The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals made a decision today to halt the secession of Gardendale, Alabama from the Jefferson County Public School system.
Sam Spital, the director of Litigation for the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement obtained by Blavity:
“Today’s ruling was the only logical conclusion following a district court’s direct acknowledgment that racial discrimination was a motivating factor in the city’s plans to secede. We commend the federal appeals court for its decision that combats a disturbing re-segregation trend, seen not just in Gardendale, but in cities across the country. We must continue to thwart re-segregation efforts so that students can benefit from co-existing and learning together. We will continue doing everything in our power to ensure that state and local governments facilitate the integration of all children.”
The case Stout v. Jefferson dates back to 2014 when Gardendale, a majority white city, sought to separate itself from Jefferson County school district. A district court allowed Gardendale to partially secede over a three year period even after the courts found the motive had a racial discriminatory foundation, but now that decision is being reversed.
Circuit Judge William Pryor said in a statement:
"The district court (Haikala) found that the Gardendale Board acted with a discriminatory purpose to exclude black children from the proposed school system and alternatively, the secession of the Gardendale Board would impede the efforts of the Jefferson County Board to fulfill its desegregation obligations, and despite these findings, the district court devised and permitted a partial secession that neither party requested."
It doesn't look like this fight is over because Michael Hogue, President of the Gardendale City Schools Board, said they plan to appeal the decision.
"The Gardendale Board of Education is deeply grieved and disappointed by the opinion of the three-judge panel refusing to allow us to operate our own city schools in Gardendale," Hogue said. "We believe our actions have always reflected only our desire to form a new, welcoming, and inclusive school system to help schoolchildren and parents succeed, and we will continue to fight to achieve this by seeking further review in the federal courts."