HUNTSVILLE, AL (WZDX) - Huntsville School Board President David Blair is firing back after County Commissioner Bob Harrison sent a letter to a U.S. District judge blasting the board and asking that they remain under the decades-old desegregation ruling.
Harrison's letter sent to the judge accuses the board of not taking the wishes of the people of North Huntsville into consideration when drawing new district zoning lines. The plan, which must be approved by the judge, calls for the closure of Johnson High School and Butler High School, and the construction of a new North Huntsville school to be named Jemison.
Harrison asked for the board's plan to be rejected. Blair fired back by releasing documents that show Harrison has not always felt that way.
"He was trading his vote for couple of things, one of which was him picking the site of a new school that he was proposing," explained Blair Thursday morning.
The documents written by Harrison and addressed to former Superintendent Ann Roy Moore, ask that Johnson be closed and the students be spread out between Lee and Butler High Schools. It also asks that Harrison be allowed to pick the location of a new middle school. All of this in exchange for his favorable vote on a .5 cent sales tax that helps support the schools.
He also asked that the board work to obtain unitary status, meaning they would be released from the desegregation order.
"We just found those documents and we need everybody to understand that Bob is not very consistent in his views," said Blair.
He also released the response from Moore which shows that she did not agree to the Commissioner's terms but the sales tax was ultimately passed. Blair says Harrison's complaints are not valid.
"One of the things he keeps harping on is the schools are still segregated and it's been shown since 1974--and that was a Supreme Court case--that you can't base schools on the community makeup," Blair explained. "So you know, the communities themselves are segregated and the school can't be held to that account."
"There is a clear delineation in the governmental agencies the school board is its own governmental agency, he continued, "our focus is schools and making sure the kids get a great education. Commissioner Harrison's focus is public safety, good housing, economic development, roads, and garbage pickup."
FOX54 spoke to Harrison on the phone Thursday morning about the issue. He says that the accusations misrepresent his position on the issue and says that was, "Not how he remembered it."
For his part, Blair says he is not backing down.
"When he says that we are dishonest or disingenuous those types of things, for me, that's an attack on our kids and our staff and I will stand up for them every day."
Commissioner Harrison did say that he would be making a statement about the issue at a later time but did not return follow up phone calls. The issue of desegregation and zoning lines is now in the hands of a judge.