Almost 70 years since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education and an Alabama school district is still being challenged on persisting segregation and discrimination. A Madison County, Alabama school district entered a consent order with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division addressing the matter.
According to AL.com, nearly 50 Alabama school districts are still under federal desegregation orders. The court-ordered agreement said it was past time for the Madison County district to end the vestiges of racial segregation and discrimination in its schools.
“It is long past time to deliver on the promises of Brown v. Board of Education for our nation’s students,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are committed to ensuring that all students receive the educational opportunities they deserve across the Madison County School District.”
Approved by U.S. District Court Judge Madeleine Hughes Haikala of the Northern District of Alabama, the 18-page consent order addressed the findings from a Justice Department review of the district. Findings included Black students had “unnecessary barriers” to their ability to participate in gifted and advanced programs, higher rates of exclusionary discipline of Black students compared to their white counterparts and being referred at a higher rate for “subjective infractions. There were also several schools without any Black staff.
The district will be required to do the following:
- Improve its gifted identification policies, training and practices; expand access to advanced placement and other advanced curricula, and identify and remove existing barriers for Black students;
- Engage a third-party consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of the district’s discipline policies and procedures; revise the code of conduct; train staff on classroom behavior management; and collect and review discipline data to identify and address trends and concerns;
- Review faculty hiring, recruitment and retention practices to identify barriers for diverse applicants, improve recruitment and retention of Black teachers and administrators, and ensure their equitable assignment to schools;
- Appoint a district-level administrator to oversee implementation of the agreement and professional development for faculty, staff and administrators; and
- Work with a newly-constituted and diverse Desegregation Advisory Committee.
“The Civil Rights Division will continue to fight on behalf of students in school districts that have not yet fulfilled their legal obligation to eliminate racial segregation ‘root and branch,'” Clarke said.
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