445 U.S. 935 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

CLEVELAND BD. OF EDUC. v. REED , 445 U.S. 935 (1980)

445 U.S. 935

CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION et al. v. Robert Anthony REED, III, et al
No. 79-804 Supreme Court of the United States March 17, 1980

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Mr. Justice POWELL join, dissenting.

Petitioners seek to present two questions for decision: (a) whether the District Court properly found systemwide segregative intent on the part of petitioner school Board, and, (b) "[w]hether the systemwide student reassignment plan ordered by the District Court, whereby every grade in every school must have a ratio of black and white students in approximate proportion to the systemwide ratio, exceeded the violation found, particularly where the evidence showed that Cleveland's residential areas are highly segregated by race." Pet. for Cert. 3. With respect to the first issue of systemwide desegregation, the District Court found as follows in its exhaustive opinion:

    "[T]he local defendants offered evidence to show that various actions complained of by the plaintiffs were supported by valid, racially neutral, educationally sound reasons. For instance, the defendants argued that they created optional attendance zones to permit students to avoid heavy traffic or other such safety hazards, or to address the problems of overcrowding. Various school construction decisions were defended as being responsive to sincere desires of local residents for neighborhood facilities. The assignment of black teachers and administrators to schools with majority black student enrollments was defended on the ground that such faculty or staff would be better able to relate to students of the same race. Where there was factual support for the claim that such decisions had compelling educational bases, or where legitimate safety concerns were being met in a plausible and nonracial manner, the allegations of the plaintiffs were set aside. However, there remain

    Page 445 U.S. 935 , 936

    more than 200 enumerated actions cited in the liability opinion for which the explanations of the defendants either were not credible or were not legally permissible. In these instances, the Court finds that the defendants acted (1) not only with awareness of the natural, probable, and foreseeable consequences of their acts, (2) but also with the purpose and intent to maintain racial segregation." Reed v. Rhodes, 455 F.Supp. 546, 555 (N.D.Ohio 1978).

The Court of Appeals affirmed this conclusion of the District Court in this language:

"Our review of this record supports the District Judge's findings of fact in this regard and we find no fault in his conclusions of law, as stated above. The findings of fact certainly cannot be termed clearly erroneous, and the conclusions of law which pertain to his 1973 findings and his 1964 findings are both entirely consistent with the opinions of the Supreme Court in Columbus Board of Education v. Penick [439 U.S. 1348] ( 1979), and Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman [439 U.S. 1357, 99 S. Ct. 27] (1979)." Reed v. Rhodes, 607 F.2d 714, 717 (C. A. [Footnote 6] 1979).

The Court of Appeals, I think, was undoubtedly correct in upholding this District Court's finding of systemwide segregative intent on the basis of this Court's decisions last Term in the Columbus and Dayton cases . I would therefore not vote to grant the petition on this first issue.

The Court of Appeals, however, devoted virtually no attention to the second issue-the propriety of the remedy imposed by the District Court. In the Court of Appeals' opinion, which comprises 46 pages of the appendix to the petition, less than 4 are devoted to the propriety of the remedy decreed, and none of those 4 pages deal with whether the remedy was appropriate, conceding that a systemwide remedy could be imposed. The court focused solely on the legitimacy [445 U.S. 935 , 937]

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