Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NAACP Files Civil Rights Complaint Against MNPS by Elyssa Durant, Ed.M. - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com

NAACP Files Civil Rights Complaint Against MNPS

Elyssa Durant

Nashville, Tennessee, January 26, 2009. The Nashville affiliate of

the NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of

Education over the pending rezoning of Metropolitan Nashville Public

Schools. Keith Caldwell, community member and parent filed the

complaint on January 20, 2009, just minutes after President Obama

was sworn into office as the first Black president in the United

States of America.

This announcement, made Monday morning, January 26, 2009 at the

NAACP headquarters of the local affiliate as the media and several

members the community watched. Reverend James Lawson, civil rights

activist who worked with Martin Luther King Junior, and Marilyn

Robinson, president of the Nashville NAACP, joined Caldwell. In a

statement, Rev. Lawson stated that he believes the rezoning plan

is "immoral, unethical, and wrong." Mr. Caldwell fears that the

already segregated neighborhoods of Nashville will suffer as a

result of a return to neighborhood schools. Both look towards the

landmark Brown vs. Board decision as an example of how separate but

equal is inherently unequal, however there a several well- known and

established members of the Black community who disagree.

Pastor Enoch Fuzz, community leader and activist, notes that a

return to neighborhood schools will encourage parent involvement

and brings with it large federal subsidies to provide students and

their families with much needed financial resources in the poorest

sections of Nashville. Karen Johnson, elected member to the school

board also points out that the plan includes comprehensive plans to

allow significant choice that includes transportation for children

who are not performing well in their current school environment.

The rezoning hearings took place in an open environment and involved

a Task Force made of up of community members and parents. The Task

Force, the majority African-American, unanimously

supported a return to neighborhood schools in favor of the rezoning

plan. The plan allows for choice with transportation.

The Civil Rights branch of the DOE investigates discrimination

complaints for institutions that receive federal funding, will

investigate the claim.

If MNPS is found to be in violation, MNPS stands to lose as much as

67 million dollars in federal funding. Caldwell's children attend

magnet schools and are not at risk of being transferred back to

their locally zoned schools, however, Caldwell hopes that this

investigation will prompt MNPS to halt the implementation of the

rezoning plan.

-end-

Published by Elyssa Durant

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