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. And just when you hoped you'd surely heard the last of Pedro Garcia nearly two years after his ouster as schools director.
One of Garcia's now-infamous memos, which he left behind like ticking time bombs, has blown up in the trial of the NAACP-backed lawsuit accusing the school board of illegally discriminating against black children in the new student assignment plan. In the memo, Garcia paints the school board as a gang of conniving segregationists who tossed him out on the street for taking a principled stand against racism.
Civil rights attorney Larry Woods, schooling his less experienced rival--Metro lawyer Kevin Klein--managed to worm the memo into evidence through the back door yesterday on the trial's first day
. During testimony by just-retired board member George Thompson, Woods suddenly used an overhead projector to flash the memo onto a courtroom wall.
Despite Klein's repeated objections that the document contains outrageous hearsay--"layers of hearsay," in fact--federal Judge John Nixon said Woods could ask Thompson about it as long as Thompson was testifying about his own state of mind when he voted against the rezoning plan. The judge said he'd rule later about the admissibility of the document itself.
The memo is the smoking gun that could win this case for the plaintiffs. They need to prove race was at least one of the motivating factors in the board's decision to adopt the rezoning plan, which ended the busing of black children from north Nashville to Hillwood this school year. According to Garcia, who's refusing to testify himself, race was just about the only factor. In particular, he names then-board chair Marsha Warden as the ringleader of what he saw as a plot to remove as many black children from Hillwood High School as possible. Garcia writes:
I know that the situation I find myself in today, and the pressure exerted upon me by Marsha Warden, is the direct result of my decision to fight against her desire to move the African American children from the Hillwood Cluster so she could be re-elected. Unfortunately, this is a racially charged issue. I took the stand to oppose re-segregating the district. It was the right stand and I would do it again.
Metro has yet to address the accusations in the memo. (Warden has filed an affidavit denying it all.) But in his opening statement, Klein said he would make the case that Garcia wasn't fired as part of some racist plot but instead because he was inept. Under his watch, schools failed and went into state corrective action.
Update: Today's testimony