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Table showing comparison of Negro and white youth enrolled ' in Gary public
schools, year 1951 and year 1961
The Negro population in Gary is concentrated in what is generally called the “Central District” which occupies roughly the south half of the cross-bar of the “T” from east to west and is bounded on the north by the Wabash Railroad and on the south by the city limits and the Little Calumet River. The expansion of the Negro population within the Gary city limits has been largely from east to west within the Central District. Approximately 70,000 Negroes including the 23,000 Negro schoolchildren live in this district which comprises about one-third of the area of the city.
Gary, which is a relatively new city having been organized in 1906, developed a rather unique school system commonly known as the Wirt System, so named after the superintendent of schools who was its architect. It was originally laid out in eight school districts and, as the school population demanded, one large school was built in each of the eight districts. Each of these schools handled the education of the public school population within its area, from kindergarten through high school. The original eight schools comprising this system were Edison, Tolleston, Mann, Froebel, Roosevelt, Wallace, Emerson, and Wirt. Only Emerson remains a kindgarten through twelve school.
As the school population expanded, additional elementary schools were built. These were generally schools serving children from kindergarten through the sixth grade. Some of these elementary schools serve students from only one of the original eight districts and others accommodate elementary students from two or three such districts.
As these elementary schools were built, attendance zones were drawn for them and as the students complete the course in the elementary school to which they are assigned, they then go on to the high school in the district in which they reside for the completion of their public school education.
When some of the original kindergarten through twelve schools could no longer handle the school population above the sixth grade, junior high schools were built to relieve the pressure. The Pulaski Junior High School was the original junior high building and it houses seventh, eighth and ninth grade students from portions of the Roosevelt, Froebel and Emerson districts. The Beckman Junior High School building, just now being completed, will handle sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from a portion of the Roosevelt district and Bailly, also in the process of construction, will handle seventh and eighth grade students from the Wallace district.
Prior to 1949, Gary had segregated schools in what is commonly known as the Pulaski Complex. Two schools were built on the same campus, one was called Pulaski-East and the other Pulaski-West. One was occupied by Negro students and the other by white students. This was in accordance with the separate but equal policy, then permitted by Indiana law (Burns Indiana Statutes Annotated, 1948 Replacement, Section 28–5104). In 1949, Indiana repealed the separate but equal law and passed a new act expressly prohibiting segregated schools on the basis of race, color or creed (Burns Indiana Statutes Annotated, 1948 Replacement, Pocket Supplement, $ 28–5158). Complying with the mandate of the Indiana Legislature, the Gary School Board abolished the segregated schools in the Pulaski Complex and integrated the two schools. Prior to this time, however, the races were mixed in some of the other schools in the Gary system.
It is in the contention of the plaintiffs that the defendant, by the manner in which it has drawn its school district boundaries, has purposely and intentionally maintained a segregated school system thereby depriving a majority of the Negro students in Gary from attending schools with white students. The Board, on the other hand, specifically denies that there has been any intentional segregation of the races in the Gary school system. As a matter of fact, the School Board and its staff insists that they are color blind, so far as the races are concerned, in the administration of the Gary school system. They maintain no records on the basis of race or color and had to secure the information as to the number of Negroes attending the various schools from sources other than rceords kept by the school administration for the purpose of obtaining racial figures for the trial of this case.
There can be no doubt that those in charge of administration of the Gary schools have had a serious problem, during the past decade or so, in maintaining facilities for the rapidly expanding school population. During the past ten years twenty-two new schools or additions have been built and the class rooms have been more than doubled. In Indiana a school corporation is limited in its bonding power to two percent of the assessed valuation of the property in the district. The Gary School City has been bonded to its limits for the purpose of providing facilities for the past several years. In addition, they have provided, through taxation, an accumulated building fund for the purpose of aiding in the construction of facilities for their ever expanding student population. For the year 1962, payable in 1963, the property tax rate for the School City of Gary is $5.85 per $100.00 of assessed valuation, which is either the highest or one of the highest in the state of Indiana.
In spite of the tremendous effort made by the Board of Trustees and the school administration, they have not always been able to keep their students adequately and properly housed. In addition to adding schod buildings they have rented churches, store rooms, and utilized other public buildings, such as armories and park buildings, for the purpose of providing class rooms for children. It has also been necessary to operate some of the schools on a two shift basis. Roosevelt, a predominantly Negro school, for example, operates now as a senior high school in the morning and as a junior high school in the afternoon. Wallace, an ali white school, is operated the same way. This condition will be relieved in the very near future when the new Beckman and Bailly Junior High buildings will be occupied for the first time. Twenty-eight classes in the Drew Elementary School are also operated on a two shift basis. This situation will also be eliminated when the new junior high school buildings are occupied.
The boundary lines of the original kindergarten through twelve schools have remained unchanged for the most part since they were originally established. In 1953, there was a change in the line between the Emerson and Roosevelt Districts from 20th Avenue to 19th Avenue which affected the students from grades seven through twelve who lived in the area affected by the boundary change. The plaintiffs contend that this shift was made in order to put all of the students in these grades from the Dorrie Miller housing project, which is occupied by Negroes, in the Roosevelt School, a predominantly Negro school, rather than the Emerson School which is a predominantly white school, for the purpose of segregating the races. The defendant, on the other hand, claims there were no racial considerations involved in this change. The change was made on August 26, 1953 after a careful study had been made by the school boundary committee. The report of the Boundary Committee reads as follows: "Introduction :
“The School Boundary Committee at their meeting, August 26, 1953, recommended that the south line of the Emerson School Boundary, grades 7 to 12, be changed from 20th Avenue to 19th Avenue. That is, to change to a line running East and West along 19th Avenue from Virginia Street to
the City Limits. "A. Reasons for Change:
"1. Because of the completion of the Dorrie Miller Project, it was necessary to redefine this Emerson Boundary Line. The present line (20th Avenue) divides the Project Area in half. Also, 20th Avenue is not marked when it reaches the Project Area. It is not considered good for children of a closely knit community, such as the Project, to attend different schools.
“2. Another consideration faced by the committee was the fact that in the Pulaski Area, and in Aetna, some 1200 new homes have been built or will soon be completed. On the average, each home represents slightly over one grade school child. So these facts had to be evaluated carefully
in shifting this school boundary. “B. Effect on Emerson and Roosevelt:
"1. As a result of this boundary change, there will be less than ten children shifted from one school to the other at the present time. This is because :
"a. Over 90% of the families moving into this area have children less than twelve years old.
“b. Students already enrolled in the 7-12th grade level are permitted to remain. “2. It will be from three to five years before there may be any increase of enrollment either at Emerson or Roosevelt at the 7-12th grade level be cause of the younger families in the area, as well as the fact that Pulaski plans to enlarge its grade capacity to include the 7th and 8th. “C. Other Possibilities Considered :
"1. One suggestion considered was to move the boundary line from 20th Avenue to 15th Avenue. However, consideration of the capacity of the schools, distance of travel of the students, indicated that this was not feasible.
“2. Another suggestion was to keep the line at 20th Avenue, until it reaches Ohio Street, and then North on Ohio to 19th Avenue, and then East to the City Limits.
“Again at this time only about six 7th graders would be affected by this move. Just south of Pulaski School, between 19th and 20th Avenues, there are 176 new family units. It will be four years until many of this group are in High School.
“The majority of the committee members believed that there was an advantage of making boundaries along straight lines. Since the 19th Avenue line would be the line on one side of Ohio Street, they believed it could
just as well extended over to Virginia. “D. General Considerations :
"The committee believed that this should be considered as a temporary boundary line for this year. More facts about the movement of population into these areas will have to be obtained before making long range plans. The development of Pulaski School will also affect any future recommenda
tions." There was also testimony at the trial that plans were then under way for the construction of a new junior high school on the Roosevelt campus which comprises a large area and permitted the construction of additional facilities on the site in accordance with the requirements of the State Department of Education, whereas the Emerson land area was much smaller and would not permit the expansion of the facilities in accordance with the requirements of the State because of the lack of sufficient ground.
The plaintiffs only other serious contention that redistricting was done for the purpose of maintaining Negro students in a school separate from white students was in the Washington Elementary School district. The Washington School district was originally a rectangular area approximately fifteen blocks east and west by eighteen blocks north and south. The Washington School building was located in the northwest quarter of this section. When the school population in the area became too great to be accommodated in the Washington School because of new housing in the southern portion of the district, the Locke School was constructed and was located in what was roughly the southeast quarter of the district, approximately eight blocks south and three blocks east of the Washington School. After the Locke School was built, the former Washington School district was divided into two districts by dividing the area at 19th Avenue which required all of the students south of the avenue to go to the Locke School and all of the students north of the avenue to continue to go to Washington. As a result, Locke, in the 1961-1962 school year, was populated by 99 per cent Negro students whereas Washington School had a Negro population of twenty-four per cent. Plaintiffs contend that by drawing the boundary of the new districts north and south along Whitcomb Street that the percentage of Negroes at both schools would have been approximately equal. The defendant, however, contends that drawing the boundary line as suggested would require students in the two districts to travel a much greater distance to get to school and that students living in the southernmost portion of the district near Whitcomb Street would have to travel fourteen or fifteen blocks to school and go directly past the Locke School which is located approximately three blocks from their homes. Likewise, students living in the northern part of the Washington district near Whitcomb Street would travel approximately the same distance to Locke School and in order to get there would have to go within two blocks of the Washington School which, at most, would be five blocks from their homes. The defendant contends that there was no racial consideration in the location of the schools and the only consideration in the location of the Locke School was the availability of land in the areas which would best serve the students within the area. At the time Washington School was constructed there were no racial considerations involved.
With the two exceptions mentioned above, there is no serious contention on the part of the plaintiffs that the boundary lines of the various school districts were especially drawn for the purpose of segregating the races in the public schools.
The Board of School Trustees is a bipartisan Board consisting of five members appointed by the Mayor for staggered four year terms. The Board elects its own officers. Dr. Leroy W. Bingham, a Negro, is now the Board's President. He testified that it was the policy of the Board to construct and to enlarge school buildings where they are needed for the purpose of serving students in the area, whether that area be populated by Negroes or whites, or by both races. He also testified that there was no policy of segregation of races in the Gary school system; that beginning with the school year 1961 the Board adopted a policy of total integration of its staff from the administrative level on down. He also stated that in order to alleviate congestion in the more heavily populated areas, the Board adopted a policy of transferring students from several congested areas to less congested areas in order to try to balance the loads in the various buildings. He also testified that this was done without any consideration of race whatsoever, but for the purpose of relieving congestion wherever possible and using every building to its total capacity; that the policy of the Board was to make complete use of the facilities available for the benefit of all of the children in the school system without regard to race so that all students could be afforded the best education possible.
Mr. Samuel Moise, immediate past president of the Board, also testified to the same effect and it was stipulated by counsel that the other three members, if called to testify, would substantiate the testimony given by Dr. Bingham and Mr. Moise.
Relative to the integration of the staff, a Negro occupies the position of Assistant Superintendent of Schools in charge of the Bureau of Research and Publication. He is one of three assistant superintendents, all of whom have equal rank. The Coordinator of Secondary Education is also a Negro as is the Supervisor of Special Education, the Mathematics Consultant in charge of the Mathematics program in secondary education, a coordinator in the Food Services Department, elementary supervisor and a member of the Special Services Department who devotes a large part of his work to the problem of proper boundary lines for attendance areas. There are 18 Negro principals and 38 white principals. The teaching staff consists of 79842 Negro teachers, 83312 white teachers and 3 orientals. All schools with the exception of one small elementary school have at least one Negro teacher on the staff. All but five of the fortyschools have at least one white teacher.
As a result of the policy of transferring students from overcrowded schools to less crowded schools, 123 children, 92 of whom are Negroes, have been transferred from Tolleston, a predominantly Negro school to Mann, a predominantly white school. Eighty-seven Negro students have been transferred from Tolleston to Edison, a predominantly white school. One hundred and forty students, 120 of whom are Negroes have been transferred from Froebel, a predominantly Negro school to Chase, a predominantly white school. In most, if not all instances, the transferred students are transported by bus at a cost of $20.00 a day per bus load and because of the cost and other factors the Board hopes to utilize facilities within walking distance to the schools as soon as possible. It was stated that this transfer policy, now in effect, is intended to be temporary and was instituted to alleviate overcrowded conditions wherever possible and was not done because of any racial considerations.
The transfer of students generally, from one school to another, is handled on an individual basis. There is no transfer as a matter of right from one school district to another, but on the application of an individual student or his parent, the reason for the transfer request is considered and is allowed or denied depending upon the apparent reasonableness and desirability of the transfer and no racial factors are considered in allowing or disallowing a transfer.
From time to time protests have been made to the School Board by Negro groups concerning the construction of contemplated buildings on the ground that the planned location would create a racial imbalance in the school. The evidence indicates that consideration was given to all of these protests and that on one or more occasion the construction of schools already planned for a certain location was held up or cancelled because of these protests.
[1, 2] From a consideration of all the evidence and the record, the Court can not see that the Board of Education has deliberately or purposely segregated the Gary schools according to race. In the Court's opinion the plaintiffs have failed to sustain their burden of showing that the School Board has so drawn the boundary lines of the school districts within the Gary School system so as to contain the Negroes in certain districts and the whites in others. The only real attempt by the plaintiffs to show such action on the part of the School Board was in connection with the Washington-Locke district as a result of the construction of the new Locke School and in the Roosevelt-Emerson districts in changing the boundary lines from 19th to 20th Avenue. In the Court's opinion there were compelling reasons for districting these two areas in the manner in which it was accomplished, aside from any racial consideration and the Court cannot presume that the Board acted in bad faith. Furthermore, the evidence shows that Negro students were attending both the Emerson School and the Washington School at the time this redistricting was done.
An examination of the school boundary lines in the light of the various factors involved such as density of population, distances that the students have to travel and the safety of the children, particularly in the lower grades, indicates that the areas have been reasonably arrived at and that the lines have not been drawn for the purposes of including or excluding children of certain races.
The safety factors are difficult to solve in this school system. Three U.S. Highways and the Indiana Toll Road traverse Gary from East to West. At least nine railroads cross the city, mostly at grade, as they converge on Chicago from the east or southeast. Some of these railroads have multiple tracks through the city and the streets crosing them are several blocks apart in some areas. The Little Calumet River crosses the city from east to west and is infrequently bridged. These are all safety factors that have to be considered in locating schools and fixing attendance districts.
1 Assistant principals are included in these figures. 2 The 1/2 teacher refers to teachers who work one-half time.