As a result of good faith and zealous implementation by the Yonkers Board of Education ("YBE") and its staff of this Court's initial School Remedy Order of May 13, 1986 (Educational Improvement Plan ("EIP") I), the racial separation of students in the Yonkers Public Schools, which had existed for decades, ended. As the YBE correctly states, "Within less than a year of the issuance of EIP I, the Yonkers Board achieved desegregation of enrollments among the schools; something that many other school districts have taken years or even decades to accomplish." YBE, Post-Trial Brief, p.2. This achievement was brought about by instituting a voluntary magnet school program, including procedures for school selection by parents, busing and other similar measures. The transition took place in a relatively smooth and peaceful manner, without the disturbances and disruption which plagued desegregating school districts elsewhere in this country. What makes this accomplishment even more remarkable is that it took place despite the fact that during the years in question, Yonkers was engaged in a bitter and divisive effort to thwart this Court's orders to remedy, to some degree, the racial discrimination with respect to housing which has existed in Yonkers for well over 40 years.
The YBE, joined in this proceeding by plaintiff-intervenors, the Yonkers Branch, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP"), takes the position that the placement of majority and minority students and staff in the same school buildings in numbers proximate to their incidence in the general school population, so that schools are no longer racially identifiable, is but the first step to achieving a truly unitary school system. Such a unitary school system is in place only when students, regardless of race, have similar educational opportunities and experiences.
The YBE and NAACP contend that vestiges of segregation remain in the Yonkers Public School system which, although capable of being remedied or eradicated, are not being adequately addressed. As a consequence, it is urged that the Yonkers Public School system (sometimes "YPS") continues to discriminate against blacks and hispanics and that dissatisfaction with the existing system, on the part of both minority and majority parents, threatens to negate or diminish the accomplishments thus far achieved.
The YBE and NAACP further assert that the failure to address adequately these vestiges of segregation results, not from a lack of commitment on the part of the Superintendent of Schools or his staff, but from a lack of funds. The YBE has promulgated a detailed and extensive program (EIP II) in which it sets forth the steps which it believes should be appropriately taken to eradicate vestiges of segregation. Believing that City resources were inadequate to meet the perceived needs
and that the State of New York shared a liability with the City for the presence of these vestiges of segregation, the YBE instituted these proceedings against the State which had not heretofore been a party to this protracted litigation. The YBE, joined by the NAACP, seeks to impose upon the State a fiscal responsibility, shared with the City, to fund EIP II.
Scope of Issue
In prior proceedings, the State has moved to dismiss, and sought summary judgment on a number of grounds, including sovereign immunity, statute of limitations and laches. These motions have been denied. See United States v. YBE, 893 F.2d 498 (2d Cir. 1990) (appeal dismissed).
The YBE had alleged the existence of seven vestiges of segregation:
(1) the level of minority achievement; (2) the self-esteem and attitudes of students toward education and the educational process; (3) the relationships between majority and minority students; (4) the attitudes and effectiveness of teachers and administrators in educating majority and minority students in integrated schools and classrooms; (5) the continuing need for adjustments in curriculum and programs to facilitate quality education in integrated environments under the existing desegregation remedy; (6) the continued disparities in the quality of school facilities and resources; and (7) community perceptions concerning the Yonkers schools and the quality of education under the current desegregation plan.