NAACP respond to rezoning plan - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

NAACP respond to rezoning plan

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The feds are demanding the Huntsville School System rearrange its student assignments to change the numbers. The feds are demanding the Huntsville School System rearrange its student assignments to change the numbers.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The leader of the Alabama NAACP spoke out on the controversyover Huntsville's new plan for its schools. On Monday, the district isscheduled to respond to Justice Department complaints about the racial numbersin its student assignment plan.

Under a federal desegregation order from more than 40years ago, the city has to get court approval for its student assignment plans.So far, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has expressed no objection to Huntsville'splan, but the State NAACP is keeping a cautious watch, and withholding judgment.

Bernard Simelton with the Alabama NAACP said he's seenplenty of anxiety and anger over Huntsville's new schools plan, but that it canbe tough to establish whether a plan really is fair to students.

The latest court filing from the US Justice Departmentaccuse the school system of not doing enough to move more black students toidentifiably "white" schools, or vice versa.

The Feds point out for example that 17 of the district'sschools are over 80% one race or the other.

"When you see overwhelming percentages in one school oranother, is that necessarily something wrong? No, not at all," said Simelton. "Youlook at the intent. What is the intent? Is there some underlying intent tocreate all one school district race or economic status or another?"

The feds are demanding the Huntsville School Systemrearrange its student assignments to change the numbers. Huntsville schoolleaders said the DOJ proposals were unworkable and would pull apart communitiesof students the school system tries to keep together from grade school throughhigh school. They're promising more details on their response to theaccusations next week.

Simelton said it's crucial that both sides keep their toppriority in mind. "You want to create an environment where the children canlearn, and they can learn equally without a lot of interference from us adultswho sometimes let other issues, politics, things like that, get into the way ofmaking decisions."

Simelton said he sees an indirect part of the conflict inthe Alabama Accountability Act. The act lets students in failing public schoolstransfer to non-failing public schools or get tax credits toward privateschools. He said that demonstrates and aggravates friction between schools andcommunities.

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