The fight over diversity in Metro schools could soon be back in court. A judge's conclusion late last week over redistricting may have increased the determination on the losing side.
The legal battle dates back about three years, and the federal judge's decision in favor of Metro Nashville Public Schools will likely not be the end of it.
"Resegregation - whether intentionally or unintentionally - still has the same impact on our community. The things that we have fought for 30, 40, 50 years ago, that we should have to revisit, is a travesty," said state Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville.
Three years ago, Metro parents Jeffrey and Frances Spurlock sued the district, arguing discrimination in its redistricting plan.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp issued an 80-page ruling, which dismissed the suit.
"While the school board's action caused a segregative effect, the court is unable to conclude that the school board adopted the plan with a segregative purpose," Sharp said.
The ruling did not set well with the NAACP. Top leaders on Tuesday condemned not just the ruling.
"We are tired of courts, judges, lawyers, mayors, political parties deciding our children are going to go to schools that become nothing more than prison preps," said Kwame Lillard, with the African-American Cultural Alliance.
In response, Metro Schools Director Dr. Jesse Register pointed to the district's evolving plan and the changing definition of diversity.
"When you look at the numbers, you don't see very much of a negative effect at all, when you consider the fact that we created choices for students in primarily African-American communities," Register said. "I absolutely think it's a process that will take time, and it will also be somewhat dependant on how our community changes. You got to take the context into consideration."
While it may be easy to say, it's still tough to explain to those who may feel forgotten.
"You're crushing people's lives," Lillard said. "It should be something we're all ashamed of, Nashville. Not black, not white. Nashville."
There is an indication the Spurlocks will appeal Sharp's ruling.
In a statement Tuesday, Metro legal officials said:
"We think that the district's rezoning plan is a model plan. More than that, we want the community to know that families in north Nashville now have more opportunities to receive an outstanding education and more school choices, not fewer."
Channel 4 News reached out to the Spurlocks' attorney for comment, but we have not yet heard back.
The case has already cost Metro taxpayers several hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees. That cost would certainly increase, perhaps double or triple, if the case moved on to a higher court.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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