County School Board Meets 20 Minutes, Asks MCS for All Records

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John Aitken
  • John Aitken
Two days after being declared "unconstitutional" by a federal judge, the Shelby County Board of Education vowed to "get to work" on the merger transition and passed a resolution asking Memphis City Schools for a ton of information and records.

Meeting on Wednesday for about 20 minutes, the board and Superintendent John Aitken said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays vindicates three of its main points: the Memphis and Shelby County school systems were lawfully consolidated, state law provides for an orderly transition culminating in a merger in 2013, and the Shelby County Commission cannot replace the existing county school board with a new 25-member board.

No one used the word "unconstitutional" or made reference to that part of Mays' ruling. The judge said the current county board fails to represent citizens of Memphis, in violation of the principle of one-man one-vote and therefore does not pass constitutional muster.

The transition from the current county board to a new county board that includes Memphis is uncertain. Mays is meeting Friday with attorneys for all parties in the schools case.

Meanwhile, Aitken said he intends to carry on.

"My family just got bigger," he said, meaning the combined school systems. He intends to remain superintendent "until someone or something outside my control changes that."

I asked him if he would be willing to be superintendent after the merger in 2013.

"Sure," he said. "The question is 'if asked.'"

School board chairman David Pickler said "we have been given directions from the judge to get to work."

The board unanimously passed a 20-point resolution requesting that MCS turn over financial, enrollment, student, teacher, and other information.

The financial records are necessary, the resolution says, "to perform a forensic audit of the financial records of MCS."

MCS board member Freda Williams, who attended the meeting Wednesday, said that would be no problem.

"Of course," she said. "That is information that has to be handed over. It is appropriate for them to begin this process."

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