All Parties to School-Merger Case Ask Mays for 60-Day Extension

Patterson brief says “good faith” negotiations are still under way toward a settlement.

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Lori Patterson
  • Lori Patterson
And the winner is….nobody just yet. In fact, all the parties in the ongoing school-merger litigation, faced with a Friday deadline for status reports from presiding federal judge Hardy Mays, joined together to seek a 60-day extension.

In an August 14 order, Mays had “invited” the parties to respond by today, Friday, August 23, to his inquiry as to what — after Act 256 of 2013 apparently resolved the constitutionality issue for new suburban school districts — the remaining issues were that were moot for further litigation.

Subsequent to last week’s order, the parties had at least one go-round of multi-party negotiation, but little headway was made toward an agreement; so their collective answer to Mays’ order was a request for two more months to keep trying.

The germ of the response was in this part of the brief, filed for all contending parties by Lori Patterson, special counsel for the Shelby County Commission::

“Since the relevant parties are currently participating in settlement negotiations in good faith and that they expect and hope that these negotiations will result in the settlement of all claims pled in the Third Party Complaint, the Parties request that this Court allow them to have at least another sixty (60) days in which to continue the settlement negotiations before responding to this Court…."

“The brief goes on to say the parties are conducting

“negotiations in good faith and…expect and hope that these negotiations will result in the settlement of all claims.”

One of the main bones of contention concerns the means by which the six new planned suburban school districts can avail themselves of existing school infrastructure (now owned by the Unified School District). Another is regarding the question of which district or districts can lay claim to students in unincorporated Shelby County.

And overriding everything at the moment — as well as constituting a possible bargaining chip — is the claim, still being pressed by the Shelby County Commission, that re-segregation will be fostered by creating new school districts in Germantown, Collierville, Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland, and Millington.

In 60 days some horse trading may yet be accomplished to end the current impasse. If not, Judge Mays will be obliged to formally consider the resegregation claim, either by trial or otherwise.

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