The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAND
IV. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION
A. School Openings, Closings, and Attendance Zone Changes
The Yonkers school district has witnessed a substantial number of school openings, school closings, and attendance zone changes during the past forty years. While each of these decisions raises its own particular issues and has had a separate racial impact, they are all similar in their more geographically limited, rather than systemwide, effect. In general, the Board's practices in these areas can be examined individually to determine the existence of segregative impact and segregative intent. Nevertheless, decisions regarding the opening or closing of a particular school have generally been accompanied by related adjustments in attendance zones or student assignments. Our discussion of Board practices will reflect this interconnection.
A summary of school openings, closings, and attendance zone changes is set forth below.
School Quadrant Opening Date Closing Date Attendance Zone Changes
1 NW 1872 1954 -
2 SW 1891 1945a -
3 SW 1884 1976 1965, 1972, 1975
4 SE 1885 1976 1963, 1965
5 Central 1884 - 1954, 1963, 1976
6 SW 1889 - 1953, 1966, 1973
7 SW 1887 1976 1963
8 NE 1892 - 1951, 1952, 1954, 1973
9 SW 1894 - 1963, 1965, 1970, 1976
10 SW 1972 -
11b SE 1898 - 1965, 1976
12 SW 1898 1976 1953, 1963, 1973
13 SW 1901 - 1973, 1976
14 SE 1902 - 1952, 1976
15 NE 1902 1976 1951
16 NW 1902 - 1953, 1963, 1964,
1968, 1970, 1976,
17 SE 1903 - 1952, 1963, 1973, 1976
18 SW 1904 - 1973, 1976
19 SW 1906 - 1965, 1972, 1975, 1976
20 SW 1907 1930c -
21 SE 1914 - 1963, 1976
22 NW 1914 - 1963
23 SW 1918 - 1973, 1976
24 NW 1930 1976 1954, 1963
25 NW 1930 - 1953, 1963, 1964, 1968,
26 NE 1936 - 1976
27 SW 1930 - 1976
28 NE 1951 - 1976
29 NE 1951 - 1958
30 SE 1952 - 1963, 1973
31 NE 1953 1982d 1976
32 NE 1958 - -
King SW 1969 - 1973, 1976
34e NW 1963 -
MIDDLE AND JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS
School Quadrant Opening Date Closing Date Attendance Zone Changes
Burroughs Central 1969 1978f 1973, 1976
Commerce SW 1930g 1976 -
Emerson NW 1963 - 1973, 1976, 1978
Franklin/ SW 1926, 1945 - 1954, 1958, 1963, 1973,
Fermi 1974i 1976
Gorton NW 1954 1973 1963, 1969
Hawthorne SW 1925 - 1958, 1963, 1969, 1973,
Lincoln SE 1953 1972 1963, 1969
Longfellow SW 1930j - 1954, 1963, 1969, 1973,
Roosevelt NE 1954 1959 -
Twain SE 1925, 1971 - 1953, 1963, 1973
Whitman NE 1959 - 1963, 1969, 1978
School Quadrant Opening Date Closing Date Attendance Zone Changes
Commerce SW 1930nj 1974 -
Gorton NW 1923 - 1963, 1973
Lincoln SE 1957 - 1963, 1973
Roosevelt NE 1926 - 1963, 1973
Saunders SW 1911, 1980 - -
Yonkers SW 1927, 1945,
1974i - 1957, 1963, 1973
As the above tables indicate, prior to 1940 the school district had constructed twenty-five elementary and seven secondary schools. In 1940, the City's minority population was 3.3%, with most minority students residing in the School 1, 6, and 18 attendance zone areas. In addition, subsidized housing had just begun to be developed in Southwest Yonkers; the concentration of minorities in that area was the result of pre-existing demographic patterns. Beginning in 1950, after a fourteen-year hiatus in school construction, the district opened a number of new elementary and secondary schools primarily in response to the continued increase in population density in the northeastern portion of Yonkers. SB 848. This school construction was also consistent with a 1934 Columbia University study of the Yonkers School District which predicted increased population growth in East Yonkers and recommended that school construction plans be formulated accordingly. SB 10, at 210, 242-43, 248, 256. Elementary Schools 28, 29, 31 and 32 were built between 1950 and 1957 in Northeast Yonkers, an area which experienced a 64% increase in population density during this time. GX 40, at 20. Similar school construction occurred on the secondary school level as well: Lincoln and Whitman Middle Schools were opened to serve the Northeast and Southeast Yonkers communities, and Emerson Elementary/Junior High School was opened in 1963 in response to similar population increases in Northwest Yonkers. In 1954, Gorton and Roosevelt High Schools expanded to include middle school students, and in 1957 Lincoln Middle School began to enroll high school students previously attending Yonkers High School.
By 1963, the school district had constructed and opened the vast majority of its public schools. By this time, the concentration of minorities in Southwest Yonkers had increased, including significantly minority populations in the attendance zones for School 7 (23% minority in 1961), 18 (23% minority) and 19 (32% minority). Cf. GX 56 (10% elementary school districtwide average in 1961). While privately-induced segregated housing patterns had continued during this time, the City's segregative involvement in the site selection and construction of subsidized housing was not at the open and notorious level of later years, nor is there evidence establishing a direct relationship at that time between the Board's and City's activities. In short, the record suggests that the Board's school construction decisions prior to the mid-1960's were neither intentionally segregative viewing them in isolation, nor a deliberate incorporation or enhancement of publicly or privately created residential segregation in the city.
As a result of the district's construction of new school facilities, the attendance zone boundaries for existing schools began to shrink. On the elememtary school level, attendance zones for Northeast and Central East Yonkers elementary schools became smaller as five new elementary schools were opened. The 1963 opening of Emerson Elementary School caused a similar contraction of the neighboring School 16 zone. On the middle school level, this phenomenon did not arise until the 1960's, when the opening of Emerson and Burroughs Junior High Schools in 1963 and 1969, respectively, resulted in the contraction of the disproportionately minority Gorton and Longfellow zones as well as smaller reductions of the Franklin, Lincoln and Whitman zones. The 1957 opening of Lincoln High School halved the attendance zone for the disproportionately minority Yonkers High School in Southwest Yonkers, which rose from an estimated 14% to an estimated 22% minority enrollment.
The effects of this gradual contraction of school zones was accompanied by the first signs of community isolationism or separation with respect to the public schools. As the Northeast Yonkers community population expanded in the 1950's, residents bordering on the relatively well-to-do Scarsdale and Bronxville communities became identified with these non-Yonkers communities, while the Southwest Yonkers minority population slowly but steadily began to grow. The "sectional preoccupation" with respect to schools, recognized in a 1957 New York State Education Department survey of the Yonkers school system, GX 40, at 23, was consistent with community opposition to the development of subsidized housing in the East Yonkers area. See HOUSING III.E supra.
The period between 1950 and 1965 was also marked by a number of physical additions to existing school facilities. GX 644. On the elementary school level, the most significant of these additions, most of which were made to provide additional classroom space, were expansions of Schools 13 and 27 in Southwest Yonkers, and Schools 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32 in Northeast and Central East Yonkers. School 13, originally a twelve-classroom facility, added eleven classrooms in 1967 and an additional ten rooms in 1969, at a time when its minority enrollment was 5%. In 1960, School 27, at the time an approximately 2% minority school, added fifteen classrooms to its previous four-room capacity. GX 56. Additions to East Yonkers schools occurred primarily between 1955 and 1965, a pattern consistent with the population influx of those years. SB 849. On the secondary school level, the most significant additions were an expansion of Hawthorne Middle School, which encompassed the School 13 and 27 attendance zones, and Roosevelt High School, which included the School 29, 31 and 32 zones and part of the School 30 zone.
Since the mid-1960's up to the filing of this action, the district has constructed, or otherwise opened in existing facilities, six schools: School 10 and King Elementary Schools, Burroughs, Commerce and the new Twain Junior High Schools, and the new Yonkers High School. The district has also closed nine schools: six elementary schools (3,4,7,12,15,24), two middle schools (Burroughs, Commerce), and one vocational high school (Commerce). (This excludes the closing of four school facilities -- Franklin and Gorton Junior High Schools, Yonkers High School, and Saunders Trades and Tecnhical High School -- and relocation of their student bodies to other facilities bearing the same or new name.)
We note at the outset that since 1970, the Board's school openings and closings have been primarily segregative in effect. The district's two newest elementary schools both opened as racially identifiable, predominantly minority facilities -- School 10 (73%) and King (57%). The two newest secondary schools also opened as predominantly or disproportionately minority schools -- Commerce Middle School (53%) and the new Yonkers High School (34% in 1973 (versus 16% districtwide high school average), increasing to 57% by 1975). Of the nine schools closed since 1970, three of them were among the district's most racially balanced schools --the High School of Commerce (19%), School 24 (19%), and Burroughs Middle School (19%).
Two closings -- Schools 4 and 15 --simply resulted in the transfer of virtually all-white student bodies to virtually all-white schools. Only the School 12 and Commerce Middle School closings constituted attempts to eliminate heavily racially isolated minority schools, and only the Commerce closing resulted in significantly desegregative student reassignments to predominantly white schools.
The Board has redrawn attendance zone boundaries many times during the course of the past fifty years. These changes, which have generally been formulated initially by the district's administrative staff and then approved by the Board, have been implemented for a wide variety of reasons. Several of these changes have had little or no racial implications either in their effect of their intent and thus will not be discussed further in our findings. Others have been made as part of more significant school reorganization decisions, such as school openings or closings. Only in a few instances has a series of attendance zone changes occurred which were unrelated to any school opening or closing decision -- changes involving Schools 16 and 25 in Northwest Yonkers, and changes, involving Schools 6, 9 and 12 in Southwest Yonkers. Nevertheless, in order to properly evaluate the school opening, closing and related attendance zone changes which have occurred, some introductory remarks are in order.
Both plaintiffs and the Board have submitted maps reflecting attendance zone boundaries for Yonkers public schools. GX 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31,33,35,37; SB 626-628. These maps reflect attendance zones for the elementary and middle school levels since 1938, and high school attendance zones since 1954, the years in which these attendance zones were formally established.
Attendance zone boundaries were first established prior to the presence of significant numbers of minorities in Yonkers. As the minority population of Southwest Yonkers and the white population of East Yonkers have grown, attendance zones have been altered to reflect these demographic changes. In general, students are assigned to the school in the geographic attendance zone or district in which they live. This "neighborhood school policy" applies for elementary, middle and academic high school students; it has not and does not apply for the district's vocational-technical schools, which have enrolled students from throughout the city and have had no attendance zone boundaries. Although adherence to this policy has generally been consistent on the elementary school level, with minor variations between contiguous school zones in the same geographic quadrant of Yonkers, the testimony of Board members and other school officials reflects that the neighborhood school assignment policy is considerably more flexible on the middle school and high school level. Fareri Dep. 208; Hicks Dep. 195-97; Lester Dep. 79; Weiner Dep. 144, 282; Tr. 11,582 (Guerney).
Since the 1930's, the Yonkers School District has not generally provided subsidized transportation for students between home and school. The district does provide such transportation, in the form of contracted van or bus service or public transportation subsidies, for Special Education students (for whom transportation must be provided under state law; see N.Y. Educ. Law § 2554(18) (McKinney 1981))
and for students attending special enrichment programs at schools outside their home attendance zone. GX 877. In addition, a number of students travel to school by using either public bus transportation or by obtaining privately-contracted bus transportation services. Most of these students are of either junior high or senior high school age: students attending Twain, Whitman and Emerson Middle Schools and all of the city's high schools have at various times used bus transportation to attend school. Similar transportation exists at the elementary school level for a small number of the district's twenty-five elementary schools; specifically, Schools 26, 31 and 32 in Northeast Yonkers, and School 22 in Northwest Yonkers. Gold-Marks Dep. 18; Tr. 5330-31 (Frauenfelder); Tr. 11,241 (Guerney). Prior to the filing of this lawsuit, the Yonkers PTA was responsible for obtaining and coordinating the use of privately-contracted bus transportation. Tr. 5328-29 (Frauenfelder).
There are several exceptions to the district's general attendance zone student assignment policy. First, Special Education students have, to varying degrees throughout the school district's history, been assigned to schools outside the district in which these students reside. See SCHOOLS IV.D infra. Second, the Board at various times has created options for students to attend a choice of particular schools. The most notable options have been (1) an option created in 1978 for former Burroughs Middle School students living in the old School 24 zone to attend either Whitman or Emerson Middle School; see SCHOOLS IV.F.3 infra ; (2) a policy allowing Japanese-American students living in the School 25 zone to attend School 16; see SCHOOLS IV.A.4.a infra ; and (3) a policy of allowing students to attend School 10 out-of-district and allowing students living in the School 10 zone to attend School 19; Tr. 13,013-14 (Dodson); Frank Dep. 279-80.
Third, students may apply on an individual basis for an out-of-district transfer from their assigned school zone to a school in another area of the district. Since 1971, the district has employed written guidelines which school officials use to determine whether such transfers should be granted. Transfer requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and are generally granted for educational, psychological, physical or medical reasons, or based on "extenuating circumstances." In addition, transfers are routinely granted to any student who moves out of a school attendance zone prior to the student's last year in the school; thus, sixth, ninth and twelfth graders are permitted to stay in the school of their former residence for their last year in the school.
The out-of-district transfer process is flexible enough to allow for transfers not falling within any particular category, and has in one of two instances either been applied in a manner which would appear to exceed even the broad categories noted above, or has simply been circumvented. Batista Dep. 61-62 (transfer of Councilmember's child from Gorton to Roosevelt); Hicks Dep. 20-27 (transfer of black Board member's child from predominatly minority school to integrated, educationally superior school). On the record before us, however, these instances appear to constitute segregative aberrations rather than indicia of any consistent or well-established pattern of improper, racially segregative student transfers. Cf. Arthur v. Nyquist, supra, 415 F. Supp. at 936-39 (transfer policy allowed 2,000-4,000 white students to attend out-of-district schools, many involving transfers from predominantly black to predominantly white schools); Berry v. Benton Harbor, supra, 442 F. Supp. at 1312-13.
The Board's effort to demonstrate the absence of a pattern of segregative school openings, closings and attendance zone boundary changes consisted of the testimony and mathematical analysis of Dr. David Armor. Dr. Armor, a sociologist with expertise in statistical analysis, prepared a change-by-change analysis of each school boundary change beginning in 1951 for elementary schools, 1953 for middle schools, and 1957 for high schools. See SB 810.6-810.8.
For years prior to 1967-68, the school year in which school enrollment data by race first became available, Dr. Armor essentially reconstructed school racial enrollments by analyzing census tract data at the census block level.
Using this data, he estimated the school age population within particular census blocks and then aggregated the number of school-age whites and minorities living in the census blocks comprising particular attendance zones. For these years, Dr. Armor analyzed the numerical and racial impact of school boundary changes by comparing the estimated racial enrollments of the affected schools the year before the change with the anticipated enrollment after the change, a number derived by adding or subtracting the estimated number of students who were rezoned.
For years beginning with 1967-68, Dr. Armor analyzed the boundary changes in two ways: first, by comparing the actual racial enrollment data of the affected schools in the year before the change with the expected school enrollment after the change, a number derived by adding or subtracting the estimated number of students rezoned. Dr. Armor also analyzed those post-1967 changes by comparing pre-change actual school enrollment to the actual school enrollment in the year subsequent to the change. The difference between the post-change expected enrollment and post-change actual enrollment consists of demographic changes occurring during the year of the boundary change, i.e., shifts in the affected school zone's school age population, and differing birth rates among incoming and graduating classes at a particular school.
Dr. Armor analyzed the segregative or desegregative effect of school attendance zone boundary changes by using two mathematical indices. One, the dissimilarity ("D") index, measured the extent to which the affected schools in any given boundary change were rendered either more or less racially imbalanced relative to each other. The second, the exposure ("E") index, measured the extent to which the students attending the schools affected by a particular boundary change experienced more or less interracial contact, that is, exposure to members of another race, as a result of the change. While the manner in which these indices were actually calculated is somewhat more intricate than our brief description suggests, the basic concept can be illustrated by an example.
Assume for simplicity a school district with two elementary schools, School A, a 0% minority school with 100 students, and School B, a 50% minority school with fifty whites and fifty minorities. If the attendance zone boundary between these two schools were redrawn in such a manner that ten white students from School A were rezoned into School B's attendance zone, while ten minority students from School B were rezoned into School A's attendance zone, thus resulting in School A having 10% minorities and School B having 40% minorities, this boundary change would be desegregative under Dr. Armor's analysis: The D index would decrease, i.e., show a desegregative effect, since Schools A and B would now be more racially balanced relative to each other (10% and 40% minority) than they were before the change (0% and 50% minority); the E index would also decrease since the minorities originally in School B would now be in contact with a greater number of the available white students attending the schools in question.
Using the D and E indices, Dr. Armor concluded that of the thirty elementary school boundary changes, four were significantly
segregative, ten were significantly desegregative, and fifteen had no significant effect one way or the other (the opening of School 10 in 1972 was found to have had a mixed effect according to the D index: the expected change was segregative, but the actual effect was desegregative). On the secondary school level, Dr. Armor concluded that of the nineteen middle school boundary changes, three were significantly segregative, four were significantly desegregative, and eleven had no significant effect in either direction (the opening of Commerce Middle School in 1973 was found to have had a mixed effect similar to the School 10 opening). As for the five high school boundary changes, Dr. Armor's analysis found that one was significantly segregative and four had no significant effect.
The difficulty which we have with Dr. Armor's analysis is not that it tells us too much, but that it fails to take into account a number of considerations which we consider relevant, indeed critical, to our analysis of both segregative effect and intent. The analysis, by limiting its scope to the specific schools directly involved in a particular boundary change, fails to consider the impact of particular changes on neighboring schools or on the districtwide racial balance. Whether or not the Board had any obligation to make boundary changes in a manner which increased districtwide racial balance, it is inaccurate and misleading to view boundary changes in isolation without consideration of the historical events preceding and reasons prompting a particular change; see SCHOOLS IV.A.3.a infra (School 1); the feasibility and relative desegrative effect of alternatives to the boundary changes actually made;
see SCHOOLS IV.F.2 infra (Commerce); SCHOOLS IV.A.3.c infra (Longfellow); the community's and school officials' perception of a particular change which, though mathematically desegregative with respect to the particular schools involved, further delineates a particular school, neighborhood or area of the city as identifiably white or minority; see SCHOOLS IV.A.2.b infra (School 10); SCHOOLS VI.F.2 infra (Commerce); and the effect of these perceptions on subsequent demographic patterns affecting both housing choices and school attendance decisions. The ability of a school board to both foresee and affirmatively alter the development of school racial enrollment patterns beyond the limited scope of any particular change renders a purely intraschool analysis of racial imbalance a somewhat unrealistic appraisal of the actual effects of boundary changes on the racial balance and identifiability of schools both directly and indirectly affected by a boundary change. A more searching inquiry into the Board's attendance zone changes is thus necessary in order to evaluate plaintiffs' claim that such changes were intentionally segregative.
We now turn to an analysis of specific school openings, closings and boundary changes in order to determine whether these actions may be characterized in whole or in part as intentionally segregative acts which furthered the segregation and racial identifiability of the Yonkers public schools.
As we have already noted, the district has opened six schools over the fifteen years preceding the filing of this action. Three of these school openings and related attendance zone changes, involving two elementary schools (School 10 and King) and one middle school (Commerce) merit further discussion, for plaintiffs claim that these openings and related attendance zone changes represent intentionally segregative decisions by the Board and, with respect to School 10, the City, which further identified Southwest Yonkers schools as predominantly minority facilities.
a. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School
King Elementary School is a virtually all-black school located several blocks north of Getty Square in Southwest Yonkers. Although King has operated as a virtually all-black school throughout the mid to late 1970's, the opening of King was designed as one of the first intentionally integrative efforts of the Yonkers School District. Several factors are relevant in examining the reasons for the Board's unsuccessful efforts to effectuate school desegregation at King and its surrounding schools: the circumstances underlying the planning and construction of an additional school in the Southwest Yonkers area, the site selected for the school, the circumstances surrounding the naming of the school, the drawing and re-drawing of King's attendance zone boundaries, alterations in the school's grade organization, and the interrelationship of these events with the conditions in surrounding elementary schools.
The construction of King was originally based on the need to accommodate the increasing student enrollment at Schools 6 (78% minority in 1967-68) and School 12 (64% minority in 1967-68), two of the district's most racially imbalanced and overcrowded elementary schools. In order to properly understand the reasons for the segregated nature of Schools 6 and 12 and the need for an additional school in that area of the city, some background is in order.
The racial identifiability of School 6 has existed for virtually as long as the district's elementary school boundaries have been in existence. School 6 is located in an area of historically heavy minority concentration in Southwest Yonkers; its attendance zone embraces the Cottage Place Gardens housing project, whose estimated minority student population during the 1950's and 1960's was equal to or greater than School 6's minority enrollment. Tr. 11,883-84, 11,890 (Armor). By 1953, School 6 had an estimated minority enrollment of 29%, the second highest minority enrollment in the district. School 25, located directly north of School 6 along Warburton Avenue, was a comparatively whiter school, with an estimated 4% minority enrollment in 1953.
In 1948 and 1953, two changes were made to the attendance zone boundary between these two schools. In each instance, areas which had a lesser percentage of minority students than the School 6 zone as a whole were rezoned from School 6 to School 25. Although student enrollment data is not available for the 1948 change, School 6 had greater classroom capacity at the time. GX 644. By 1953, each school had added additional classroom space; prior to the 1953 boundary change, School 6, with eighteen classrooms, had an estimated 477 students, and School 25, with fifteen classrooms, had an estimated 409 students, and was thus at least equal to School 6 in its percentage capacity enrollment.
The first boundary change was prompted by the district's previous exclusion of the children of two black families living near the School 6/25 border, at the same time that whites living in the School 6 zone, further south from School 25 than these black families, were permitted to attend School 25. Tr. 459-63, 502-12 (Smith). In response to complaints from black parents regarding the above student assignments, the district redrew the attendance zone boundary line dividing Schools 6 and 25 so as to include both white students previously attending School 25 out-of-district as well as the two black families noted above.
The segregative effect of the 1953 boundary changes to School 6's attendance zone was also relatively limited. School 6's northern boundary was contracted southward, resulting in the reassignment of an estimated twenty-seven white and five minority students (16% minority) to School 25. At the same time, School 6's eastern boundary was extended to include an estimated twenty-two white and eight minority students (27% minority) from School 12. These two changes caused School 12 to decline, in slightly desegregative fashion, from 17% to 16% minority, while School 6's minority enrollment rose slightly from 29% to 30% minority. Thus, while the 1948 boundary change between Schools 6 and 25 may be fairly characterized as emanting from an attempt to temporarily maintain School 25 as a virtually all-white school, the numerical effect of these boundary changes suggests that they did relatively little to further establish either School 6 or School 25 as racially identifiable elementary schools.
From 1953 to 1969, School 6's attendance zone boundary lines remained unchanged, but the school became increasingly imbalanced in its racial enrollment. From an estimated 30% minority in 1953, the school increased to 45% minority by 1961 and 78% by 1967. White student enrollment declined from 332 (estimated) to 126 students during this fourteen-year interval, while minority enrollment at the school increased from 143 (estimated) to 225 in 1961, then more than doubled over the next six years to 453 in 1967. By the mid to late 1960's, the rapidly increasing minority enrollment led to severe overcrowding at the school.
The attendance zone boundaries between Schools 9 and 12 also were altered a number of times during the 1960's. The attendance zone for School 9, located on Fairview Street in Central West Yonkers, is located just north of the zone for School 12, a substantially more minority-populated area which encompassed the Mulford Gardens and Schlobohm subsidized housing projects. Since 1938, the boundary line separating these two schools had been located along Loehr Place, thus dividing students from Mulford Gardens between the two schools. In 1963, the district redrew the boundary between Schools 9 (15% minority) and 12 (42% minority) in a northern direction. As a result, former School 9 students living in Mulford Gardens, an estimated 28% of whom were minorities, were reassigned to School 12. Although the percentage of white students involved in the change had a slightly desegregative effect on racially identifiable School 12 (at the time the second highest percentage minority elementary school in the district), the change also resulted in the reassignment of approximately 40% of School 9's minority student population to a significantly more racially imbalanced school. To the extent that school capacities may have been a relevant factor, the available evidence suggests that such a boundary change was inadvisable. School 9, with a capacity of approximately 560 (Phase II) to 605 (NYU Report) students, had 430 students prior to the change; the receiving School 12, with capacity for approximately 476 (Phase II) to 520 (NYU Report) students, had 458 students, or almost full capacity, prior to the change.
In 1966, an estimated seventy-eight sixth grade students from School 6 (78% minority) were reassigned to School 9 (14% minority). This change was prompted by the increasingly severe overcrowding at School 6, a condition which necessitated not only the aforementioned reassignment but also the construction of additional classroom space in School 6. As a result of this reassignment of sixth grade students, School 9's minority enrollment (in absolute numbers) nearly doubled.
The overcrowding at Schools 6 and 12 led to a revision in the district's schools construction plans. In 1965, the City Council adopted a school capital improvement program which provided for the construction of an elementary school on the Brandt Farm site in North Central Yonkers. Soon thereafter, however, school officials recognized that the rapidly increasing enrollments in Southwest Yonkers elementary schools and the overcrowding at Schools 6 and 12 necessitated the construction of an additional school in the Southwest Yonkers area. In April 1966, the Board changed the location of the school district's new elementary school to the Pitkin Park area on Locust Hill Avenue, virtually around the corner from School 6 and approximately four blocks from School 12. In doing so, the Board also decided to establish the new school as the school district's first intermediate (grades 4-6) school, relieving Schools 6 and 12 of their fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. GX 434.
The site selected for the district's new school made racial integration a somewhat less than likely prospect. The site selected for the school was a heavily minority-populated area of Southwest Yonkers, approximately four blocks north of Getty Square, the downtown area of the city. In 1964 or 1965, Eugene Radko, then principal of School 6 and King's first principal, suggested to Superintendent Stanley Wynstra that the school be built at a location approximately one-quarter to one-third of a mile north of the Pitkin Park area. Tr. 4453-55 (Radko). Although the site suggested by Radko was located in the attendance zone for School 9, an approximately 17% minority (1967-68) school, Radko's suggestion was not based on racial considerations but on the greater school-age population density in that more northern area. Tr. 4455.
This suggestion was not pursued further by Radko or Superintendent Wynstra, and the school was constructed at the Locust Hill Avenue site, located between Schools 6 and 12.
Although the school was located in a predominately minority area of the city, the record suggests that this was done to relieve neighboring school facilities of their steadily increasing enrollments, and not as a deliberately segregative decision to isolate or identify King as a minority school. To the contrary, in 1968, the Board decided to add the fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from School 9 to the King feeder pattern, thus adding an integrative component to the already unique intermediate grade structure of the school.
The drawing of the original boundary lines for the King school was an issue of considerable dispute at trial. According to the proffered testimony of Rabbi Abraham Klausner, a leader of the Clergy of Yonkers' Education Committee who lived in the School 16 area, the Board originally planned to draw the King attendance zone so as to include a virtually all-white three-block area of the School 16 (0% minority in 1967-68) zone which, several years earlier, had been rezoned from the School 25 (41% minority in 1967-68) zone. See SCHOOLS IV.A.4.a infra. According to Klausner, the plan to include this so-called "dogleg" area of the School 16 zone in the King feeder pattern (by including it in School 9's attendance zone) was strongly opposed by residents of the School 16 area, who did not want to be reassigned from highly regarded (and identifiably white) School 16 to King, a school which was already being perceived by community members as an educationally inferior minority school. As a result, the Board allegedly reconsidered its more expansive King attendance zone proposal and excluded the northern portion of the School 16 dogleg area. Tr. 4526-32 (Klausner proffer). The attendance zone map below depicts the portions of the School 16 attendance zone to which the above discussion refers.
The record, however, weighs against a finding that such segregative conduct occurred. No evidence exists of the Board's consideration of such a plan; Board member Robert Jacobson was unaware of any such proposal being suggested by the administration or considered by the Board. Tr. 10,932-37. It is thus unclear whether the proposed northern boundary adverted to by Klausner was anything more than community hearsay or a preemptive response to an anticipated but yet-to-be introduced attendance zone proposal. In any event, objective evidence weighs against the feasibility of such a proposal: in 1969 King enrolled 701 students, or 93% capacity, and by the following year, was at 102% capacity. In addition, in 1970, after community members urged the school administration to consider including a portion of the School 16 dogleg area in the School 9 zone, the district in fact reassigned students from this area to School 9, which in turn fed into King and thereby raised King's white enrollment from 43% to 51%. The rezoned area included the area surrounding North Broadway and High Street, the same area which residents of the School 9 community had urged school officials to include in the King feeder zone. See Tr. 4480-81 (Radko). This action was taken and adhered to despite the administration's acknowledgement of the "potential explosiveness" of the King situation, GX 460, and despite the fact that including more white students in the School 9 zone left King at more than full capacity. It also was consistent with other evidence of the Board's contemporaneous interest in effectuating school desegregation in other areas of Southwest Yonkers. C-352; SCHOOLS IV.A.2.b infra. Thus, while there is evidence suggesting that School 16 community members had voiced opposition to the possibility, never implemented, of an even greater inclusion of School 16 students into the King feeder pattern, it is simply not reasonable to conclude that the original drawing and subsequent expansion of the King attendance zone was, in light of the aforementioned circumstances, segregative conduct by the Board.
Controversy surrounded the naming of the school as well. The school was originally referred to as School 33, in keeping with the district's historic practice of naming elementary schools by number. In February 1969, the Yonkers NAACP submitted a proposal to the Board that the school be named after the recently slain Martin Luther King, Jr. GX 441. School officials were originally reluctant to adopt this proposal for fear of identifying the school as a minority school and because of a disinclination to depart from the consistent practice of naming elementary schools by number. Tr. 4541 (Radko); Tr. 5048-49 (Jacobson). However, the district's alternate proposal to name a section of the school's library after Dr. King was strongly denounced by members of the black community, with Yonkers NAACP President Reverend Serenus Churn reportedly describing the proposal as an example of "latent racism in the Board of Education." GX 442, 443, 445. The Board reconsidered and voted to name the school after Dr. King, thus creating the first non-numbered elementary school in the district. GX 444. The Board's reversal on this issue was supported and applauded by community members. GX 446.
Regardless of the subsequent racial segregation which occurred at King, the record establishes that the Board planned the opening of King with the hope that the school would serve as a significant step towards correcting racial imbalance in the Southwest Yonkers public schools. Testimony of school officials and various written communications with state education officials all reveal the integrative intent of the Board and administration in the opening of King. Tr. 4063, 4089 (Sobel); Tr. 5052 (Jacobson); Tr. 5203-04 (Morris) (re Superintendent Paul Mitchell); GX 452, 915. Whether this intent was predicated on an overly optimistic assumption about the ability to attract and maintain white students at the school, the record does not reveal an optimism so unrealistic so as to be regarded as insincere or pretextual. At the time of King's opening, nearly all the students who were reassigned to the school were introduced to a school environment significantly more racially integrated than those of the schools they previously attended.
After the opening of King in 1969, however, the efforts to establish King as a racially balanced intermediate school began to disintegrate. The actual opening of the school itself detracted from the integrated image which the Board had sought to create. The school opened in April 1969 with students coming from predominantly minority Schools 6 and 12; School 9 students did not attend King until the following school year. Tr. 4466 (Radko). The addition of three black teachers to King's faculty raised the minority faculty percentage to more than two-and-a-half times the districtwide average. In May 1970 (one month prior to the end of the school year), Eugene Radko was reassigned to predominatly white School 9 (and eventually to School 11) and was replaced as principal by Nellie Rice, who is black. This reassignment, while motivated in part by Radko's outspoken behavior concerning the setting of the northern boundary of the King feeder zone, Tr. 4492-93, 4498-99 (Radko), was also prompted by philosophical disagreements between Radko and the central administrative staff over decentralization in school management, and by Rice's excellent reputation as principal for School 9. Tr. 4540 (Radko); Schainker Dep. 111.
The following year, the Board extended the School 9 zone westward in the manner described previously, decreasing King's minority enrollment from 57% to 49%. The protests of School 9 parents did not subside. In December 1970, a petition signed by 434 parents was submitted to school officials in which parents expressed concern over King's academic and discipline problems and urged the Board to restore the School 9 and 16 attendance zones to their pre-existing status. GX 453. The Board, however, did not alter the School 9 attendance zone boundary during that or the following (1971-72) year. Shortly thereafter, white students from the School 9 area began to withdraw from the King feeder pattern, apparently either relocating or enrolling in private schools in the area: the number of white students at King dropped from 392 in 1970-71, to 224 in 1971-72, a 43% decline. (The grade 4-6 white student enrollment at the four non-public schools in the King feeder zone (Sacred Heart, St. Michael's, Halsted, and St. Joseph's) declined only 7% (583 to 542 students) during this same interval. SB 98). As the total enrollment at King declined from 767 students in 1970 to 746 students in 1971 and 652 students in 1972, the minority enrollment rose from 49% to 70% to 78%.
The first of two segregative attendance zone changes occurred in 1972, when School 9 was eliminated as a King feeder school. As a result, School 9 third graders continued to attend School 9 the following year. Of the approximately fifty-three or fifty-four students involved, thirty-two were white and the remainder minority. One year later, the racial identifiability of King increased when the district rescinded its plan to operate King as a grade 4-6 intermediate school and converted it to a K-5 elementary school. As a result of these two changes, King's minority enrollment increased from 70% to 87%.
The decision to remove School 9's fourth graders from the King feeder zone is traceable to the timetable set forth in the district's 1973 Reorganization Plan, in which Superintendent Alioto recommended that the district's schools be organized on a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 basis. Since under the plan School 9 was scheduled to reacquire fourth and fifth grade students in 1973-74 pursuant to its conversion to a K-5 elementary school, there was apparently little reason to assign School 9 fourth graders to King in 1972 only to have them reassigned back to School 9 the following year. Although the School 9 change was made months before the introduction of the 1973 Reorganization Plan, Alioto had previously expressed his interest, as early as 1971, in converting the district's grade structure to a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 pattern as soon as possible. Tr. 10,937-38 (Jacobson); Tr. 13,054-55 (Pitruzzello). Yet, other than the conversion of School 11 and Twain Middle School into K-5 and 6-8 schools, respectively, King was the only school to be reorganized in this manner prior to implementation of the 1973 reorganization plan. Unlike School 9, Schools 6 and 12, both predominately minority schools, continued to feed students into King in 1972-73.
Several factors, however, render a finding of segregative intent in these circumstances unwarranted. Numerical evidence suggests that such intent was not present: the fourth grade School 9 students were 41% minority, as compared with 70% King; the withdrawal of the School 9 fourth graders increased the percentage minority enrollment at King by approximately 3%, and increase which, as noted above, would have occurred in any event one year later. In addition, this reassignment, even though segregative, does not explain the district's simultaneous decision to retain fifth and sixth grades from the School 9 zone at King during the 1972-73 year, even though School 9 had well over 100 students under its recommended operating capacity and thus could have accommodated such a reassignment. In addition, documentary evidence concerning conditions at King in March 1972 suggests that the retention of incoming School 9 fourth grade students the following term was based on anticipated limits on King's enrollment capacity, projected increases in fourth grade enrollments, and class size. GX 455. Such a finding would also be inconsistent with both the district's refusal to comply with the community's earlier demands to restore the School 9 and 16 boundaries to their pre-King status, as well as the district's express rejection in 1974 of a Councilman's request that school officials rezone the dogleg area of School 9 into the virtually all-white School 16 zone in which this area had previously been included, a proposal which was rejected specifically because it would have decreased the white student population at 28% minority School 9. SB 214; Tr. 13,436 (Frank).
The 1973 Reorganization Plan's conversion of King from an intermediate to an elementary school completed the transformation of King from an integrated intermediate school to another of the many identifiably minority elementary schools in Southwest Yonkers. The conversion of King from a 4-6 to a K-5 school in 1973 was segregative both as to King and as to several surrounding schools as well. King's new attendance zone was created from sections of the School 6 (97% minority) and School 12 (86% minority) zones; the newly organized King elememtary school opened as an 87% minority school. Although the change had a desegregative effect on School 9 (18% to 31% minority), it simultaneously increased the already-heavily minority enrollment percentages at three neighboring schools (6, 12, 25). This change was accompanied by a similar rise in minority faculty at the school, which by 1973 had a 42% minority staff. Both student and staff minority percentages increased throughout the 1970's, reaching levels of 98% and 37% (after a high of 53% in 1975-76), respectively, in 1980. This increase in King's minority enrollment was due primarily to the 1976 school closings, see SCHOOLS IV.A.3.b infra, and the conversion of the district's elementary schools from K-5 to K-6 facilities in 1980.
Despite the foreseeably segregative consequences of King's conversion, however, the evidence regarding the district's conversion of King to an additional K-5 elementary school does not support an inference of segregative intent. The elementary school grade reorganization recommended in Superintendent Alioto's 1973 Reorganization Plan was not a significant source of controversy, much less racial opposition, at the time and was in and of itself a rational educational objective which was supported by school officials and community members as well. Although the conversion of King to a K-5 elementary school was contrary to the Board's earlier desire to utilize King as a desegregative catalyst in an increasingly minority area of Southwest Yonkers, the history of King clearly demonstrates the interrelationship between the 4-6 grade configuration and the district's attempt to promote racial integration in the area to the extent possible. By 1973, King, a 78% minority school with a steadily declining white enrollment, was realistically well past the point at which meaningful integration could be successfully achieved, absent measures far beyond any of the changes previously considered by the district. Although the Board failed to persist in its prior efforts to create an integrated school in the area, the major factors underlying the increased minority identifiability of King -- the site selection, the naming of the school, and the white flight caused primarily by the district's intransigence with respect to the demands of the School 9 community for a segregative reassignment of its students -- cannot reasonably be construed as evidence of segregative intent by the Board. In light of the previous integrative efforts at King and the other aforementioned circumstances inconsistent with inferences of segregative intent, we are unable to conclude that the 1973 conversion of King into a K-5 elementary school was part of a consistent pattern of segregative acts by the Board from which a finding of segregative intent may properly be made.
School 10, an elementary school, is located between the Riverview I and II subsidized housing projects on Riverdale and Hawthorne Avenues in Southwest Yonkers, between Getty Square and the Hudson River. The idea for the construction of School 10 originated from the Board's desire to replace the physically inadequate School 19, located three to four blocks south of School 10. P-I 51-34, at 11. This plan was part of a more comprehensive proposal to construct a new intermediate (grades 4-6) school in the southern part of the School 3 zone, drawing students from School 3 (34% minority in 1967), 19 (68% minority) and 27 (5% minority) and thus improving the racial balance of schools in the Southwest Yonkers area. During the late 1960's, the Board received $125,000 in capital improvement funds for the planning of this intermediate school. P-I 51-48, 51-49, 51-55, 51-58.
The Board originally considered locating the new School 10 in the city's second urban renewal area, several blocks south of its present location, in order to relieve Schools 3 and 19 of their overcrowded conditions. Tr. 9335-36, 9406 (Curran). In the spring of 1967, Walter Webdale, Director of the Yonkers Urban Renewal Agency ("YURA"), met with Superintendent Wynstra and Deputy Superintendent Irving Goldberg and asked them to consider locating the school in the Riverview urban renewal area to the north, where the City was planning to construct several hundred units of subsidized housing. GX 284, 285; Webdale Dep. 201. The inclusion of the school in the City's urban renewal project was to serve as the City's statutory non-cash contribution for the Riverview urban renewal project, thus enabling the City to receive credit from the federal government towards its share of urban renewal expenditures and allowing the Board to construct a new school without a reduction in its capital improvement budget. In July 1967, the Board, in accordance with Webdale's proposal, passed a resolution requesting the City to provide a five acre site in the Riverview urban renewal area for the construction of a replacement school for School 19. GX 302. The five acre site size was in conformity with New York State Education Department standards and was communicated by Superintendent Wynstra to Webdale. GX 285; Tr. 4977 (Jacobson). The City Council also approved the proposal. C-711.
The construction of School 10 was designed as part of a self-contained neighborhood concept for the Riverview urban renewal area. With the City having made the decision (over the objections of Planning Director Philip Pistone) to make residential re-use of the City's second urban renewal area, the City began planning the construction of its new housing development. According to a March 1968 letter written by Webdale to HUD Assistant Regional Administrator for Urban Renewal Charles Horan, the school was to serve 400 families from the Riverview housing project, 540 families from Phillipse Towers (the predominately white Mitchell-Lama middle income housing project located directly across from Riverview), and 100 families from a small area to the west of Riverview. GX 270. One year earlier, Phillipse Towers residents had expressed to state officials their dissatisfaction with the deterioration in the neighborhood and with School 19, a school they described as "overcrowded, overburdened and dilapidated," and noted their impatience with the progress of the City's urban renewal program. GX 315. City and HUD officials hoped, however, that the construction of new housing and school facilities would result in the stabilization and rejuvenation of the then-deteriorated neighborhood. Tr. 1353-55 (Del Bello); Tr. 2267-68 (Yulish). The City hired architects to assist them in the design of the Riverview project, a design which had been developed elsewhere in the northeast area of the country. Tr. 1354-55 (Del Bello).
By 1968, YURA, led by Walter Webdale, became increasingly involved in the planning and construction of School 10. In his letter to HUD official Horan, Webdale urged HUD to approve the City's urban renewal funding application for Riverview, stating his belief that a majority of the Riverview residents would be "middle income young families." GX 270. During the remainder of that year, the original conception of the school underwent signifiant change. Communications from Webdale to various City and HUD officials, written between March and December of 1968, reflect that School 10 was now being planned as an additional K-3 primary school which would relieve School 19 of its overcrowding, and that School 19 would continue to enroll students from the area. GX 270, 288, 313, 314. The school's site was now specified as one acre for the school itself, with additional space for parking and outdoor recreational facilites. GX 286, 313. By the fall of 1968, Webdale began to press school officials to begin construction of the school by the following year in order to demonstrate to HUD officials the City's commitment to the urban renewal project. GX 286, 287, 314; Webdale Dep. 206-08.
In February 1969, the Board submitted preliminary site plans to Webdale. According to subsequent correspondence between City and school officials, these plans reflected the Board's understanding that the school would be located between Riverdale and Hawthorne Avenues, with a play area and fountains located between the school and Riverdale Avenue. GX 297, 300, 301. By January 1970, the Board's architect had finished the site plans for the school. These plans continued to provide for a school site, located between the two avenues, with a play area, trees, shrubs and fountains in front of the school but no other buildings separating the school's play area from Riverdale Avenue. GX 294-296; Tr. 4972, 4989 (Jacobson). At the same time, Webdale assured community members that the Riverview project would include adequate play space for the school. GX 291.
The plans of the Board's architect were consistent with the school district's planned development of the School 10 facility itself. The school was designed as the district's first "open school," a school without walls in which students would be taught in an unstructured and flexible interior environment by teachers with special training in the innovative open education instruction technique. The school's open interior was premised on the general openness of the school's surrounding environment. While the open school concept was an untested concept in the district, school officials were enthusiastic about the school and were optimistic that the attractiveness of the open school concept, along with the juxtaposition of the school to Phillipse Towers and the proposed income quotas for Riverview tenants which were communicated to the Board,
would result in a racially balanced student enrollment at the school. See generally Alioto Dep. 10; Tr. 4776-77 (Jamieson); Tr. 5108 (Jacobson); Tr. 5205-06 (Morris) (re Superintendent Mitchell); Tr. 9836-38 (Minervini); Tr. 11,406-08 (Guerney); Tr. 11,673-74 (Leahy).
By late 1969, Webdale continued to press forward with the City's efforts to commence construction of School 10. With the application for federal funds for the City's Riverview urban renewal project still pending, Webdale asked Superintendent Mitchell to send HUD officials a letter, identical to the one which Webdale had written a year-and-a-half earlier, requesting that HUD approve its federal urban renewal funds grant application. GX 317, 381. In early 1970, Webdale communicated to City Manager Thomas Groux and City Councilmember Jesse Eisen that it was "extremely important" for the City Council to approve funding for the school's construction "at the earliest possible date" and urged the City Council to take steps to secure the abandonment of surrounding streets in the area so that construction could commence by the spring. GX 292, 293.
The remainder of 1970 was occupied by further planning of Riverview and the commencement of construction of School 10. During this period, the City's plans for the Riverview housing project were undergoing significant change. As of February, neither the type of redevelopment or redeveloper for Riverview, nor the income breakdown for the housing units, had been decided, with the UDC mentioned as a possible developer. According to YURA minutes dated February 13, 1970, the stated goals of the urban renewal program continued to be to provide relocation housing for urban renewal displaces and to "encourage an influx of new people into the area who have for years been leaving." GX 334, at 2. These minutes also reflect that the housing contemplated for the school would include 300 to 400 units and that construction of the school would commence in April. Id.
In March, the Board's site plans for School 10 were submitted to the City and YURA. GX 300, 301. By that time, the UDC had been named as developer of Riverview. P-I 150-112, 150-112A.
By April, City officials had tentatively agreed with the UDC to construct four housing projects in Southwest Yonkers for 1,400 units of housing, including 850 units at Riverview, in addition to the contemporaneous development of several privately sponsored housing projects in that area. GX 1088.8. In July, a memorandum of understanding between the City and the UDC providing for 1,200 units of housing, including 800 units at Riverview, was approved by YURA and the City Council. As discussed previously, there was little public discussion or planning board consideration of these plans or the changes which had occurred. See HOUSING IV.C.2, IV.D.5 supra. School officials continued to plan to use School 10 as a means of relieving School 19 of its primary grade students, leading eventually to the closing of School 19 and the construction of a new intermediate school for Schools 3, 19 and 27. P-I 51-64 (June 1970 letter from Assistant Superintendent Gallagher to City Budget Director Casey).
At a January 1971 UDC Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, Riverview's architect discussed problems which had arisen concerning the design of the Riverview complex, particularly with respect to the location of School 10 in the center of the site and the resulting incompatability of the 400 Riverview Stage I housing units and the school's "necessary open space." GX 305. Proposed solutions included the construction of scaled or sloping apartment buildings, the conversion of the school's parking lot into a play area, and the construction of commercial units and a day care center, instead of apartments, on Riverdale Avenue. Id. In a March 1971 meeting, Webdale and City Manager Seymour Scher notified Board member Charles Curran and Acting Superintendent Gallagher of the change in plans for Riverview, including the reduced school site size and the erection of a seven-story apartment building and retail complex in front of the school on Riverdale Avenue. GX 297, 301.
Board members and school officials strongly and unanimously denounced the proposed change in plans; as Board member Jacobson described it, "the Board of Education, everyone, literally exploded." Tr. 4990; see also Tr. 9838 (Minervini). A number of alternative courses of action were considered by the school district. The Board considered taking legal action against the City and the UDC and was advised by outside counsel that the Board would be justified in not accepting the proposed site based on YURA's alleged breach of contract. GX 300, SB 631. Board member Siragusa opposed opening the school in light of the revised plans, while Board member Curran requested that the City acquire the site originally sought by the Board in 1967. Tr. 5419-23, 9406-07. In October 1971,
Superintendent Alioto asked City Manager Scher to "forestall the arbitrary action" of YURA, the effect of which was described by Alioto as "cannabaliz[ing] the school site" and creating an "airshaft" school surrounded by apartment houses and devoid of adequate play space. GX 301; see also GX 303. Scher informed Alioto that the elimination of the planned play area in front of the school was a necessary cost saving measure, and that YURA had developed an alternate plan for the school site which included two play areas -- one in front of the school, and the other in the rear of the school in a space which had originally been slated for parking. Scher suggested that the apartment building along Riverdale Avenue would act as a protective "barrier" between the School 10 students and the street. GX 297.
Superintendent Alioto remained unpersuaded and pursued the Board's protest with City and URA officials. In December, Alioto was informed by Scher that elimination of the proposed forty-one unit low and moderate income apartment building which was to be located in front of the school would be economically infeasible and would "financially prohibit" the entire Riverview Stage I urban renewal project, and would deprive the City of "critically needed" relocation housing. GX 299. Scher assured Alioto that plan revisions could be made to provide for 100 feet of partly covered open space in front of the school and that the proposed placement of the school and housing project "would provide an attractive open area, ... suitably landscaped" and sufficient for recreational purposes. Id.
At a December 1971 meeting of school, City, and UDC officials, Webdale (by that time employed by the UDC) suggested that the commercial units previously planned for the ground floor along Riverdale Avenue would be removed to allow for fifty-five feet of open space along Riverdale Avenue in front of the school, and that additional space along Riverdale Avenue would be provided for in the development of the Riverview Stage II housing project. GX 298. By this time, with construction of School 10 nearing completion, the Board was essentially faced with the choice of rejecting the school site as revised, thereby jeopardizing the City's urban renewal funding and leaving students in the overcrowded and physically inferior School 19 facility, or accepting the partly constructed School 10 facility despite its substantial site limitations and relieving School 19 of its overcrowding. On December 16, Alioto notified Scher that the Board, while remaining "concerned with the intrusion of this structure in front of the school building, yet being aware of their overall civic responsibility and the impact of further delays to the Urban Renewal Development," agreed to the proposed modification of the school site design. GX 306. As a result, construction continued along Riverdale Avenue, with the additional apartment building almost totally obscuring School 10 from view and eliminating the originally planned outdoor play area in front of the school. By April 1972, the Board had approved a proposal by the City's architect to eliminate the fifty-five foot open space in front of School 10 and instead construct a plexiglass enclosure along Riverdale Avenue for use as a recreation area for the school. GX 309, Tr. 4991 (Jacobson) Tr. 5420-23 (Siragusa). As a result, the school was barely visible from the street, with the sign identifying School 10 placed on the back of the school building, facing Hawthorne Avenue.
The effect of these modifications to School 10's site was clearly detrimental. Superintendent Alioto recalled that the erection of the additional housing units in front of the school undermined the school's potential for drawing students to the school. Alioto Dep. 10. Board members Jacobson and Siragusa also described the school site in distinctly negative terms, a perception shared by others in the community. Tr. 4992, 5420-22. A newspaper editorial decried the City's use of the land along Riverdale Avenue for additional apartments and described the result as creating a "new ghetto school." GX 303.
The school building itself, however, was still considered an educationally positive contribution to the school district, affording school officials the opportunity to test the open school education concept in Yonkers. Tr. 5002 (Jacobson); Tr. 9838 (Minervini). As the opening of School 10 approached, school officials eagerly prepared for the opening of the district's first open school: faculty members were given special instruction in the open school teaching method, and School 6 teachers implemented an instructional program for first graders modeled after the open school method. Tr. 4823 (Jamieson); Tr. 11,636-37 (Leahy); GX 476. A number of university and foreign educators visited the school, and the 1972 NYU Report observed that the facility presented the district with "an opportunity to conceive imaginative uses not normally afforded in existing facilities." GX 115, at 264; SB 183; Tr. 11,644-45 (Leahy).
The problems with the school's site size persisted subsequent to its opening in 1972. With the construction of Riverview I and II still ongoing around the school site, School 10 opened as a K-4 school with a 76% minority enrollment, drawing students from the bulk of School 19's former attendance zone. By that time, school officials also notified the URA and UDC that the school would be converted into a K-5 elementary school, a change which was in accordance with Superintendent Alioto's 1973 Reorganization Plan but which intensified the inadequacy of the school's already limited recreational facilities. GX 309; Tr. 11,643, 11,651 (Leahy). School officials had continued difficulty in securing adequate play space for School 10 students, with a conflict arising over the use of paved space in the rear of the school for parking rather than recreation. GX 307, 312, 322; Tr. 11,642 (Leahy). The district's ability to provide adequate play space also was limited by the steeply sloped nature of the space in the rear of the school, an area which Riverview's Program Manager suggested could be "imaginitively designed to provide an interesting play experience." GX 322. The glass-enclosed area along Riverdale Avenue was seldom used for recreational purposes in part because of the ongoing construction in front of the school, a condition which caused considerable inconvenience for School 10 students. Tr. 4784-85 (Jamieson); Tr. 4992, 4999-5000 (Jacobson); Tr. 11,643-44 (Leahy). The difficulties in securing recreational space persisted throughout the 1970's, with the two concrete spaces in front and back of the school continuing to serve as the school's only available outdoor play areas. The inadequacy of School 10's outdoor facilities was compounded by the structural limitations of the school itself, specifically, the building's low ceilings and lack of a gymnasium.
By 1973, a number of community groups and City officials expressed increasing concern over the construction of the additional 339 units of housing contemplated by the Riverview II urban renewal project. In a letter to the Governor of New York, the Yonkers Economic Development Corporation sought to delay construction of Riverview II, with the ultimate goal of adopting an alternative use for the site and relocating the project to a "lower density area in another part of Yonkers." GX 330. The organization specifically expressed its concern over the impact of the additional housing units on population density in the area, in light of both the physical inadequacies of the school site, Riverview's proximity to numerous other subsidized housing projects in the area, and the "[d]ifficulty in renting to maintain fair racial balance." Id. City Councilmembers Goodfriend and Goldman sponsored a resolution requesting a nine month delay in the construction of Riverview II in order to re-evaluate the use of the site and the impact of the additional housing units on School 10's facilities. GX 275. Mayor Del Bello expressed to Webdale, and mayoral candidate Angelo Martinelli was reported to have expressed, similar concern over the Riverview II project's expected impact on population density in the area and the project's physical obstruction of School 10. GX 328, 329.
Construction of Riverview II nevertheless proceeded as previously scheduled. By that time, City officials had expressed their disappointment with the Riverview project and implicitly acknowledged the predominance of housing-related objectives and desires with respect to the project. In a May 1974 letter to UDC Director Webdale requesting alterations in the design of the Riverview parking garage, CDA Acting Director Alphons Yost stated that Yonkers has been most cooperative with you and your organization in the Riverview Development and, in hindsight, some of our compromises may not have been in the best interest of the City. These compromises include the partial blocking of P.S. 10 along Riverdale Avenue, to allow for more units and the deletion of open space for garage use at the corner of Prospect Street and Hawthorne Avenue. Since, these compromises were in your best interest and not the City's, we trust you will give this request your full consideration.
In 1975, the construction of Riverview I and II was completed. The Riverview II building was located closer to Riverview I than had originally been planned in 1971. School 10 was (and is) almost completely obscured from view, with approximately thirty feet of space along Riverdale Avenue separating the Riverview I and II apartment buildings. GX 1005. In 1975, School 10 was 83% minority, the fourth highest minority enrollment in the district, and employed an increasingly disproportionate number of minority staff.
The circumstances surrounding the planning, construction and opening of School 10 had an impact on the district's other Southwest Yonkers elementary schools, particularly School 19. As recently as June 1970, school officials continued to plan towards the eventual closing of School 19 -- a school with no gym, a small play area, and in need of extensive rehabilitation -- and the construction of an intermediate school in the southern part of the urban renewal area to serve Schools 3, 19 and 27. P-I 51-64. By early 1972, plans to build a new intermediate school for the School 3/19/27 area had been abandoned. P-I 51-71. Thereafter, City planning officials suggested that School 19 undergo major rehabilitation rather than closing. GX 311. As a result, $250,000 in capital funds were allocated to the rehabilitation of School 19. P-I 51-87.
School officials, however, adhered to their original desire to close the school. In January 1974, in response to a request by Assistant Superintendent Anton Jungherr for input regarding the planned rehabiliation rehabilitation of School 19, Assistant Director of Elementary Education Joseph Guerney recommended against incurring major expenditures to rehabilitate School 19 without at least implementaing some redistricting of students in the area in order to improve school utilization. Guerney noted that School 10 was 400 to 500 students under full capacity; at that time, School 3 was still overcrowded and School 19 was underutilized. P-I 19-27; GX 64. In February, Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Donald Batista informed Superintendent Alioto of a recommendation, agreed upon by school officials, to close School 19 at the end of the year and transfer its students to School 10, along with a recommended transfer of School 3 students to School 27, and 12% minority school with considerable available space. GX 507. By April, these school officials reiterated their agreement that School 19 should be closed, and school officials began to investigate the cost savings of closing the school. GX 961; P-I 19-30.
The proposed closing of School 19 generated considerable opposition from the School 19 community. School 19 parents were concerned primarily with the perceived inadequacies of School 10, including its lack of adequate recreational space, the larger class sizes which would result at School 10, and a dissatisfaction with the open education program at the school. GX 961; SB 198, 608; Tr. 4768 (Jamieson). In addition, although School 10 was well under full capacity at the time, Board members concluded that the large number of housing units nearing completion at Riverview would lead to increased enrollments at the school, thus inhibiting their ability to close School 19. Tr. 5424, 5466 (Siragusa); Tr. 5512-13 (Minervini). As a result of these considerations, the deteriorating School 19 facility remained open. The following year, the overcrowding at School 3 and underutilization at School 19 let to the reassignment of approximately ninety-five students (seventy-six minorities) from the northern part of School 3 (63% minority)'s attendance zone to School 19 (82% minority). SB 615; Tr. 11,215-16 (Guerney).
One year later, School 3 was closed as part of the district's fiscally motivated school closings, and additional minority students were reassigned to School 19. See SCHOOLS IV.A.3.b supra. Thus, in two years, School 19's enrollment virtually doubled (275 to 547) as the district effectively abandoned its longstanding plans to close the school. By 1976, School 10 (85% minority) and School 19 (78% minority) were two of the most predominantly minority elementary schools in the district.
The evidence concerning the planning, construction and opening of School 10 clearly demonstrates the Board's subsidiary role in the decisionmaking process and the predominance of the City's residential objectives in the development of the Riverview project. Each critical decision with respect to School 10 was resolved by adherence to the City's independent concerns rather than the school district's educational goals, all of which had a distinctly negative impact on the district's efforts to develop an attractive and integrated "open school." The strong resistance with which the various alterations to School 10 were greeted by school officials and the practical infeasibility of alternative courses of action undermine any argument that the Board's reluctant acquiescence in the City's conduct concerning the development of School 10 reflects any meaningful degree of Board control over the development of the school.
Likewise, the evidence regarding the nature and extent of the Board's involvement in the decisions which contributed to School 10's racially segregated condition demonstrates that its actions were not designed to achieve this result. Cf. Reed v. Rhodes, supra, 607 F.2d at 728-30; Berry v. Benton Harbor, supra, 442 F. Supp. at 1298-99. The undermining of the open school concept at School 10 and the resulting racial consequences for elementary schools in the area instead resulted in significant part from decisions in which both the Board's role and educational objectives were secondary to those of the City. In light of the Board's original plans for the school and the circumstances surrounding its reluctant acquiescence in subsequent modifications to the school site, the foreseeably segregative impact of the Board's conduct on School 10's racial enrollment does not support an inference of segregative intent by the Board. We find that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the Board's site selection, planning, and opening of School 10 was motivated by segregative intent.
c. Commerce Middle School
The opening of Commerce Middle School was part of the Board's consideration of a series of school reorganization proposals prepared by the New York University School of Education. For a discussion of the Board's conduct with respect to Commerce Middle School, see SCHOOLS IV.F.2 supra.
Until recently, school closings had been relatively rare in Yonkers. Between 1950 and 1973, School 1, in Runyon Heights, was the only school closed by the Board. In 1973, the High School of Commerce, one of the district's specialized occupational high schools, was closed pursuant to Superintendent Alioto's 1973 Reorganization Plan. The remainder of the school closings occurred as a result of the district's 1976 School Closing and 1977 Phase II reorganization plans. The 1976 school closings, prompted by the city's fiscal crisis, involved six elementary schools (3,4,7,12,15,24) as well as the Commerce Middle School. The closing of Burroughs Middle School in 1978 was accompanied by the relocation of the Saunders Trades and Technical High School to the Burroughs facility, a course of action which was recommended as part of the Phase II plan, and the reassignment of Burroughs students to other middle schools in the district.
The closing of Burroughs and the High School of Commerce are significant primarily because of the other interrelated school organization changes which occurred contemporaneously. These changes are therefore discussed elsewhere in these findings. See SCHOOLS IV.F.2 infra (Commerce closing); SCHOOLD IV.F.3 infra (Burroughs closing). The remainder of the district's school closings -- the closing of School 1 in 1954 and the 1976 school closings and related attendance zone changes --are discussed below. In addition, the Board's failure to close or implement attendance zone changes with respect to Longfellow Middle School is also discussed as part of our examination of school closings.
School 1, formerly the district's oldest elementary school, was located in the Runyon Heights area of Northwest Yonkers. Runyon Heights constitutes the only area of heavy minority population outside of the Southwest Yonkers area. The Runyon Heights area is bounded on the west by the Saw Mill River Parkway, on the south by Tuckahoe Road, on the east by the New York Thruway, and on the north by Curtis Road. Runyon Heights is also bounded on the north by a thin strip of land, owned by the Homefield Neighborhood Association, which effectively seals off the Runyon Heights minority community from the surrounding white neighborhood to the north. Tr. 2740-42 (Downes). To this day, Runyon Heights streets terminate in a dead-end just below this strip. In addition, the original deeds for many properties in the Homefield area contained racially restrictive covenants prohibiting the sale of such properties to non-whites. Tr. 2375 (Guzzo); Tr. 2733-35 (Downes).
Although attendance zone maps are not available for years prior to 1938, the testimony of several persons who attended School 1 during the 1930's established that students from outside the Runyon Heights area attended the school at one time. Specifically, students from the virtually all-white Homefield community, located north of Runyon Heights, as well as from largely white areas which were east, south and west of Runyon Heights, attended School 1. These white students rendered School 1 a racially integrated facility, with white students comprising roughly one-half to two-thirds of the student body, even though Runyon Heights itself was a predominately minority community. See generally Tr. 2582-85 (Mareno); 2636 (Williams); 2672-74 (McRae); 2718-22 (Downes).
The 1938 attendance map reveals that the school district drew the School 1 attendance zone boundaries so as to track precisely the aforementioned strip of land to the north and the Saw Mill River Parkway to the west, thereby reassigning students from the Homefield community to virtually all-white School 22, a Northwest Yonkers school somewhat farther away from Homefield than School 1 and located on the other side of the Saw Mill River Parkway. In addition, the southern boundary of the School 1 zone was drawn along Tuckahoe Road, thereby reassigning white students previously attending School 1 to virtually all-white School 5. The resulting School 1 attendance area was the smallest in Yonkers, even though the School 1 facility subsequently suffered from severe underutilization problems which contributed to its eventual closing. Other neutral justifications, if any, for this particular drawing of the School 1 attendance zone boundaries are absent from the record. Based on the available evidence, the original drawing of School 1's attendance zone boundaries constituted deliberate, racially motivated gerrymandering, done in a manner which carefully incorporated privately created residential segregation.
The consequences of this attendance zone change were striking. School 1 quickly became a heavily minority school, reaching an estimated 91% minority in 1950, and an estimated 99% minority at the time of its closing in 1954. The facility was substantially underutilized; in 1950, it enrolled approximately 100 students while maintaining capacity for 240 (as of 1954). GX 2, at 3; SB 810.2. This underutilization resulted in double-grade sessions at the school, i.e., the assignment of teachers to combined first and second, or third and fourth, grade classes. The first three black teachers hired by the Board were assigned to School 1, thus further identifying it as a minority school.
Simultaneously, all-white schools in areas surrounding the School 1 zone were suffering from increasing overcrowding. School 22 in particular was beset by overutilization problems; by 1950, plans were made to build additions to the facility to relieve this condition. GX 420. In 1950, School 22's enrollment was 314 students (all white), rising to 393 by 1954; its capacity was 390 (as of 1954). School 5, less than a mile south of Runyon Heights, enrolled 630 K-6 students (all white) in 1950 and 844 K-8 students by 1954; its capacity was 960 (as of 1954). GX 2. School 8, while considerably farther from Runyon Heights than Schools 22 or 5, was severly overcrowded. The school enrolled 878 students (two minorities) in 1950; the School 8 building, however, only had capacity for 690 students (as of 1954), a condition which necessitated the use of a basement annex in a nearby housing development as classroom space. GX 423.
Elementary school maps indicate that particular areas in the attendance zones for each of these three schools (22,5,8) were closer to School 1 than to the school in whose attendance zone they were then included, a condition of which the Board was aware. SB 626; GX 423.
By 1953, efforts were made by School 1 community members to expand the School 1 zone in order to ameliorate the underutilization problem at the school and simultaneously relieve the overcrowding of neighboring schools as well -- a suggestion which also would have had a clearly desegregative effect on School 1. Several members of the Runyon Heights community appeared before the Board in representative capacities, repeatedly urging the redistricting of School 1 to include those students previously eliminated from the School 1 zone. GX 423, 424. These efforts were consistent with the prevailing attitude of the Runyon Heights community, which favored redistricting rather than the then-apparent plans to close the school. Tr. 2610-12 (Mareno). The proposal was also clearly feasible from a capacity standpoint: at the time of its closing, School 1 had room for approximately 140 additional students, not including the potential for an even larger enrollment had the Board voted to build extensions to School 1 (as it had done with various other schools at or about that time).
These efforts proved unavailing. In March 1954, two months before the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, the Board voted to close School 1. GX 428a; SB 32. The stated reasons for the Board's decision were non-racial, namely, the desire to "provide better education at less cost to the city," an apparent reference to the elimination of double-grade classes and the closing of the underutilized school. GX 425. The Board resolution also alluded to the age of the building, noting that School 1 was built in 1872, with additions built in 1900, 1917 and 1936. SB 32. Based on subsequent events, however, it is reasonable to conclude that the desire to dismantle the district's lone majority black school also animated the Board's decision. See Tr. 2611 (Mareno). School 1 students were reassigned to Schools 5 and 24, with a resulting desegregative effect on the latter schools. SB 810.6, at 2 (School 5 - 1% to 8% minority; School 24 -1% to 18% minority). When the decision was protested and legally challenged by black parents from the School 1 community, the New York State Commissioner of Education rejected the legal challenge, relying in part on a letter from the Yonkers NAACP stating that the Board's decision was "the most realistic solution to this long-standing problem." GX 427. Superintendent Wynstra thereafter wrote to the NAACP, thanking them for their role in "clarifying our intent and action" in closing School 1. SB 803; see also SB 754.
The Board argues that the NAACP's position on the School 1 closing demonstrates the propriety of the decision.
The NAACP's support of the Board's decision, however, must be viewed in context. Because the Board had consistently refused to consider and implement the alternative of redrawing attendance zone lines in the Runyon Heights/Homefield area so as to maintain School 1 as an integrated facility, the NAACP as well as other groups and individuals who might have otherwise opposed the closing of School 1 were essentially faced with a Hobson's choice: support the closing of the Runyon Heights neighborhood school, even in light of the resulting burdens on black students, or oppose the closing and thus perpetuate what was at the time the only majority black school in Yonkers. Only after the Board rejected the repeated redistricting suggestions of the Runyon Heights community and decided instead to close School 1 did the NAACP support the Board's decision as "the most realistic solution to this long-standing problem." Viewed in this light, the NAACP's eventual support of the Board's decision to close School 1 cannot immunize the decision from scrutiny.
At first blush, the Board's decision to close School 1 is troubling. While School 1 students were reassigned to schools within one mile of Runyon Heights, the redistricting proposed by the School 1 community would have involved no greater, and in certain instances, a lesser travel burden for Homefield or School 5 students, who at one time made the very trip to School 1 envisioned by the suggested redistricting. The redistricting proposal also would have eliminated the problematic double-grade classes at School 1 and presumably would have avoided the need for some of the additional classroom construction at School 22 one year later. The two double classes at School 24 could also have been easily eliminated by transferring students from a neighboring school zone, for example, portions of the attendance zone for School 16 (which, at 135% capacity, was so overcrowded that the district planned to erect partitions in study halls in order to accommodate accommodate its students) could have been transferred to the neighboring School 24 zone. The closing of School 1 also deprived the Runyon Heights community of its neighborhood school, a loss which was followed by a number of subsequent reassignments of Runyon Heights students during the 1970's. Moreover, the Board's decision preserved an all-white school experience for Homefield students, consistent with the Board's deliberately segregative attendance zone boundary changes of prior years.
The Board's decision to close School 1, however, must be viewed in context. The decision to close the school, prior to Brown, resulted in the elimination of the district's only predominately minority school and the desegregation of two virtually all-white schools. It also eliminated double-grade classes at all three schools, a result which would otherwise have involved considerable redistricting of other school zones. In addition, the reassignment of students to School 1 not only would have perpetuated the all-white character of Schools 5 and 24, but also would have done nothing to eliminate the all-white character of School 22. Since portions of both the School 22 and School 5 zones had previously been eliminated from School 1's attendance zone, it is difficult to find that the district's willingness to close School 1 and reassign its minority students to two virtually all-white schools, including School 5, was done to perpetuate racial imbalance at School 22. Finally, in terms of current segregative effect, the School 1 closing has increased racial balance at other elementary schools to which Runyon Heights students have been assigned -- Schools 5 and 24, when School 1 was closed; East Yonkers' School 31, after School 24 was closed in 1976; and East Yonkers' School 8, after School 31 was converted into an elementary magnet school in 1982. While the reassignment of Runyon Heights students in 1954, 1976 and 1982 has resulted in travel burdens more significant than those imposed on practically any other community in Yonkers, we do not believe that such burdens, particularly when imposed in a desegregative spirit, were impermissibly discriminatory either in purpose or in effect. See Parent Association of Andrew Jackson High School v. Ambach, supra, 598 F.2d at 714 n.6 (inconvenience of transportation for minorities permissible as part of voluntary desegregation effort); Higgins v. Board of Education of Grand Rapids, 508 F.2d 779, 793 (6th Cir. 1974). Indeed, it is not unreasonable to infer that School 1, built in 1872 and thus twelve years older than any other elementary school in operation at the time of its closing, would have been a prime candidate for closing as part of the district's 1976 School Closing plan and thus would have resulted in substantially the same student reassignments as actually occurred. In sum, we conclude that the Board's decision to close School 1 and its subsequent reassignment of Runyon Heights elementary school students do not, in light of the aforementioned circumstances, constitute intentionally segregative or discriminatory acts and do no have current segregative effects on the district's elementary schools.
By the mid-1970's, the racial segregation of Yonkers public schools was already quite pronounced. In 1970, seven Southwest Yonkers elementary schools (3,6,12,18,19,25,King) had disproportionately (45% to 85%) minority enrollments and enrolled 74% of the minority elementary school students in the district, while all of East Yonkers' elementary schools were at least 95% white. By 1975, twelve Southwest Yonkers schools (3,6,7,10,12,18,19,25, King, Longfellow, Commerce, Yonkers High) had predominantly (over 50%) minority student enrollments, constituting 66% of the district's minority students; seventeen schools in East and Northwest Yonkers (8,11,14,15,16,17,21,22,28,29,30,32,34,Emerson,Twain,Whitman,Li ncoln) were at least 95% white. Similar racial imbalance was reflected in the school district's principal and teaching assignments as well; six of the seven black principals employed by the Board in 1975 worked in schools of at least 75% minority student enrollment.
At the same time, the demographic characteristics of Yonkers were undergoing similar segregative changes, including the City's addition of sixteen subsidized housing projects, all of them located in Southwest Yonkers.
The school integration policy of New York State education authorities also began to reflect considerably more flexibility in its approach to the question of school desegregation. As late as 1972, the state continued to adhere to its previously stated commitment to integrated education and its recognition of the inherent inequality of segregated schools. Recognizing the recently increasing "passions" surrounding the issue of busing, the Regents nevertheless deplored the "emotional misapprehensions" concerning the issue. The state concluded that (u]ntil residential and occupational integration becomes a reality in this nation -- the ultimate sign that skin color has lost its evil fetish --the judicious and reasonable use of motor vehicles may be in many instances the only instrument available to enable local communities to meet constitutional requirements and educational goals.
By 1974, however, the Regents stated that such transportation was appropriate where "demonstrably necessary to achieve integrated education" and that competing considerations of health and safety of children, particularly those of elementary school age, must also be recognized and respected. GX 909.5. In 1975, the state issued additional statements reaffirming and expanding upon its previous policies concerning transportation and integration. The Regents stated that, in its view, racial integration did not imply or require quantitative racial balance in all schools within a district but that serious efforts should nevertheless be made to bring about equal educational opportunity, including racial and ethnic integration. The Regents stated that "if a school district avails itself seriously and truly of available means to integrate its student population, then it should not be required to establish or maintain particular ratios of students from different ethnic origins." GX 909.6. One month later, the Regents expanded upon its previous statement. It noted the controversial nature of the use of busing as a means of achieving racial integration in schools, stating that [w]e also understand that busing has become a source of serious argument not alone because some of its opponents may be illiberal, or racist, but also because many responsible people, black and white, do not regard the massive transportation of pupils out of their neighborhoods for purposes of achieveing racial balance to be productive in the education of our children.
While it reaffirmed its commitment to the creation of integrated schools as an essential means of assuring equal opportunity for quality education, the Regents declared that such a goal was to be pursued by utilizing a number of methods, including, but not limited to, use of "judicious and reasonable transportation" of pupils. The Regents specifically noted that magnet schools, open enrollment or optional transfer plans, the closing of unneeded schools, and compensatory education programs were also appropriate methods of achieving this goal.
At the same time, the Board was confronted with increasing demands for desegregation of the Yonkers public schools. In response to written requests by the NAACP that the Board take immediate action to remedy the racial imbalance of the schools, GX 925.1,925.5, the Board created, in October 1975, a Task Force for Quality Education ("Task Force") for the purpose of examining and proposing methods for alleviating the problem of minority isolation and insuring quality education for Yonkers public schools students. GX 925.7; P-I 59-9; Tr. 9858-59 (Minervini). The Task Force, comprised of members of community and religious organizations and other Yonkers citizens, set as its primary goal the issuance of a report containing findings regarding and recommended solutions to, the issues of quality education and racial imbalance. The implementation of a remedial plan was tentatively scheduled to commence by September 1976.
The efforts of the Task Force, however, were quickly overshadowed. Instead, the 1975-76 school year was marked most prominently by the onset of the city's severe financial crisis. On November 13, 1975, a state of financial emergency in Yonkers was declared by New York State and an Emergency Financial Control Board ("EFCB") was established to oversee the fiscal affairs of the city and school district. In addition to implementing assorted city-imposed budgetary cutbacks totalling approximately $6 million for the 1975-76 school year, the Board was required by the EFCB to implement an additional $9.7 million in budget reductions (approximately half of the city's total budget deficit) by July 1, 1977. GX 777.
The mandated reduction of the school's budget was implemented in two stages: a $2.3 million reduction for 1975-76, and the remaining $7.4 million for 1976-77. These cutbacks were initiated in early 1976 by eliminating over 500 professional and non-professional staff positions in the district, including over 250 teaching positions. These cutbacks affected a wide array of educational programs, including the elimination of the district's pre-K program and the termination of fifteen reading teachers. In addition, the district eliminated over 100 school crossing guard positions, resulting in community protests and a number of accidents involving children walking to school. SB 838-844. In December 1976, the City Council passed a resolution requesting the Task Force to delay for six months the issuance of its final report. GX 141. The Task Force complied with this request.
The second stage of budget reductions took the form of a proposal to close seven schools and eliminate additional staff positions. As a result of these cutbacks, additional educational programs were curtailed or eliminated, including the More Effective Schools program at Schools 6 and 12, the Head Start program, and the English-as-a-Second Language bilingual instruction program. GX 777, 780, 783, 787.
In March 1976, Superintendent Robitaille submitted to the Board a detailed proposal recommending the closing of six elementary schools (3,4.7,12,15,24) and one middle school (Commerce). These Schools were chosen in accordance with a point system which was designed to weigh five factors -- physical characteristics, special areas (e.g., library, gym, cafeteria), internal characteristics (e.g., class size and utilization), cost of operation, and population and enrollment (including racial balance) -- in order to determine the most suitable schools for closing. The use of objective criteria was also designed to help the school administration to justify its decisions to close particular schools in anticipation of the strong community opposition which the proposal was likely to engender.
The decisions to close particular schools were in fact based on an evaluation of primarily race-neutral criteria. Most of the schools recommended for closing were severly underutilized, with several schools operating at roughly half capacity. Schools 3 and 4 were the oldest schools in the district, and, along with School 7, were in need of substantial renovation and rehabilitation. Most of the schools suffered from a variety of physical inadequacies, such as the lack of a cafeteria (School 12) or playground space (School 7). The closing of Commerce, the only middle school closed as part of the district's 1976 school closings, was also recommended primarily because of the substantial savings realizable from staff reductions and the schools's severe underutilization and racial imbalance (77% minority, versus 28% districtwide middle school average). GX 567. In addition, an effort was made to close schools in such a manner as would allow for the reassignment of students to schools within walking distance from their homes; the Board lacked sufficient funds to provide transportation for reassigned students.
In March 1976, the Board held a series of public hearings on the administration's proposal. Not surprisingly, the anticipated resistance to particular school closings was quite forcefully expressed by community members. Similar opposition was also brought to the Board's atention attention in the form of numerous written protests and position papers from various community organizations and members. Opposition to the proposed closing of Schools 4 and 15, predominantly white (97% and 99%, respectively, in 1975-76) schools in East Yonkers, was particularly intense. This opposition was devoid of racial overtones; in fact, none of the contemplated reassignments of School 4 or School 15 students involved any significant degree of desegregation. Instead, the opposition to these school closings was based primarily on the loss of each community's neighborhood school and the resulting burdens involved in being reassigned to other surrounding schools in the East Yonkers area. Among the most frequently cited problems or budens burdens were traffic and parking difficulties at reassigned schools and safety concerns regarding children walking to their newly assigned school. Parents in the School 15 area were led by Mayor Angelo Martinelli in a group walk to demonstrate the travel burdens which would be imposed on School 15 students if the Board decided to close the school. The reassignment of School 4 students to Schools 14,17 and 21 was also opposed because of the community's assertion that students would have to travel longer, more hazardous walking routes; complaints were made about thirty to forty-five minute travel times over hazardous and hilly terrain. Opposition was also expressed regarding the configuration of neighboring school buildings and other facility-related concerns. See SB 574-578.
Southwest Yonkers community members also opposed the closing of their neighborhood elementary schools. This opposition was based in part on the overcrowding which community members claimed would result at neighboring schools (the closing of Schools 3,7 and 12 involved the reassignment of 1,193 students; the closing of Schools 4 and 15 entailed the reassignment of 601 students). Concerns were also expressed by the School 3 PTA regarding the racial consequences of the School 3 closing and the resulting white flight which it claimed would result if white School 3 students wre reassigned to more heavily minority School 19; the PTA instead urged that School 19 be closed as the district had previously contemplated. GX 519. The Commerce PTA expressed concern that the closing of Commerce Middle School would dissipate the benefits of perceived educational improvements at the school, and asked that any redistricting of schools be done on an east-west basis in order to alleviate racial imbalance. GX 776.
Notwithstanding the community's opposition to the various school closings, on April 13, 1976 the Board approved the administration's school closing plan. GX 780. Community opposition, however, was by no means completely dissipated by the Board's decision. In particular, the strong community resistance to the two East Yonkers school closings intensified subsequent to the Board's approval of the administration's plan. Several Board members, including Anne Bocik, Robert Jacobson and Angelo Paradiso, were subjected to various forms of personal harassment (picketing and verbal threats) as a result of the Board's decision to close two East Yonkers elementary schools. Tr. 5066 (Jacobson); Tr. 5313-15 (Morris); SB 581. Mayor Martinelli commissioned a safety study for the purpose of demonstrating the hazards of reassigning School 4 and 15 students to neighboring schools. Tr. 7635-44 (Martinelli). A sit-in was conducted at the Board of Education building in protest of the School 15 closing. Tr. 11,268 (Guerney). The School 15 community, with the help of Seelig Lester (appointed to the Board in November 1976), opened an alternative "freedom school" in the School 15 area rather than send their children to Schools 26 and 28. The Citizens Committee for Quality Education proposed the creation of a magnet program at School 15 in an attempt to secure its reopening. GX 941. Mayor Martinelli, in a written appeal to New York State Commissioner of Education Ewald Nyquist, expressed his belief that the Board's decision to close seven schools was arbitrary and capricious and should be immediately reconsidered. GX 283. Martinelli and Lester also met with Nyquist to protest the closing of School 15. Tr. 7624 (Martinelli). Legal proceedings were instituted by parents of children formerly attending School 15 and were pursued all the way to the New York Court of Appeals in an unsuccessful effort to overturn the Board's decision. SB 272. Southwest Yonkers community members also voiced objections to the Board's decision and expressed concern that the Board might reconsider its closing of East Yonkers schools without similarly considering the reopening of Southwest Yonkers schools. SB 302. Notwithstanding this persistent and uniformly negative reaction to the Board's decision, the school closings were implemented, as recommended, beginning with the 1976-77 school year.
In numerical terms, the racial effects of the 1976 school closings and student reassignments may be summarized as follows:
S C H O O L S C L O S E D
Geograph. No. Studts
School Location W M % Minority
3 SW 178 369 67%
4 SE 3177 2%
7 SW 135 206 60%
12 SW 10295 97%
15 NE 275 2 0%
24 NW 20550 20%
Commerce SW 120 407 77%*1
A more detailed examination of the 1976 school closings reveals a mixture of desegregative and segregative consequences, all of which were foreseen by both the administration and the Board.
The closing of School 3 is a prime example of this mixed result. The closing of School 3 eliminated an increasingly racially identifiable school from Southwest Yonkers. The reassignment increased the racial enrollment of School 13 and, to a less favorable extent, School 27. School 27 was expected to change from 15% below the districtwide average to 13% above the districtwide average; it actually became a 52% minority school, 22% above the districtwide average. This change, however, was designed to be and was viewed by both Board officials and the Task Force as an integrative step. Tr. 9842 (Minervini); Tr. 12,926 (Dodson). On the other hand, a large number of minorities was reassigned to School 19, a physically inferior and heavily minority school.
The two school closings in East Yonkers were limited both in racial effect and desegregative intent. The closings eliminated two racially isolated (i.e., over 95% white) schools and provided an opportunity for a sizeable number of School 15 students to attend a somewhat more racially balanced facility. On the other hand, the closings left the vast majority of students in similarly racially imbalanced white schools. In addition, the elimination of Schools 4 and 15, both of which were underutilized facilities (80% and 70%, respectively), limited the opportunities which might otherwise have existed for future desegregation via the reassignment of minority students from educationally and physically inferior Southwest Yonkers schools.
The closing of elementary schools in Southwest Yonkers presents a similar amalgamation of positive and negative racial effects. The closing of School 7 eliminated a racially imbalanced minority school but did little to improve the racial balance of neighborhing neighboring schools to which School 7 students were reassigned. School 23, which formerly had a minority enrollment almost equal to the districtwide average, became an increasingly and eventually predominantly minority school. Nevertheless, the large number of white and minority students reassigned to School 23 were afforded an opportunity to attend what was at the time a significantly more racially balanced facility. The Board failed to reassign minority students from School 7 to School 17, a 2% minority school approximately one-and-a-quarter to one-and-a-half miles from the eastern portion of the School 7 zone, rather than to School 23, slightly over one-half mile away, even though the Board simultaneously reassigned 127 (124 white) former School 4 students over one mile to School 14. The capacity and projected enrollment figures relied upon by the school administration, however, would appear to justify the Board's failue failure to adopt this alternative. Even without such a change, School 17 was projected to be only thirty-two students below capacity, while School 23 was projected to be 198 students below capacity.
The closing of School 12, while salutary insofar as it eliminated a highly racially imbalanced school from Southwest Yonkers, was largely segregative in its ultimate impact. Both School 9 and King became more racially imbalanced, solidifying King's identifibiably minority image and tipping School 9, a previously racially balanced (32% minority) school, into predominately minority status as well. While fair number of black students were reassigned to School 9 and thus were provided with an opportunity to attend a more racially balanced school, a number of white students underwent the opposite experience as a consequence of being reassigned from School 9 to virtually all-white School 16. Thus, the elimination of one racially imbalanced school created or solidified the racial identifiability of three surrounding schools.
The School 24 closing was similar to the closing of School 12 in terms of its domino-like reassignment of students. The closing of this racially balanced school was of fairly negative racial consequence for School 24 students themselves, who were reassigned from a 20% minority to an 11% minority facility. It was also similar to other school closings in the distrtict in which racially balanced schools, including schools located in Central Yonkers which were thus particularly amenable to desegregation, were closed by the Board. See SCHOOLS IV.A.1 supra. On the other hand, a number of School 5 students from the Runyon Heights area, all but one of whom were minorities, were reassigned to School 31 in East Yonkers. Although this desegregative step deprived minority Runyon Heights students, for the second time, of their so-called neighborhood school experience by reassigning them to a school located across two major highways and roughly twice as far away as their former school, it was effectuated primarily in order to improve racial balance at School 31. Tr. 9842 (Minervini); Tr. 11,262 (Guerney).
The closing of Commerce Middle School was significantly more desegregative in its racial consequences than was initially planned. The closing of Commerce eliminated a heavily racially imbalanced and educationally inferior school from Southwest Yonkers. The Commerce closing originally involved the anticipated reassignment of roughly 40% of its minority students to Longfellow, a plan which would have been segregative both for the reassigned students and for the Longfellow facility itself. The actual effect of the Commerce closing, however, was significantly more desegregative than the original enrollment projections indicated: in particular, Emerson's minority enrollment increased by ninety-two students, and Burroughs' by 117; Longfellow's minority enrollment increased by only twenty-four. These figures are consistent with the testimony of Director of Secondary Education John Guzzo and Commerce principal Patricia DiChiaro that efforts were made to reduce much of the originally anticipated segregative effect of the Commerce closing, primarily by reassigning more minority students to predominantly white Emerson and Burroughs. In fact, a comparison of the district's reassignment planning document and the district's 1967-77 middle school attendance zone lines confirms that a significantly minority-populated portion of the originally proposed Longfellow zone, including Pine Street, Grove Street and Ravine Avenue, was eventually included in Emerson's attendance zone. Compare GX 567 with SB 627; see also GX 430. In addition, this comparison reveals that a minority-populated portion of the originally proposed Burroughs zone, including Grant Park, St. Joseph's Avenue, and the Burke Housing project, was also rezoned to Emerson. Thus, in reassigning Commerce students, the district succeeded in improving the racial balance at two previously heavily white middle schools -- an effort whose significance was recognized by Emerson administrative staff later that year. See P-I 34-17.
The Commerce closing was not without segregative consequences. Minority enrollment increased at Fermi, Hawthorne, and Longfellow, all of which became or remained predominantly minority schols schools. In addition, as a consequence of the Commerce closing, feeder patterns from Southwest Yonkers elementary schools to middle schools were divided in a fashion unknown in any other area of the district, with students from heavily minority School 6 and King attending four middle schools. In addition, the alternative of reassigning students to either Twain (1% minority) or Whitman (2% minority) in East Yonkers was rejected because of the travel distance which would have been involved, despite the request of the Commerce PTA that students be reassigned on an east-west basis, see GS 776, and the fact that some students reassigned to Hawthorne, Emerson and Burroughs would now be taking public transportation to school in any event. Tr. 12,653 (DiChiaro). Enrollment and capacity figures for 1976 and 1977 suggest that reassignments to Whitman in particular would have been feasible: Whitman, with a stated capacity ranging from 1,025 (Engineering Department) to 1,200 (1976 School Closing Plan), had an anticipated enrollment of 829 for 1976. GX 126. The reassignment of whites and minorities to Fermi and Hawthorne did result in a more racially integrated experience for those students. The reassignment of minorities to Fermi, however, was effectuated in spite of the opposition of Fermi parents, both white and minority, to the assignment of additional minority students to the school, opposi-tion opposition which was based on a concen concern that the school would become racially identifiable if additional minorities were assigned there. Tr. 2483-84 (Guzzo). Yet given the fact that significantly more minorities were assigned to Emerson than both Fermi and Longfellow, despite the geographic proximity and substantial underutilization of the latter two schools, it is difficult to find that the assignment of minorities to these predominantly minority schools was a deliberately segregative act. The evidence regarding the closing of Commerce is instead consistent with the testimony of Superintendent Robitaille and others that the 1976 school closings and student reassignments as whole constituted attempts to effectuate modest improvements in racial balance, with more comprehensive efforts at school desegregation to be implemented in subsequent years.
On balance, the record suggests that fiscal, rather than racial, considerations were clearly the predominant factors underlying the decisions to close particular schools. The point system used by Superintendent Robitaille and his staff illustrates the extent to which racial balance, while a factor in determining the most suitable schools for closing, was only one of many relevant factors which were considered by school officials. To be sure, desegregative measures were also implemented where possible to do so in a manner consistent with the Board's overall fiscal objectives. Indeed, both the testimony of school officials and evidence of the numerical and racial impact of the school closings and student reassignments reflect the limited yet observable desegregative steps taken by the Board. On balance, however, the inconsistent racial consequences of the 1976 school closings and student reassignments, as compared with the more consistently followed race-neutral reasons underlying those same decisions, illustrate the order of priorities which underlie the district's school closing decisions.
The Board's guarded receptivity to more desegregative alternatives to the 1976 School Closing plan in further evidence of its fiscal, rather than desegregative, priorities at the time. When confronted by school closing and reassignment alternatives encompassing a more aggressive pursuit of school desegregation, the Superintendent and his staff adhered to their initial recommendations, in some instances deliberately delaying school desegregation efforts for a future time. For example, the NAACP recommended to the Superintendent and Board that they consider closing the educationally troubled and underutilized School 6 (89% minority) and Longfellow Middle School (81% minority) and reassign their students in a desegregative manner. The NAACP also suggested the redrawing of high school attendance zone boundaries in order to alleviate increasing racial imbalance. Curtis Giddings, the Board's sole minority member, voted against the school closing plan primarily because of the plan's failure to make significant headway in eliminating racial imbalance in the district's schools. Giddings acknowledged, however, that the Board's primary concern was fiscal while his was racial, and that the plan did make some improvement in racial balance. SB 867. According to NAACP President Winston Ross and Superintendent Robitaille, the failure to adopt these proosals proposals also reflected both the perceived infeasibility of their present implementation and the Superintendent's intention to recommend that these schools be closed as part of a future desegregation plan. Tr. 3604-06 (Ross); Tr. 4616-18 (Robitaille). Similarly, the Board's response to these suggestions acknowledged that the school closing plan was "not primarily concerned with desegregation and integration, but rather a fiscal solution to a monetary problem" and that some of the suggested alterntives alternatives would hopefully "be forthcoming." P-I 58-54.
In sum, the effect of the 1976 school closings on the racial balance of Yonkers public schools were decidedly mixed: while some aspects were desegregative, the rejection of alternatives for avoiding increased racial imbalance and for furthering desegregation reflect the district's decision to temporarily create or perpetuate racial imbalance until a more comprehensive desegregation plan could be developed. Given the circumstances in which the school closing plan was formulated and the reasons for its implementation, the liability of the Board for creating and maintaining racial segregation in the schools more appropriately turns on the circumstances underlying its subsequent failure to rectify the known segregative consequences of the 1976 School Closing plan.
c. Longfellow Middle School
The racially segregated condition of Longfellow Middle School, like the vast majority of the district's other schools, has been perpetuated primarily because of segregative omissions rather than affirmative acts: the failure either to close the school and reassign its students elsewhere, or to reassign students from other schools to Longfellow. The failure to eliminate the racial segregation at Longfellow represents the culmination of a long history of increasing racial imbalance at the facility, decreasing justification for keeping the facility open, repeated proposals to close the facility, and the repeated rejection of such proposals as the school became increasingly underutilized and racially segregated. The circumstances surrounding the continued racial imbalance at Longfellow is thus illustrative of the racial imbalance at many of Southwest Yonkers' public schools. Because of the particularly extensive nature of Longfellow's racial imbalance, physicial physical inadequacy, and proposals for closing, however, we will discuss it separately in our findings.
Since 1930, the Longfellow Middle School has been located in the former School 20 elementary school building, a relatively small facility with no outdoor recreational space. Racial imbalance at Longfellow, located in the northeast section of the Southwest Yonkers area, has existed at least as far back as 1950, the year in which numerical evidence of estimated student enrollments is first available. In 1950, Longfellow's estimated minority enrollment was larger than any other junior high school in the district: the school was only 12% minority, but it also enrolled 41% of the district's junior high school minority students. SB 810.3. Since that time, the increasing racial imbalance at Longfellow has arisen partly because of the population growth in the Central West and Northwest Yonkers areas. This population growth led to the opening of several new junior high and middle schools and the repeated contraction of the Longfellow attendance zone. The effect of these school openings on Longfellow's student enrollment is reflected in the following table: