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Doe v LMSD - Factual Findings Memo Complete

Doe v LMSD - Factual Findings Memo Complete

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Published by: LMVUE on May 13, 2010
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01/24/2013

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
STUDENT DOE 1, et al.,:CIVIL ACTION:v.::LOWER MERION SCHOOL DISTRICT:NO. 09-2095
MEMORANDUM ON FACTUAL FINDINGSBaylson, J.
 
May 13, 2010TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.Introduction and Summary..................................................2II.Procedural Background....................................................4III.Findings of Fact..........................................................5A.The District.......................................................61.School Board................................................62.Superintendent Dr. McGinley...................................73.School Administration.........................................84.Affected Area and North Ardmore...............................9B.Plaintiffs.........................................................11C.Redistricting Process ...............................................121.Decision to Redistrict.........................................122.Redistricting Principles.......................................15a.NonNegotiables .....................................15 b.Community Values....................................163.Early Redistricting Planning Stages..............................18D.Proposed Redistricting Scenarios and Plans.............................191.PreProposed Plan 1.........................................22a.AfricanAmerican Student Data..........................22 b.Elimination of Scenarios 1 and 4A........................24c.Awareness of Seattle...................................252.Proposed Plan 1.............................................27a.Likelihood of Randomized Student Assignment..............27 b.General Diversity Data..................................28c.Redistricting Press Release..............................28d.Decisions to Not Present Diversity Data....................291
 
e.RaceRelated Comments Regarding Proposed Plan 1.........30f.Rejection of Proposed Plan 1.............................313.Proposed Plan 2.............................................33a.Rejection of Proposed Plan 2.............................33 b.RaceRelated Comments Regarding Proposed Plan 3.........34i.Dr. McGinleys and Lisa Pliskins Comments.........35ii.David Ebbys Comments..........................37iii.Diane DiBonaventuros Comments..................374.Proposed Plan 3.............................................385.Proposed Plan 3R............................................41a.RaceRelated Comments Regarding Proposed Plan 3R........44 b.Diversity Data .......................................45E.Adoption and Implementation of Proposed Plan 3R.......................461.Board Members’ Reasons for Voting for or Against Plan 3R..........47a.Board Members Supporting Plan 3R.......................47 b.Diane DiBonaventuro..................................48c.David Ebby..........................................492.High School Enrollment Data..................................50IV.Factual Conclusions....................................................50V.Further Proceedings .....................................................55VI. Legal Issues To Be Briefed and Argued......................................56
I.Introduction and Summary
Plaintiffs Students Doe 1 through 9 (“Students”) are African–American students who livein Lower Merion School District (“District”), which is located in Montgomery County,Pennsylvania. The Students, by and through Parents/Guardians Doe 1 through 10 (“Parents,”collectively with Students, “Plaintiffs”), allege that the District discriminated against them basedon their race, by adopting a redistricting plan in January 2009 that took away their ability tochoose to attend either of the District’s high schools, Harriton and Lower Merion, and requiredthem to attend Harriton High School. On February 24, 2010, this Court denied the District’s2
 
Motion for Summary Judgment. Doe v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., —F. Supp. 2d.—, 2010 WL701677 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 24, 2010). Beginning on April 8, 2010, this Court held a nine–day benchtrial. (Docket Nos. 89–94, 97–104.)Following trial, the Court finds that race was one of several factors motivating the SchoolAdministration, as it developed and recommended redistricting plans. The Administration’srecommendation to the Board, to redistrict Plaintiffs to Harriton High School, was based largelyon the fact that Plaintiffs’ neighborhood of residence has a heavy concentration of African–American students, and that Harriton had a significantly lower African–Americanstudent population than Lower Merion High School prior to redistricting. Like a leitmotif in aWagner opera, a recurring theme with variations, the process of redistricting repeatedly embracedthe goal of achieving racial parity between the two high schools. As Justice Holmes stated inSchenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 52 (1919), “the character of every act depends on thecircumstance in which it is done.” The circumstantial evidence introduced at trial leads, like awell–worn path through the woods, inescapably to the finding that race was a motivating factor for the Administration.The Board Members who voted to approve Plan 3R were not aware that racialconsiderations had played such a significant role within the Administration. Both Lower Merionand Harriton High Schools are excellent schools. Whether Plaintiffs are entitled to relief willturn in large part upon the interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Parents Involved inCommunity Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 551 U.S. 701, 723 (2007) (“Seattle”). ThisMemorandum sets forth the Court’s findings of fact pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure52(a). Further briefing from the parties on the legal issues which stem from these findings of fact3

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