A city in Alabama will prepare to separate from their current school district and begin the school year under a new district starting this year.
Gardendale, Alabama, a city made up of mostly white citizens, located outside of Burmingham, will split from the Jefferson County school district. The Jefferson County district is made up of predominantly African-American students.
Jefferson County has been a desegregated since about 1967 and has always been under the watchful eye of local and federal government because of it’s desegregation laws.
A video from the Washington Post, below.
A vote to break away from Jefferson County passed in Gardendale in 2013. The residents of the city voted “yes” because they decided they wanted to have more control over where their resources and tax dollars are being spent in regards to education. However, because Gardendale is a mostly-white city and Jefferson County has many African-American students, those opposed to the separation say that race is playing a factor in the move.
The newly formed Gardendale Board of Education will take two schools with it into it’s new district: Gardendale Elementary and Snow Rodgers Elementary. Originally, the district wanted to four schools, including a Bragg Middle School and Gardendale High School. Instead, Federal Judge Madeline Haikala ruled that the city would only be allowed the two elementary schools.
Judge Haikala believes that Gardendale may have a chance to show some kind of “good faith” for the rest of the country. However, despite the ruling, Haikala still noted that there were some racist elements to this possible move.
Judge Haikala has ruled that Gardendale must pay for the transfer of students and must appoint at least one African-American to the school board in order to begin. The new board will have a chance to meet with the public on May 16.
Haikala said that one reason why she decided to rule in favor of this move by Gardendale, is out of concern for black students. She said that she thought that people would blame the black students for blocking the separation.
Should the Gardendale Board of Education show that they are of good faith over three years, like Haikala believes they can be, then they will be allowed to take Bragg Middle School and Gardendale High School.
It is hard to really speak for the entire city of Gardendale and say that they all wish for segregation. It is equally as hard, however, to defend them, when you look at Facebook comments that Judge Haikala said she’s seen.
You also must consider what kind of place Alabama is as a whole when reading this kind of article, specifically in regards to it’s local constitution and how people look at the language in it.
The fear, in this case, is that Gardendale will become a segregated section of the United States under the guise of “taking local action” and soon, other districts or cities that would like to reinstate segregation, will follow Gardendale’s example.
There is currently little information or reporting regarding Gardendale’s decision. Below are some articles about Gardendale. You can also read the 190-page ruling, here.
Judge rules in favor of mostly-white city seceding from school district – Emma Brown, Washington Post
Emma Brown and Ari Shapiro on Alabama City seceding from district – Ari Shapiro, NPR
Judge allows secession of white Alabama town – Corky Siemaszko – NBC News