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Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education Case Brief

Summary of Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

Facts: Charlotte, NC metropolitan school district had a dual system.  

Procedural History: District court rejected three of the school board’s desegregation plans.  Said that a plan prepared at its request by an expert in education or a plan prepared by a minority on the school board would be acceptable.

Holding: Since each situation is diverse, no rigid rules can be laid down.  

If the school board defaults on its duty, the court has broad equitable powers to remedy the situation by:

  1. Assigning students on a racial basis (using mathematical ratios) as a starting point fashioning a remedy
  2. if a plan leaves some schools containing all or predominately one race, the school board has to show that the assignments are genuinely nondiscriminatory
    1. optional “majority-to-minority” transfer provisions are valid
      1. must provide free transportation to the school to which transfer is sought
  3. Gerrymandering of school district zones
    1. This is only valid because a constitutional violation is present
  4. Transportation of students
    1. The school already uses buses, so its not really an extra burden
    2. Use bus transportation as a tool of desegregation
  5. new school construction and abandonment of old schools can’t be used to perpetuate segregation
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