430 F2d 368 Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District

430 F.2d 368

Derek Jerome SINGLETON et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

No. 29226.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

July 20, 1970.

John A. Nichols, Jackson, Miss., Melvyn R. Leventhal, Reuben V. Anderson, Fred L. Banks, Jr., Jackson, Miss., Jack Greenberg, James Nabrit, III, Norman J. Chachkin, Jonathan Shapiro, New York City, for appellants.

Robert C. Cannada, Jay A. Travis, III, Thomas H. Watkins, Jackson, Miss., for appellees.

Jerris Leonard, Asst. Atty. Gen., Civil Rights Division, U.S. Dept. of Justice, David D. Gregory, Atty., Civil Rights Div., Washington, D.C., amicus curiae.

Before JOHN R. BROWN, Chief Judge, and MORGAN and INGRAHAM, Circuit judges.



This is an application by the School District to modify in part our mandate in Singleton IV, Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, 5 Cir., 1970, 426 F.2d 1364 (No. 29226, May 5, 1970). There we directed the District Court to select one of the three presently available HEW plans1 to establish a unitary school system at the secondary level of the Jackson School District. In accordance with that mandate, the District Court held an evidentiary hearing on June 8, 1970 and ordered Plan A be implemented in the District. There was, however, substantial testimony at that hearing by both local school officials and HEW officials that because of population shifts, intervening relocation of portable classrooms, and incomplete information used in the original preparation of the three plans that all three plans would have to be modified to be workable in the 1970-71 school year.


Nevertheless, the District Court, correctly feeling that under the mandate of this Court he had no power to vary the prescribed plan, ordered that Plan A be put into effect without modification on June 15, 1970. HEW was, however, requested to suggest modifications to Plan A that would make the plan more workable for the 1970-1971 school year while retaining the essential elements of the plan to thus bring about a unitary system in the secondary grades. Pursuant to this request HEW proposed modifications to both high schools and junior highs in the District. It suggested one set of modifications for the junior highs.2 It posed alternative sets of modifications for the high schools which are referred to as Alternate I3 and Alternate II.4 HEW advised the District Court that both were consistent with the unitary system and retained the essential elements of the original Plan A.


Under our mandate of May 5, 1970 the School District was ordered to notify parents of assignments by July 1, 1970.5 Since student">student assignments on 'pure' Plan 'A' would have to be redone shortly if modifications were allowed, the School District sought and obtained from this Court a stay of the student">student assignment notices until we could have the recommendations of the District Court as to either Alternates I or II. Responding in like fashion to the exigencies, Judge Russell, having direct supervision of this problem, held an informal hearing and entered a supplemental order on July 1, 1970 recommending that Alternate II be adopted for the high school level.


With this extraordinary action by the District Judge in making a prompt and expeditious determination of these modifications and with the utmost of cooperation and diligence of counsel, we are able to enter this order, knowing that time is important to administrators, parents, and students. We accept the recommendations of the District Court to modify the original HEW Plan A as to the junior high level and adopt the District Court's recommendation for modification of Alternate II at the high school level.


Plaintiffs originally objected to any modification in HEW's original Plan A. It was their contention that the modification was in essence a return to the pre-Singleton IV school board plan. Our review of and comparison of the plans convinces us, however, that this is clearly not the case.6 Moreover, it was amply demonstrated both by HEW officials and by local school personnel that modifications were necessary. Indeed, Plaintiffs now virtually concede that changes were necessary in the original HEW Plan A at least to alleviate some severe overcrowding resulting under that plan and to clarify the role of the Vocational Training Center high schools-- magnet schools-- that were established under Plan A.


As an alternate, Plaintiffs contend that if modifications are to be made that the modifications be those tentatively proposed in an informal 'observation' by Dr. H. L. Winecoff, furnished to Court and counsel between the June 15, 1970 order and the HEW proposed Alternate I and II to Plan A. But the cogency of this position is drastically reduced because Dr. Winecoff was the head of the HEW team which within a week or so prepared the modifications adopted by the District Court and because he prepared these modifications, not as tentative suggestions as those Plaintiffs recommend, but after further review of the School District's physical capacity and the necessities of operating the School District.


Of the two alternates for the high school level, Plaintiffs seem to prefer Alternate I. But the school attendance figures under both modifications are very similar. See notes 3 and 4, supra.


The only significant difference in the two alternates is that under Alternate I there are three 10th grade centers, Hill, Provine, Brinkley, while under Alternate II there are only two such 10th grade centers, Hill and Brinkley. The difference is in the grade structure of Central and Provine schools. Under Alternate I, Central High is a 10th grade center and Provine is an 11th and 12th grade school. Under Alternate II, both schools are 10-12 grade schools. For ease of comparison, the projected attendance figures for these schools are set out below.

Capacity Students


Name of School Grades Perm. W. Ports. W N T

Alternate I


Central 10 980 335 254 589


Provine 11-12 1114 737 392 1129

Alternate II


Provine 10-12 1114 698 377 1075


Central 10-12 980 381 413 794


Since the schools have essentially the same attendance patterns for both alternates, this is not the time for this Court to make the choice of grade structures. The local school officials under the careful guidance of the District Court are to make such decisions as long as the unitary goal for the system is achieved.


There is a minor criticism by the Plaintiffs in their objection to the zoning of students into Lanier High School, the only magnet school under the modifications. Such zoning is characteristic of both Alternates I and II and undoubtedly the racial composition of Lanier High School provokes significant concern under both alternates. Plaintiffs contend that no student">student should be zoned at Lanier and that it should serve only as a magnet-vocational training center. It is apparent, however, that at this time it was reasonable that some students had to be zoned into Lanier in order to relieve capacity problems of the original HEW plan. Although close attention must be given to Lanier School throughout the 1970-71 school year and in the future, we cannot say that its racial composition destroys the unitary character of the school system.


We thus approve the HEW Alternate II modifications to Plan A and our mandate is altered accordingly.7 This is not, however, to declare that the system is a unitary one for all time. The record indicates that about 10% Of the students move each year and that there has been a continuing shift in the demographic patterns in the city. As a result, great care will have to be taken to insure that such schools as Blackburn Junior High (see note 2, supra) and Lanier High School8 (see note 4, supra) are maintained as integrated facilities. See Hightower v. West, 5 Cir., 1970, 430 F.2d 552. One step that should be considered is the enlargement of Lanier's ability to accommodate vocational programs. This might be done by the reduction of the number of Negro students zoned into the school.


The plans were known as Plan A, B, C


The projected enrollment under the HEW modifications at junior high level is shown below:

                                    Capacity                 Students
Name of School        Grades    Perm.       W.        W         N         T
  Whitten                 7-9       868                 629       293       922
  Peeples                 7-9      1286                 898       354      1252
  Blackburn               7-9      1041                  81       941      1022
  Hardy                   7-8      1062      1140       572       562      1134
  Enochs                    9       519       675       223       341       564
  Bailey                  7-8      1000                 334       626       960
  Rowan                     9       840                 135       281       416
  Chastain                7-8      1200      1300       693       569      1262
  Powell                    9      1364      1478       453       419       872
  Callaway**              7-8      257/      257/
                                   1010      1166       272       298       570
  Special Education*                                     48        83       131
     Total                                             4338      4767      9105
* Blackburn, Enochs, Rowan, Powell, Whitten
** Approximately 7 additional portables will be required at Callaway

Under HEW Alternate I the projected enrollment is:

                         ALTERNATE I
                            Capacity           Students
Name of School  Grades  Perm.  W. Ports.   W      N       T
Hill                10    894             294    158      452
Wingfield        11-12   1036             617    275      892
Central             10    980             335    254      589
Provine          11-12   1114             737    392     1129
Brinkley            10   1018             504    463      967
Callaway         11-12   1166             529    380      909
Murrah           11-12   1092             529    406      935
Lanier           10-12   1412             185    822     1007

The projected enrollment under Alternate II is:

                        ALTERNATE II
                            Capacity           Students
Name of School  Grades  Perm.  W. Ports.   W      N       T
Hill                10    894             294    138      432
Wingfield        11-12   1036             617    235      852
Central          10-12    980             381    413      794
Lanier           10-12   1412             185    871     1056
Provine          10-12   1114             698    377     1075
Brinkley            10   1018             507    475      972
Callaway         11-12   1166             529    380      909
Murrah           11-12   1092             529    406      935

No modification was made in parent notices for elementary grades under the plan now before us on appeal but not decided here


The enrollment under the Board's pre-Singleton IV plan was:

"Secondary  Negro  Other  Total
Bailey        514    408    922
Blackburn     593     34    627
Chastain      523    660   1183
Enochs        562    101    663
Hardy         424    758   1182
Peeples       218    864   1082
Powell        796    673   1469
Rowan         609     31    640
Whitten       346    579    925
Brinkley     1076      2   1078
Callaway       86   1027   1113
Central       192    564    756
Hill          376     50    426
Lanier        713      7    720
Murrah        180    864   1044
Provine       278    637    915
Wingfield      51    897    948
            -----  -----  ------
             7537   8156  15693"

See Singleton IV, supra at 426 F.2d p. 1371 (No. 29226), Appendix B.


The notification date for pupil assignment is now fixed at July 29, 1970. Unsatisfactory as it is, there might be need for some revisions in junior high assignments to the extent changes, if any, occur in our disposition of the appeal on elementary grades as they might feed into the junior high system


Lanier is to be the only school offering vocational education at the high school level. Thus auto-mechanics, computer operation, ROTC, and other such courses are all to be offered there