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special segregation committee the words "for racially segregated schools only” were deleted from the sections of the appropriation bill dealing with State school funds. A general provision was inserted vesting supervision of the expenditure of funds for educational purposes in the State Budget and Control Board and declaring that: “ “The appropriations made under the following sections shall be on a racially segregated basis only.” An entirely separate special emergency bill repealing this provision was passed in the closing days of the 1960 session." It never became effective. At the convening of the 1961 session the Governor notified the legislature that he had vetoed it.
The State Segregation Committee believed that the repeal device would keep school segregation suits out of the Federal courts. The theory was that racial restriction having been removed from the appropriation law, the only basis for court attack against segregation in the schools would be to contest the assignment of students under the 1956 Pupil Placement law. This imposed a long sequence of administrative procedures that had to be exhausted before recourse to the courts. The 1961 session of the legislature having adjourned without overriding the Governor's veto, this reserve weapon can no longer be used.
Among the Virginia school districts ordered in 1959 to desegregate, Prince Edward County alone chose to close its schools rather than comply. This brought about the establishment of several segregated private schools for white children.“ In its regular 1960 session the Virginia General Assembly enacted three measures to support them. One authorized local governing bodies to appropriate funds for private educational purposes. Another permitted local governments to provide that contributions to nonprofit, nonsectarian private schools within the locality (either in operation or chartered within a year), could be deducted from personal and real property taxes up to 25 percent of the taxes due. The third was a new tuition grant law that provided
19 scholarships for the education of children in nonsectarian, private schools wherever located and in public schools outside the school district. Local governing bodies were authorized to levy taxes and appropriate public funds for the establishment of such scholarships up to the amount of $250 for elementary, and $275 for high school students, part of the cost being borne by the State. The act declared that if local authorities failed to create scholarships they would be provided by the State, the local share to be withheld from other State funds due that locality.”
When the Legislatures of Georgia and Louisiana reconvened in January and May of 1960, respectively, one school district in each—Atlanta and New Orleans--was under court order to present a desegregation plan." The major action of the Georgia General Assembly was to create the Sibley Committee to study and recommend possible revisions of Georgia law. Although the committee declared its firm opposition to the Supreme Court ruling in the School Segregation Cases, it recognized their binding force saying:
Any system of public education must now recognize that the Supreme Court decision in the Brown case destroyed the power of the State to compel by law separation of the races in public, taxsupported schools. Any continuance of public education must be adjusted to that fact.
Embracing the Virginia scheme of freedom of choice for the individual student, the majority report declared:
It is our conclusion that, although there are some localities where private schools could be maintained successfully, it will be impractical to develop a system of private schools that would provide adequately for the educational needs of the masses of the people of the State. The basic alternative appears to be a system giving authority to local boards to assign students to particular schools in accordance with the best interests of all students; and the giving of as much freedom of choice as possible to parents and local communities in the handling of their problems; and the giving of assurance that no child will be required to go to school with a child of a different race except on a voluntary basis.
To implement its conclusions, the Sibley Committee recommended that the General Assembly propose two amendments to the Georgia constitution. One was to provide that no child should be compelled against the will of his parents to attend a desegregated school, but that he should be entitled to reassignment to another public school or to a tuition grant. The other was to authorize the legislature to provide for a uniform system of local units for the administration of public schools, and give such local units power to close and reopen schools in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the voters within its jurisdiction. The committee also recommended enactment of legislation to provide tuition grants or scholarships for children withdrawing from desegregated or closed schools; to make teachers' retirement benefits available to teachers in private schools; and (if the legislature accepted the freedom-of-choice recommendation) to enable school boards to establish pupil placement plans and give the people of each community the right to vote on the closing of schools in the event of desegregation
When a Federal district court in May 1960 issued its order requiring the desegregation of the first grades of New Orleans schools in the following September," the Louisiana Legislature had just convened in regular session. Throughout that and five additional special sessions which terminated in February 1961, opposition to any form of compliance with the law of the land as to school desegregation was clear. Louisiana's resistance has been called by its attorney general the “legislate and litigate” technique. As fast as the Federal court enjoined enforcement of acts and resolutions, the legislature passed new ones. During the six 1960–61 sessions, 56 statutes and a number of concurrent resolutions were enacted. Twenty-five of the statutes have been held invalid. Among the 31 still in effect, 4 were appropriation laws covering the cost of the special sessions, 7 repealed acts already held unconstitutional, and the others amended earlier statutes.
Of the five statutes enacted in the 1960 regular session, four failed to survive court test. The other, not challenged and still in effect, granted local school boards final responsibility for the assignment and transfer of students to public schools and directed that no child should be compelled to attend a desegregated school upon his parents' objections, and that he would be entitled to a transfer or to a tuition grant.
Other acts passed in the regular session withdrew State funds from any public or private desegregated school; authorized the Governor to close all public schools threatened by integration, vested in the legislature the exclusive right to establish a racial classification of public schools; and directed the Governor to close any public school in the State in case of disorder, riots, or violence. All were voided on August 27, 1960, by a three-judge Federal court. 57
On the eve of desegregation of first grades in New Orleans postponed by court order to November 14, 1960, the legislature was convened in its first extraordinary session, during which 29 laws were enacted in defense of school segregation. Seven of these repealed four measures of the previous session and three earlier measures found unconstitutional by the Federal court in August. 58 Six of the seven just repealed were reenacted with very slight changes. At this session the legislature also adopted the Interposition Act which declared the Supreme Court decision in the School Segregation Cases, and all lower court decisions pursuant thereto, null and void in Louisiana, and prohibited any State or Federal official from enforcing school desegregation in Louisiana under penalty of fine and imprisonment from 6 to 12 months. In preparation for open resistance to school desegregation in New Orleans, the State police were given additional powers to keep order even in cities having their own police forces. 61
It had become clear that New Orleans school officials were determined to keep the schools open and to comply with the Federal court order. The remaining legislation enacted at the first extraordinary session, therefore, was designed to prevent such compliance. The law providing for the election of the Orleans Parish School Board was repealed and the legislature was authorized to provide for the creation and election of a new board. Whenever any school in their jurisdiction was operated "in violation of the constitution and laws of the State,” accreditation was to be withdrawn and school officials prohibited from functioning. School officials were directed to close such schools and to revoke the licenses of teachers instructing therein. Students attending such schools were denied promotion and graduation credits. The transfer of students from the schools to which they had been assigned in September was prohibited and consent thereto by any school official was made a misdemeanor. On November 30, 1960, a three-judge Federal court found 18 of these statutes unconstitutional, and voided 4 House concurrent resolutions that had been approved at the same session. These resolutions implemented some of the statutes by delegating to an eight-man legislative committee complete control of the Orleans Parish school system, and repealing the Orleans Parish School Board resolution transferring four Negro first graders to previously white schools. They also discharged the New Orleans school superintendent and the school board counsel,and declared November 14, 1960, the day scheduled for the desegregation of New Orleans schools, a school holiday.®7 Finally, the four members of the Orleans Parish School Board who had voted in favor of desegregation of the schools were addressed out of office. 68
Since the Orleans Parish school officials had found effective support in the Federal court, the second extraordinary session (November 16-December 15, 1960) adopted a combined strategy of recrimination against the Federal courts 68 and intimidation of the New Orleans School Board. Legislation was adopted to deprive the school board of the power to select its own counsel *° and to cripple its operations by depriving it of funds and cutting off the pay of teachers who continued to teach in the desegregated schools. The pay of the teachers who had refused to teach in compliance with State law was not affected." The same session also reenacted tuition grant laws for children attending private nonsectarian schools," authorized the transfer of school property whenever a school had been closed indefinitely under the authority of State law,and made it a misdemeanor to obstruct State court orders or judicial processes under penalty of fine and imprisonment.**
The legislation enacted at the third and fifth extraordinary sessions which met between December 17, 1960, and February 26, 1961, represented a further attempt to intimidate not only the members of the New Orleans School Board and superintendent of schools (who had attempted
to carry out Federal court orders)," but also private citizens who had aided parents sending their children to the desegregated schools.78
Since a Federal court had ordered the desegregation of two other public school systems in the State, those of East Baton Rouge and St. Helena Parishes, statutes were enacted requiring an election on the question of closing the schools " and, in the case of East Baton Rouge Parish, increasing the membership of the school board from 7 to 11 members, the additional 4 members to be appointed by the Governor.78
At the fifth extraordinary session, tuition grant funds were also made available as of July 1, 1961, by transferring $2.5 million from sales tax proceeds in the public welfare fund to the educational expense grant-inaid fund " and by providing an additional monthly transfer to that fund of $250,000 from sales tax revenues. 80
1961 LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS
The Legislatures of Alabama and Florida are still in session at this writing. Those of Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia
. have adjourned.
The Arkansas Legislature approved an administration-sponsored amendment to the State constitution providing that no child may be denied the right to a free public education because of his refusal to attend school with students of another race, if he proves to the satisfaction of the school board that such attendance would be inimical to his welfare.8 The amendment will be voted upon at the November 1962 election.
The Louisiana Legislature at the close of its regular session attached an amendment to the general appropriation bill aimed directly at closing the two New Orleans schools desegregated in 1960. As a result of the white boycott, attendance at these schools had dwindled to a mere trickle. The amendment provides that no funds be distributed to a school “in any parish in which the average daily attendance has been reduced to 25 percent or less of the attendance in that school during the 1959–60 or the 1960–61 school year.