“Corridor Kids” Will Attend City Schools

HUNTSVILLE TIMES

When the school bell rings for the ‘Corridor Kids’ next Tuesday morning it will be in Huntsville. Madison County Circuit Court Judge Daniel banks Jr. ruled Tuesday afternoon that it was legal for the Huntsville City School Board to require the children to attend schools in Huntsville instead of Madison County.

Some of the children will spend nearly three hours per day going to and from schools more than 13 miles from their homes when the Madison County schools they used to attend are as little as three miles away.

Judge Banks’ ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed last week by 36 children and their parents, who live in the outlying annexed areas. “While this court is sympathetic to the concerns of the plaintiffs regarding the transportation of their children over long distances, the plaintiffs’ remedy lies with the Boards of Education and not with the courts,” Judge Banks wrote.

Attorneys for the children sought to overturn a law that gave children in the annexed areas the option of attending county schools if Huntsville failed to provide them with transportation. They also sought an order permitting them to continue attending county schools even if Huntsville offered transportation.

The Plaintiffs asked for an immediate hearing because classes began last week in the county system and are due to start next week in Huntsville. At a hearing last Friday, Judge Banks upheld the validity of the “Barron Bill,” sponsored in the last legislative session by Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe.

At Tuesday morning’s hearing, Judge banks told plaintiff’s attorney Allen Brinkley that the only grounds on which he could be shown that the Huntsville School Boards decision to provide transportation was “fraudulent, in bad faith or a gross abuse of discretion.”
“This Court cannot find any evidence that the decision of the defendant, Huntsville City Board of Education, to provide public school transportation to the plaintiffs in this cause is infected with fraud, bad faith, so we tried to prove gross abuse,” Brinkley said. Obviously, Judge Banks did not believe it. He felt he had no choice but to rule in their favor.

“Of course, all of our clients are disappointed with the decision. We’re reviewing our positions and will decide in a few days just what we will do, “ Brinkley said. No appeal is planned at this time.

“We hope the situation will be as good and secure s the Huntsville board says it will be. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything will be O.K We’ve done everything we can through the court system.,” Brinkley said.” “I just hope nobody gets hurt. I’m sure the judge and the other lawyers on the case feel that way, too.”

The search for solutions to the problem has caused some land owners in the outlaying annexed areas to ask if their property could be deannexed from Huntsville. Madison County Probate Judge Frank Riddick said his office was contacted a few days ago by an unidentified woman asking if there was a means for dong it and he told her he thought there was.

Sen. Barron has declared his intent to push a bill through the legislative session next year, making it easier for land owners to de-annex.

Brinkley said the ruling in the Corridor Kids case was the “best argument for doing away with” either the Huntsville or Madison County school boards. “They need to be merged. People talk about deannexing. That’s absurd. I could never see a political entity giving back territory. We need to eliminate one of those boards and have a metro board created,” he said.

Huntsville Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Jane Caylor was out of town and unavailable for comment. Also not available were Huntsville School Board attorney J.R. Brooks and Al Swain, attorney for the Madison County Board of Education.