HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Federal Judge Madeline Haikala signed the
in the Huntsville City Schools desegregation case on Friday.
This order allows Huntsville City Schools to proceed with rezoning plans.
The Department of Justice is required to approve of any rezoning because of a long-standing desegregation order. Initially, the DOJ did not approve of the district's plan and the case ended up in front of a federal judge.
The DOJ and the District worked together on the current plan. Earlier this month, the judge issued an opinion in support of the plan.
The Department of Justice announced in January of 2015 that it filed a proposed consent order in the Hereford v. Huntsville Board of Education case.
The Huntsville City School Board passed the proposed consent order in February 2015. School board attorney J.R. Brooks said it was the first major step in achieving unitary status and getting out from under the desegregation order.
Huntsville City Spokesperson Keith Ward confirmed that the signing brings an end to this years-long issue. However, the district is still trying to achieve unitary status, which would end the desegregation order.
Change of course
The order sets up a math acceleration program, creating a system in which students complete Algebra 1 by the end of 8th grade, so they're prepared for higher level math and STEM courses in high school.
It also expands advanced-placement and honor courses throughout Huntsville high schools and creates the College Academy at Jemison High School.
The consent order also eliminates fees in core courses and magnet courses. Another thing it will do is revision the gifted education program to better meet the different learning styles of gifted students and revise the disciplinary system.
We caught up with Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski today to find out what's next in achieving unitary status. Wardynski says the consent order maps out the steps that need to be taken.
"The work we have before us is start taking those steps and working with the Department of Justice as we move forward to document what we've done and at an appropriate point in time - this will be years in the future - return to court and say we've demonstrated the progress we think we're supposed to be making and talk to the court about unitary status," Wardynski said.
Wardynski added he doesn't think unitary status will be achieved until five or more years down the line.
For more on the Huntsville City Schools rezoning battle, you can click here.