Huntsville school leaders approve motion for partial unitary status

WAFF 48's Romario Gardner reporting
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 12:09 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Huntsville City School district took another step forward in chipping away at a 59-year-old desegregation order.

On Tuesday, Huntsville School Board members unanimously voted to approve a motion for partial unitary status in the key area of faculty diversity.

“Green factors and more importantly unitary status are at the forefront of every decision this school system makes,” said District 4 board member Ryan Renaud.

The term green factors stem from the 1968 Supreme Court case Green v. County Board of New Kent County. They are the areas where the board must eliminate the effects of the former segregated system.

There are seven applicable factors to Huntsville City Schools including student assignment, equitable access to course offerings, extracurricular activities, faculty and staff assignment, facilities, student discipline, and transportation.

A court may grant unitary status to a school system in an individual Green factor, but a desegregation case does not end until the school system achieves unitary status in all Green factors.

Huntsville achieved partial unitary status in transportation two years ago.

School board Vice president Michelle Watkins believes Tuesday’s decision comes after much effort.

“I can say without a doubt that I’m confident that minorities and women have been treated fairly in the last couple of years,” said Watkins.

School board attorney Christopher Pape says the district has worked diligently to make faculty more diverse. He says there are now more black principals and educators than ever before. However, he said the school will continue its efforts to make the school system fair and equitable for both students and faculty.

“In a perfect world, after getting unitary status, you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference because we’re going to keep doing the things that got us there in the first place,” said Pape.

The motion will go through a finalization process and be filed with the courts from February 8th to February 22nd. After that, the courts will make a final decision to either approve or deny the partial unitary status.

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