Lawsuit Claims Racism in Clark Springs School Closing

RICHMOND, VA—A lawsuit filed against the Richmond School Board over its June ruling to close Clark Springs Elementary Schools alleges the board ignored research data and community input on rezoning to benefit white students.

Former City Councilman Marty Jewell is with the Richmond Coalition for Quality Education and partly behind the suit. He says closing Clark Springs, a predominantly black school, makes no sense.

“This is not a frivolous lawsuit,” Jewell said. “We've got evidence far sufficient to make the case that this is a racially inspired rezoning.”

Jewell and the Coalition allege Richmond City School board members “acted in bad faith” with secret emails and calls that ultimately led to closing Clark Springs and a rezoning plan that would allow white students to continue to attend Mary Munford and Fox Elementary Schools.

“It's a high performing school; why would you shut it down, it was a properly populated,” Jewell said. “Throughout this whole thing, you can see where they have cherry picked pockets of white population to put into one or two schools of their choice.”

Two board members in particular, Glen Sturtevant and Kimberly Gray, are called out in the lawsuit for allegedly acting in bad faith and violating bylaws.

The suit includes emails from Sturtevant and Gray that seem to show a push to rezone the museum district, a predominantly a white section of the city, to Fox Elementary a predominantly white school.

“We totally get how challenging and emotional a process this is when you are dealing with what school your child will be attending,” Richmond School Board member Glen Sturtevant said.

Sturtevant, the father of two biracial children, says he hasn't seen the lawsuit but calls it unfortunate. He says the rezoning was part of an effort to close a $12 million budget gap.

“We have a the number of buildings that we need to operate a school system that is twice our size, so as enrollment has declined we still had to operate to heat, to cool all of the same number of buildings and at the end of the day it is just unsustainable,” Sturtevant said.

8News reached out to Richmond School board member Kimberly Gray she was unavailable for an interview.

Stay with 8News for updates.

Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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