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Chance v. Board of Examiners

decided: January 19, 1976.

BOSTON M. CHANCE, LOUIS C. MERCADO, INDIVIDUALLY ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
THE BOARD OF EXAMINERS AND THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK: GERTRUDE E. UNSER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF EXAMINERS; JAY E. GREENE, MURRAY ROCKAWITZ AND PAUL DENN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR CAPACITIES AS MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF EXAMINERS; MURRY BERGTRAUM, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION; ISIAH E. ROBINSON, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION; MARY E. MEADE, SEYMOUR P. LACHMAN AND JOSEPH MONSERRAT, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR CAPACITIES AS MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION; HARVEY B. SCRIBNER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHANCELLOR OF THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK; AND THEODORE H. LANG, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND COUNCIL OF SUPERVISORS AND ADMINISTRATORS OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, LOCAL 1, SASCO, AFL-CIO, INTERVENOR-APPELLANT



Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Harold R. Tyler, Judge, which superimposed a racial quota requirement upon the "excessing" procedures of the New York City Board of Education.

Oakes, Van Graafeiland and Meskill, Circuit Judges. Oakes, Circuit Judge (dissenting).

Author: Van Graafeiland

VAN GRAAFEILAND, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York which directed the Board of Education of the City of New York to "excess" supervisory personnel in accordance with a formula imposing racial quotas upon the excessing process. Excessing rules provide in brief that when a position in a school district is eliminated, the least senior person in the job classification used to fill that position shall be transferred, demoted or terminated. It is a system which recognizes the value of pedagogical experience and seniority, and its use is mandated by the New York Education Law*fn1 and the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Board of Education and the supervisors' union.*fn2 We believe that the District Court erred in injecting into this plan a requirement for conformity to a racial quota formula, and we therefore reverse.

Fortunately for both reader and writer, we find it unnecessary to recount at length the history of this extended litigation. A summary of the proceedings which now bring the parties to our Court for the fourth time*fn3 will suffice.

This civil rights class action was begun in 1970 for the purpose of correcting an underrepresentation of minorities in supervisory positions in the New York City school system. Employment qualification tests, one of the alleged causes of such disproportion, were thereafter invalidated by the District Court as not job-related; and an interim system of job assignment was created by court order, the details of which are spelled out in our 1974 decision. Because this interim plan provided in part that job assignment would precede licensing and that permanent appointment would follow on-the-job evaluation, it became necessary for the Board of Education to formulate new rules concerning date of appointment for excessing purposes. These rules, which were submitted to the District Court for approval, provided in substance that, in determining seniority for excessing purposes, supervisors would be considered appointed as of the date of their assignment.

As Judge Tyler graphically pointed out during one of the many arguments below, this lawsuit has been "like a conflagration that one puts out in one department and then suddenly a new fire breaks out somewhere else." It was not surprising, therefore, that this submission by the Board set new flames burning. Plaintiffs promptly opposed the use of any excessing rules on the ground that minority supervisors recently hired would have the least seniority. This prompted intervention by the Council of Supervisors and Administrators of the City of New York, Local 1, SASCO, AFL-CIO as the representative of all supervisory personnel, including those licensed and appointed prior to the court-ordered interim plan, those licensed and appointed pursuant to such plan and those assigned but not yet appointed. This Union opposed the use of racial quotas and supported the continued use of traditional excessing procedures. Amicus briefs were also filed by the New York City School Boards Association, Inc. whose interest lay in seeing that the powers and prerogatives of the thirty-two school districts within the New York system were not eroded by the court-created excessing plan.

Proposals and counterproposals followed closely upon each other until Judge Tyler handed down an order on November 22, 1974, adopting the racial quota concept. This order was amended on February 7, 1975, and it is the amended order which we are reviewing on this appeal. It provides in substance as follows:

1. All supervisors are to be divided into three groups: group A -- Blacks, group B -- Puerto Ricans and group C -- Others;

2. The percentage of supervisors making up each group is to be computed for each of the thirty-two districts and for the city-wide system;

3. Each district may place supervisors from group A or B on its intra-district excessing list only if the percentage of that group on the list does not exceed the percentage of that group in the district;

4. Each district may add excessed supervisors from group A or B to the city-wide, inter-district excessing list only if the percentage of that group on the list does not exceed the percentage of that group employed city-wide.

Although the order does not specifically so provide, the inevitable consequence of the foregoing provisions is that if racial quotas prevent the excessing of a Black or Puerto Rican, a white person with greater seniority must be excessed in his place.

Before the merits of the appeals taken by the Board of Education and the Council of Supervisors can be considered, several preliminary roadblocks raised by plaintiffs must first be removed. Plaintiffs contend that the appeals are not timely. They say that the order of February 7, 1975, merely clarified the order of November 22, 1974, and that therefore appeals should have been taken from the former, not the latter. We find no merit in this contention. Following the issuance of the November 22 order, the Board of Education requested a modification "concerning excessing." A hearing was held, and some modifications were made. We think that the Board's application, addressed sufficiently to the substance of the November order to require a contested rehearing, effectively transferred the mantle of finality from the November to the February order and that appeals from the latter order were therefore timely. Leishman v. Associated Electric Co., 318 U.S. 203, 87 L. Ed. 714, 63 S. Ct. 543 (1943); Sleek v. J. C. Penney Company, 292 F.2d 256 (3d Cir. 1961).

Plaintiffs also point out that the order appealed from will be in effect only until November 30, 1977, by which time "it is hoped" the situation regarding minority representation will have changed. Plaintiffs urge that we not concern ourselves, as an appellate court, with this short-term interim relief. In our 1974 decision, at page 825, we expressed concern about the length of time this litigation had remained in an unfinished state and the possibility that "the interim tail" would end up wagging the dog. Another year has passed; the lawsuit has not been terminated, and new orders continue to emerge. Those supervisors who may lose their jobs between now and November 30, 1977, will be little comforted by the knowledge that it was merely a temporary ...


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