DAYTON BD. OF EDUC. V. BRINKMAN, 443 U. S. 526 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dayton Bd. of Educ. v. Brinkman, 443 U.S. 526 (1979)

Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman

No. 78-627

Argued April 24, 1979

Decided July 2, 1979

443 U.S. 526


A number of students in the Dayton, Ohio, school system, through their parents, brought this action in District Court in 1972, alleging that the Dayton Board of Education, the State Board of Education, and various local and state officials were operating a racially segregated school system in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. After protracted litigation at both the trial and appellate levels, the District Court dismissed the complaint, ruling that, although the Dayton Schools concededly were highly segregated, the Dayton Board's failure to alleviate this condition was not actionable absent sufficient evidence that the racial separation had been caused by the Board's own purposeful discriminatory conduct. In the District Court's view, plaintiffs had failed to show either discriminatory purpose or segregative effect, or both, with respect to the Board's challenged practices and policies, which included faculty hiring and assignments, the use of optional attendance zones and transfer policies, the location and construction of new and expanded school facilities, and the rescission of certain prior resolutions recognizing the Board's responsibility to eradicate racial separation in the public schools. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, at the time of Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (Brown I), in 1954, the Dayton Board had operated a racially segregated, dual school system, that it was constitutionally required to disestablish that system and its effects, that it had failed to discharge this duty, and that the consequences of the dual system, together with the intentionally segregative impact of various practices since 1954, were of systemwide import, and an appropriate basis for a systemwide remedy.


1. On the record, there is no basis for disturbing the Court of Appeals' holding that, at the time of Brown I, the Dayton Board was intentionally operating a dual school system in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Pp. 443 U. S. 534-537.

2. Given the fact that a dual system existed in 1954, the Court of Appeals also properly held that the Dayton Board was thereafter under a continuing duty to eradicate the effects of that system, and that the

Page 443 U. S. 527

systemwide nature of the violation furnished prima facie proof that current segregation in the Dayton schools was caused at least in part by prior intentionally segregative official acts. Part of the affirmative duty imposed on a school board is the obligation not to take any action that would impede the process of disestablishing the dual system and its effects, Wright v. Council of City of Emporia, 407 U. S. 451, and here the Dayton Board had engaged in many post-Brown I actions that had the effect of increasing or perpetuating segregation. The measure of a school board's post-Brown I conduct under an unsatisfied duty to liquidate a dual system is the effectiveness, not the purpose, of the actions in decreasing or increasing the segregation caused by the dual system. The Dayton Board had to do more than abandon its prior discriminatory purpose, Keyes v. School Dist. No. 1, Denver, Colo., 413 U. S. 189; Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Ed., 402 U. S. 1. The Board has had an affirmative responsibility to see that pupil assignment policies and school construction and abandonment practices were not used and did not serve to perpetuate or reestablish the dual system, and has a "heavy burden" of showing that actions that increased or continued t,he effects of the dual system serve important and legitimate ends. Pp. 443 U. S. 537-540.

3. Nor is there any reason to fault the Court of Appeals' finding, after the remand of this case in Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman, 433 U. S. 406, that a sufficient case of current, systemwide effect had been established. This was not a misuse of Keyes, supra, where it was held that

"purposeful discrimination in a substantial part of a school system furnishes a sufficient basis for an inferential finding of a systemwide discriminatory intent unless otherwise rebutted,"

and that,

"given the purpose to operate a dual school system, one could infer a connection between such a purpose and racial separation in other parts of the school system."

Columbus Board of Education v. Penick, ante at 443 U. S. 467-468. The Court of Appeals was also justified in utilizing the Dayton Board's failure to fulfill its affirmative duty and its conduct perpetuating or increasing segregation to trace the current, systemwide segregation back to the purposefully dual system of the 1950's and the subsequent acts of intentional discrimination. Pp. 443 U. S. 540-542.

583 F.2d 243, affirmed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,joined, ante p. 443 U. S. 469. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, ante, p. 443 U. S. 479. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which POWELL, J., joined, post, p. 443 U. S. 542.

Page 443 U. S. 528

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