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BOYD v. BOARD OF DIRS. OF THE MCGEHEE SCH. DIST. N

June 14, 1985

MARY BOYD, JAMESINA BOYD, PATRICIA BEVERLY, DIANE BALDWIN and ORLANDO JOHNSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE McGEHEE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 17, BUFORD CONNER, Individually and in his official capacity as Superintendent of the McGehee School District No. 17, ROBERT HARDIN, CAROL LUCKY, BRECK SMITH, ROBERT PROSSER and TYRONE BROOMFIELD, Individually and in their official capacities as Members of the Board of Directors of the McGehee School District No. 17, and SAMMY GILL, Individually and in his official capacity as a Coach for the McGehee School District No. 17, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOWARD, JR.

 This action was filed on October 7, 1983, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 2201 and 2202 by Jamesina Boyd and Orlando Johnson, black students, of McGehee High School in McGehee School District No. 17, Desha County, Arkansas, by and through their parents and guardians, praying a preliminary and final injunction requiring defendants, Board of Directors of McGehee School District No. 17, Buford Conner, individually and in his capacity as Superintendent of the McGehee School District No. 17, Robert Hardin, Carol Lucky, Breck Smith, Robert Prosser, Tyrone Broomfield, individually and in their capacities as members of the Board of Directors of McGehee School District No. 17, and Sammy Gill, individually and in his capacity as a coach for the McGehee School District No. 17, to certify Jamesina Boyd, a black female high school senior, as 1983-84 McGehee High School homecoming queen instead of certifying Kristy Wynn, a white female high school senior. *fn1" The plaintiffs alleged that Boyd had polled the highest number of votes - a majority - cast by members of the football team, twenty-eight votes of the fifty-four members of the team, during an election for homecoming queen, but defendant Gill had manipulated the results of the election, because of the race of Boyd, so that Wynn could serve as homecoming queen.

 RELEVANT FACTS

 On September 12, 1983, an election was conducted by the head football coach, Sammy Gill, for the position of High School homecoming queen for the 1983-84 school year. In accordance with the custom and practice of the McGehee High School, only members of the high school football team were eligible to participate in the election. There were fifty-four members constituting the current team consisting of twenty-eight white and twenty-six black players.

 Four female high school students were nominated for the position, three whites and one black. The black nominee was Jamesina Boyd. The players were directed to indicate their choice for queen by the "show-of-hands" as each nominee's name was called. Purportedly, Boyd, the black nominee, received the highest number of votes and should have been designated queen. However, Gill directed the players to indicate their preference between the two white nominees who had polled the highest number of votes between the three white nominees in the initial vote. Wynn won the election involving the two white nominees. Gill then directed the players to vote their preference between Boyd and Wynn. This election was by secret ballot - each player indicated his preference on a slip of paper and delivered the slip to Gill. Gill took immediate possession of the slips and departed for his home without announcing the results. The following day, Gill announced that Wynn, the white nominee, had won the last election and, consequently, was the 1983-1984 McGehee High School homecoming queen. *fn3"

 Practically all of the black players believed that Boyd had won the election initially and that Gill had manipulated the election so that one of the white nominees could be designated queen. A series of conferences were held between the black players, their parents, Gill and the Board of Directors of the District. The Board of Directors elected to take no action on the matter, but agreed to draft objective guidelines to govern the selection of homecoming queens in future years. Gill refused to modify the announced election results.

 On September 23, 1983, twenty-five of the twenty-six black players, in order to protest what they perceived to have been an act of racial discrimination in the selection of the queen, walked out of a pep rally during the afternoon and refused to participate in the game scheduled for that night.

 On September 26, 1983, Johnson and the other twenty-four black players participating in the "boycott" of the scheduled game were suspended from participating on the football team for the remainder of the 1983-84 season. There were approximately four more scheduled games to be played, including the school's traditional homecoming game.

 Plaintiffs contend that the black players were suspended because of their race and as punishment for the exercise of their right of "freedom of expression." On the other hand, defendants assert that the black players were suspended because they had violated an unwritten rule maintained by Gill to the effect that any player who missed a game or football practice "without good cause" or "proper excuse" would be suspended from the team; and that the suspension was not because of race or the exercise of First Amendment rights.

 On October 11, 1983, Orlando Johnson filed his motion for preliminary injunction requiring defendants to reinstate him as a player on the football team.

 On October 14, 1983, this Court entered its order directing defendants to reinstate Johnson as a member of the football team immediately and afford him the same opportunities he enjoyed as a team member prior to his suspension. *fn4"

 On October 20, 1983, Johnson filed his motion for an order directing defendants to show cause why defendants should not be held in contempt for violating this Court's order of October 14, 1983, directing defendants to reinstate Johnson as a member of the football team. The motion alleges:

 
4. That pursuant to a motion for a preliminary injunction by Plaintiff and subsequent to an evidentiary hearing held October 11, 1983 upon said motion, this Court granted a preliminary injunction, entered October 14, 1983 directing Defendant as follows:
 
The Defendants and their agents, officers, servants, employees and attorneys are enjoined and directed to reinstate Orlando Johnson as a member of the McGehee High School football team immediately and are further directed to afford Orlando the same opportunity he enjoyed as a team member prior to the incident resulting in this action until this cause has been heard on the merits. . . .
 
5. That Plaintiff, Orlando Johnson, was reinstated by the McGehee High School football team on October 14, 1983 and allowed to participate in the football game in which the McGehee High School football team participated on that date.
 
6. That from the next regularly scheduled practice session on October 17, 1983, until Wednesday, October 19, 1983, the Defendant, head football coach Sammy Gill, has violated the Court's Order reinstating Plaintiff, Orlando Johnson, in the following respects:
 
(a) Plaintiff, Orlando Johnson, was switched from his starting "defensive end" position on the McGehee High School football team to the position of "tail back", a position ...

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