Mayor Karl Dean, it seems, will not have to testify in a federal court case involving Metro Nashville Public Schools’ controversial 2008 rezoning plan.
Dean was previously expected to take the stand Thursday, but the plaintiff’s attorney Larry Woods apparently obtained the testimony he needed from Alan Coverstone, executive director of the MNPS Office of Innovation. The mayor was released from a subpoena, which called him to testify, earlier Thursday.
Woods said he planned on asking Dean about the district’s increased emphasis on charter schools, but the testimony of Coverstone, who is responsible for overseeing the school system’s charter schools, covered the topic Wednesday.
Opening arguments in Spurlock, et. al. vs. Fox, et. al. began Tuesday. The case is a class action suit that claims MNPS’s 2008 rezoning created more racially isolated — and less diverse — schools in areas zoned for Pearl-Cohn and Hillwood high schools.
Ed Kindall, longtime school board member and staunch opponent of the rezoning plan, testified Thursday. He expressed concerns in 2008, when the board considered rezoning, that Nashville was moving toward having two separate school systems: one for whites and one for minorities.
Kindall testified about the process by which rezoning passed, saying he was concerned about the lack of discussion prior to the plan’s passing. An alternative plan, which addressed the racial issues in Pearl Cohn and Hillwood clusters, garnered little discussion, Kindall said.
Metro attorney Kevin Klein confronted Kindall with his own comments about vast improvements under the rezoning plan. Kindall said he originally supported 85 percent of the plan but still has concerns about the perceived racial isolation.
Kindall also spoke about people in both clusters having “informed” choices regarding the options available after rezoning. He acknowledged an exhaustive communication effort by the school system to inform parents in 2009, but said that same effort hasn’t been carried out over the past three years.
Frances Spurlock, the lead defendant, is expected to testify Thursday in the case. She claims that her child was rezoned from a high-achieving school in Bellevue, to a low-performing school in North Nashville. Even though the plan allows for parents to choose schools in either district, the Spurlocks claim they didn’t have a choice.
Metro is set to begin calling witnesses in the case Friday.