Tennessee Legislators React to School Board Vote

On January 19, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris

Bonny Kinney, WREG.com
January 19, 2011


  • Tennessee legislators agree that many questions still need to be answered regarding the potential merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools
  • Legislators are at odds as to whether only Memphians should vote on the merger
  • If those outside of Memphis are ultimately allowed to vote, one representative says he may pursue more legislation

(Memphis 1/19/2010 It’s likely that most students in Memphis and Shelby County classrooms don’t grasp how the potential merger of the school systems would affect them.

Most adults, even those deeply involved in the charge, have questions too.

That includes Tennessee legislators.

“I’m not judging either side. But I am saying I would like, as a citizen and a legislator, to know what happens next and what we can do to clarify that question for people,” said State Representative John Deberry, a Memphis Democrat.

Legislators are not only asking what happens next, but also about who votes.

As approved Tuesday, only Memphis residents will vote in the election, scheduled for March 8, 2011.

However, State Senator Mark Norris, a Collierville Republican, has a bill pending that would do several things: It sets forth appointments to a planning commission, adds procedures and also includes Shelby Countians outside of Memphis in the vote.

Norris notes that Tennessee code provides that any vote on consolidation should be county-wide. However, others argue that law, and it could open up another legal battle.

“This is a Memphis issue. This is Memphis business. This charter is a Memphis charter and no one outside of Memphis should have any say so in whether we stay in business,” said State Representative G.A. Hardaway, a Memphis Democrat.

In fact, Representative Hardaway says if citizens who live outside of Memphis were allowed to vote, he would consider pursuing legislation inserting Memphis residents into more Shelby County business.

“I’m certainly inclined to pursue the right for Memphians to vote in the business of Shelby County at-large, including the right of the Shelby County School System to pursue a special school district,” Representative Hardaway said.


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