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Appellate Court Denies Gardendale School Split

Gardendale High School

A federal appeals court says a mostly white Alabama city won’t be allowed to break away from a mostly black county school system in order to form its own educational district.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a lower court was wrong to let the Birmingham suburb of Gardendale split from the Jefferson County school system. The city is more than 80 percent white, while the court decision says the county system is heavily black.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala ruled last year that Gardendale was discriminatory in its efforts to form its own school system. But Haikala decided to let a split go ahead anyway under certain conditions.

The appeals court agreed that a split would be racially biased, but they have ruled the city can't break away. They say Haikala abused her discretion in attempting to come up with her own remedy.

The decision revolves around a school desegregation case dating back to 1965. A 1971 order required Jefferson County to desegregate its public schools.

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