By Loretta Kalb
A witness in the lawsuit seeking to block Sacramento City Unified from closing seven elementary schools testified today that the district overstated capacity of some campuses when it decided which ones to close.
The testimony came during a hearing in which affected families asked U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to block the closures until their case is resolved or they reach agreement with the district.
Much of the morning session was devoted to how much plaintiffs' witness Jesus Hernandez would be allowed to say about his written analysis that district closures in poor and minority neighborhoods constituted a case of intentional discrimination.
The suit, brought by plaintiffs' attorney Mark Merin, complains that the district chose schools in minority neighborhoods in lieu of a committee's recommendations to close some campuses in predominantly white neighborhoods.
Mueller said Hernandez could answer questions about enrollment at the affected school sites but not address school financing and other areas in which he has limited expertise.
Plaintiffs believe the issue of overstated school capacity is important because the district, in a bid to save money, announced it would close campuses that made the least use of their capacity.
Attorney Gregory A. Wedner, representing the school district, noted that Hernandez evaluated only two schools on the closure list for his capacity findings questioned the witness's failure to examine other schools or to conduct other research.
"Did you look at the school racial population regarding the open enrollment policy?" Wedner asked.
"I did not have that data," Hernandez answered.