School maze

On August 11, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris
Tri-State Defender
August 11, 2011
Two days after a 146-page federal court judges’ ruling declared that the makeup of the Shelby County Schools board is unconstitutional, a special county schools meeting drew a packed house on Wednesday (Aug. 10).

And on Thursday, Shelby County Commission members were scheduled to meet to move ahead on presenting U.S. Dist. Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays with their version of a seven-district countywide school board. Uncertain at press time was just how such a version of a board would get its members.

Special election? Interim appointments? A regular election next year?

It’s all part of what some consider a maze that Shelby County Schools board members, their Memphis City Schools counterparts, administrators, parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders are trying to work through as the first days of the 2012 academic year unfold.

Mays’ ruling came Monday afternoon on a lawsuit that called into question the consolidation of Memphis and Shelby County public schools. He ruled consolidation was on a sound legal track for the fall of 2013, as carved out by a new state law shepherded by state Sen. Mark Norris and state Rep. Curry Todd, both Republicans from Collierville.

According to Mays, the MCS board’s decision to surrender its charter passed muster. But he concluded that Memphians are illegally denied representation by the present seven-member County Schools board’s all-suburban makeup.

On Friday (Aug. 12), Mays wants all parties to submit proposals that address fixing the problem of the school board makeup that he ruled “unconstitutional.”

Stay tuned.

Other notes from Wednesday’s county school board special session and aftermath:

SCS Board Chairman David Pickler introduced a resolution that calls for a forensic audit of Memphis City Schools.

SCS Supt. John Aitken took issue with MCS Supt. Dr. Kriner Cash’s published claims that SCS has been foot-dragging and not moving at a productive pace for collaborative consolidation planning.

Aitken noted that he is committed to making consolidation work, regardless of the board’s makeup.

Pickler said the SCS board had not yet taken a position on Mays’ finding that the county school board makeup is unconstitutional.

Pickler expressed a willingness to engage in “good communication” en route to possiblly reaching an “equitable resolution.”

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