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Liddell v. Board of Education of City of St. Louis

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 26, 2019

CRATON LIDDELL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.

          OPINNION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant State of Missouri's Motion to Strike the “Motion to Enforce Court Order Approving Settlement, to Enforce Settlement Agreement, and to Hold the State in Contempt, ” [Doc. No. 389] and the Joint Motion of Plaintiffs and Special Administrative Board to Enforce Court Order Approving Settlement, to Enforce Settlement Agreement, and to Hold the State in Contempt, [Doc. No. 381]. The parties have submitted memoranda in support of their positions regarding the pending motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Strike will be to the granted to the extent provided herein.

         Facts and Background

         In the March 12, 1999 Order approving the Settlement Agreement at issue currently, the Court detailed the facts and background giving rise to the Settlement Agreement.

         This suit was filed in District Court in 1972 by a group of black parents on behalf of their children seeking school desegregation within the St. Louis public schools. The action resulted in a settlement plan approved by the District Court in 1983. Liddell y. Board of Educ., 567 F.Supp. 1037 (E.D. Mo. 1983, aff 'd, Liddell y. Missouri, 731 F.2d 1294 (8th Cir. 1984). The plan, which has been governing the case since then, provides for quality education programs in city schools, capital improvements of city schools, magnet schools in the city, a voluntary interdistrict transfer plan, and a vocational education plan. This remedy has been funded by the State and the City Board of Education, and has been supervised by this Court on an ongoing basis with the assistance of various Court-appointed advisors and monitors.

         In February 1996, the Court held a hearing on the State's motion for a declaration that City Board no longer operated a segregated, or dual, public school system, but rather that "unitary status" had been achieved and that the State's funding obligations were thus over. Following the hearing, the Court appointed Dr. William Danforth as Settlement Coordinator in the hope that the parties could reach a negotiated resolution to the case.

         In May 1998, the Missouri General Assembly passed Senate Bill 781 (S B 781), which provides, inter alia, for approximately $40m per year in state funds for St. Louis city schools on the condition that (1) on or before March 15, 1999, the state attorney general notify the reviser of statutes that a "final judgment" had been entered in this case as to the State and its officials, and (2) the voters of the City of St. Louis pass a sales or property tax which would generate approximately $20m per year for the public schools.

         Passage of this law gave great impetus to the settlement process. On January 28, 1999, the Settlement Coordinator filed a statement with the Court that the parties to this action had reached an agreement for settlement of the case. The Coordinator filed a copy of the agreement, noting that the vocational education aspect was still under discussion and that certain funding numbers awaited final calculation. The fact that an agreement had been reached was publicized in the local media, and on February 2, 1999, the voters of the City of St. Louis approved a sales tax for the city schools, as called for in SB 781.

         Memorandum and Order, March 12, 1999 p.1-3 (Limbaugh, J. presiding) (footnotes omitted).

         The Settlement Agreement (“Desegregation Settlement Agreement” or “DSA”) was incorporated into Judge Limbaugh's Memorandum and Order. Id., at p. 19.

         The certified classes of plaintiffs, the Caldwell-NAACP plaintiffs and the Liddell plaintiffs (“Plaintiffs”) and the Special Administrative Board of the Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis, (“SAB”)[1] move the Court to enter an Order enforcing the DSA, seeking

         (1) a directive that the State and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”) fully comply with this Court's Settlement Order and the DSA by discontinuing the practice of reallocating “Desegregation Sales Tax” proceeds to school entities other than the District; (2) a finding that by violating the Settlement Order, the State is in contempt of court; (3) a directive that the State reimburse the SAB for any Desegregation Sales Tax proceeds that have been wrongfully reallocated by the State in violation of the Settlement Order and the DSA; and (4) an award of attorneys' fees incurred in pursuing this Motion.

         The State claims the Court lacks jurisdiction to enter any orders regarding the Motion ...


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