Huntsville City Schools Files Response to DOJ Opposition

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Huntsville City School Board filed its response to the Department of Justice early Monday evening.

The 51-page response challenges the DOJ's concerns. Superintendent Wardynski claims the DOJ "ignore[s] history, and create[s] errors of law and fact," in their original motion.

It is a sentiment shared in the response filed Monday evening. "The standard described by the United States - in part because its brief omits the salient facts in the history of this case - is so incomplete it is misleading."

The DOJ's response claimed Huntsville City Schools' rezoning plan leaves the majority of schools disproportionately white or black.

In a meeting Monday night, Dr. Wardynski presented numbers showing how the demographics of the populations feeding into the district's schools have changed over the years. (Click through the presentation at the end of this story).

The response goes on to cite a 1992 Supreme Court Case, Freeman v. Pitts.

The case focuses on Freeman, a school system in DeKalb County, Georgia, that went through a nearly identical process in seeking unitary status in the early 90s.

The district, like Huntsville, experienced dramatic demographic shifts and there was a significant number of racially imbalanced schools.

Huntsville City School leaders also drew similarities between how the Georgia school district, and Huntsville, responded to the racial imbalance, writing:

"As in Huntsville, the district implemented innovative techniques to enrich the lives of all of its students with a special emphasis on remedial programs, favoring majority black schools."

In Freeman, the Supreme Court concluded:

"Where the resegregation is a product not of state action but of private choices, it does not have constitutional implications. It is beyond the authority and beyond the practical ability of the federal courts to try to counteract these kind of continuous and massive demographic shifts... It is simply not always the case that demographic forces causing population change bear any real and substantial de jure violation. And the law need not proceed on that premise."

Read the entire brief by clicking this link.

Dr. Casey Wardynski talked with WHNT News 19 in detail about why the city opposes the DOJ’s plan, and what the district is doing to ensure equal educational opportunities in each school.

As far as the next step in the case, U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala will review the filings.  She is based in Birmingham.  The judge could ask for a hearing, ask for more information, or could issue a ruling. There's no timeline set.  WHNT News 19 will continue to follow this case closely.

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