Huntsville School Board holds special called meeting on rezoning - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Huntsville School Board holds special called meeting on rezoning

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The Huntsville School Board held a special called meeting Wednesday. The Huntsville School Board held a special called meeting Wednesday.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The Huntsville City School Board met Wednesday to discuss the future of the rezoning battle between the district and the Department of Justice.

Just after the meeting got underway at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, the board went into executive session. They met behind closed doors for about 20 minutes and then returned to give a statement. 

Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski talked about the court-ordered mediation. On Monday, a federal judge appointed a mediator in the case. He said they will move forward with the current plans to meet with the DOJ, aided by appointed mediator Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott. A timetable for that mediation session has not been announced.

Wardynski pointed out some of the things the school district was commended for in the judge's order, such as wireless internet on school buses.

The board publicly addressed questions they had regarding the mediation, including who from the board might be allowed to sit in on the meetings. The district's attorney, J.R. Brooks, told the group the board members will have to decide whether they want to attend mediation.

The school board hopes to have a road map in place for unitary status by the end of the year. Wardynski briefly touched on what that plan will look like.

"We, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, are going to be creating a road map that addresses the goals: What targets do we need to hit? The timelines; when do we need to hit them? And along the way, importantly, addressing any violations under the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution that may persist," said Dr. Wardynski.

The first deadline as part of that plan is to have an agreement in place with the DOJ by Christmas.

City Councilman Richard Showers, who has been publicly critical of the superintendent, said he approves of the judge's decision to order mediation. He said he believes the court-ordered mediation plan will help address issues that have gone ignored for years.

Showers said he read the entire 107-page decision and that since the order was released, he has received calls from numerous residents voicing their concerns. Showers said he hopes the judge's order means the board will acknowledge Huntsville City Schools has problems.

"I've had people call me and tell me 'I didn't know racism existed in Huntsville,'" Showers said. "It's an opportunity for this community to face up, to accept the reality and work it out."

Dr. Wardynski said plans for the 2014-2015 school year are still in place, but if and when a rezoning plan is agreed upon, it will impact the 2015-2016 school year.

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