Alabama’s school system must stop discriminating against black children

Screenshot: WHNT News 19 (fair use)

The US Department of Justice and the Madison County School Board in Alabama have reached a settlement over a long-running desegregation case. The district agreed to take steps to ensure that black students have equal educational opportunities, including gifted programs and college prep courses. It’s almost like they’re pretending that Brown v Board just doesn’t exist.

The DOJ previously said it found several discriminatory issues in its review of the district, such as black students being disciplined more often than white students and black high school students being more likely to be referred for subjective infractions, according to ABC affiliate WHNT. Additionally, their recruitment processes have left several schools without even a single black faculty member.

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Now the DOJ has given the district specific requirements on how to address the racial desegregation they have practiced.

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Under the Consent Order, the District will, among other requirements:

Improve its policies, training and practices for identifying the gifted; expand access to advanced placement and other advanced study programs; and identify and remove existing barriers for black students;

Engage a third-party consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of district disciplinary policies and procedures; revise the code of conduct; train staff in classroom behavior management; and collect and review disciplinary data to identify and address trends and concerns;

Review teacher hiring, recruitment, and retention practices to identify barriers to candidate diversity, improve recruitment and retention of Black teachers and administrators, and ensure their equitable assignment to schools;

Appoint a district-level administrator to oversee the implementation of the agreement and the professional development of faculty, staff, and administrators; and

Work with a newly constituted and diverse Desegregation Advisory Committee.

“It is high time to deliver on the promises of Brown v. Board of Education for our country’s students,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are committed to ensuring that all students receive the educational opportunities they deserve in the Madison County School District. The Civil Rights Division will continue to fight on behalf of students in school districts that have not yet fulfilled their legal obligation to eliminate “root and branch” racial segregation.

The school system will also report regularly to the court, the Department of Justice, and plaintiffs represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The district’s compliance with the order will be monitored for three years, according to The Associated Press.

Jeremy S. McLain