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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – An agreement has been reached between the Madison County Board of Education and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a long-standing school desegregation case.

The DOJ said during the most recent review of the district they found several issues that required attention, including that Black students were subjected to exclusionary discipline at a higher rate when compared to their white peers, Black high schoolers were more likely than their white peers to be referred for subjective infractions and the district’s recruitment and hiring process left several schools with a single Black faculty member.

The consent order requires the Madison County school district to provide equal access to gifted and talented services as well as other academic programs, ensure non-discrimination in student discipline and improve practices for faculty recruitment, hiring, assignment and retention.

The Justice Department welcomed the announcement of today’s order.

“It is long past time to deliver on the promises of Brown v. Board of Education for our nation’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 across the Madison County School District.”

Madison County Schools has announced a 2:30 p.m. press conference to discuss the consent order. News 19 will be in attendance.

Some of the requirements Madison County must undertake:

  • Improve its gifted identification policies, training and practices; expand access to advanced placement and other advanced curricula, and identify and remove existing barriers for Black students;
  • Engage a third-party consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of the district’s discipline policies and procedures; revise the code of conduct; train staff on classroom behavior management; and collect and review discipline data to identify and address trends and concerns;
  • Review faculty hiring, recruitment and retention practices to identify barriers for diverse applicants, 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 professional development for faculty, staff and administrators; and
  • Work with a newly-constituted and diverse Desegregation Advisory Committee.

The full consent order can be read on the DOJ website here.

Many of the requirements outlined by the DOJ must be implemented within the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.

There will also be regular reporting to the court, the Justice Department and the plaintiffs represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

The district’s Director of Equity and Innovation, Dr. Rachel Ballard, will be discussing the consent order at the press conference Wednesday afternoon. A link to that press conference will be available in this article at 2:30 p.m.