Motion for Partial Unitary Status as to Faculty & Staff
Recognizing that legal documents can be lengthy, cumbersome, and difficult to understand for non-lawyers, counsel for the Huntsville City Board of Education (“Board”) has prepared this summary of the proposed Motion for Partial Unitary Status as to Faculty and Staff. This content will explain the legal arguments and evidence that support the Motion, as well as what the Motion does and does not do. For information about the timeline for this process, please see the timeline section below.
- To submit comments please use the Consent Order Public Comment Form.
- Visit the Desegregation Advisory Committee to get involved.
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- Scope of the Motion for Partial Unitary Status as to Faculty & Staff
The Board is still in an active school desegregation case known as Hereford & the United States v. Huntsville City Board of Education. To resolve its desegregation case, the Board must prove that it has eliminated the remnants of segregation to the extent practical and that it has complied with the Court’s desegregation orders in good faith. To determine if the remnants of segregation have been eliminated, courts consider many different factors. These factors are called the “Green Factors,” named for the Supreme Court case Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia. In the Board’s case, the Court will consider the following factors: student assignment; faculty and staff assignment; facilities; extracurricular activities; transportation; student discipline; and equitable access to course offerings.
When a school district can prove that it has eliminated the remnants of segregation in all relevant Green factors and complied with court orders, a court will find that the school district has earned “Unitary Status” and the case will be dismissed. Courts also have discretion to grant Partial Unitary Status to a school district for an individual Green factor instead of waiting until a school district has met its burden for every Green factor. The Motion for Partial Unitary Status seeks a declaration of Unitary Status solely as to the Board’s faculty and staff. If the Court grants the Motion, the Board will not be relieved of its obligations in any other part of its Consent Order. As a reminder, the Board achieved Partial Unitary Status in the area of transportation in January of 2020.
- Legal Framework
In April of 2015, the Court entered a Consent Order that the Board has been implementing since that time. However, the Consent Order was not the first desegregation order in the Hereford case. The first desegregation order, dating back to September 2, 1970 (the “1970 Order”), established the District’s initial faculty and staff obligations. The 1970 Order required the District to assign all “principals, teachers, teacher-aides, and other staff who work directly with children at a school” so that the racial composition of staff at a given school would not indicate whether the school was intended for Black or White students. The 1970 Order required the District to assign staff so that the ratio of Black teachers to White teachers in each school, and the ratio of other staff in each, was “substantially the same as each such ratio is to the teachers and other staff, respectively, in the entire school system.” The 1970 Order mandated that faculty and staff be “hired, assigned, promoted, paid, demoted, dismissed and otherwise treated without regard to race, color, or national origin.” The April 2015 Consent Order contained similar requirements regarding the recruitment, hiring, promotion, demotion, dismissal, and assignment of faculty and staff. The April 2015 Consent Order also required the District to maintain specific records related to faculty and staff, and mandated that the District annually submit certain data to the Court.
The Court will determine the framework for reviewing the Board’s motion; however, this paragraph will set out how the District anticipates the Court will review the Board’s Motion. First, the Court will consider and analyze whether the District complied in good faith with the requirements of both the 1970 Order and April 2015 Consent Order. In addition, the Court will analyze the racial composition of the District’s faculty and staff at every school to determine whether the racial demographics are similar (within a +/- 15 percentage point band) to the District demographics for schools with similar grade spans. The Court will also consider the District’s efforts to recruit and retain Black faculty and staff. The Court will consider any evidence that the District has discriminated against Black employees in the hiring, assignment, promotion, pay, demotion, or dismissal process. Finally, before granting Partial Unitary Status, the Court will ensure that granting the District’s Motion does not interfere with the District’s ability to comply with the remaining sections of the April 2015 Consent Order.
It is important to understand that earning Unitary Status in faculty and staff does not require that the Board prove perfect implementation. For example, the Board can earn Unitary Status despite having some schools’ faculty and staff demographics that are out of line with the demographics of the District as a whole. The Court’s analysis will likely focus more on the District’s good faith than on any occasional instances of imperfections.
- Summary of Evidence
In preparing this Motion, the Board’s legal counsel reviewed a large amount of information pertaining to the Board’s faculty and staff. Based on this review, the Board has prepared a series of evidentiary exhibits in support of the Motion, including:
- The Affidavit of Lee Simmons, the Board’s Talent Management Director;
- The Affidavit of Micah Fisher, the Board’s Human Resources Director;
- The Affidavit of Dr. George Smith, the Board’s third-party data expert; and
- The Affidavit of Christie Finley, the Board’s Superintendent.
If you would like to review that information, please see the related documents section below.
While we encourage the community to read the Brief in Support of the Motion, the affidavit testimony of the witnesses, and the other supportive documents, the following list describes each section of the brief and how the evidence supports that section:
- Section A of the Brief: This section relies on the testimony of Lee Simmons, Micah Fisher, and Superintendent Christie Finley to show that the Board complied with the requirements of the April 2015 Consent Order related to faculty and staff.
- Section B of the Brief: This section relies on the testimony of Dr. George Smith and Lee Simmons to show that the Board has eliminated the vestiges of de jure segregation in faculty and staff to the extent practicable.
- Section C of the Brief: This section explains that, if the Court grants the District’s Motion, the District will still be able to comply with the requirements set out in other sections of the April 2015 Consent Order.
- Section D of the Brief: This section relies on the testimony of Superintendent Christie Finley to show that the Board has acted in good faith and that it plans to continue its efforts to not discriminate in faculty and staff.
- What This Means for Huntsville City Schools
Earning complete Unitary Status is a lengthy process that requires the commitment of our Board, schools, and community. Because it is a hard-earned process, every step toward Unitary Status should be celebrated. If the Court grants the District’s Motion, it would mean that the Court recognizes that the Board does not maintain racially discriminatory practices in the areas of faculty and staff. It would be recognition of the hard work of the Board, its administrators, and all the employees who strive to ensure that the Board complies with the requirements of the April 2015 Consent Order. Importantly, it would also be recognition of the community’s hard work and commitment to the desegregation process.
If the Court grants the Motion, the Board will still be obligated to comply with the requirements of the April 2015 Consent Order as it relates to sections other than transportation and faculty. Students will not be affected by this process. Additionally, the Court and the United States will continue to monitor all other aspects of the Consent Order including:
- Student Assignment;
- Equitable Access to Course Offerings;
- Extracurricular Activities;
- Facilities; and
- Student Discipline.
- Timeline for Unitary Status Motion
- November 1, 2022: Attorneys for the Board present the Motion to the Board and answer Board member questions regarding the Motion and supporting evidence.
- November 2, 2022: Huntsville City Schools will post, on its website, the Motion, the Brief in Support of the Motion, and the Evidentiary Exhibits. The District will also post a short, easier to understand summary of the Motion.
- Nov. 2 – Dec. 6: The entire Huntsville community has the opportunity to review the documents. The community can comment on the Board’s website, the Desegregation Advisory Committee’s website, or they can attend the community meeting on November 7, 2022 at Lee High School.
- November 29, 2022: The Board will hold a public meeting in the Huntsville High School Board/AV Room to hear from community about the Motion.
- December 15, 2022: The Board will vote on whether to file the Motion with the Court.
If the Board authorizes the filing of the Motion at its December 15, 2022 meeting, counsel for the District will file the Motion, Brief in Support of the Motion, and supporting evidence with the Court sometime between December 15 and December 23, 2022.
Once the Motion is filed, Judge Madeline Haikala, the judge presiding over the case, will determine the schedule for any future public hearings regarding the Motion and when a decision will be made regarding whether to grant the Motion. Information regarding the schedule for any future hearings or events related to the Motion will be shared with the community by Huntsville City Schools.
- Court Documents
Motion for Partial Unitary Status as to Faculty & Staff
The Motion will be filed with the Court. The purpose of the Motion is to ask the Court to declare the Board unitary as to the faculty and staff Green factors. The Motion outlines the scope of the Board’s request and provides an overview of the legal standard the Court will apply.
Brief in Support of the Motion for Partial Unitary Status as to Faculty & Staff
The Brief will be filed with the Court. The Brief contains the argument for why the Board should be declared unitary as to the faculty and staff Green factors. The Brief explains how all of the evidentiary documents support a finding that the Board is unitary in faculty and staff.
- Evidentiary Support
The Evidentiary Support will be filed with the Court. The Evidentiary Support consists of the documents the above Joint Motion and Joint Brief rely on to prove that the Board is unitary as to the transportation Green factor.
Affidavit of Superintendent Christie Finley
The affidavit of Superintendent Christie Finley provides an overview of the Board’s good faith efforts in complying with the Board’s faculty and staff obligations under the Consent Order. It also shows that the Board plans to continue its efforts to not discriminate in faculty and staff.
Affidavit of Dr. George Smith
The affidavit of Dr. George Smith provides data analysis that supports the Board’s arguments for unitary status as to faculty and staff.
Affidavit of Micah Fisher
The affidavit of Micah Fisher and supporting exhibits provide an overview of the non-discriminatory salary schedule. The document provides a detailed description of how the District makes pay decisions without regard to race of faculty and staff.
Affidavit of Lee Simmons
The affidavit of Lee Simmons and supporting exhibits provide an overview of the hiring and recruiting process the District utilizes for filling faculty and staff positions. It also details the District’s good faith efforts to comply the Consent Order as it relates to faculty and staff.