Hoover school officials today are joining with the U.S. Department of Justice and plaintiffs in a decades-old federal desegregation case to ask a federal judge to approve new attendance zones for Hoover City Schools.
The three groups filed a joint motion to that effect on March 21 but today are making their presentation in person before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala at the federal courthouse in downtown Birmingham.
This morning, Haikala heard opening statements from all parties and has been listening to Hoover school officials present their proposed rezoning plan.
Hoover school board attorney Donald Sweeney told the judge that a comprehensive rezoning in 2004 distributed students from Hoover apartment complexes throughout the city in an effort to better integrate Hoover schools.
But unfortunately, that rezoning effort had a disproportionate negative impact on minority students who were forced to travel outside of their communities to get to schools farther away from their homes.
The current rezoning plan is an attempt to undo that unfair practice and return students to schools closer to where they live, Sweeney said.
Hoover school officials also are trying to maximize use of their current school facilities and make room for future growth, Sweeney said.
Monique Lin-Luse, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who is representing plaintiffs in the desegregation case, said the plaintiffs support the rezoning plan drawn up in cooperation with the plaintiffs and the Department of Justice.
All the parties have crafted the plan with lots of input from the Hoover community and trying to come up with a plan that both fixes the problems created by past rezoning while understanding practical considerations, Lin-Luse said.
Hoover schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy said this is a very important day in the history of Hoover City Schools as its seeks to get this rezoning plan approved in time for the 2016-17 school year.
Murphy said she does not know when Haikala will make a decision on the parties’ request. Testimony was to continue at 2 p.m. after a lunch break.