9 minute read

Brief for Appellants in Nos. 2 (1,) and 3 and for Respondents in No. on Further Reargument (5 )

Developments In These Cases Since The Last Argument

The Kansas case

On September 3, 1953, the Topeka School Board adopted the following resolution:

Be it resolved that it is the policy of the Topeka Board of Education to terminate the maintenance of segregation in the elementary schools as rapidly as is practicable.

On September 8, 1953, appellees ordered segregation terminated in two of the nineteen school districts in Topeka. In September, 1954, segregation was completely terminated in ten other school districts and partially in two.

There is now a total school enrollment of approximately 8,500 children of elementary school age attending 23 elementary schools. Of the 8,500 children enrolled, approximately 700 Negro children are in four elementary schools for Negroes. There are 123 Negro children now attending schools on a non-segregated basis pursuant to appellees' implementation of its policy of removing segregation from the public school system. The blunt truth is that 85% of the Negro children in Topeka's elementary schools are still being denied the constitutional rights for which appellants sought redress in their original action.

While Topeka has been effectuating its plan, several other cities of the first class have undertaken the abolition of segregated schools. Lawrence and Pittsburg have completely desegregated. Kansas City, Abilene, Leavenworth and Parsons have ordered partial desegregation. Wichita and Salina have revised their school regulations to permit Negro children to attend schools nearest their homes. Only Coffeeville and Fort Scott have not taken any affirmative action whatsoever.

The Delaware case

By order of the Court of Chancery, affirmed by the Supreme Court of Delaware, the named plaintiffs were immediately admitted to the schools to which they applied. These plaintiffs and other members of the class are in their third year of uninterrupted attendance in the two Delaware schools named in the order. That attendance has been marked by no untoward incident. The order, however, did not result in elimination of separate schools for Negroes in the two school districts involved, in each of which one segregated elementary school is yet maintained by petitioners.

The State Board of Education has statutory authority to "exercise general control and supervision over the public schools of the State, including … the determination of the educational policies of the State and the seeking in every way to direct and develop public sentiment in support of public education." DELAWARE CODE, Title 14, Section 121 (1953). Accordingly, the State Board of Education, on June 11, 1954, adopted a statement of "Policies Regarding Desegregation of Schools of the State" and announced "a general policy" that it "intends to carry out the mandates of the United States Supreme Court decision as expeditiously as possible." It further requested that "the school authorities together with interested citizen groups throughout the State should take immediate steps to hold discussions for the purpose of (1) formulating plans for desegregation in their respective districts and (2) presenting said plans to the State Board of Education for review."

On August 19, 1954, the State Board of Education requested "that all schools, maintaining four or more teachers, present a tentative plan for desegregation in their area on or before October 1, 1954."

The desegregation plans of the Claymont Board of Education, whose members are petitioners here, providing for the complete termination of segregation, were approved by the State Board of Education on August 26, 1954. These plans have been partially put into operation.

No plan ending segregation in the Hockessin schools, the other Delaware area in the litigation here, has yet been formulated.

Delaware statutes provide for two types of public school districts, exclusive of the public school system in Wilmington which is practically autonomous. One type is commonly known as the State Board District. As to it, the statute provides that the "Board of School Trustees shall be the representative in the District of the State Board of Education." DELAWARE CODE, Title 14, Section 702 (1953). There are 98 such units. The other type is the Special School District, concerning which the statute provides that "There shall be a Board of Education which shall be responsible for the general administration and supervision of the free public schools and educational interests of the District." DELAWARE CODE, Title 14, Section 902 (1953). There are fifteen Special School Districts.

Desegregation in the school districts of Delaware is illustrated by the table below:

State Board Districts
Partial Desegregation Complete Desegregation No Desegregation Total
New Castle County 4 1 26 31
Kent County 0 0 24 24
Sussex County 0 0 43 43
98

Special School Districts
Partial Desegregation Complete Desegregation No Desegregation Total
New Castle County 3 1 1 5
Kent County 1 0 3 4
Sussex County* 0 0 6 6
15

Wilmington, which is in New Castle County and contains 34% of the population of the State, in June desegregated all elementary and secondary schools for the 1954 summer session. It has also completely desegregated its night school sessions. Beginning in September, 1954, desegregation of all elementary schools was effectuated, with some integration of teachers.

The school districts involved in this litigation also are in New Castle County, which has 68% of the State's population. Desegregation in varying degrees has started in every major school district in this county, except one.

The State Board of Education has made specific requests to 58 of the 113 school districts in the State to submit such plans. Another six districts have stated that any kind of plan they may have would be more or less nullified by over-crowded classroom conditions. Fourteen others have indicated that they desire to await the mandate of this Court. The remaining districts have not responded to the State Board.

In summary, school districts in areas comprising more than 50% of the population of Delaware have undertaken some desegregation of the public schools. Many school districts in semi-urban and rural areas have undertaken no step. The ultimate responsibility for effectuating desegregation throughout Delaware rests with petitioners here, members of the State Board of Education.

The South Carolina case

Since May 17, 1954, South Carolina's fifteen-man legislative "Segregation Study Committee" was reorganized and has conferred with the Governor, State education officials, other legislators and spokesmen from various civic and teacher organizations. All of their meetings have been closed to the public. The Committee also visited Louisiana and Mississippi "to observe what was being done in those states to preserve segregated schools."

On July 28, the committee issued an interim report which recommended that public schools be operated during the coming year "in keeping with previously established policy." The committee construed its assignment as being the formulation of courses of action whereby the State could continue public education "without unfortunate disruption by outside forces and influences which have no knowledge of recent progress and no understanding of the problems of the present and future.…" Moreover, the report stated that the committee also recognized "the need for a system in keeping with public opinion and established traditions and living patterns."

The State Attorney General insisted that this Court should not undertake to direct further action even by the school district involved and announced that he considered the Clarendon County case "purely a local matter as far as the parties to the suit are concerned."

In Rock Hill (population 25,000 with 20% Negroes) a Catholic grade school voluntarily desegregated. Opening day enrollment was 29 white students and five Negroes. There has been no report of overt action against this development; but the parents of some of the children have been remonstrated with by neighbors and workers.1

A newspaper report1a of a public speech of E. B. McCord, one of the appellees herein, superintendent of education for Clarendon County, states in part:

There will be no mixed schools in Clarendon County as long as there is any possible way for present leadership to prevent them.

So declared L. B. McCord of Manning, Clarendon County superintendent of education, in an address before the Lions Club here Monday night.

Decrying the fact that "Our churches seem to be letting their zeal run away in leading the way," he denounced de-segregation as contrary to the Scriptures and to good sense.

The Virginia case

On May 27, 1954, the State Board of Education advised city and county school boards to continue segregation during the present school year.

On August 28, the Governor named a thirty-two-man, all-white legislative commission to study the problems raised by the Court's ruling and to prepare a report and recommendations to the legislature and to him. The Governor then announced:

… I am inviting the commission to ascertain, through public hearings and such other means as appear appropriate, the wishes of the people of Virginia; to give careful study to plans or legislation or both, that should be considered for adoption in Virginia after the final decree of the Court is entered, and to offer such other recommendations as it may deem proper as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court affecting the public schools.2

At its first meeting the commission adopted a rule that:

All meetings of the commission shall be executive and its deliberations confidential, except when the meeting consists of a public hearing or it is otherwise expressly decided by the commission.3

* Partial desegregation, that is, on the high school level, was instituted by the Milford Board of Education, in Sussex County. This action was later revoked and a test of the revocation is now pending in the Delaware courts. See Simmons v. Steiner, 108 A. 2d 173 (Del. Ct. Chanc. 1954). In that case the Vice-Chancellor found the Negro plaintiffs' rights to remain as students in Milford High School "clear and convincing" and restrained the Board of Education from excluding them. However, the Supreme Court of Delaware temporarily stayed the injunction to give that court sufficient time to examine "serious questions of law." Argument has been scheduled for December 13, 1954. Steiner v. Simmons (Del Sup. Ct. No. 27, 1954).

1 Southern School News, Sept. 3, 1954, p. 12, col. 3–4.

1a Charleston News and Courier, August 4, 1954.

2 Southern School News, Sept. 3, 1954, p. 13, col. 5.

3 Southern School News, Oct. 1, 1954, p. 14, col. 2–3.

By October, the local school boards or boards of supervisors of approximately 25 of the state's 98 counties had adopted and forwarded to the Governor resolutions urging the continuation of segregated schools.

In May, 1954, the Richmond Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, which includes all but 6 of Virginia's counties, announced that during the Fall of 1954, Negroes would for the first time be admitted to previously all-white Catholic parochial schools where there was no separate parochial school for Negroes. Approximately 40 Negro pupils of a total of 3,527 are enrolled in four high and six elementary parochial schools formerly attended only by white pupils. The Superintendent of the Richmond Diocese states that integration in these schools "has worked out magnificently, without a ripple of discontent,.…"4

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Brief for Appellants in Nos. 2 (1,) and 3 and for Respondents in No. on Further Reargument (5 ) - In The Supreme Court Of The United States October Term, 1954, Appeals From The United States District Courts For The District Of Kansas, The Eastern District