Courtroom packed for hearing involving Huntsville school desegregation case

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Three people are seeking to be added as plaintiffs in the desegregation lawsuit involving Huntsville City Schools, and today the federal judge overseeing the case heard their argument.

The courtroom was packed for the hearing, which lasted nearly five hours.

The case currently has two parties, Huntsville City Schools and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Several people took the stand, including a parent who wants to join the case.

The North Huntsville Community United for Action Group wants to add three parents as plaintiffs, saying they wish to get access to information about what is happening in the case.  Pastor T.C. Johnson is a spokesperson for the group and says this isn't about stalling the consent decree process or claiming new harm or damages. He says this is simply to gain access to what's happening in the case.

"Their attorney would be able to speak directly to the judge," Pastor T.C. Johnson said last week. "At this junction, we have to talk to the DoJ who doesn't really talk back to us. They just receive information from us."

Huntsville federal courthouse
Huntsville federal courthouse

"We'd like to have a party at the negotiating table," Johnson added.

Huntsville City Schools has communicated updates on the consent decree process through various school initiatives, and has also established a Desegregation Advisory Committee comprised of 10 parents and two students. The committee was formed under the direction of the Department of Justice and advises the superintendent and informs the court on matters relating to implementation of the consent decree.

The judge said she would take a look at the desegregation committee's work to find out if it has been effective or if more changes are needed. She did not issue any rulings Monday, however.