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Appeal Likely in Alabama School Desegregation Case Allowing Mostly White Town to Leave Largely Black District

Black plaintiffs in Gardendale, Alabama, are likely to appeal a United States District Court ruling last month allowing the mostly white town to begin operating its schools independent of its more diverse surrounding district, reports.

Federal Judge Madeline Haikala ruled that the small town of Gardendale can take over control of its two elementary schools from the Jefferson County district this fall for a three-year period, over which it must integrate both schools. If desegregation conditions are met—including allowing and paying for transfer students, and appointing a black member to the (currently all-white) city school board—Gardendale will be able to take over its middle and high schools as well. In her opinion, Haikala noted that the secession is motivated by race and has sent messages of racial exclusion that "assail the dignity of black schoolchildren."

Federal judges have maintained some oversight in Jefferson County—which has been battling school segregation for over 50 years—to monitor for racial discrimination in schools since a county-wide 1971 desegregation order.