Raney v. Board of Education
391 U.S. 443 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Raney v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 443 (1968)

Raney v. Board of Education of Gould School District

No. 805

Argued April 3, 1968

Decided May 27, 1968

391 U.S. 443

Syllabus

The Gould (Arkansas) School District, which has a population of about 60% Negroes, with no residential segregation, maintains two combination elementary and high schools located about ten blocks apart in the district's only major town. In the 1964-1965 school year, the schools were totally segregated. As in Green v. County School Board, ante, p. 391 U. S. 430, the School Board in 1965 adopted a "freedom of choice" plan in order to remain eligible for federal financial aid. The plan applies to all school grades, and pupils are required to choose annually between the schools; those not choosing are assigned to the school previously attended. No white student has sought to enroll in the all-Negro Field Schools in three years, and although about 85 Negro students were enrolled in the formerly all-white Gould Schools in 1967, over 85% of the Negro pupils still attend the all-Negro Field Schools. In the first year under the plan, applications for certain grades at the Gould Schools exceeded available space, and applications of 28 Negroes were refused. This action was brought on behalf of some of them for injunctive relief against their being required to attend the Field Schools, the provision of inferior school facilities for Negroes, and respondents' "otherwise operating a racially segregated school system." During the pendency of the case, plans were made to replace the high school building at Field Schools. Petitioners sought to enjoin that construction, contending that it should be built at the Gould site to avoid continued segregation. The District Court denied all relief and dismissed the complaint, ruling that, since the "freedom of choice" plan was adopted without court compulsion, the plan was approved by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and some Negroes had enrolled in the Gould Schools, the plan was not a pretense or a sham. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal, suggesting that the issue of the adequacy of the plan or its implementation was not raised in the District Court. Since construction of the high school at the Field site was nearing completion, petitioners modified their position and urged the Court of Appeals to require conversion of the Gould Schools to a desegregated high school and the Field site to a

Page 391 U. S. 444

desegregated primary school. The Court of Appeals rejected this proposal, since it was not presented to the trial court for consideration.

Held:

1. Since the issue of the adequacy of the "freedom of choice" plan was before the District Court in the prayer of the complaint to enjoin respondents' "otherwise operating a racially segregated school system," and the District Court and the Court of Appeals considered the merits of the plan, the question of the adequacy of "freedom of choice" is properly before this Court. P. 391 U. S. 447.

2. As in Green v. County School Board, supra, the school system remains a dual system, and the plan is inadequate to convert it to a unitary, nonracial system. P. 391 U. S. 447.

3. On remand, petitioners may present their proposal for converting one school to a desegregated high school and the other to a desegregated primary school. P. 391 U. S. 448.

4. The District Court's dismissal of the complaint was an improper exercise of discretion, and inconsistent with that court's responsibility under Brown. v. Board of Education,349 U. S. 294, to retain jurisdiction

"to insure (1) that a constitutionally acceptable plan is adopted, and (2) that it is operated in a constitutionally permissible fashion so that the goal of a desegregated, nonracially operated school system is rapidly and finally achieved."

Kelley v. Altheimer, 378 F.2d 483, 489. P. 391 U. S. 449.

381 F.2d 252, reversed and remanded.

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