find no showing of overcrowding so severe as to persuade me to allow the school authorities to delay in adopting complete freedom of choice in Staunton for the 1966-67 school term.
Insofar as the question of teacher assignments is concerned, the observations made in the Augusta County case are equally applicable here. Faculty and administrative staff integration must be brought about. However, on the particular facts of this case I find justification for allowing the City of Staunton some leeway in reaching complete integration. Unquestionably the re-assignment of Negro teachers to predominantly white schools, and vice versa, is one of the most difficult aspects of desegregation. Where, as here, direct discrimination in pupil assignments is eliminated, and where complete integration on a geographic plan is foreseeable at the end of an additional year, I believe the school authorities are entitled to the Court's indulgence in teacher and staff assignments. One-third of the Negro students in Staunton, and already in white schools, and mandatory freedom of choice was utilized for only four of the twelve grades in the school system in the current school year. There is apparently no hesitancy on the part of the Negro community to exercise their prerogatives under freedom of choice. Further, the Negro schools in Staunton are being phased out of the school program and I can see no substantial benefit to be derived from forcing the School Board to place white teachers in those schools for a one year period. The difficulties created by such an order would far outweigh its merits. Accordingly, I will order the integration of faculty and staff by the beginning of the 1967-68 school term. In the interim (for 1966-67), the order will provide that any Negro teachers, no longer needed in the Negro schools because of the decrease in enrollment at those facilities as freedom of choice is extended, be considered for employment in the predominantly white schools on the same non-discriminatory basis as white teachers now employed by the school system. See Franklin v. County School Bd., 242 F. Supp. 371 (W.D.Va.1965) (Appeal pending).
I have examined the prayers for relief in the complaint and find, on the evidence presented to the Court, that the plaintiffs are entitled to none of the additional relief demanded therein at this time. Insofar as any question presented by this cause is not discussed in this opinion, reference is hereby made to the companion Augusta County case for the discussion therein. Specifically, the requirements to be imposed under freedom of choice in Staunton will be identical to those stated in the Augusta County case, and the order in this cause will so provide.
The Court will retain jurisdiction of the cause, placing it on the inactive docket. The cause may be reinstated on the active docket without the payment of any filing fee in the event that any of the plaintiffs or anyone who would have had a right to intervene in the cause had it remained on the active docket shall file a petition for reinstatement and/or intervention stating a claim which would have given such petitioner a right to reopen the cause or intervene had it remained on the active docket.
Upon implementation of the defendants' final unitary geographic plan in the fall of 1967, they will be entitled to dissolution of the injunction contained in the order and final dismissal of the cause.
This opinion and the findings and authorities set forth as herein stated and the companion Augusta County case and its findings and authorities will be treated as findings of fact and conclusions of law. An appropriate order will be entered and filed in accordance with the rationale of this opinion.