“Race was a motivation factor in Gardendale’s decision to separate from the Jefferson County public school system.” Judge Madeline Haikala wrote. “The record demonstrates that some Gardendale cities are concerned because the racial demographics in Gardendale are shifting.”
That is what Alabama Judge, Madeline Haikala, wrote after ruling in favor of a predominantly white town (Gardendale) seceding from a multiracial (Jefferson) school district to start its own district, knowing that race was a huge factor for the split NBC News reports.
It was in 2013 that people in Gardendale voted to form their own school district. Residents say that the separation is “not due to race” but they want to separate so they can gain more local control of public education and how their tax dollars are spent.
Opponents to this proposed separation call the Gardendale’s separation plans “another form of segregation.”
In her ruling, Judge Haikala found that Gardendale failed to meet its legal duty to prove that its separation would not disturb the desegregation in Jefferson County.
According to the Washington Post, it has been reported that both the U.S Justice Department and the NAACP oppose the new school district.
While many oppose, the judge explains why she ruled in favor of Gardendale moving forward with the secession.
The judge based her decision on two things; the sympathy she had for the parents who wanted to have local control over schools and the sympathy she felt for the black students who were caught in the middle of such drastic proposal.
Stating that the city of Gardendale’s efforts to break away was indeed motivated by race and it sent messages of racial inferiority and exclusion that “assailed the dignity of of black school children.”
The stipulations of such ruling include that Gardendale must be willing to pay for transfer students and appoint a black member to the all white city school board. The city must also show good faith in carrying out desegregation, despite the blatant fact that they are choosing to separate from a predominantly black district which has been struggling to integrate its schools since black parents first sued for an equal education for their children in the 1960s.
Under Alabama law, cities with more than 5,000 residents can form independent school systems.
Gardendale argued that the Federal Court should have no say so over its separation.
“Things have changed and Federal Courts must open their eyes to the condition of the present,” they shared.
Haikala disagreed with the argument writing that Gardendale’s message to black students that they are unwanted, has been “unmistakable and intolerable.”
“We know that the community is anxious and ready to achieve its goal of a locally led public school system. We are, too,” Chris Segroves, president of the Gardendale Board of Education, said in a statement. “While the court’s order is progress and represents a significant development in that process, we must ask for your continued patience and prayers in the coming days as we work through this together for the betterment of our community.”
U.W Clemon, who represents back plaintiffs in the case, said that the ruling undermines more than half a century of integration efforts.
“If this decision stands, it will have a tremendous adverse impact,” Clemon said.
Stay tuned for more from this story.