declined to order the District to provide after-school
transportation for activities. We also ordered that the cost of all
court-ordered remedial programs be funded 90% by the defendant
Commonwealth, as the party charged with the constitutional violation, and
10% by the District. (1991 Opinion & Order at ¶ 17; 1990 R
& R at 96.)
The Court of Appeals reversed this Court's ruling on activities, and
affirmed on all other issues. Hoots XVI, Nos. 91-3316, 91-3317, 91-3319,
91-3436, 1992 WL 289174 (3d Cir. filed Sept. 21, 1992). The 1990 R &
R and the 1991 Opinion and Order remain the basis of the court-ordered
remedies in place today.
Implementing the appropriate remedies and measuring their effectiveness
remained a point of friction between the parties. In 1995, we again
appointed Mr. Fatla to act as a Special Master in this matter. In that
position he has conducted a series of hearings, including a lengthy
hearing in 1997 on discipline and guidance, issued several Reports and
Recommendations, and held regularly scheduled status conferences to
attempt to resolve ongoing remedy and budget issues. Mr. Fatla has served
the Court and the parties well in this capacity.
The defendants each filed motions for a declaration that the District
has achieved unitary status in October of 1999. In addition, the District
filed a unitary status transition plan. A hearing on these motions
commenced on April 3, 2000, and we heard closing arguments on May 16.
Defendants presented the testimony of District Superintendent Dr. Stanley
Herman, Dr. Christine Rossell, Dr. Stefan Biancaniello, Dr. Jacquelyn
Webb, Leah Mccord, Norman Catalano, Dr. Vijai Singh, Dr. James
Henderson, Dr. Charles Achilles, Dr. David Armor, Dr. Joel Reed, Dr.
Roslynne Wilson, Chester C. Kent, Dr. Elmer Haymon, Jr., and Judge John
McLean, Jr., who served as the most recent court-appointed Monitor in
this action. The plaintiffs presented the testimony of Kay
Brown, Dr. Olatokunbo Fashola, Dr. Jan de Leeuw, Dr. Lea Hubbard, Dr.
Robert Cooper, and Dr. William Gordon. Rebuttal testimony was given by
WHSD School Board President Dr. Randy Lott, and by Dr. Herman and Dr.
The Court also asked to visit several of the District's schools. On
April 19, 2000, accompanied by Superintendent Herman and by counsel for
all parties, the Court had a first-band opportunity to visit some of the
school facilities and to observe classrooms and instructional
techniques. At the Court's request plaintiffs selected the schools for
the visit, and arrangements were made to tour Wilkins and Dickson
elementary schools, West Junior High School, and Woodland Hills Senior
Having considered all of the testimony and all of the evidence, we turn
now to the question of whether the defendants have achieved unitary
status by complying, in good faith, with this Court's remedial orders.
Federal judicial supervision of a local school district is intended to
be a temporary measure. Board of Educ. v. Do well, 498 U.S. 237, 247-48,
111 S.Ct. 630, 112 L.Ed.2d 715 (1991); Coalition to Save Our Children v.
State Bd. of Educ., 90 F.3d 752, 761 (3d Cir. 1996.) The court's aim must
be to remedy the constitutional violation, and then "to restore state and
local authorities to the control of a school system that is operating in
compliance with the Constitution." Freeman v. Pitts, 503 U.S. 467, 489,
112 S.Ct. 1430, 118 L.Ed.2d 108 (1992) (citing Milliken v. Bradley,
433 U.S. 267, 280-81, 97 S.Ct. 2749, 53 L.Ed.2d 745 (1977)). "The duty
and responsibility of a school district once segregated by law is to take
all steps necessary to eliminate the vestiges of the unconstitutional de
jure system." Freeman, 503 U.S. at 485, 112 S.Ct. 1430. When a school
district has done so, we say that the district is now "unitary," because
it no longer operates a dual, or segregated, system of education.
However, although achieving "unitary status" and thus relief from
judicial supervision is the school district's goal, the term itself does
not have a fixed meaning, "and does not confine the discretion and
authority of the District Court in a way that departs from traditional
equitable principles." Freeman, 503 U.S. at 487, 112 S.Ct. 1430 (citing
Dowell, 498 U.S. at 245-46, 111 S.Ct. 630). Each school desegregation
case must be evaluated on a careful assessment of its particular facts.
Freeman, 503 U.S. at 474, 112 S.Ct. 1430. Equity permits a federal court
"to relinquish supervision and control of school districts in incremental
stages, before full compliance has been achieved in every area of school
operations." Id. at 490-491, 112 S.Ct. 1430. "A transition phase in which
control is relinquished in a gradual way is an appropriate means to this
end." Id. at 490, 112 S.Ct. 1430. In addition, where vestiges of a dual
system remain in some, but not all, areas under judicial supervision, the
"district court will retain jurisdiction over the school system, but need
not maintain constant supervision or control over factors as to which
compliance has been achieved." Id. at 507, 112 S.Ct. 1430 (Souter, J.
WHSD insists that because the original constitutional violation in this
case was the Commonwealth's decision to draw the school district boundary
lines which created the General Braddock Area School District, that
"[s]ince 1981, WHSD has operated as a unified system." Defendants'
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law at ¶¶ 22, 23. We agree;
unitary status, however, requires more than a racially integrated school
district; the constitutional obligation has not been met until the school
district affirmatively has eliminated the vestiges of segregation.
Coalition, 90 F.3d at 759 (citing Green v. County School Bd., 391 U.S. 430,
435, 437-38, 88 S.Ct. 1689, 20 L.Ed.2d 716 (1968)).
In deciding a motion for unitary status, the court must determine
"whether the [constitutional violator] ha[s] complied in good faith with
the desegregation decree since it was entered, and whether the vestiges
of past discrimination ha[ve] been eliminated to the extent practicable."
Coalition, 90 F.3d at 760 (1996) (quoting Freeman, 503 U.S. at 492, 112
The Supreme Court has identified certain components of school
operations that a court deciding a question of unitary status must
evaluate: student building assignment, faculty and staff assignment
within the school district, transportation, facilities, and
extracurricular activities. Green v. County School Bd., 391 U.S. 430,
435, 88 S.Ct. 1689, 20 L.Ed.2d 716 (1968); Dowell, 498 U.S. at 250, 111
S.Ct. 630. "[C]ompliance with these `Green Factors' is a condition
precedent to unitary status." Coalition, 90 F.3d at 776.
Ascertaining whether the school district has complied with the Green
factors, however, does not end the court's inquiry into whether the
vestiges of past discrimination have been sufficiently eliminated so that
unitary status has been achieved. The court must also determine whether
the school district has complied with any court-ordered ancillary
remedial programs. Coalition, 90 F.3d at 760.
Once a constitutional violation has been established, the defendant
"bears the burden of showing that any current imbalance is not
traceable, in a proximate way, to the prior violation." Freeman, 503
U.S. at 494, 112 S.Ct. 1430. "[T]here is a presumption that current
disparities are the result of the defendant's unconstitutional conduct."
Jenkins v. Missouri, 122 F.3d 588, 593 (8th Cir. 1997). To counter that
presumption, the defendants may offer proof that any current racial
disparity in areas encompassed by either the Green factors or the
court-ordered ancillary relief, is caused by variables outside the school
district's control and thus is not a vestige of the prior constitutional
violation. "It is beyond the authority and beyond the practical ability
of the federal courts to try to counteract" such forces. Freeman, 503
U.S. at 495-96, 112 S.Ct. 1430; Missouri v. Jenkins, 515 U.S. 70, 102,
115 S.Ct. 2038, 132 L.Ed.2d 63 (1995). "As the de jure violation becomes
more remote in time . . . it becomes less likely that a current racial
imbalance in a school district is a vestige of the prior de jure system."
Freeman, 503 U.S. at 491-92, 112 S.Ct. 1430. To state the obvious,
"court-ordered school desegregation alone cannot eliminate racial
discrimination." Coalition, 90 F.3d at 756.
Once a court determines that a school district has attained unitary
status, the burden of proving that any future disparities are caused by
intentional segregation shifts back to the plaintiffs. Jenkins v.
Missouri, 122 F.3d at 593.
Applying this general legal framework to the specific facts of this
case, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of
A court considering the question of unitary status must determine that
the school district has complied with each of the Green factors.
Whether the students in the District's schools are assigned to schools
which have been desegregated so as not to be identifiably white or
African-American is not seriously in dispute at this point in this
litigation. Indeed, as early as 1990-91, we found that "each of the
District's nine school buildings reflects very closely the proportion of
minority students in the community." (1990 R & R at 6.)
As of January 27, 2000, the enrollment of African-American students in
WHSD's nine schools was as follows: Edgewood Primary School, 387 or 54.7%
of 707 students; Shaffer Primary School, 253 or 57.8% of 438 students;
School, 311 or 50.1% of 621 students; Dickson Intermediate School, 236 or
48.9% of 483 students; Benjamin Fairless Intermediate School, 227 or
46.8% of 485 students; Rankin Intermediate School, 208 or 56.1% of 371
students; West Junior High School, 414 or 45.1% of 918 students; East
Junior High School, 274 or 45.1% of 607 students; and Woodland Hills High
School, 411 or 32.0% of 1286 students. (WHSD Ex. 13-21.)
Plaintiffs agree that the District has achieved desegregated building
assignments. (Pls.' F & C at ¶ 42.) Plaintiffs' expert, Dr.
Gordon, acknowledged that the District had maintained desegregated
building enrollments in compliance with various Orders of Court for at
least the past sixteen years. (Tr. 5/8/00, at 146.)
Plaintiffs contend, however, that student assignment to individual
classrooms is not always desegregated, and that certain courses have a
racial imbalance in their student populations. To the extent that this
premise relies on the "plus or minus 30% standard" contained in the
Consent Decree, we must emphasize that we have never adopted that
standard in any of the orders binding all of the parties in this case.
Furthermore, the testimony of defendant's expert, Dr. Rossell,
established that the percentage of students in the District's classrooms
which are racially balanced within plus or minus 20 percentage points is
We determined that the facilities in the Woodland Hills School District
were successfully desegregated in 1990, and the issue has not been
contested since that date. We are satisfied that students throughout the
District attend classes which are racially balanced to a very high
degree. Accordingly, we find that the District has achieved unitary
status as to this Green factor.
Faculty and Staff Assignment
The 1990 R & R concluded that serious racial disparities remained
at all levels of the District's staff, despite the existence of a
voluntary affirmative action plan. (1990 R & R at 29.) As the Hearing
Officer noted, the staff of the component districts at the time of the
merger included very few African-American professionals. (Id. at 27.)
Defendants' expert Dr. Christine Rossell analyzed data regarding WHSD
faculty and staff. She testified that the racial balance of the faculty
and professional staff of each of the nine schools in WHSD is within plus
or minus 10 percentage points of the school system's percentage of
African-American teachers. (Commw. Ex. 1005, 1014; Tr. 4/11/00 at 33,
56.) In other words, although the percentage of African-American faculty
and staff varies from one school to another, across the District those
percentages are within an acceptable range.
Dr. Webb testified that the District's schools are not racially
identifiable with respect to the distribution of staff.*fn8 (Tr. 4/13/00
at 20.) Moreover, with 31% school building administrators
African-American, WHSD has a respectable percentage of African-Americans
in prominent leadership positions. (Commw. Ex. 1005; Tr. 4/11/00 at
African-Americans also currently hold leadership positions of
significant authority and responsibility in the District's central
administration, including Dr. Jacquelyn D. Webb, Assistant Superintendent
for Curriculum; Dr. Roslynne Wilson, Assistant Superintendent for
Management; Dr. Joel Reed, Curriculum Coordinator for Science and Math;
and Dr. Elmer Haymon, Director of Guidance. (WHSD Ex. 22.) However, these
positions are paid for through court-ordered funds, and the District has
indicated, through its transition plan. that it will eliminate these
positions when the Court's supervision ends. (Herman Tr. 4/3/00 at
The District's record with respect to hiring for the positions of
principal or assistant principal shows that 25% of those positions are
presently filled by African-Americans. (WHSD Ex. 22.) Four of the
District's nine schools have a total of five African-Americans in these
positions, including Mary Frances Duncan, Principal of Shaffer Primary;
Leah Saunders McCord, Principal of Fairless Intermediate; Dr. Deborah
Vereen, Principal of East Junior High; Dr. Craig Jackson, Assistant
Principal of East Junior High; and Clyde Jones, Assistant Principal of
West Junior High. (WHSD Ex. 22.)
Dr. Rossell also compared the racial composition of WHSD's faculty and
staff to the composition of school districts that have been declared
unitary since 1986. She concluded that WHSD is one of the school
districts that has achieved nearly perfect racial balance at plus or
minus 10 percentage points. (Commw. Ex. 1005, 1015; Tr. 4/11/00 at
Superintendent Herman and Dr. Jacquelyn Webb, Assistant Superintendent
for Curriculum and Instruction, an African-American woman, testified
about the efforts made in the District to recruit and hire
African-American educators. (Tr. 4/3/00 at 156-59; Tr. 4/13/00 at 21-22.)
WHSD undertakes a thorough process of advertising and recruiting to
create a racially diverse pool of applicants for vacant faculty
positions. (WHSD Ex. 25; Tr. 4/3/00 at 156-59.) Based on the testimony of
Superintendent Herman and Dr. Webb, it is clear that WHSDs recruitment
and hiring practices are not racially discriminatory. and the District
has attempted to hire more minority professionals than it has actually
succeeded in hiring. (Tr. 4/3/00 at 156-59; Tr. 4/13/00 at 21-22.)
Dr. Herman explained that 44% of the teachers presently in the District
are holdovers who were teaching in one of the merger school districts
when Woodland Hills was created in 1981, and that very few of the
teachers in the newly merged District were African-American. (WHSD Ex.
Courts addressing unitary status with regard to faculty and staff
assignments "typically have considered faculties within plus or minus 15
percentage points of the district-wide minority composition to be racially
balanced." Recognizing the difficultly of achieving racial balance with
small school faculties, "some courts have applied a standard of
percentage points." Coalition, 90 F.3d at 767. n. 21; Flax v. Potts,
915 F.2d 155, 163 (5th Cir. 1990); Reed v. Rhodes, 1 F. Supp.2d 705, 727
This Court has never set forth a target percentage of minority hires in
factilty and staff positions. Certainly 7.7% is not a very impressive
figure, and we would hope that the District would continue its efforts to
hire minority professionals. We are persuaded by the testimony of Dr.
Herman and Dr. Webb that the District has complied with our order to
desegregate faculty and staff assignments throughout the District to the
extent practicable, and conclude that WHSD has achieved unitary status
with respect to faculty and staff.
Transportation has not been an issue in this case since the earliest
years of the newly consolidated school district. The 1990 R & R found
that "the burden of transportation is shared to some degree by all
students, as white students travel to schools in or neat the minority
community for grades 4-6, students from the former General Braddock
district travel to schools in the white communities for grades K-3, and
students throughout the District ate transported to the Junior and Senior
High Schools." (1990 R & R at 6.) We did not include transportation
in the list of disparities still flowing from the de jure constitutional
violation, nor have we ever found it necessary to address the issue as
part of our remedial authority.
The evidence adduced at the hearing on unitary status confirms that
transportation affects all students in the District. The pairing or
clustering of elementary schools within the District assumed from the
outset that all students have to travel some distance to attend schools
located outside of their neighborhoods during those years. (WHSD Ex. 5.
6: Tr. 4/3/00 at 77-81.) In addition, virtually all students ate bused to
the junior and senior high schools.
Plaintiffs agree that the student assignment within the District
provides for an equitable sharing of the burden of transportation. (Pls.'
F & C at ¶ 43; Tr. 4/17/00, at 218).
A court may grant unitary status with regard to this Green factor when
transportation is provided on a non-discriminatory basis. (Coalition, 90
F.3d at 768.) There being absolutely no dispute that the burden of
transportation in the District has long been equally shared by all
students, we find that the defendants have achieved unitary status on
this issue and that no further Court oversight is needed.
None of the District's nine institutional buildings is racially
identifiable in its student population, and regardless of whether a
school is located in an historically white or historically black
community, the schools reflect no disparity in the quality of physical
plant. (Tr. 4/3/00 at 147; 4/13/00 at 20.)
The 1990 R & R concluded that:
the District has also succeeded in upgrading its
school facilities, most notably two elementary schools
located in the minority community-Benjamin Fairless
Elementary and Rankin Elementary. These two facilities
were inherited from the General Braddock Area School
District in somewhat neglected condition. They have
been dramatically upgraded and expanded, providing the
District as a whole and the minority communities in
particular with a source of pride and confidence for
the education of their children.
The Hearing Officer also determined that as of 1990, the consolidation
of the original three high schools into a single Woodland Hills High
School, which was accomplished somewhat later than the consolidation of
the elementary schools, not only gave the District its own identity, but
"equalized the level of facilities and course offerings provided to all
high school students in the District." (1990 R & R at 7.)
The Court's own visit to several of the District's schools, although
certainly not an exhaustive inspection of the District's facilities,
confirmed the trial testimony that the buildings are in admirable
condition and that equal facilities and materials are available to all of
the children regardless of which school they attend.
In addition to its buildings, the District has made a significant
investment in computer networks and associated hardware and software.
This investment was not pursuant to court order and was made without
financial assistance from the Commonwealth. The computer resources are
integrated throughout the District's instructional space. Superintendent
Herman testified that WHSD's investments and resources in technology
exceed those of many other school districts. (WHSD Ex. 39; Tr. 4/4/00 at
Defendants' expert Dr. Rossell analyzed per pupil expenditures for each
of the District's nine school buildings, and visited all the schools
herself. (Commw. Ex. 1005; Tr. 4/11/00 at 75-76.)
Dr. Rossell established that there is little difference in expenditures
between the elementary schools that are located in predominantly
African-American communities, and the elementary schools that were
historically predominantly white, and what little difference there is
favors the historically African-American schools. (Commw. Ex. 1005 &
1022; Tr. 4/11/00 at 76-77.)
Plaintiffs do not contest a finding of unitary status with respect to
facilities, and agree that "the District has achieved desegregated,
physically-sound buildings." (Commw. Ex. 1137; Pls.' F & C at ¶
There being no dispute that the facilities in the Woodland Hills School
District are desegregated, and that there is no disparity in the
allocation of funds and expenditures for supplies and equipment between
the historically black schools and historically white schools, we find
that the defendants
have achieved unitary status in this area.
By 1990-91, the District had already taken a number of steps to
increase minority participation in student activities in compliance with
the Consent Decree. The 1990 R & R noted that the District had hired
a full-time Activities Director, and had created advisory committees of
students and parents. Significantly, the District had also implemented a
"no-cut" policy for activities, so that all students, regardless of
ability, have an opportunity to participate. (1990 R & R at 23.)
Academic prerequisites to activities such as yearbook and student
newspaper staff were eliminated. (Id. at 26.) In addition, the District
provided bus transportation for children at the end of after school
activities; this was of particular benefit to minority children because
the secondary schools are located in predominantly white neighborhoods.
(Id. at 23.)*fn10
Nevertheless, we found significant racial disparities remaining in
certain clubs and sports, as well as a "precipitous decrease in
activities participation at the High School" level. (1990 R & R at
25-26.) While this was true for all high school students, minority
student participation in activities declined by a far greater extent.
(1990 R & R at 26.) We were also disturbed by the paucity of
activities offered at the junior high schools. (1990 R & R at 26.)
The Court's assessment of the District's efforts to encourage minority
participation in extracurricular activities was complicated by the fact
that the District had failed to provide adequate data collection and
reporting as agreed to in the Consent Decree. (1990 R & R at 24,
citing Consent Decree at 40-41.)
In 1993 we ordered the District to hire an Activities Coordinator, who
would coordinate activities within the secondary buildings, and would
also monitor desegregation efforts and submit that data in monthly
reports. (Pls.' Ex. 2109.) Kay Brown was hired to fill that position.
Ms. Brown, who remains in that role, testified as a witness for the
plaintiffs. She suggested that the District has made it difficult for her
to do her job. (Tr. Kay Brown 4/27/00.) It is clear from her testimony
that she and some in the District have often had conflicting views as to
her position, and that she does not believe she has been supported by the
Woodland Hills administration.
For more than a decade the District has maintained an "open
enrollment/no-cut" policy so that all students, regardless of ability,
have an unfettered opportunity to participate in matters that interest
them. (WHSD Ex. 30; Tr. 4/3/00 at 164.) All school-sponsored
extracurricular activities are conducted in a nondiscriminatory manner
with equal access to every student. The activities are listed in WHSD's
course selection guides. (WHSD Ex. 30; Tr. 4/3/00 at 164-65; Tr. 4/26/00
Today, the District offers a wide array of athletic and extracurricular
activities. At the high school, there are 57 different activities; for
ninth graders, there are 33 different activities; and for seventh and
eighth graders, there are 21 different activities. (WHSD Ex. 26; Tr.
4/3/00 at 160.)
WHSD also continues to provide extensive after-school transportation
for students participating in activities. WHSD receives no reimbursement
pursuant to any Court order in this case for activities transportation.
(WHSD Ex. 27, 30; Tr. 4/3/00 at 162, 164.)
The sole eligibility criteria for activities in WHSD is an academic
standard. Students who lose eligibility for activities due to substandard
academic performance may restore their eligibility by attending tutoring
sessions. (WHSD Ex. 30; Tr. 4/3/00 at 165.)
At this point in time, plaintiffs apparently do not dispute that WHSD's
extracurricular activities are open to students regardless of race or
ability. (See Pls.' Opp'n to Mots. for Unitary Status, at 23-24.)
Dr. Rossell analyzed data regarding student participation in
extracurricular activities. (Commw. Ex. 1005; Tr. 4/11/00 at 78.) She
concluded that the rate of participation by African-American students in
extracurricular activities is proportionate to their enrollment rate at
each school. (Commw. Exs. 1005, 1023-A & 1023-B; Tr. 4/11/00 at
Dr. Rossell testified that of the numerous clubs and sports activities
with more than one student involved, only five have no black students at
all. Those activities are diving, ice hockey, Spanish Club, Teens for
Teens, and Math Club. All other activities have substantial numbers of
black students. In addition, there are no all-black activities. All
activities have white students ...