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Federal Judge Delays Gardendale School Ruling

Gardendale High School

Officials in Gardendale, Alabama may be allowed to establish their own school system, but it won’t be this fall.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala is delaying her order to let the Birmingham suburb of Gardendale split from Jefferson County Schools and establish its own school system.

Haikala had originally ruled that Gardendale could separate from Jefferson County Schools and start operating its own system this fall with two elementary schools, and could bring other schools in later. But attorneys for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and others asked Haikala to stay her ruling while they appeal the decision.

It all stems from a desegregation lawsuit against Jefferson County schools dating back to 1965. A ruling in that case gives federal judges oversight to ensure county schools don’t discriminate against students.

Plaintiffs say the Gardendale split, with a mostly-white suburb seeking to leave the mostly-black Jefferson County school system, is racially motivated.

Haikala says Gardendale and Jefferson County will be allowed to hold talks about completing a separation within three years.

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