Parents frustrated at lack of answers from school district, former board member speaks out


Huntsville Board of Education (file)

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  The Huntsville City School Board remains under a gag order, even as hearing public comment on the recently released consent order with the Department of Justice.

Parents have expressed frustration that the school district still cannot provide any information.

"It's been very frustrating and we aren't getting any answers," said Sandy Edwards, a parent of a Grissom High School Senior. "It's very confusing and people are jumping to conclusions."

One part of the consent order regarding dance and performing arts programs has led Sandy's daughter and others to start a petition showing support for the programs in their schools. It's gained more than their goal of a thousand signatures.

The order states:

"The district will ensure that the breadth and quality of the dance program at the creative and performing arts magnet program exceeds that of dance programming at other high schools. This will include, as necessary, limiting dance programming at other high schools."

Former school board president David Blair says he is finally at liberty to speak out. He says he doesn't think it means the dance and performing arts programs will be canceled in Huntsville city schools, but that priority would be given to the magnet program where classes, instructors, or funding are concerned.

However, the current board has been unable to respond to the students' and parents' concerns about the language.

"We want to make sure that when citizens are asking us questions we can answer those questions rather than having to sit there and not being able to respond," said Blair. "I know everybody's frustrated and I gotta tell you, the board members, superintendent and everyone involved in this process is probably as frustrated."

The release of a consent order between the DoJ and Huntsville City Schools has done little to calm parents' worries.

Blair says he recognizes the court mandated gag order the district remains under is causing stress for everyone involved. He says it serves as a perfect example of why the district is seeking unitary status in the first place.

"It's more important to be beholden to our community, responsive to our community's needs. So even so this process, as painful as it is, is an illustration of the fact that we don't control our own destiny," said Blair.

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