DAYTON BD. OF EDUC. V. BRINKMAN, 433 U. S. 406 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dayton Bd. of Educ. v. Brinkman, 433 U.S. 406 (1977)

Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman

No. 76-539

Argued April 26, 1977

Decided June 27, 1977

433 U.S. 406


In this school desegregation case, the District Court, after an evidentiary hearing, held that petitioner Dayton, Ohio, School Board had engaged in racial discrimination in the operation of the city's schools. On the basis of a "cumulative violation" of the Equal Protection Clause that the court found, which was composed of three elements, viz., (1) substantial racial imbalance in student enrollment patterns throughout the school system; (2) the use of optional attendance zones allowing some white students to avoid attending predominantly black schools; and (3) the School Board's rescission in 1972 of resolutions passed by the previous Board that had acknowledged responsibility in the creation of segregative racial patterns and had called for various types of remedial measures, the District Court, following reversals by the Court of Appeals of more limited remedies, ultimately formulated and the Court of Appeals approved, a systemwide remedy. The plan required, beginning with the 1976-1977 school year, that the racial composition of each school in the district be brought within 15% of Dayton's 48%-52% black-white population ratio, to be accomplished by a variety of desegregation techniques, including the "pairing" of schools, the redefinition of attendance zones, and a variety of centralized special programs and "magnet schools."


1. Judged most favorably to respondent parents of black children, the District Court's findings of constitutional violations did not suffice to justify the systemwide remedy. The finding that pupil population in the various Dayton schools is not homogeneous, standing by itself, is not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment absent a showing that this condition resulted from intentionally segregative actions on the part of the Board. Washington v. Davis, 426 U. S. 229, 426 U. S. 239. The court's finding as to the optional attendance zones applied to three high schools, and, assuming that, under Washington standards, a violation was involved, only high school districting was implicated. And the conclusion that the Board's rescission action constituted a constitutional violation is of dubious soundness. It was thus not demonstrated that the systemwide chanrobles.com-red

Page 433 U. S. 407

remedy, in effect imposed by the Court of Appeals, was necessary to "eliminate all vestiges of the state-imposed school segregation." Pp. 433 U. S. 413-418.

2. In view of the confusion at various stages in this case as to the applicable principles and appropriate relief, the case must be remanded to the District Court. The ambiguous phrase "cumulative violation," used by both courts below, does not overcome the disparity between the evidence of constitutional violations and the sweeping remedy finally decreed. More specific findings must be made, and, if necessary, the record must be supplemented. Conclusions as to violations must be made in light of this Court's opinions here and in Washington v. Davis, supra, and Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U. S. 252, and a remedy must be fashioned in light of the rule laid down in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U. S. 1, and elaborated on in Hills v. Gautreaux, 425 U. S. 284. In a case like this, where mandatory racial segregation has long since ceased, it must first be determined if the school board intended to, and did in fact, discriminate, and all appropriate additional evidence should be adduced; and only if systemwide discrimination is shown may there be a systemwide remedy. Meanwhile, the present plan should remain in effect for the coming school year, subject to further District Court orders as additional evidence might warrant. Pp. 433 U. S. 418-421.

539 F.2d 1084, vacated and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 433 U. S. 421. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 433 U. S. 421. MARSHALL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. chanrobles.com-red

Page 433 U. S. 408