Schools Standoff: Waiting On Opinions

A very important legal opinion could arrive from Nashville before the end of the year. And it is likely to be central to the entire standoff between Shelby County’s two public school systems.

Shelby County Election Commission chairman Bill Giannini is awaiting a legal opinion from the state election coordinator’s office on several points beyond the question of who would vote in a February referendum on an MCS charter surrender.

The other points include when does the 45-60 day period to hold the special election begin, is there a point at which the MCS board could take back its call for the special election and what is the point of no return for cranking up the machinery of holding an election.

Giannini said the opinion will probably also run through the Tennessee Attorney General’s office for review before it comes to Memphis. But he expects there might be an opinion by the end of this week.

We’ll be working through the holiday weekend on that and other points in what is already shaping up as the top political story of 2011. It’s never too soon for retrospectives in social media. Just in case, we are working on ways to purge this post or at least assign another reporter’s name to it if this all fizzles.

Mayors Wharton and Luttrell will be at Myron Lowery’s annual prayer breakfast on New Year’s day. We’ll have an ear out for any further word from that front.

Lowery’s prayer breakfast became a must cover holiday stop in the 1990s when then Mayor Willie Herenton used it as the point at which to lay out his agenda for the coming year. So far, not much evidence that Luttrell or Wharton share Herenton’s zeal for starting the new year with a heaping helping of controversy.

But our informal survey of several politicos shows that the schools standoff has remained a topic of conversation during what is normally a down time on the calendar for local politics.

Comments

  1. EGm says:

    When all the air is cleared and someone somewhere finds out that 30% or more of the kids counted as being in the city schools each day aren't there… I assume someone will go to jail? and someone will have to repay the state for the funds? There are less than 5 schools that perform in the whole city system and yet for some reason people want to protect that system?
    Help me understand

    1. John Shaw says:

      Well, county residents are afraid that their children might actually have to go to school with Memphis children. They are also afraid that after the districts are merged, the people of Memphis would be able to elect representation onto the county school board, and would have a voice in how the county schools are run. Memphis residents who want to preserve the Memphis City Schools tend to follow one of two views: Either they oppose merger because they believe that blacks will lose control of their children's education, or they oppose merger because they see that the county opposes it and they don't see the advantage in forcing a merger with people who are hostile to merger. In my opinion, Memphis will always trip and fall on issues of race and class. The greatness that we could achieve won't happen, because we cannot get past that obstacle.

  2. CityParenttobe says:

    As a Memphis resident with a child who will be entering the Memphis City School System, I have been disturbed by the recent turn of events relating to the charter surrender vote. Timing this vote such that it creates an additional financial burden on the city to produce an election when the vote could have been timed to coincide with a regularly scheduled election is quite troublesome. The timing of this effort certainly raises concerns about hidden agendas. In thinking about how elected officials would voluntarily withdraw from the voted mandate, I have been unable to reconcile their decision with any rational reasoning consistent with their mandate.

  3. CityParenttobe says:

    Apparently the school board member have decided that rather than confront the difficulties facing the Memphis City School system, they will just withdraw. The amount of grandstanding associated with their withdrawal is shocking. I just watched the ABC news coverage of the charter surrendered and was disheartened to see the newest school board member (Sara) rolling her eyes in response to reasonable questions from the press. What is it about being elected to public office in Memphis that gives an elected official such a feeling of power and confidence that they would actually roll their eyes in response to a reasonable question from the press – the voice of the constituency.

  4. CityParenttobe says:

    Why would it be evidence of a hidden agenda that Giannini would seek a legal opinion as to the necessary steps for handling this vote. Exercising caution in unchartered territory seems like the logical and appropriate reponse. At least there's evidence of an appreciation of the burden the vote places on the taxpayers and an effort to ensure the vote is legal.

  5. CityParenttobe says:

    A timely merger of the school systems under a schedule may be a wonderful result for Memphis, but not this rush job. Over 80% of the Memphis student body is economically disadvantaged while approximately 30% of the Shelby student body is disadvantaged. What do you think Memphis parents will choose? Pickler's strong language is a very good effort at swaying the teachers by threatening the loss of their union, you better believe that will get out the vote. Too bad our Memphis elected board doesn't care to do the job they sought. I hope more information will come out so that I can make an educated choice.

    It's quite ironic that the government merger was voted down due in large part to fear of a school system merger. This should hav ebeen done in advance of the merger vote. Then maybe the unfounded fear of school system merger would not have clouded the Memphis/Shelby voters this past fall.

  6. CityParenttobe says:

    Please offer additional coverage of this issue.

  7. [...] charter vote; commissioner seeks ethics investigation MCS Board commissioner denies selling vote Schools Standoff: Waiting On Opinions Gatewood Defends MCS Vote Amid ‘Back Door Deal’ Allegations Shelby Co. Election [...]

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