Hoover Schools awaits court decision on rezoning plan

Published 9:31 pm Monday, May 9, 2016

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HOOVER—The Hoover City School System is awaiting a court decision that could approve the rezoning of 16 percent of the student body to new schools for the 2016-2017 academic year.

United States District Judge Madeline Haikala is still considering the school system’s plan for rezoning, HCS Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy said during a May 9 Board of Education meeting.

The rezoning plan has been presented to Haikala and she returned questions to the school system on May 4. School system officials have been working diligently to address all of Haikala’s questions by May 10 at 5 p.m. at the latest, Murphy said.

A preliminary rezoning plan was revealed to the public during a community meeting on Feb. 4. After continued discussions with the Department of Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and community input, a finalized plan was approved by the city’s BOE on March 7. However, the system is still awaiting Haikala’s approval before implementing the plan.

Parents have expressed concern that a final decision on the rezoning plan has still not been reached. Resident Chris Monti voiced this concern during the May 9 meeting, explaining lack of a decision has made it difficult for parents and students to plan and prepare for the coming school year.

“I feel as though there has been a rush to get this plan in front of Judge Haikala and to implement it for next year,” Monti said. “Let’s have some definitive action to let people know in the community (what to expect next year).”

Monti said regular school transition nights, times when parents and students can tour the school they will be moving to, have been confusing as families are visiting “what now might be their new school.”

“Up until now, these discussions have occurred between adults (but they’re now entering) the realm of our children,” Monti said.

School board attorney Donald Sweeney expressed confidence in the system’s ability to successfully implement the rezoning plan should it gain Haikala’s approval.

“Every aspect of the pan was vetted by the public, reacted to by the staff,” Sweeney said, adding Murphy worked to ensure “any plan you go forward with can be successfully implemented in the (best interest of) the students.”

The rezoning plan is a key piece of the school system’s effort to satisfy a desegregation court order inherited from the Jefferson County School System and achieve unitary status.