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School system enters settlement in desegregation case

MADISON, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge has approved a deal to settle a longstanding desegregation case with a northern Alabama school system, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The school system has agreed to take steps to ensure equal educational opportunity for black students, including participation in gifted programs and college prep courses, officials said in a statement from the US Department of Justice announcing the settlement with the Madison County School Board.

“It’s high 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 predominantly white school system has agreed to take steps to: ensure a uniform process for identifying students for gifted services and informing all parents of the program; identify students who may be successful in Advanced Placement classes and other college-preparatory programs and encourage them to enroll; ensure non-discrimination in student discipline; and recruit more black teachers and school administrators.

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

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

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