Mayors Won't Confirm Likelihood of School Deal

Wharton specifically insists that only Memphians should vote on surrender of MCS charter; meanwhile, Wade files election suit in Chancery.

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Mayors Luttrell and Wharton with Governor-elect Haslam at Bioworks
  • JB
  • Mayors Luttrell and Wharton with Governor-elect Haslam at Bioworks
Asked about the issue before a joint public meeting with Governor-elect Bill Haslam at the Memphis Bioworks Center, Mayors A C Wharton (Memphis) and Mark Luttrell (Shelby County) each seemed uncertain, in different ways, about the likelihood — or even the purpose — of the reported “deal” that would occasion a year-long stand-down in the showdown between Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools, followed by an all-county vote.

Luttrell spoke in general terms about his hope for an understanding of some sort but did not spell out the terms of one, and he said, “I don’t know,” when asked what the reaction of the MCS and SCS school boards would be to the one that was discussed in published reports earlier Wednesday.

Wharton seemed surprised when informed of some of the reported terms and specifically rejected one key provision. He insisted, as he had on previous occasions, that only citizens of Memphis should be allowed to vote on a referendum to permit the surrender of the MCS charter.

Meanwhile, attorney Allan Wade, on behalf of the ad hoc group Citizens for Better Education, filed suit in Chancery Court seeking a writ of mandamus or, alternatively, injunctive relief, or, alternatively, a declaratory judgment toward the end of forcing the Shelby County Election Commission to call for an immediate citywide referendum on the charter surrender. If successful, such a surrender would force the immediate amalgamation of MCS with SCS.

And, in Nashville, where the Tennessee General Assembly was in its second day of reorganization for the forthcoming legislative session, state Senator Mark Norris of Collierville, the Republican majority leader of the state Senate, indicated that, pending some resolution of the deal publicized Wednesday, he would defer filing his proposed bill calling for a stand-down followed by two separate votes on an MCS charter surrender by city and county voters. Norris’ bill would make dual passage necessary before the surrender could occur.

Governor-elect Haslam, meanwhile, declined to comment on specific plans or possibilities, though he indicated an awareness of the issues and said he hoped for such outcomes as were most beneficial to the schoolchildren involved.

More details later.

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