LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — On December 7, 2021, the Lawrence County school board voted to shut the doors to R.A. Hubbard high school for good.
The board said that it would be fiscally irresponsible for the state to continue to fund its operation by way of desegregation laws.
Attorneys for the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit to block the decision.
R.A. Hubbard is the only predominately Black school in Lawrence County and carries a legacy that continues to grow. The student body used their excuse pass to come to the courthouse as a presence that they want the legacy to continue.
“The legacy that we built, and we can continue to portray just means a lot to me,” R.A. Hubbard student Richard Green tells News 19.
Green echoes the pleas from the students who arrived today at the district courthouse in Decatur in unison, saying the closure of their community treasure is wrong and racially motivated.
“We’re a very close community and we all look at each other as family and we understand each other very well,” Green continued.
When the school board voted to shut down R.A. Hubbard, the students, parents, and community leaders filed a lawsuit to block the decision. Attorneys representing both sides presented their case before Judge David Proctor on Thursday.
The board said the main reason to close is cost concerns with a low student population, arguing that Hubbard has the highest cost-per-student than any of the four high schools in the district.
“They failed to mention the reason that Hubbard’s student population is low because every time something happened in the county, they changed the district lines,” said NAACP president Jan Turnbore. “When they opened up East Lawrence High School, they took all of the students from Hillsboro and Wheeler and sent them to East Lawrence. They were already in Courtland. That diminished the Courtland High School population.”
Since 2009, district leaders say the student body has fallen from more than 320 students to fewer than 150. The attorney for the NAACP says that the district’s decision to close the school goes against Alabama desegregation laws that diminish the value of the school.
“This school is more than just an educational outlet for our students. It’s one of the best schools in the county but it’s also more than that,” said Turnbore.
Chris Pape, a lawyer representing the school board, argued that when the Black students attending Hubbard travel to attend the other schools it will improve segregation significantly.
Judge Proctor says that a decision will be handed down as soon as possible.