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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Based on litigation initiated in 1965, the Caddo Parish, La., school district entered into a court-ordered consent decree to desegregate the area schools. The consent decree required the school district to establish magnet schools. The magnet schools were to give preferences to qualified siblings of school students, qualified black students who would otherwise go to a 90 percent-black school and qualified white students who would otherwise go to a 65 percent-white school. Using those criteria, black/white enrollment was projected to be 50/50 percent. The consent decree was to remain in effect until enrollment was within 15 percentage points of the projected numbers. The consent decree therefore included a procedure by which the school board could get out from under the decree any time after the 1983-1984 school year. In 1987, the school board filed a notice of compliance with the decree in the district court. The district court found some provisions of the decree met and some left unmet. In a 1990 joint motion, the court found that the school board had not fully complied with the assignment of principals to schools, establishment of enhancement programs at the remaining one-race schools, and majority-to-minority school transfers. At the Caddo Middle Magnet School, applicants for acceptance had to meet certain basic criteria, including motivation, behavior and attendance. Qualified applicants then had to take the California Achievement Test and achieve a minimum score. Preferences were given to siblings of existing students and black students who would otherwise attend schools with a 90 percent black population. From the pool of qualified and preferred students, the school admitted as many black and white students to maintain a 50 percent white and a 50 percent black racial mix, give or take 15 percentage points. Hunter Cavalier applied to CMMS for the sixth grade during the 2002-2003 school year. He met the initial criteria, but his CAT score was 140. The minimum score that year for white non-siblings was 142. Twelve other white students with scores of 141 or 140 were denied admission. Meanwhile, the minimum score for black non-siblings was 117. Hunter was denied admission. The resulting racial make-up of the 449-member class was 42 white siblings, nine black siblings, 259 non-sibling whites, and 139 non-sibling whites, which yielded a 67 percent to 33 percent white/black ratio. The total school white/black ratio was 65 percent to 35 percent. Hunter’s parents sued the Caddo school board and its members, alleging that Hunter was discriminated against on account of his race. The school board defended the constitutionality of the CMMS policy by saying it was implemented pursuant to the consent decree. The magistrate judge agreed, dismissing the Cavaliers’ suit. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Noting that it will apply strict scrutiny, the court further states that whether the use of racial classifications serves a compelling governmental interest by seeking to remedy the current effects of past segregation depends entirely on whether the 1981 consent decree obligates the school board to use those racial classifications. The court finds that, consistent with the consent decree, the 1990 order unambiguously released the magnet schools, including CMMS, from any further obligations of or under the consent decree. Additionally, the court finds that the law is clear in that the school board’s obligation under the decree may be reduced or eliminated in some respects, even if the entire school system is not in total compliance with the decree or has not yet been declared a unitary school system. The court takes note of Bryant v. Caddo Parish School Board, CV No. 95-0441 (W.D. La. Jan. 3, 1997), which in a different context, the court found that the 1990 order did not suggest that partial compliance with the 1981 order was enough to release the school district from certain provision while still maintaining others. This court affirmed the Bryant case. Now, however, the court says the Bryant case does not govern the current dispute, as Bryant was unpublished and not binding under Fifth Circuit Rule 47.5. “The district court’s one-paragraph discussion of the 1981 Consent Decree in light of the 1990 Order did not address several key points of the analysis: 1) the Supreme Court’s decision in Freeman [v. Pitts, 112 S.Ct. 1430 (1992),]that allows a school district to be declared unitary in an incremental fashion; 2) the Consent Decree itself contemplated that the magnet schools would be released from the decree when their related obligations were implemented; 3) the purpose of the magnet schools was to “enhance the quality of education and bring about a greater degree of desegregation at [the schools that were to become the magnet] schools . . . ; and 4) there is no clear relationship between the remaining deficiencies outlined in the 1990 Order, none of which dealt with racial enrollment projections, and racial balancing at CMMS. Therefore, the Bryant case does not influence our reasoning with respect to the 1990 Order and its effect on the 1981 Consent Decree.” The court then looks to see if there are any other compelling interests justifying the CMMS admissions policy. In noting that there are none, the court also points out that the CMMS policy is essentially a racial balancing quota, and racial balancing is not, by itself, a constitutionally proper reason for using racial classifications. Nor is the policy narrowly tailored, the court rules, even if there was a continued compelling interest in remedying past racial discrimination. The court adds that the CMMS policy does not even fully follow the dictates of the consent decree because the consent decree did not expressly mandate the use of a race-conscious admission policy or mandate that a list/quota system be used to arrive at the projected racial enrollment goal. OPINION:Garwood, J.; Garwood, Wiener and DeMoss, JJ. DISSENT:Wiener, J. “If this Caddo Magnet racial-quota admissions policy were enacted unilaterally by the [school] Board today, after the court has ceased supervision of the magnet schools, I could go along with the majority’s strict scrutiny analysis and rejection of the quota system. But inasmuch as that policy was enacted pursuant to court order and has been in place for years under that order � with court scrutiny and without court disapproval � and the Board is still hard at the task of eradicating the pernicious effects of de jure segregation, I am convinced that the test employed in the majority’s opinion is inappositely stringent and thus, I respectfully submit, inapplicable in this framework.”

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