Target: Dr. Casey Wardynski, Huntsville City Schools Superintendent
Goal: Fully integrate all Huntsville public schools and ensure all students have equal access to advanced classes and other resources
Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education declared the segregation of schools based on race unconstitutional, one Alabama district is coming under fire for failing to end school segregation. The Huntsville City School District continues to operate many schools that are either predominantly African-American or predominantly white; unequal distribution of resources has left many of the city’s children of color without access to advanced classes, reports news outlet ProPublica. Federal judge Madeline Hughes Haikala ruled that the district may have made less than a “good faith effort” to integrate, and rejected a newly-proposed student assignment plan over concerns it could increase racial segregation.
Huntsville’s is the largest school district in the United States still under a federal mandate to desegregate. The district may be racially diverse, but its schools are far less so. The school board’s claim that enrollment discrepancies are based solely on forces outside its control failed to sway Judge Haikala. “There is a significant disparity between the educational programs in the district’s predominately African-American secondary schools and the educational programs in the district’s predominately white schools,” she wrote in her ruling. The town’s young students, she said, “have no control over where they live now, but giving them a strong education is the surest way to ensure that they will have choices about where they will live in the future and what they will do when they become adults.”
ProPublica describes how Judge Haikala criticized the district’s failure to file required reports verifying successful desegregation. What information it did submit was at times incomplete or else blatantly false. She blasted the school board for publicly criticizing its mandate to allow students to transfer to schools where they would be in the racial minority. Judge Hiakala also took aim at the Justice Department, which she argued had not done enough to ensure Huntsville’s compliance with the mandate.
Demand that the Huntsville City School District fully comply with federal orders to integrate its schools, and ensure that all students have equal access to advanced classesand other resources crucial to their academic success.
Dear Dr. Wardynski,
I was deeply dismayed to learn of your school district’s failure to comply with federal orders to desegregate. Not only are most of Huntsville’s schools predominantly either African-American or white, but fewer advanced course offerings and other key resources are available to students of color.
Your district insists it’s done all it can to desegregate, yet publicly complains about its requirement to allow students to move to schools where they are minorities. I applaud Judge Haikala’s rejection of the proposed student assignment plan, which would likely have deepened the existing racial divide.
Clearly things need to change in Huntsville–starting with the school board’s denial than an issue even exists. I must insist that the Huntsville City School District truly do everything in its power to integrate local schools, and ensure equal access to advanced courses and other resources to all students regardless of race. Please, take Judge Haikala’s ruling to heart. Rather than dismiss it as nonsense, use this as an opportunity to fulfill your mission to support the academic success of all Huntsville’s diverse youth.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ske via Wikimedia Commons