DOJ details Huntsville school re-zoning plan opposition - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

DOJ details Huntsville school re-zoning plan opposition

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Huntsville City Schools and the Department of Justice have conflicting ideas on how to re-zone the district. Huntsville City Schools and the Department of Justice have conflicting ideas on how to re-zone the district.
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

With hours to spare, the Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court opposing Huntsville City Schools' re-zoning plan Wednesday. They have come to the table with a plan of their own.

The Huntsville City School Board already approved the superintendent's plan. School leaders filed that plan earlier this month in federal court.

Earlier this month, Dr. Casey Wardynski called the DOJ's plan "impractical and less diverse." He also said there are safety concerns when it comes to bus routes.

The DOJ, in turn, opposed the district's rezoning plan, which would close several schools and build new ones. Wardynski said his plan has a more uniform feeder system for students as they move through the school system.

The DOJ's filing, made late Wednesday night, is a 70-page document detailing why they oppose the school district's plan and why theirs should be approved by a federal judge. Read a 27-page summary included with the DOJ's filing here (PDF).

In the documents, the DOJ says Huntsville's plan emphasizes racial lines already in the city. It also says that even with major changes in 32 of the 40 schools, it would leave most students in segregated schools.

The court document also claims that under the district's plan, identified African-American schools would lack access to advanced educational material that is easily available to identifiable "white schools."

The most significant change in the district's plan, according to the DOJ's filing, is the closure of Butler High School, a school with a majority of African-American students. However, court documents say that under the district's plan, those students would go to a school with a less diverse population.

"The district's plan falls short of its desegregation obligations," the DOJ said in the documents. The state said they are open to continued discussion with the district.

Huntsville City Schools plans to send a reply to the judge regarding this court filing by March 10. Ultimately, a federal judge will have the final say on which plan comes to fruition.

WAFF 48 News talked with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle early Thursday morning about the DOJ's opposition.

"You've got two 30 year old lawyers working in Washington D.C. At the Justice Department trying to decided what's best for Huntsville, Alabama," he said.

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