In the course of appearing Friday afternoon on a WKNO-TV broadcast concerning the issues of school consolidation, Pickler announced that the SCS Board has filed suit in federal district court seeking a declaratory judgment against the MSC Board and the City Council. He would call a press conference later Friday to discuss the suit.
“We are asking the court to take action to declare null and void the action of the School Board in voting to give up their their charter and furthermore to declare null and void the action of the City Council to accept their surrender,” Pickler said at WKNO.
The SCS suit also names a series of governmental agencies as co-defendants. As Pickler explained the premises of the suit on the program:
“The Shelby County Board of Education is deeply concerned as to the process that's been used here. So therefore, as of today, we have filed an action in federal district court. And this is an action against Memphis City Schools, Memphis City Council, City of Memphis, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Justice Department, and the Tennessee Department of Education.
“ We are asking for what is called a declaratory judgment. We're asking the judge to really assess the rights and responsibilities of all the parties. We believe that the action taken by the City Council the other day, to accept the surrender of Memphis City Schools, was an action that was not lawful.
“We believe that the entire statute that they are basing it on, of 1961 was unconstitutional under Tennessee law. We furthermore believe that the action of the Memphis City Schools Board to give up t heir charter deprives the children of Memphis City Schools of their constitutional right to a free and a perfect public education. By the mere act of throwing the keys on the table and walking away without any form of plan or consideration… on behalf of the children is violative of U.S. law.”
Pickler also made it clear that Memphis Mayor A C Wharton would have no luck in trying to establish liaison with SCS as a representative of the interests of Memphis City Schools, as called for in the Council resolution to accept the MCS charter surrender.
“Memphis City Schools is not a municipal school district. We do not believe that Mayor Wharton has any responsibility under the law to undertake any winding up or taking up any position, and the action of the City Council of assigning to him certain responsibility is contrary to that 1961 law."