Cease Fire In School Transfer Fight?

On February 14, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris

February 14, 2011


Shelby County School Board filed lawsuit asking that Memphis City Council actions be stopped
City Council voted to accept surrender of school charter, claim automatically means city and county schools are merged
Governor Bill Haslam, Mayor A C Wharton and others all together in Memphis for first time since December 20th

(Memphis 2/14/2011) Cupid had to be working overtime, because this was a room that was going to need a lot of love.

Mayor A C Wharton, State Senator Mark Norris, Governor Bill Haslam, various members of the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission were all in one room.

Tensions were so thick you could cut them with a sling blade.

The group gathered for a huge announcement that Mitsubishi Electric was building a big plant in Memphis.

Jobs are the rock stars of the 2011 political world.

This plant will eventually employ more than two hundred seventy people.

But the other issue in the room concerned the transfer of power in the local school systems. Memphis City School Board members and the City Council have surrendered the charter, which means, in effect, the city school system doesn’t exist.

But Shelby County has filed a lawsuit, saying the actions of both boards was unconstitutional. State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) passed a bill that sets up a transition committee and gives them three years to come up with a plan. It was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam.

Mayor Wharton didn’t like it, members of the city council and county commission don’t like it, but the deed was done.

Mayor Wharton however says it’s not hurting his relationship with the Governor. “I am so glad I was trained as a lawyer,” the Mayor says, “…because I can fight you like Hell in a courtroom in the morning, and then we can go out and kick it. You just have to know how to separate things.” While Governor Haslam has probably never been asked to kick it, the way he sees it, why it’s OMG, Mayor Wharton is, like, his BFF. “Mayor Wharton and I have a great relationship,” he says. “We talk probably every day on the phone. So there’s not a bit of tension. I think there’s a really great partnership there.”

Peace didn’t break out here. It’s sort of a cease fire for now.

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter thinks it’s important for a court to get involved. Commission Chairman Sidney Chism thinks it’s important for Nashville to know that Memphis doesn’t want or need their involvement.

“I don’t think we ever need the intervention of Nashville and the legislative body,” Chism said, “…to tell us what we have to do in order to educate our kids.”


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