School system enters settlement in desegregation case

MADISON, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge has approved an agreement to settle a long-running desegregation case with a north Alabama school system, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The school system agreed to take steps to ensure equal educational opportunities for Black students, including participation in gifted programs and college prep classes, officials said in a U.S. Department of Justice statement announcing the settlement with the Madison County School Board.

“It is long past time to deliver on the promises of Brown v. Board of Education for our nation’s students,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in the statement.

The majority-white school system agreed to take steps to: ensure a uniform process for identifying students for gifted services and make all parents are aware of the program; identify students who could succeed in Advanced Placement classes and other college prep programs and encourage them to enroll; ensure non-discrimination in student discipline; and recruit more Black faculty members and school administrators.

Rachel Ballard, the director of equity and innovation for Madison County schools, told reporters Wednesday the school system has already implemented several of the requirements.

U.S. District Judge Madeleine Hughes Haikala approved the consent decree on Tuesday. The school system’s progress will be monitored for three years.