Civil rights group plans to appeal ruling that Nashville district’s attendance zone policy does not intentionally discriminate against African-American students
Nashville Public Radio reports on wpln.org that the Nashville, Tennessee chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) plans to appeal a state court ruling that Nashville Metro Schools’ (NMS) attendance zones do not intentionally discriminate against African-American students. However, Judge Kevin Sharp found that NMS’ plan essentially leads to segregation.
State Representative Brenda Gilmore contends that is the real issue. “Resegregation whether intentionally or unintentionally still has the same impact on our community,” she said. “The things that we had fought for thirty, forty, fifty years ago, that we should have to revisit is a travesty.”
NMS, on the other hand, argues that the district’s diversity is not just a matter of school zones. According to NMS spokeswoman Meredith Libbey, there are also magnet schools open to students from every neighborhood. Libbey points out, “We provide bus passes for students who are lower income to attend our magnet schools, and we do a lot of outreach to families, such that about a quarter of our students don’t attend their zoned school – they make an active choice.”
The legal battle dates back to 2009, when the NAACP filed suit along with the parents of a African-American girl who had been rezoned from mostly white schools in West Nashville to a cluster of lower performing ones that were closer to their home–and majority black. At the heart of the original case was the argument that NMS purposefully drew new zones to “make majority black population schools blacker and majority white schools whiter.”
Source: wpln.org, 7/31/12, By Nina Cardona
[Editor's Note: In May 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in The Tennessean, which reported on the class action suit charging that NMS' redistricting plan catered to white families and rezoned black students out of affluent, higher-achieving schools was set to go to trial shortly after that article's publication. Having been certified as a class action suit at that time, Spurlock v. Fox represented as plaintiffs all African-American families in North Nashville affected by the rezoning.
The Editor's Note in the May 2012 summary contains additional information about similar challenges occurring in other states, and provides links to those Legal Clips summaries.]