Columbus Bd. of Educ. v. Penick

PETITIONER: Columbus Bd. of Educ.
LOCATION: Harrah High School

DOCKET NO.: 78-610
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 443 US 449 (1979)
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1979
DECIDED: Jul 02, 1979

Drew S. Days, III - for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Samuel H. Porter - for petitioners
Thomas I. Atkins - for respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Columbus Bd. of Educ. v. Penick

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 24, 1979 in Columbus Bd. of Educ. v. Penick

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Justice Brennan.

We'll hear arguments first this morning in Number 610, Columbus Board of Education against Penick.

Mr. Porter, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Samuel H. Porter:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case involves the application of presumptions of intent in order to extrapolate a judgment of system-wide liability in the imposition of a system-wide racial balance remedy from conduct where a system-wide racial balance remedy is not warranted by the incremental segregative effects of the identified constitutional violations.

I wish to make at the outset a brief statement, an overview of the Columbus public school system in the remedy that the Court ordered in this matter before I go to a discussion of the specific errors.

And, initially, I would like to point out that the Ohio State Board of Education was a party below and has filed a brief concurring with the petitioners' view and their position is fully supportive of ours and we in turn are supportive of what they have to say and we recommend that brief to the court.

The Columbus public school system is the fourteenth largest city school system in the United States and like most school systems during the ‘50s and ‘60s.

It went through an enormous period of growth.

In 1950, it had a school enrolment of about 46,000 students.

It grew to 1971 of -- to about 110,000.

At the same time, its area increased from some 45 square miles to 170 square miles, one of the largest growths that took place anywhere in this country.

Potter Stewart:

Is the school district -- are there boundaries of the school district coterminous with the boundaries of the City of Columbus?

Samuel H. Porter:

Not entirely, Mr. Justice Stewart.

They -- there are some exceptions that took place by virtue of some legislation in 1958 which made it that time.

They didn't have to follow each other.

They are for the most part however, particularly since the Ohio Supreme Court in 1956 ordered -- approved a transfer of a number of pieces to the City of Columbus that had been authorized by the Ohio State Board of Education, so that they are at this time for the most part contiguous but not entirely.

During this period of time, the school system added 103 school buildings and they added 145 additions to various facilities, some old and some that were build during that time.

So that, at the time of trial, the system consisted of 170 school buildings with 97,000 students, 67 -- approximately 67% white and approximately 32% non-white.

School --

Potter Stewart:

All the others, it adds up to 99%.

Samuel H. Porter:

37 -- 67.5 white, 32.5 non-white.

Potter Stewart:

I see.

Samuel H. Porter:

There are very few others.

There are a few but they are insignificant.

Potter Stewart:

Well, either -- what are they -- a certain -- white or non-white.

Samuel H. Porter:

I'm sorry, Your Honor.

They are non-white.

In the early ‘70s or the late ‘60s, the Columbus public school system set out on a system that was in design to bring about voluntary integration of its school system and it entered into what it refers to and what is described in the court's opinion as the Columbus plan racial transfer.

They also set about a program of magnet and alternative schools, a series of career centers that are located throughout the system, and they attempted to what -- new attendants areas to improve racial balance.