Seventh Consent Order Reports

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Filed November 15th, 2021

Introduction

Annually, the District is required to file a report containing information regarding the District’s implementation of the Consent Order and the Green factors applicable to the District’s desegregation lawsuit. The District’s Seventh Consent Order Report was timely filed with the Court on November 15, 2021. Nearly all of the reports filed with the Court contain data from the preceding school year. As such, the date range for the data in most of this year’s reports is July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

As it has done in the past, the District filed a Notice of Filing which is designed to help the Court, and the citizens of Huntsville, better understand the Seventh Consent Order Report. The Notice of Filing operates as a helpful guide for understanding each individual report. A PDF version of the Notice of Filing can be found below. Before reviewing the individual reports, it is recommended that members of the community review the Notice of Filing.


Overview
Challenges & Successes in Year Six

The District’s sixth year of implementation coincided with historic challenges including a year of instruction during a pandemic and a crippling cyberattack. These challenges disrupted several of the District’s longstanding processes for implementing the Consent Order.  Given the aberrational nature of the 2020-21 school year, the District does not believe that the issues from 2020-21 will repeat. The District’s focus in 2021-22 is largely on recovering from the uniquely challenging aspects of 2020-21, but in an effort to provide some context about the sixth year of implementation, the District offers the brief list below: 

  • The District has made several new hires and promoted several employees into new, important positions during the last 12 months. A few examples are as follows:
    • Emily Elam – Chief Information Officer – Ms. Elam joins the District after serving as the Chief Information Officer for Decatur City Schools.
    • Elizabeth Dotts Fleming – Director of Public Development – Mrs. Dotts Fleming joins the District from The Schools Foundation. The Schools Foundation is a 501c-3 focused on supporting Huntsville City Schools, Madison City Schools, and Madison County Schools. Mrs. Dotts Fleming served as The Schools Foundation’s Executive Director before joining the District’s team.
    • Zachary McWhorter – Career and Technical Education Director – Mr. McWhorter joined the District from Shelby County Schools.
    • Dr. George Smith – Chief Student Equity Officer – Dr. Smith has served as a Data Analyst for the District’s Assessment and Accountability Department for several years prior to being selected to serve in his new role. Dr. Smith’s new role is particularly important for Consent Order implementation. He joins Dr. McNeal in helping oversee the Consent Order. His expertise has been in the use of data to help drive District decisions and to analyze the efficacy of District initiatives. Given the District’s need to develop plans to address the challenges of 2020-21, Dr. Smith’s expertise comes at a pivotal time in the District’s implementation of the Consent Order.
    • Melissa Veasy-Lindsey – Executive Director of Prevention & Support Services – Ms. Veasy-Lindsey joins the District’s team after serving as a long-time principal for Huntsville City Schools, most recently at Williams Middle School.  The Superintendent created this position to oversee the departments primarily responsible for the health, safety, and emotional wellbeing of the District’s students including counseling, nurses, and behavioral learning. Her experience as a principal will be invaluable in supporting the District across these different areas.
  • The two largest challenges that the District faced during the 2020-21 school year were responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuilding after a crippling cybersecurity attack.  The following items were impacted by one or both of those challenges:
    • One of the unexpected results of the 2020-21 school year has been a significant reduction in AP course participation across all student populations. This is especially challenging for the District because of the efforts the District has taken to increase AP participation during the implementation of the Consent Order. Most recently, the District sent over 700 customized letters to Black students who were not already participating in honors and AP courses to encourage them to participate in those courses. Nevertheless, the District has seen a decrease in participation. The District has revised its advance course surveys in an effort to learn why there is a disconnect between the District’s efforts and the outcomes
    • The 2020-21 school year also marked the first time that the District administered Alabama’s new proficiency examination, the ACAP. While the District’s students’ performance on the ACAP for the reading subtest showed some improvement, the performance on the math subtest and both reported ACT sub-tests showed a downturn in performance. The District believes that the disruptions caused by the response to COVID-19 impacted student performance on these exams. The District worked over the summer to develop plans to get schools back on track after the disruptions from 2020-21.
    • As has been the case around the country and across industries, the District is facing significant challenges focused on employee hiring and retention. Prior to the pandemic, school systems were already beginning to feel the pinch of the teacher shortage in Alabama.  The pandemic has exacerbated that situation. The District is now facing shortages across nearly every job classification.  To fight this trend, the District has taken innovative steps in the creation of a Professional Learning Academy (“PLA”). The District’s PLA provides financial incentives to District employees who participate in extra professional development designed by the District to support the District’s strategic plan. The District will continue to keep the Court and the United States informed of ongoing staffing challenges.
    • While most of the items on this list are the result of COVID-19, this last item is the result of the November/December 2020 cyberattack. Shortly after Thanksgiving 2020, the District was the victim of a cyberattack that shut down or limited the District’s network operations for several weeks. Ultimately, with the help of strong community partners, the District was able to return to normal operations with one notable exception. The server responsible for the automated operation of the District’s M-to-M and Magnet transfer websites was irreparably damaged by the attack.  As such, the District had to quickly develop a replacement process. This process was more manual than the District’s typical automated process, and, as a result, it lacked some of the safeguards of the automated system.  These safeguards were in place for several reasons including to prevent parents from applying to schools with no availability and to prevent parents from applying for a transfer if their student was ineligible. Without these safeguards, there was an uptick in the number of students whose applications for transfers were denied.  For the 2021-22 school year, the District is taking steps to create an automated process – with safeguards – like the one the District used previously.
  • Although 2020-21 was certainly challenging, the District continues to have a healthy fund balance.  As of the writing of this Cover Memorandum, the Board’s general fund (bolstered by significant federal money as a response to COVID-19) balance is $90,927,035. While the new federal dollars tied to COVID-19 certainly help, even without that new funding, the District believes it is in a positive financial position.
  • Another notable change for the District was the retirement of long-time Board member Walker McGinnis. In May of 2021, Mr. McGinnis announced that he would be stepping down from the Board of Education. Mr. McGinnis was a long-time educator before joining the Board, and he will be missed. In his place, the Huntsville City Council selected Ryan Renaud to serve as the Board member for District 4.
  • Despite the hope for a more typical school year, the 2021-22 school year has not been without significant challenges.
    • As was discussed in the Superintendent’s Response to the DAC’s 2019-20 and 2020-21 Reports, the District has been working to replace the roof and HVAC units at Highlands Elementary School. During the process of the roof replacement, a communication failure by the District led to community unrest and concerns of an unsafe environment for students, and this further led to the District deciding to move the students from Highlands Elementary School’s campus. The District recognizes the significance of this failure and the importance of correcting this for the families of Highlands Elementary. As such, the District has been taking steps to ensure that the return to the Highlands Elementary School campus for the 2022-23 school year will be a smooth and happy experience for the Highlands faculty, staff, students, and families.
    • Last, the Board’s composition could look significantly different by the time the District files its reports in November of 2022.  The citizens of Huntsville will vote on Districts 2, 3, and 4 (currently held by Beth Wilder, Elisa Ferrell, and Ryan Renaud, respectively). The District will update the Court of result of these elections in its next Cover Memorandum (if not sooner).
Individual Reports
Student Assignment

M-TO-M Transfers

Document 723-1 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • II.D.8.a & II.D.8.b.1 M2M Applicants
  • II.D.8.b.2 M2M Spring 2021 Survey Results
  • II.D.8.b.3 M2M Marketing


Magnet Schools/Programs

Document 723-2 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • II.F.1 Magnet Applicant Data
  • II.F.2 Magnet Marketing
  • II.F.3 Magnet Courses
  • II.F.4 Magnet Course Duplication
  • II.F.5 Dual Enrollment

Equitable Access to Course Offerings & Programs

Document 723-3 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • III.M.1.a AP & IB Course Enrollment
  • III.M.1.b ACAP & ACT
  • III.M.1.c Teacher Credentials AP & IB
  • III.M.1.d Teacher Data


Document 723-4 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • III.M.1.e Professional Development
  • III.M.1.f Parent Conferences
  • III.M.1.g ELA & Math Supports
  • III.M.1.h AP Spring Survey Results 20-21
  • III.M.2 Summary of Self Reporting Data and Plans

Extracurricular Activities

Document 723-5 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • IV.H.1 Extracurricular Activities
    • Elementary Schools
    • Middle Schools
    • High Schools
  • IV.H.2 Extracurricular Participation
  • IV.H.3 Extracurricular Outreach
    • HS & MS Rack Cards

Faculty

Document 723-6 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • V.D.1 Committees
  • V.D.2 Exigent Circumstances
  • V.D.3 Central Office Cert Admin List
  • V.D.4 School Certified List
  • V.D.5 Certified Transfer
  • V.D.6 Recruiting of Black Principals
  • V.D.7 Recruiting and Job Fairs
  • V.D.8 Central Office Cert Admin Hired
  • V.D.9 Central Office Cert Admin Promoted
  • V.D.10 Incentives for Cert Personnel
  • V.D.11 Demotions, Suspensions, Dismissals, and Terminations
  • V.D.12 Candidate List
  • V.D.13 TOSA Candidates

Facilities

Document 723-7 below contains reporting for the single Facilities VI.C exhibit.

Student Discipline, Positive School Climate, & Effective Classroom Management

Document 723-8 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • VII.I.1 BLG
  • VII.I.2 Professional Development
    • Code of Conduct PD Certified
    • Code of Conduct PD Classified
    • Positive School Climate PD Certified
    • Positive School Climate PD Classified
  • VII.I.3 BLG Parent Outreach
  • VII.I.4 Discipline Data
    • Plans

Monitoring, Reporting, & Oversight

Document 723-9 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • X.A Student Listings


Document 723-10 below contains the following bookmarked report sections:

  • X.G Expenditures
    • Expenditures
    • Approved Budget

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