Category: Education

Round Two: Gardendale Board, NAACP File Briefs With Appeals Court in School Breakaway Case

The opposing sides in the ongoing Gardendale school-separation case have thrown their first punches in the second round of their fight.

Attorneys for the Gardendale Board of Education and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund have filed briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, arguing from opposite sides why they think the ruling by District Judge Madeline Haikala to give Gardendale control of two elementary schools should be thrown out. Read more.

Parents Criticize Birmingham Public Schools. Still, ‘Somebody in Every School is Fighting for Something,’ They Say.

“Why are parents having to create battle strategies?”

The question was from Nicholas – a new parent, a teacher, a volunteer supporting Birmingham public schools – and addressed to Birmingham parents of school-age children.

It came in a BW Listening conversation focused on education issues Thursday at Woodlawn United Methodist Church. BirminghamWatch is asking what’s on the minds of Birmingham voters as they approach elections of a mayor, members of the City Council and members of the school board.
Read more.

Federal Judge Nixes Plan to Adjust Attendance Zones for Two Elementary Schools in Gardendale

A federal judge has denied a request by Jefferson County Schools to change attendance zones for Gardendale and Snow Rogers elementary schools.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala ruled against the request in a hearing Thursday morning. JefCoEd officials wanted to shift the boundaries between the two schools’ zones to move students away from Gardendale Elementary — which has suffered from crowding in recent years — and send them to Snow Rogers Elementary, which has available space.

Earlier this year, Haikala ruled that the two elementary schools could be put under the control of the new Gardendale Board of Education, as part of the city’s long-running effort to break away from JefCoEd and form its own municipal system. That decision has been appealed. Read more.

Appeals Court Asks Whether It Can Legally Consider Gardendale School-Separation Case

The appeal of a federal judge’s decision in the Gardendale school breakaway case may hit an unexpected roadblock.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has issued a “jurisdictional question” asking all parties in the case whether the ruling issued in April by U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala could be considered a final judgment, since the ruling did not give complete and final control of Gardendale’s four schools to the city right away.

Instead, it allowed the city to take over Gardendale and Snow Rogers elementary schools in the coming academic year. The order laid out a process for the city to follow to ensure desegregation efforts over the next three years before she would hand over control of Gardendale High and Bragg Middle schools. Read more.

As You Were: Federal Judge Stays Ruling, Allows Jefferson County System to Run Gardendale Schools While Appeals Play Out

The takeover of two elementary schools by the Gardendale Board of Education will not happen in the coming academic year, after a federal judge issued a stay of her original ruling in the city’s attempt to break away from the Jefferson County Schools.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala agreed to motions filed by both Gardendale officials and by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which represents the original plaintiffs in the landmark Stout v. Jefferson County Board of Education case that resulted in racial desegregation of the county system in the early 1970s.

Both parties had asked Haikala to delay the ruling she issued on April 24 and amended a few days later. That order allowed Gardendale to do a partial takeover of the schools inside city limits; Snow Rogers and Gardendale elementary schools would have been under city control beginning this summer, while Gardendale High and Bragg Middle schools would have remained part of JefCoEd for at least three years, until Haikala was satisfied that Gardendale had made sufficient progress toward desegregation. Read more.

Students Purportedly Wearing “Blackface” in Online Photos Rekindle Racial Allegations in Gardendale’s Bid to Form Its Own School System

Earlier Stories

Gardendale School Board Appeals Federal Court Ruling, Asks for Full Control of All Schools in the City Right Away


What’s Next? Residents Speak out About Next Steps for Gardendale’s New School System

Judge Stands with Order: Gardendale Can Take Steps Toward Separate School System
NAACP Asks Judge to Reconsider Allowing Gardendale to Start Its Own School System
NAACP Plans to Ask Judge to Reconsider Gardendale School Order; Ruling in Case Defies Conventional Procedure
Judge Haikala Is No Stranger to the Spotlight
Federal Judge Gives Gardendale Control Over City’s Elementary Schools, Lets JeffCo Keep Middle and High Schools for Now.
Read Haikala’s May 9 order
Read Hiakala’s initial ruling.

Gardendale School Board Appeals Federal Court Ruling, Asks for Full Control of All Schools in the City Right Away

Lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and for the Gardendale Board of Education agree on something.

They both want Gardendale’s takeover of two elementary schools in the city to be delayed by federal courts.

The Gardendale board filed two motions Tuesday. One informed the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that it intends to cross-appeal a federal judge’s decision allowed the new system to take over operation of the two schools for the coming academic year. The other asked the original judge to stay her own ruling, delaying the order’s implementation until the board’s appeal and that of the NAACP are handled by the appellate court.
Gardendale is appealing Haikala’s late April ruling because it feels she should have ruled entirely in its favor, allowing it to take control of all four JefCoEd schools inside the city’s limits, including Gardendale High and Bragg Middle schools.

The NAACP, on the other hand, is asking for a stay so it can argue that Gardendale shouldn’t be able allowed to take control of any of the schools. Read more.

Students Purportedly Wearing “Blackface” in Online Photos Rekindle Racial Allegations in Gardendale’s Bid to Form Its Own School System

Earlier Stories

What’s Next? Residents Speak out About Next Steps for Gardendale’s New School System

Judge Stands with Order: Gardendale Can Take Steps Toward Separate School System
NAACP Asks Judge to Reconsider Allowing Gardendale to Start Its Own School System
NAACP Plans to Ask Judge to Reconsider Gardendale School Order; Ruling in Case Defies Conventional Procedure
Judge Haikala Is No Stranger to the Spotlight
Federal Judge Gives Gardendale Control Over City’s Elementary Schools, Lets JeffCo Keep Middle and High Schools for Now.
Read Haikala’s May 9 order
Read Hiakala’s initial ruling.

What’s Next? Residents Speak out About Next Steps for Gardendale’s New School System

May 16, 2017 – For residents of Gardendale, most of whom supported the city’s efforts to break away from the Jefferson County Schools and form a new municipal system, the question is, “What’s next?”

Many of those residents filled the council chambers of City Hall on Tuesday night to pose their questions or voice their concerns to the Gardendale Board of Education. It was the board’s first meeting since U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala issued a lengthy ruling that gave the board control of the city’s two elementary schools, with the possibility of taking over the middle and high schools in three years, if racial and financial issues are settled to Haikala’s satisfaction.

That’s far less than the full, immediate control that Gardendale officials sought. Moreover, the ruling also required that the city reimburse JefCoEd for the Gardendale High School property, or else allow the county to keep that facility and build a new school for itself. Gardendale attorneys had argued that Alabama law gave them a loophole to take over GHS for nothing, since JefCoEd issued no debt to pay for it; the debt was instead taken on by Jefferson County government.

With a strong contingent — at least by Gardendale standards — of local police on hand, attendees came one by one to the front to have their say before the board. Most of them implored board members and Superintendent Patrick Martin to keep pressing toward a full breakaway. Read more.

Earlier Stories
Judge Stands with Order: Gardendale Can Take Steps Toward Separate School System
NAACP Asks Judge to Reconsider Allowing Gardendale to Start Its Own School System
NAACP Plans to Ask Judge to Reconsider Gardendale School Order; Ruling in Case Defies Conventional Procedure
Judge Haikala Is No Stranger to the Spotlight
Federal Judge Gives Gardendale Control Over City’s Elementary Schools, Lets JeffCo Keep Middle and High Schools for Now.

Read Haikala’s May 9 order
Read Hiakala’s initial ruling.

Judge Stands with Order: Gardendale Can Take Steps Toward Separate School System

A federal district judge has declined to reconsider her ruling two weeks ago that allows Gardendale to break away from the Jefferson County Schools on a limited basis, even though she found that Gardendale’s motives for forming its own municipal school system were racially motivated.

In a 49-page supplemental memorandum opinion issued Tuesday morning, U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala turned down the request by attorneys for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, representing the original plaintiffs in the landmark Stout v. Jefferson County Board of Education case. That case resulted in the forced desegregation of county schools nearly half a century ago. The attorneys contended Haikala’s finding of racial motivation did not match up with allowing Gardendale to proceed with its separation. Read more

Read Haikala’s May 9 order

Earlier Stories
NAACP Asks Judge to Reconsider Allowing Gardendale to Start Its Own School System
Read Hiakala’s initial ruling.
NAACP Plans to Ask Judge to Reconsider Gardendale School Order; Ruling in Case Defies Conventional Procedure
Judge Haikala Is No Stranger to the Spotlight
Federal Judge Gives Gardendale Control Over City’s Elementary Schools, Lets JeffCo Keep Middle and High Schools for Now.

What They’re Saying
Whites Only: School Segregation Is Back, From Birmingham to San Francisco (Newsweek)
Judge: Mostly White Southern City May Secede From School District Despite Racial Motive (Washington Post)
Judge Lets White Alabama Town Secede From School District Despite ‘Race’ Being a Factor (NBC News)
A Federal Judge Is Letting an Alabama School District Return to Segregation (Salon)
A Southern City Wants to Secede From Its School District, Raising Concerns About Segregation (Washington Post)