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VICKERS v. CHAPEL HILL CITY BD. OF EDUC.

August 4, 1961

Stanley Boya VICKERS, a Minor, by Thomas Lee Vickers and Lattice Vickers, his parents and next friends, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHAPEL HILL CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY

This action was commenced by plaintiffs, members of the Negro race, on February 2, 1960, to have declared the right of the minor plaintiff, and the class of persons he represents, to attend the public schools of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina, without discrimination on account of race or color, and for injunctive relief. Named defendants, in addition to the Chapel Hill City Board of Education, were the individual members of the Board and the Superintendent of the Chapel Hill Schools. Upon motion of the defendants, the action was dismissed as to the individual members of the School Board and the Superintendent since it was concluded that the plaintiffs, if they prevail in this action, are entitled to obtain complete relief against the Chapel Hill City Board of Education.

The case was tried before the court on October 5, 1960, following which the parties were given a specified time within which to file proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and briefs, after which oral arguments would be heard.

 The requests for findings of fact, conclusions of law, and briefs of the parties having been received, the court, after considering the pleadings and evidence, including exhibits, answers to interrogatories and stipulations filed, and briefs and oral arguments of the parties, now makes and files herein its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, separately stated:

 Findings of Fact

 1. The plaintiffs are members of the Negro race and are citizens and residents of Carrboro, North Carolina, a town adjacent to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Carrboro Public Schools are within the Chapel Hill School Administrative Unit.

 3. The defendant Board, a body corporate, maintains and generally supervises the operation of the public schools in the Chapel Hill School Administrative Unit, and possesses such powers as are conferred by Chapter 115 of the General Statutes of North Carolina.

 4. During the 1959-1960 school term, the defendant Board operated six schools which were attended solely by white students, and two schools which were attended solely by Negro students.

 5. At the end of the 1958-1959 school term, the minor plaintiff, then being ten years of age, completed the fifth grade of Northside Elementary School and was assigned to the same school for the 1959-1960 school term. Northside Elementary School is a school attended solely by Negro students.

 6. On June 23, 1959, following his initial assignment to the Northside Elementary School for the 1959-1960 school term, the minor plaintiff, through his parents, timely filed a written application for transfer to the Carrboro Elementary School, a school attended solely by white students. This was the only application filed by a Negro student for reassignment to another school for the 1959-1960 school term, and was only the second such application that had ever been filed with the defendant Board. There were approximately 1,100 Negro students attending the Chapel Hill public schools during the 1959-1960 school term.

 7. The reasons given as to why reassignment to the Carrboro Elementary School was desired were that Carrboro Elementary School was nearer the residence of the plaintiffs, and that there was a stigma attached to segregated education which affected the 'learning' of the minor plaintiff.

 8. The actual distance from the home of the plaintiffs to the Northside Elementary School was approximately one mile, measured by the best available route, and about one and one-half miles by the school bus route, whereas the distance to the Carrboro Elementary School was approximately one-half mile. However, the distance from the home of the plaintiffs to the school bus serving the Northside Elementary School was approximately three blocks, which was considerably nearer their home than the Carrboro Elementary School.

 9. Many white children of the same grade level as the minor plaintiff, and living near his home, were initially assigned to and did attend the Carrboro Elementary School for the 1959-1960 school term.

 10. The application for reassignment to the Carrboro Elementary School was denied by the defendant Board on August 3, 1959, and the minor plaintiff thereafter, through his parents, made timely application for a hearing before the defendant Board.

 11. The requested hearing was granted and the plaintiffs were duly notified that the hearing would be conducted on August 31, 1959. Present at the hearing were members of the defendant Board, the minor plaintiff and his parents, and C. O. Pearson, Esquire, representing the plaintiffs. At the opening of the hearing, the Chairman of the defendant Board outlined the procedure to be followed and stated that the Board was ready to hear testimony in support of the application of the minor plaintiff for reassignment. Mr. Pearson, as counsel for the plaintiffs, read a statement outlining the relative distance from the home of the plaintiffs to the Northside Elementary School and the Carrboro Elementary School, and protested to the fact that no steps had been taken to desegregate the public schools in the Chapel Hill School Administrative Unit. No other testimony was offered.

 12. Following the hearing, the defendant Board, by a divided vote, again denied the application for reassignment, and gave the following as its reasons for the action taken:

 'In the absence of any evidence or testimony on behalf of the applicant in support of the request for reassignment, and the Board having heretofore ascertained that the applicant, Stanley Boya Vickers, has been attending Northside Elementary School for five years and completed the fifth grade in said school, which is a good elementary school, with facilities, teaching staff and curricula comparable to other elementary schools in the Chapel Hill school district, and that said minor applicant has made satisfactory educational progress, and it not having been made to appear that the reassignment requested will be for the best interest of the child, it is hereupon determined that the request for reassignment be denied.'

 13. Dr. J. Kempton Jones, Chairman of the defendant Board, stated that in his opinion if the minor plaintiff had been a white student, he would have been assigned to the Carrboro Elementary School for the 1959-1960 school term. Another Board member stated that there could be no dispute about the fact that white children living in the immediate area of the plaintiffs were assigned initially to the Carrboro Elementary School for the 1959-1960 school term, without regard to any qualifications other than being white. Still another Board member stated that he ...


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