Tag Archives: suburbs

Memphis Suburb School Legislation Eyed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Leaders of Memphis suburbs are pursuing new state laws that would allow them to run their own schools, bypassing the merger of the Shelby County and Memphis districts.
Officials from Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington met with state lawmakers from Shelby County’s suburban districts Tuesday in Nashville.
Lawmakers told The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/XLmba3 ) the meeting was closed to reporters. Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald later told the newspaper they discussed ways to change state law to allow local control.
He said the options included loosening charter school restrictions and letting the suburbs form their own municipal districts.
“What exactly that will look like will just be a matter for debate during the (legislative) session but I think they clearly understand our desire to have some kind of local control,” McDonald said.
The suburbs voted in August to create their own districts after the Legislature passed a narrowly crafted bill that allowed it.
Shelby County officials went to court to stop the new municipal districts, arguing that the law violated the Tennessee Constitution because it to applied to only one county. A federal judge agreed and struck down the law in November.
Another legal challenge raised by the county — that the new districts would lead to a more racially segregated system — hasn’t yet been resolved.
The merger would blend the mostly black Memphis district into the predominantly white district operated by the county.
State Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, said after the meeting that new legislation could include altering the measure that was ruled unconstitutional by opening the door to creation of new municipal districts across Tennessee.
“Folks will leave the county over this and we’ll be really hurting then,” Todd said.

Judge Rules Six Memphis Suburbs Cannot Start Their Own Schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that six Memphis suburbs cannot start public school systems, saying that any actions taken under a state law that initially cleared the way for the new districts are void.
U.S. District Judge Samuel Mays issued a 65-page ruling saying that the state law that allowed voters in the six Shelby County municipalities to decide if they wanted their own school districts violates the Tennessee Constitution because it applies only to one county.
Mays’ ruling said he would consider arguments on other aspects of the case next month. A trial scheduled for Jan. 3 on claims that the suburbs’ decision to seek their own school districts was made partly on racial grounds was continued.
Voters on Aug. 2 approved referendums to form school districts in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington. The suburbs want to break away from the Shelby County school district and avoid the planned merger between the larger, struggling, majority-black Memphis school system and the smaller, more successful, majority-white county system.

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Judge Won’t Let Shelby Suburbs Join School Consolidation Lawsuit

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Shelby County’s suburbs cannot intervene in a lawsuit challenging the state law requiring that votes to consolidate governments must pass separately in both Memphis and outside the city.
District Court Judge S. Thomas Anderson’s ruling is part of a lawsuit filed last October by eight prominent Memphians seeking to eliminate the dual majority requirement for merging Memphis and Shelby County governments, according to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/uQNhZG). The plaintiffs contend the requirement for separate passage for the consolidation votes is unconstitutional under the one-person, one-vote principle.
The dual majority has been an obstacle in past consolidation efforts, and eliminating it could make it easier for a merger to happen. But the suburbs have resisted previous consolidation attempts — voters outside Memphis have never approved a merger of Memphis and Shelby County governments.
In November 2010, consolidation was defeated in the suburbs with 85 percent of voters opposing the merger. The referendum passed in the city with 51 percent approving consolidation.
Aldermen in suburban Germantown plan to ask Anderson to reconsider the ruling that leaves them without a voice in the lawsuit. Leaders in Bartlett and Arlington said they are continuing to study the matter
“The ruling was a surprise,” said Collierville town administrator James Lewellen. “The attorneys had done a good job in documenting the suburban cities’ standing.”
Anderson cites several legal reasons the suburban governments don’t have standing in the case, including that there is not a substantial legal interest necessitating their involvement. He also said that the suburbs’ position deals more with their individual interests rather than a constitutional question.
Anderson said that while the outlying areas may want to maintain the dual majority, “that interest is adequately protected by the Tennessee Attorney General,” who is one of the defendants in the suit.