A pro-charter schools political action group filed an amicus brief in the ongoing federal court case Spurlock vs. Fox, et. al. Tuesday — the same day the Metro school board approved two additional charter schools.
Great Public Schools, which is financially supporting pro-charter school board candidates, is asking U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp to leave charters out of the Spurlock case decision — which alleges deliberate racial segregation by Metro Nashville Public Schools’ rezoning.
Frances Spurlock, a mother, along with a class of African-Americans zoned to Pearl Cohn High School and Hillwood High School claim MNPS deliberately racially isolated those clusters. The plaintiffs also alleged during trial that Metro’s increased emphasis on charter schools is indicative of more racial isolation.
One of the main sticking points in charter applications is a perceived lack in diversity. Great Hearts Academies’ plan for a charter was denied last night, partially based on a plan that provides limited transportation to low-income students. MNPS Director of Schools Jesse Register suggested last month that Great Hearts approval could hinder MNPS in the Spurlock case.
But in their third-party amicus brief, Great Public Schools maintains that state law, not local decisions, requires MNPS to place charter schools that will serve students from at-risk areas.
“Plaintiffs cannot establish that Defendants acted with discriminatory intent by pointing to actions that the MNPS Board took effectively through no choice of its own,” the brief reads.
Great Public Schools ultimately argues that no charter operation should be affected by Sharp’s decision on the Spurlock case because of their distinct separation from MNPS. The brief points out that the plaintiff’s complaint has been amended four times, but a charter school has never been named as a defendant.
“Amicus respectfully requests that the Court note in its ruling that the ruling shall not be construed in any way to impair or impede the activities, autonomy, operations, decision-making, or any other interest of any charter school,” the brief reads.
The brief was filed by Ross Booher at Bass, Berry & Sims. Booher previously served as the chairman of the Board of Directors for KIPP Academy, which had a second charter school approved at last night’s board meeting.
The trial in Spurlock vs. Fox ended in May. Recent filings indicate that both sides are still submitting findings for Sharp’s review.
Disclaimer: Townes Duncan, CEO of the company which owns The City Paper parent SouthComm, is one of the founders of the Great Public Schools PAC.