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Liddell v. Special Administrative Board of Transitional School District of City of St. Louis

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 5, 2018

Deric James Liddell; Caldwell/NAACP, Plaintiffs - Appellees,
v.
Special Administrative Board of the Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis, Defendant-Appellee, Ken Ross, Jr.; LeDiva Pierce, Intervenor Plaintiffs - Appellants, United States of America, Intervenor Plaintiff- Appellee, Special School District, Defendant, State of Missouri, Defendant-Appellee, St. Louis County; City Board; Lindbergh School District, Defendants, Confluence Academy; City of St. Louis, Missouri, Amid on Behalf of Appellant(s).

          Submitted: September 20, 2017

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis

          Before COLLOTON, BENTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

         In April 2016, several parties to the decades-old St. Louis public school desegregation litigation moved to enforce the 1999 Desegregation Settlement Agreement. The moving parties were plaintiffs in the original case, known as the Liddell and Caldwell-NAACP plaintiffs (the Plaintiffs), and the Special Administrative Board of the Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis (the Special Administrative Board). The Plaintiffs and the Special Administrative Board (together the Joint Movants) argued that the State, through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, was reallocating certain tax proceeds to St. Louis charter schools in violation of the Settlement Agreement. The Joint Movants asked the court to order the State to comply with the 1999 Desegregation Settlement Agreement by (1) discontinuing the practice of allocating the tax proceeds in question to the charter schools, and (2) reimbursing the Special Administrative Board for past wrongful allocations.

         On May 31, 2016, St. Louis charter school parents Ken Ross, Jr., and LeDiva Pierce moved to intervene as plaintiffs as of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2). Alternatively, the charter school parents sought permissive intervention under Rule 24(b). The charter school parents argue that the pending motion to enforce seeks to decrease funding for charter schools and thereby threatens their interest in "educational funding and educational opportunities" for their children. Ross and Pierce seek to intervene on behalf of themselves and "all others similarly situated."

         The district court denied the charter parents' motion to intervene on the grounds that the parents lacked an injury in fact as required to establish standing to intervene. We disagree and conclude that the charter parents have standing. We therefore reverse and remand for the district court to determine in the first instance whether the charter parents meet the requirements under Rule 24 for intervention as of right or for permissive intervention.

         I.

         The charter parents seek to intervene as plaintiffs in litigation that has been ongoing since 1972. To provide context, we begin with a brief history of this litigation and the legislative backdrop.

         In 1972, Minnie Liddell, on behalf of African American school children in St. Louis and their parents, filed suit against the St. Louis Board of Education (the City Board). Liddell alleged that the City Board and its administrators had perpetuated racial segregation and discrimination in St. Louis public schools in violation of her children's constitutional rights. See Liddell v. Bd. of Educ., 469 F.Supp. 1304 (E.D. Mo. 1979).

         In 1973, the district court certified the Liddell plaintiff class. In 1976, another group of students and parents, together with the NAACP, intervened in the litigation. We refer to them as the Caldwell-NAACP plaintiffs. See Liddell v. Caldwell, 546 F.2d 768, 769 (8th Cir. 1976). In 1977, the State of Missouri, the Missouri State Board of Education, and the State Commissioner of Education were made defendants. Liddell, 469 F.Supp. at 1312.

         In 1983, the parties agreed on a comprehensive desegregation plan that provided for a voluntary suburban transfer program, magnet schools, new education programs, capital improvements, and improved vocational education in the school district. Liddell v. Bd. of Educ., 567 F.Supp. 1037 (E.D. Mo. 1983). The State and the City Board funded this plan.

         In 1996, the State moved for a declaration that the City Board no longer operated a segregated school system and for relief from its funding obligations under the desegregation plan. After three years of negotiations, the parties reached, and the court approved, the 1999 Desegregation Settlement Agreement (the Agreement).

         Under the Agreement, the parties agreed that the City Board would continue various remediation programs. In exchange, the St. Louis Public School District (the District) would receive a minimum of $60 million in funding per year, consisting of a combination of state aid and local tax revenue. Senate Bill 781, passed in 1998, set forth a revised funding formula for calculating state aid to the District. The remainder of the ...


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