Southern Poverty Law Center

Gov. Robert Bentley says the Alabama Accountability Act is designed to help students in all public schools.

The governor spoke out Monday after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal court suit seeking to block the law. The suit says some impoverished students can't access part of the law providing tax credits for families that move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

Bentley says another portion of the law gives those failing schools the flexibility to make changes and improve.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Civil Rights Memorial Center is offering a day of free admission in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday.

   Center officials said admission will be free Thursday on Mandela's birthday. Mandela has been hospitalized recently with a recurring lung infection.

   Activities at the center Thursday will include a screening of the documentary "Nelson Mandela: Journey to Freedom."

Press-Register file/Victor Calhoun

The Mobile County school system has agreed not to suspend students for minor infractions such as not tucking a shirt in or being late to class.

   The agreement was part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center challenging the Mobile system's past practice of sometimes giving students lengthy suspensions for minor infractions.

   The settlement requires approval of the superintendent for a proposed suspension of longer than 20 school days.

Southern Poverty Law Center

A civil rights group that tracks extremist groups warns that President Obama's tenure and the gun control debate after the Connecticut school shooting have led to surging numbers of anti-government "patriot" groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Tuesday reported the rising numbers as it released its annual report on extremist groups.

The number of patriot groups, one category of extremist organizations tracked by the center, has risen dramatically over the past four years, from 149 groups in 2008 to 1,360 today.

Florida Atlantic University

A coalition of civil rights organizations is suing to stop part of Alabama's immigration law requiring officials to post lists of illegal immigrants in the state's court system online.

The federal court suit was filed Thursday on behalf of four Latinos in Montgomery County who were accused of fishing without a state fishing license.

Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Kristi Graunke says the law is designed to humiliate and make life difficult for immigrants regardless of their status.

Outdated extracurricular activity forms have been removed from two schools' websites in Autauga County after a civil rights organization complained they required students to provide Social Security numbers.

Autauga County Superintendent Spence Agee said Thursday students do not need to provide a Social Security number to participate in activities like football, cheerleading or band.

A dozen advocacy groups across Alabama have joined together to form a coalition to address statewide issues that affect the future of young Alabama residents. The coalition will focus on issues ranging from school policies that alliance members believe push students out of the classroom into the juvenile justice system to the services offered to youth reentering the community from the custody of the Department of Youth Services.

The new coalition includes the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was announced at a news conference Tuesday.

longislandwins / Flickr

A lawsuit has been filed accusing the Alabama Department of Education of refusing to release school data showing the impact of Alabama's law cracking down on illegal immigrants has had on Hispanic students. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery filed the lawsuit, which contends education officials have declined to release data on student enrollment before and after the immigration law was enacted. The lawsuit says the SPLC has requested a copy of information that education officials have sent to the U.S. Justice Department.

The state of Alabama has asked a federal appeals court to reconsider parts of two opinions that struck down some provisions of Alabama's immigration law.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said Monday the state was challenging a three-judge panel's decision to strike down parts of Alabama's law concerning harboring illegal immigrants, contracts and collecting school data on immigrants. Bentley said the court was placing an illegal restraint on state government.

The state is asking the full appeals court to review the three-judge panel's decision.