Hereford 'troubled' by Huntsville City Schools motion - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Hereford 'troubled' by Huntsville City Schools motion

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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.

The man whose name is at the center of a debate over the future of Huntsville City Schools said Thursday he never signed off on the school board's proposal, and that he was not aware of any proposed changes until after Huntsville City Schools filed the motion for approval.

Huntsville City Schools' standing desegregation order stems from the lawsuit filed on behalf of Sonnie Hereford IV in the 1960s. The order states that federal courts must sign off on any zoning changes within the Huntsville City School system. 

The Department of Justice called on the court to reject the most recent proposal, stating it created more segregation within the school system. The motion to approve that proposal states the attorneys for the plaintiffs do not oppose the motion.

In a statement Hereford released Thursday, he said he is troubled by what's in the motion. He said in part:

"I was concerned the document implied I had given a thumbs up to the plan, by what's on the very first page. When I contacted Huntsville City Schools with this question, the answer was this was now a class-action lawsuit, and the plaintiffs are represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who apparently had not expressed any opposition."

Read the full statement (PDF) here.

WAFF asked our legal experts about this, and legally, nobody had an obligation to ask Hereford his opinion before stating there was no opposition. Hereford said he has not yet formed an opinion of the plan, but is reviewing all of the documents submitted.

District leaders and lawyers said Hereford has nothing to worry about and that no one is claiming his endorsement. His name appears on legal documents in the case, said the school system's lawyer, J.R. Brooks, much in the way "Brown" in Brown v. Board of Education and "Miranda" in Miranda v. Arizona did.

Hereford's original case continued as a class-action, and it's under that part of the case that the city must still get judge's approval for zoning. The official parties in the case are now the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which had no objection to the system's plan, and the US Government.

Brooks said Hereford should have no concern his name's appearance should be perceived as an endorsement. "It's just the caption that the court has in the case. It includes his name because it was filed 61 years ago with the caption of Sonnie Wellington Hereford," he said.

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