City Council member and MCS superintendent in standoff over audit

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis City Council member and the Memphis City Schools superintendent are locked in a standoff centered on the demand for an audit of the school system's enrollment records.

Memphis taxpayers contribute to city schools based on student count, so Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn told Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash he had to give the city auditor all access to enrollment records.

Flinn said the taxpayers lost out when the previous administration used an outdated enrollment number of 118,000 students.

"People now understand the maintenance of effort number is $78 million, that's the total," Flinn said.  "When we started all this, is was $93 million, mostly based on erroneous student population counts."

Flinn credited Cash for discovering a lower enrollment number of 106,000, but June 30, Flinn had the city auditor send a letter to Cash telling him the city would conduct an audit of the school's enrollment records and interview relevant employees.

"It would be a failure of due diligence on behalf of the City Council to not independently review these numbers," Flinn said.

A day later, Cash shot back a response saying the school system was not aware the city had authority to, "unilaterally decide to audit any aspect of the district's opinion."

Flinn said he had been getting the runaround.

"We asked MCS for it on three different occasions," Flinn said.  "It was never forthcoming or they would send us stuff we weren't looking for.  So, eventually, we went to the State of Tennessee.  They sent us what we were looking for in an e-mail and copied Memphis City Schools.  Then, three hours later, Memphis City Schools forwarded it to us."

Flinn said they not only want the numbers, they want to see how the numbers are calculated.  Cash's letter pointed out that the state and not Memphis City Schools calculates enrollment.

The last word was a letter from the City Council attorney to Cash saying the charter gives the city authority to audit any entity it funds.

City taxpayers contribute nearly $4,000 per pupil.  Flinn said he will get an audit by subpoena, if necessary.

"It'll be taken care of," he said.  "It's just we can do it the easy way or the hard way."

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