In Re: Kelvin Jones - Recap

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The scene opens in Alabama. According to new evidence, teenagers with automatic weapons are terrifying students at the Hastings based Cyrus Garza School. Recently one armed teenager has killed an innocent bystander named Kelvin Jones, while being in the attempt of open firing at a couple. Back in D.C., referring to Ben Kershaw’s so called suicide, Eddie asks Lucinda if she killed him. She replies in a way suggesting she thinks it’s a ridiculous question. Meanwhile, Garza decides to visit the school. As soon as he announces that, a Detective Farrow is at the doorstep and asks with Kershaw’s photo if this guy had ransacked Garza’s office.
Farrow leaves, and Garza tells Lucinda that Kershaw started showing up almost the same time when Lucinda began working for him. Kershaw not only ransacked his office, but also attacked Mereta and followed Garza for his whereabouts. Later, Eddie tries to get information out from Lucinda, especially about the dead girl, whose identity Lucinda might have stolen. At Hastings, Garza takes a tour around the school with the principal, and finds out that Kelvin was one of the best students. Not just that, but he also started a school government, newspaper and a tutoring program that he supervised. Principal Menzies reveals to Garza that her requests for protective systems such as metal and heat detectors got no response from the district. Moreover, when Garza meets Kelvin’s parents at their house, they express their frustration as well. They had requested the district to allow Kelvin and Kara, his sister, to go to a different school – the Centennial Academy – on two occasions. However, they got no response either. Randall, their father, claims that all the white kids’ requests have been processed, but not theirs.

Garza calls Al to tell him what he has found. Cyrus Garza, which is full of black kids, has no money, or even the basic facilities for the kids. The other school, Centennial Academy is full of white kids, and they have the best of everything. He also finds out that most big city schools have more than 75% Hispanic and black kids enrolling. Garza wants to speak at Kelvin’s memorial, but also want Mereta and Al to share the podium. Kelvin’s memorial takes place at the dilapidated auditorium of the school. Garza remembers Martin Luther King, but feels that he is not half the man King was. So all Garza can do, is file a lawsuit. He tells the parents about his plans, and also that the school district’s ignorance about safety needs no mention. He mentions that the ignorant authorities are directly responsible for Kelvin’s death. He gets a standing ovation. Randall Jones, Kelvin’s father, who had asked him to leave the house saying it’s too late for sympathy, apologizes and hands him the graduation tassel Randall’s grandfather got in 1912 from the same school. Kelvin would have got his in 2012.

Kelvin’ sister Kara testifies about the condition of Cyrus Garza school in court. She talks about how the school authorities fail or deliberately veer away from stopping the armed gangs from taking control of the school. Victor Harmon, the counsel arguing for the school district, insists that Kelvin was killed in a gang shootout, and blaming the school is not justifiable. Garza argues that kids like Kelvin can hardly survive the environment that has built up in the overlooked school, and if things do not change, neither will the dangerous trends. When the judge asks Garza to establish evidence that the school authorities had prior knowledge about Kelvin’s killing, he is unable to do so. Back at Garza’s office, Eddie and Lucinda try finding evidence of discrimination. However, Detective Farrow arrives with Kershaw’s medical report, which proves that his death was no suicide.
At the hearing, Garza’s arguments are getting overshadowed by the judge’s take on the case. Garza gets livid, and says he will file a class action suit against the school system for flouting the 14th Amendment. The opposing counsel argues that such a filing requires certification. The judge calls both lawyers to his bench, and tells Garza that he needs to gather 300 plaintiffs in the next 48 hours, but this is off the record.

Garza, Al and Mereta try hard, but end up with less than 50 signatures. However, they get help from a loyal supporter, who says will get the remaining. Back in a D.C. police room, Eddie and Lucinda learn that Kershaw’s fingernails had skin samples. Lucinda is requested to give her DNA sample for comparison, but she gets aggressive with Detective Farrow. When Eddie argues with her, asking her to cooperate, she tells him that she does not want the cops to find out something. Eddie threatens he knows will reveal what he knows about the dead Lucinda Pearl. Lucinda glares back dangerously enough to suppress Eddie. Garza meets Warner Young, the Mayor in Hastings, and talks about the class action suit he wants to get ready. Young is worried about his public image, especially as elections are nearing. Garza insists that he will file a lawsuit come what may, and Young can only choose whether he is going to share the success of winning it. Young extends his support, but on the condition that Garza promotes him in a press release. Garza, Al and Mereta get down to finding out ways of establishing intentional segregation, which has brought down the standard of education quality. They have a good first witness – Archibald Breech, who has been the only Board of Education member to cooperate yet.

Garza puts Breech on the stand, where he explains the demographics in Hastings schools. Although less than 70% of the students are non-white, and more than 30% white, Centennial Academy has 70% white students and 30% black students. At Cyrus Garza, the composition is exactly the opposite. He also reveals that 300 white kids got transferred from Cyrus Garza to Centennial Academy last year, especially because the district rules have no restriction on such transfers. Harmon cross examines to point out that Breech has not protested the racial segregation before this because he seeks the superintendent’s post. Detective Farrow frees Lucinda back at the D.C. police office, saying that they have a confession from the woman who killed Kershaw.

Lucinda is surprised to find that it is Greer, Kershaw’s wife, who thanks her for being brave enough to have believed Valerie and save her from her father. She knew about his guilt, but she found it extremely alarming that Ben Kershaw has found Valerie. Lucinda assures her that Valerie is safe. Meanwhile at the lawsuit, Transportation Director Marvin Jackson testifies that student bus service turns out more expensive than they would have been, if kids were not transferred from one to the other. And, the extra expense is borne by the taxpayer.

The news about suspension of bus services, art classes, sports activities and everything related to extracurricular education at Cyrus Garza makes the courtroom empty all of a sudden. Mereta advises Garza to ask for recess, but when they arrive at the school, they find the superintendent mad about the expensive lawsuit. As it is, the district may cut off further funding because of Garza’s fees. The superintendent blames Garza, and on the stand the next day, he alleges the racial allegations to have been personal attacks. He claims that the control of the students’ transfers are not entirely in his hands, but the transfer approvals do take place.

Garza admits that as a public officer, the superintendent has to stick to his Constitutional duties. However, Garza argues how one gets to prove that Centennial Academy gets more funds in every educational category than Cyrus Garza does, and that there may be racial overtones to the denial of Kelvin’s transfer. The superintendent admits he has not supervised Kelvin’s applications personally, but opines that it is absurd to find racial reasons for the denial on both occasions. Penny Rogovin, who was fired for talking about the racial segregation as the superintendent’s assistant, is now a teacher in a different county. Garza’s team tracks her down and puts her on the stand. She would have actually seen Kelvin’s application, and testifies about why she was fired. She also says that there is more to Kelvin’s story.
Penny explains that Kelvin wanted to stay at Cyrus Garza, even if his father wanted him to go to Centennial Academy for better education and opportunities. Kelvin had requested Penny to let him stay in the same school where he was already loved. However, when she showed the superintendent the unfair composition of student races, he ignored them. In D.C., Eddie learns about Lucinda’s life, as she reveals why she did not want the cops to find out her real identity. She was an abused child herself, but got a new identity along with her mother from an organization that helped them. She refused to give DNA samples because by doing so, she would let the cops find out she is filed on National Center for Missing and Abused Children.

Garza makes his closing statement at the court, where he points out how American schools have not improved in matters of segregation from the times of racial issues decades ago. Harmon’s closing statement threw light on the point that segregation was not done purposely, and that it is time to get back to the business of education. Garza rebuts saying that education is no business, and that one had much to learn from Kelvin’s welfare for other students. The jury estimates a damage of about $11 million, while the judge orders halting of transfers and a reintegration of the two schools. Garza points out the need for improved facilities at Cyrus Garza, and the need for a merger of the two schools. He suggests the new name be Kelvin Jones High, and gives up his fees of $3.6 million to Kelvin’s father Randall for starting a scholarship in his son’s name.