OK, it should be obvious to everyone at this point that this school rezoning plan is a public-policy disaster. Not only are a growing number of the city’s African American leaders voicing outrage over it, saying it would re-segregate our schools, but now we have learned in a memo from former superintendent Pedro Garcia that at least some members of the Metro school board may have violated the state open meetings law by deliberating privately about the plan last year.
In the memo, Garcia writes that in a meeting last November board member Steve Glover told him he already had secured a majority of the board to vote for the plan. “He indicated to me that he had five votes for the plan that had been proposed,” Garcia writes.
The open meetings law was weakened somewhat in the last legislative session, but at that time it prohibited two or more members of a governing body from deliberating or deciding an issue except in a public meeting. So how did Glover, a white board member from Hermitage, know there were five votes for the plan without discussing it with other members?
Glover wouldn't return phone calls for comment. But at least two board members, George Thompson and Ed Kindall, both of whom are black, think Glover may have broken the law.
“This is the kind of skullduggery that’s caused this school system to be pushed down into the ground,” Thompson says.
Garcia sent his memo to Kindall in January. Kindall says he released it to the media yesterday to try to derail tonight’s scheduled board vote on rezoning.
“I was hoping that this zoning stuff would resolve itself in an amicable way but it appears people are pushing it to the point where they just want to ram it through,” Kindall says. “Mr. Glover was saying he had five votes. That worries me. We operate under what’s called the sunshine law. You’re not supposed to have five votes before we get to the meeting, are you?”
The NAACP just held a news conference to demand that the school board delay action on rezoning. “There are some components that are going to have a very, very negative impact and it’s going to roll us back 50 years,” says Marilyn Robinson, president of the NAACP’s Nashville chapter. “We’re asking the board to defer this. We want more involvement. We can improve upon this. There are certain parts of this plan that we cannot accept. They’re going to keep all the poor black children together. We don’t want that. We need diversity. We want to offer an alternative. We want to offer some input since this impacts us.”