American Civil Rights Foundation,
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT,
MINERVA ALMARAZ as Guardian Ad Litem for Issamar Camacho, a minor, FELISA ARGUETA as Guardian Ad Litem for Carolina Argueta, a minor, HENDERSON THOMAS as Guardian Ad Litem for Yvorn Aswad-Thomas, a minor, SUSAN YAMASAKI as Guardian Ad Litem for Kim Yamasaki, a minor, BARBARA GREENFIELD as Guardian Ad Litem for Jay Greenfield, a minor, UEAALDF, and BAMN,
REPLY IN SUPPORT OF PROPOSED ALMARAZ INTERVENORS'
The right of proposed intervenors Minerva Almaraz, et al. to participate fully in this litigation is self-evident. As magnet school and Permits With Transportation (PWT) students, the proposed intervenors directly benefit from court-ordered programs designed to achieve equal, integrated schooling in Los Angeles. The plaintiff has brought suit to dismantle these programs. Consequently, as California courts have recognized in every previous reported desegregation case, as courts in other jurisdictions have also consistently recognized, and as the defendant District accepts here, the students are entitled to intervene. Indeed, the denial of their motion would constitute an abuse of discretion. See Bustop v. Superior Court, 69 Cal. App. 3d 66 (1977) (reversing trial court’s denial of intervention to parents of Los Angeles Unified School District students in desegregation case).
The plaintiff cannot raise and has not raised any legitimate controversy over the students’ right to protect the quality and character of their own educational experiences and opportunities. Its opposition to their motion to intervene borders on being frivolous, and necessitates only minimal reply.
I. THE STUDENTS’ INTEREST IN THE CHALLENGED DESEGREGATION PROGRAMS IS MORE THAN SUFFICIENT FOR BOTH MANDATORY AND PERMISSIVE INTERVENTION.
Plaintiff first seeks to conjure a new rule under which Code of Civil Procedure 387(b), governing mandatory intervention, would demand the demonstration of a specific financial interest in the litigation. Opposition at 2-3. Because no case takes this view, plaintiff attempts to construct an argument out of the phrase “property or transaction” in section 387(b), asserting essentially that the “property” must be real or personal property and the “transaction” a commercial one. The only basis for such a construction lies in the plaintiff’s wishes. The proposed Almaraz intervenors’ interest is much more fundamental and profound than any financial interest. Theirs is a direct interest in equal integrated education recognized since Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294 (1955). The sufficiency of this interest cannot be seriously debated. See also Allen v.Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 756 (1984).
Later in its opposition, the plaintiff proposes that the students’ interest in attending equal, integrated schools is “abstract” and thus insufficient to support permissive intervention under section 387(a). Opposition at 8-11. In addition to being preposterous, this argument is insulting. As the students’ declarations demonstrate forcefully, there is nothing abstract about the opportunity to attend a school under one of the challenged programs: a school where Latino, black, and Asian young people’s aspirations meet with nurture and challenge; where classrooms are not dangerous and decrepit; and where the presence of students of all races from across the District learning together not only creates a level of equality and educational opportunity that is otherwise unattainable but also creates an atmosphere of unity and hope.
II. THE STUDENTS MEET ALL OTHER CRITERIA FOR BOTH MANDATORY AND PERMISSIVE INTERVENTION.
Plaintiff glibly hypothesizes that if its challenge to voluntary busing and magnet schools should prevail, the District may maintain the programs but eliminate race as a selection factor, pursuing the goal of racial integration through race-neutral means. Opposition at 3-5, 8-9. This speculation, offered to suggest that the students’ interests are not directly in jeopardy, is utterly misplaced.
First, there is no telling what the District would do if the plaintiff prevailed, and no reason why the students or the Court should give any credence to the plaintiff’s artificial and self-serving predictions. More fundamentally, as indicated in the students’ opening memorandum, the experience of school districts around the nation unmistakably shows what common sense would predict: race-conscious means are necessary to offset racial inequality and achieve progress toward racial integration. Where such means are eliminated, resegregation and inequality follow. Further, the proposed intervenors have participated in busing and magnet school programs under a selection process that has in fact taken account of their race and thus possess an interest in protecting it. Finally, the raison d’etre of the magnet and busing programs is racial integration. The use of race in student assignment is essential and positive, not a sheepish afterthought.
The remaining points in the plaintiff’s opposition are insubstantial. It is clear that the District cannot adequately represent the students’ interests and indeed that the interests of the District and the students may become adversarial; that the issues the students will raise are those already at the center of the litigation; and that the motion is timely. Lastly, the plaintiff’s opposition is incapable of outweighing the students’ reasons for intervening. That opposition is based solely on the plaintiff’s desire to dismantle equal, integrated education in Los Angeles without having to confront the Latino, black, Asian, and white students who have profoundly benefited from it and who are determined to defend and protect it.
The plaintiff organization that filed this lawsuit has not identified a single Los Angeles student, parent, teacher, or community member purportedly aggrieved by the modest but important desegregation programs plaintiff has attacked in this case. Had plaintiff done so, its arguments against the students’ intervention would still be spurious. Nevertheless, and to be blunt, plaintiff’s challenge to the participation of largely minority students when it has brought to court no living stakeholder reveals both arrogance and hypocrisy.
For the reasons above and those articulated in their earlier pleadings on this motion, the proposed Almaraz intervenors respectfully request that the Court grant their motion for leave to file a complaint in intervention.
Dated: February 27, 2006
* Admitted to practice in Michigan. Motion to admit pro hac vice filed this date.