Referendum on surrendering MCS charter delayed

By Jason Miles - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Voters in Memphis will have to wait a little longer before they decide if the city should disband its school system.

In a late December meeting, the Memphis City Schools board voted to revoke its charter and merge with Shelby County Schools. However, before MCS can disband, the move needs to be approved by city voters.

However, according Shelby County Election Commission chairman Bill Giannini, the state coordinator of elections has ruled the City Council must vote to support the referendum before a date can be set for a vote.

At a meeting Wednesday afternoon that lasted no more than 15 minutes, the Election Commission voted to defer setting election date pending action by the City Council.

"The Coordinator's office has indicated that at this time, the election commission is not in the position to move forward with setting a date for a referendum election," said Election Commission Attorney Monice Hagler.

State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins sent a letter to the election commission from his office in Nashville.  The letter said in part, " the action of the (school) Board to surrender the charter is subject to approval by resolution of the Board of Commissioners of the City of Memphis."

Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn said the council had no obligation to get involved.

"Our city attorney and council attorney are disagreeing with the opinion the state has given down," said Flinn.

Meanwhile, City Council Chairman Myron Lowery said he has no intention of calling special meeting for council to approve charter referendum.  Lowery said both City Council's attorney and the city's attorney had advised that the state coordinator of elections' opinion was incorrect.

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