Another Twist In The Metro Rezoning Lawsuit - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Another Twist In The Metro Rezoning Lawsuit

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by Janet Kim & Rodney Dunigan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's a battle that's been waging for nearly two years, and now yet another chapter in the fight over Metro's school rezoning plan. On Thursday, District Court Judge John Nixon wouldn't allow the case to move forward. He said he doesn't feel attorneys for the plaintiffs were providing quality representation.

"It's not the money, it's that we need more personnel, we need more lawyers. Metro's paying seven, eight lawyers to defend this and we're going to reach out as the judge instructed," lead attorney Larry Woods told NewsChannel 5.

Woods agreed with the judge's assessment. His firm took on the case pro-bono. So far he said they've spent nearly $75,000 fighting Metro's high powered legal team.

The incident started in 2009 when the Metro School Board voted to rezone the district to go back to what they called neighborhood schools, essentially that students would attend schools closer to where they lived.

Frances and Jeffrey Spurlock said the board unfairly rezoned their children, who are minorities, into lower performing schools, and that rezoning only created segregation.
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The school district has denied race was a factor in rezoning. In October, a federal judge said the families and district could submit revised plans for rezoning. One of the families, the Spurlocks, offered a plan in December.

Their suggestion was to replace the current system of 14 clusters in favor of four new mega-clusters. That way, magnet schools in those mega-clusters could reserve some seats for low-income students.

The Spurlocks have argued that the rezoning only created segregation. Former Metro School Board Member George Thompson also addressed concerns. Supporters have argued the goals of rezoning were to increase parental involvement by having schools in closer proximity.

Schools director Jesse Register thinks the judge's move is a clear indication the district will eventually be vindicated.

"What I carried away from that is that our attorney's have done a great job. We've got a great case. My goal would be to see this finished before long," said Register.

The two sides are set to have a status meeting next week to determine if the plaintiffs have the assistance they need to carry on the case. The next hearing is tentatively set for January 26.

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