Washington Law Review




Defendant, the Seattle School Board, attempted to implement a plan to desegregate the Seattle school system. The plan included the restructuring of school grade classifications in accordance with a "middle school" concept,' and mandatory reassignment of approximately 850 black and white sixth, seventh and eighth grade children from their "neighborhood schools"' to schools in other areas of the city. Mandatory bussing was not required, but bus transportation was to be available for those students who desired it. Plaintiffs, Citizens Against Mandatory Bussing (CAMB), obtained an injunction restraining implementation of the plan for one year. The basis for the injunction was that, although the school board did not lack the authority to adopt the plan, it had nevertheless "'made a mistake,' an unwise policy decision." The trial court also found that the board's alleged "hasty" consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding the adoption of the mandatory reassignment plan, as well as its alleged failure to fully examine and consider possible alternative plans, amounted to "arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious" conduct. On appeal, the Washington Supreme Court reversed the decision and dissolved the injunction. Held: In reviewing a non-judicial decision of a local school board, made within the Board's lawful scope of discretion, a court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Board, and may set aside the Board's decision only if it resulted from unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious action, or is violative of a "fundamental right." Parents do not have a fundamental right to either the preservation of the neighborhood school system of pupil assignment or to the selection of a particular public school which their children shall attend. Citizens Against Mandatory Bussing v. Palmason, 80 Wn. 2d 445, 495 P.2d 657 (1972).

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