Some portions of Memphis City Schools charter obsolete - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Some portions of Memphis City Schools charter obsolete

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A close look at the Memphis City Schools charters shows that, according to constitutional law, some portions are so outdated they're obsolete. So by default, some of Memphis City Schools functions are currently operating under state and federal law.

For instance, Section 1000 of the charter calls for the school board to maintain separate schools for "white and colored youths."  According to University of Memphis constitutional law attorney Steve Mulroy, the Supreme Court made such laws unconstitutional back in the 1950s.

"That was placed in there in the late 1800's during the Jim Crow era," Mulroy said. "Since then, Brown vs. Board of Education has ruled that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional."

Section 942 limits the eligibility of women to be elected onto the school board. That clause came before women got the right to vote in 1915.

"Under applicable Supreme Court precedence, it's clearly unconstitutional," Mulroy said. "It's clearly unlawful discrimination against women, so it couldn't be enforced."

Section 954 requires the Memphis City Council to approve any consolidation contract with county schools, but it doesn't cover the current scenario, which could unify the school systems if Memphis voters dissolve the charter.

"The state law it refers to is an old state law," Mulroy said. "The newer state law says that separate and apart from any of this, MCS can on its own surrender the charter and trigger the referendum."

Portions of the charter surprised incoming MCS Board Commissioner Sara Lewis.

"200 years from now, people are going to be looking back at this and saying, 'My, were our ancestors weird,'" she laughed.

Lewis says if the charter is not dissolved, it needs to be amended.  The last amendment was in 1970.

Click here to read the charter.

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