HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – An advisory committee made up of Huntsville City Schools parents and students said Monday the district is improving in some key areas when it comes to racial equity.
The Desegregation Advisory Committee presented findings from its 2020-2021 report at a public meeting Monday night.
Since 2015, Huntsville City Schools has been under a consent order from the Department of Justice. That order stems from a 1963 desegregation case and requires district officials to make efforts to ensure all students, regardless of race, have the same educational opportunities. The order also created the Desegregation Advisory Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the district’s progress.
In a presentation Monday night, committee chairperson Christopher Gregory said Huntsville City Schools has achieved satisfactory results in one of seven key categories: transportation. He also said district officials plan to meet the order’s standards in the faculty category later this year.
The other five categories, as listed in the consent order, are:
- Student Assignment
- Equitable Access to Course Offerings & Programs
- Extracurricular Activities
- Student Discipline
Two categories Gregory focused heavily on were facilities and student discipline. In the facilities category, he pointed to the example of parents at Highlands Elementary School being notified that their students would be moved to a different campus due to delays in maintenance, just days before the school year started. Gregory questioned if the facility issues were primarily facing schools with majority Black populations.
“I’m not necessarily saying it’s an issue of inequity. But it looks like an issue of inequity,” Gregory said.
The topic is discipline dominated the meeting, both in Gregory’s presentation and public comments. Gregory pointed to district data that shows Black students get harsher punishments for the same offenses as compared to white students. Regardless of race, both Gregory and others at the meeting agreed that discipline is an issue within the school district. However, Gregory made clear that it is not the DAC’s job to solve all of the school district’s issues.
“It is not this DAC’S responsibility to fix discipline in Huntsville City Schools,” Gregory said. “This DAC’s purview is to deal with inequities in discipline.”
At Monday’s meeting, Gregory primarily presented information from the DAC’s 2020-2021 report. Both the 2020-2021 report and the 2019-2020 reports, which included comments from former chairperson Lance Cooper, were filed in court on November 5th.