Education

Judge Strikes Down White Community’s Request For Separate School District

An Alabama judge struck down a predominately white community’s request for a separate school district.

The 11th District U.S. Court of Appeals reversed an Alabama district ruling Tuesday, under which residents of Gardendale, Ala. would have been able to form a school district independent of the primarily-black Jefferson County, reported U.S. News & World Report.

Judge William Pryor of the 11th District Court called Gardendale’s proposal to create its own school district discriminatory and harangued the district court, which originally approved the request, for “abus[ing] its discretion.”

“Instead of denying the motion to secede, the district court – unprompted by either party – devised its own secession plan,” Pryor wrote in his decision. “In doing so, it weighed a number of impermissible considerations and thereby abused its discretion.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was pleased with Pryor’s verdict, which overturned a district decision that termed race “a motivating factor” for Gardendale’s proposed secession from Jefferson County.

“More than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, equal access to education is still not a reality for many Black schoolchildren,” said Chris Kemmitt, senior counsel for the group’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “This court decision confirms the importance of our continuing efforts to ensure educational equity for all.”

But Gardendale’s case is not entirely unique. At least 36 school districts have formed after splintering off from larger ones since the turn of the century, according to EdBuild, a nonprofit highlighting what it deems school funding inequality and segregated school boundaries.

“Just drawing attention to this issue created some momentum on the ground,” said Rebecca Sibilia, EdBuild’s CEO and founder, to U.S. News & World Report. “What we’re seeing is that when you raise the collective conscience of people, then it does play out the right way both in courts and civic actions. From our perspective, this is a huge win for our most vulnerable kids and it’s a confirmation that education is indeed a common good.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to the Gardendale mayor’s office for comment, but received none in time for press.

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