This matter is before the Court at the request of the United States, plaintiff, and the Franklin Parish School Board (the "Board" or "FPSB"), defendants herein.
In August of 1998, the United States initiated an investigation of, inter alia, the Board's hiring and promotion and student transfer practices and policies. As a result of that investigation, the United States raised concerns regarding the legality and/or validity of certain of those practices and policies. In an effort to resolve those concerns and eliminate the possibility of protracted and costly litigation, the United States and the Board join in the instant Consent Decree. It is the understanding of the parties and of the Court that neither this Consent Decree nor the defendants' consent thereto constitutes an admission by the defendants or an adjudication by the Court of any violation of a federal law.
It is the determination of this Court, on the basis of its familiarity with this case and the Franklin Parish School System (the "School System"), in general, and on the basis of orders previously rendered in United States v. Franklin Parish School Board,(W.D.La.) C.A. No. 15,632, that the actions embodied in this Consent Decree, if successfully implemented are reasonable, equitable, and appropriate to ensure that the Board's hiring and promotion and student transfer practices and policies comply with pertinent federal law.
NOW THEREFORE, in recognition and in full appreciation of all of the factors herein, the United States and the Board hereby agree, as indicated by the signatures of their authorized counsel below, to the adoption of this Consent Decree, embodying the terms and conditions hereinafter stated. The parties having agreed to the terms and conditions herein and the Court having reviewed this Consent Decree and determined that its terms and conditions are fair, reasonable, and lawful and that they will promote the orderly desegregation of the certified personnel employed by the Board and the student enrollment of the School System, It IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED:
I. HIRING AND PROMOTION
A. Resolution of Evelyn Richardson and Dorothy Watson Matters
1. The Board shall immediately appoint Evelyn Richardson to the position of Acting Assistant Principal at Winnsboro Lower Elementary School, and will provide her with the salary and benefits appropriate for the position. This position is scheduled to terminate at the end of the 1998-99 school year. It is expected that the permanent Assistant Principal position at Winnsboro Lower Elementary School will become available prior to the start of the 1999-2000 school year. If this vacancy occurs, the Board shall appoint Ms. Richardson to the Assistant Principal position. If the vacancy does not occur, the Board shall appoint Ms. Richardson to the next available Assistant Principal position in the School System for which she is properly certified. The Board shall provide Ms. Richardson with the salary and benefits appropriate for the position to which she is appointed and her qualifications. The Board shall notify the Department of Justice, through the undersigned counsel, upon Ms. Richardson's appointment to an Assistant Principal position in the School System.
2. The Board shall pay to Dorothy Watson, within ten (10) days of entry of this Consent Decree, the gross amount of$4,483.62, plus the appropriate employer's share of retirement benefits at 16.5%, representing the difference for the 1998-99 school year between Ms. Watson's current salary and the salary of the present Acting Title I Reading Coordinator for the School System, as set forth in the March 24, 1999 letter from Superintendent Bobby Blount to Robert Hammonds.
The term for the present Acting Title I Reading Coordinator ends on June 1, 1999. In the event that the present Acting Title I Reading Coordinator remains in that position beyond June 1, 1999, the Board shall pay to Ms. Watson, in addition to the payment described above, the gross amount of $171.93 per day, plus the appropriate employer's share of retirement benefits at 16.5%, for each day the present Acting Title I Reading Coordinator remains in that position past June 1, 1999. The Board shall make this additional payment to Ms. Watson within ten (10) days of the termination of the present Acting Title I Reading Coordinator's position.
Furthermore, Ms. Watson shall receive serious consideration for any future supervisor or administrator vacancy in the School System for which she may apply and is qualified. The Board shall notify the Department of Justice, through the undersigned counsel, of each supervisor or administrator position for which Ms. Watson applies, and upon Ms. Watson's appointment to a supervisor or administrator position in the School System.
B. Maintenance of Records
1. The Board shall maintain records pertaining to the promotion or selection of persons to the positions of assistant principal, principal or to any supervisory or administrative position on the Central Office Staff for three (3) years from the entry of this order. "Records" includes the following for each supervisory/administrative staff position filled, to the extent that any of the following are maintained and/or performed as part of the School System's hiring process: the name of each person who applied for the position; each person's application or letter of application for the position; the racial identification of each applicant; the position description for each position filled; copies of any oral or written examination questions administered during the selection process; the written responses of each applicant who took the written examination; the final scores and rankings of each applicant or person considered to fill the position; the name and racial identification of each person on the oral examination (or interview) panel; the name and racial identification of the person(s) who scored the written examination; and the advertisement for the position, including the date(s) of actual publication in the media. The vacancy announcement for a promotional opportunity shall be posted in all FPSB schools for a period of at least fifteen (15) days, and the FPSB shall maintain records containing the name of the school and the dates and locations that the vacancy announcement was posted.
2. The Department of Justice shall have reasonable access to relevant records to conduct compliance reviews. Specifically, the Department of Justice upon request and reasonable notice to the counsel to the Board shall have the right to inspect and copy
any and all records pertaining to the hiring and promotion of the Board's supervisory and administrative staff without order of the Court.
II. MEDICAL TRANSFERS
A. Future Medical Transfer Requests
The Board may grant transfer requests based on medical reasons only under the following circumstances.
1. Each student, or person on behalf of a student, requesting a transfer for medical reasons will complete a copy of the medical transfer form attached to this Consent Decree as Exhibit 1. This form will require the notarized signature of the parent or guardian requesting the transfer, and the signature of the doctor examining the student.
2. Every medical transfer request must be accompanied by a completed transfer request form, and a letter from the examining doctor explaining in sufficient detail (a) the student's medical condition, (b) why that condition requires a student to transfer to a particular school, and (c) how the student's medical condition will be accommodated by attending that school. The parent or guardian may also submit a letter providing any information that he or she believes may be helpful in considering the request.
3. The Superintendent, or another central office administrator designated by the Superintendent, will be responsible for reviewing and determining whether medical transfer requests shall be granted.
4. In considering a medical request, the School System will make a good faith inquiry into the merits of the request. Such an inquiry would include determining whether there are students attending the transferor school who have the same medical condition, and how such students are accommodated (e.g., whether a particular school has students enrolled who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, and whether the school has specialized instruction for such students; whether a particular school has set up emergency procedures for treating asthmatic students).
5. The School System may approve medical transfers on a conditional basis only, assuming proper documentation is submitted, and will forward such documentation to the Department of Justice, through the undersigned counsel, for review. The Department of Justice will have fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the transfer request and supporting documentation to notify the Board of any objection. The student would be permitted to transfer during this interim period but would be returned to his or her school of residence if the Department of Justice objects to the transfer. Should the Board disagree with the Department of Justice on any transfer decision, the Board may present the matter to the Court for resolution.
B. Review of Prior Transfers Granted for Medical Reasons
1. The School System shall review all medical transfers granted since the 1997-98 school year to determine whether a medical condition is identified, whether an explanation is provided as to why the condition necessitates that a student should transfer to a particular school, and how the student's condition will be alleviated or accommodated by attending that school. Where any of that information has not been included in the transfer request, the School System will notify the parents and the students that they must provide such information by the end of the current school year for the school system's evaluation, or the student will be returned to the transferor school at the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year. If the information is submitted, then the School System will review the transfer request under the criteria set forth in Section II.A. above.
2. Upon completing this review, the School System shall provide a written report to the Department of Justice, through the undersigned counsel, which identifies all students granted medical transfer requests since the 1997-98 school year, all students who have had their transfers reversed; and the appropriate documentation for all students whose transfer requests have been re-approved.
All provisions of prior orders of this Court not inconsistent with the provisions of this Consent Decree shall remain in full force and effect. The Court retains jurisdiction to enforce all extant orders and to order all further relief which may be found appropriate.
It is hereby agreed that the above Consent Decree be entered.
For the United States
MICHAEL D. SKINNER
United States Attorney
300 Fannin Street
Shreveport, LA 71101-3086
FRANZ R. MARSHALL
JAVIER M. GUZMAN
Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Educational Opportunities Section
P.O. Box 65958
Washington, DC 20035-5958
For the Franklin Parish School Board
Hammonds & Sills
ROBERT L. HAMMONDS
P.O. Box 65236
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70896
SO ORDERED at ___________, Louisiana, this day of ________, 1999.
United States District Judge >