A city inside Jefferson County, Alabama is creating controversy over its desire to secede from the predominantly black county school district in order to create its own predominantly white city school district.
According to AL.com, a federal judge in Alabama ruled on Monday (April 24th) that Gardendale, Alabama can begin a three-year process for secession from the Jefferson County School System. Benchmarks and deadlines for desegregation were among the conditions for secession, as per the federal judge’s ruling.
However, many critics of this move by Gardendale to build its own separate school district believe that a desire for segregation is the real reason the city wants to secede from the Jefferson County School System. U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Haikala is who ruled in favor of Gardendale’s request to withdraw from its county school district.
“The Court is giving the Gardendale Board of Education an opportunity to demonstrate good faith,” Haikala said in her Monday ruling.
“To date, the Gardendale Board has fallen short, but it is a new board with limited training. The Court is giving the Gardendale Board the opportunity to operate elementary schools (first) because skills learned in elementary school prove to be the best predictors of future academic success,” Haikala also said.
Attorneys representing the Jefferson County School System, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and even the U.S. Department of Justice are ardently opposed to Gardendale’s school district secession and vocally expressed their concern for years prior to Judge Haikala’s Moday ruling.
Other key players in this situation have said a Gardendale withdrawal from the Jefferson County School System would negatively affect funding due to the school district becoming smaller and even more black.
“We remain firm in our belief that a new school system for Gardendale will adversely impact the desegregation of the Jefferson County schools,” said U.W. Clemon, an attorney for named private plaintiffs who sued Gardendale in an attempt to prevent the city from seceding.