Petition could put charter surrender fight in voters' hands - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Petition could put charter surrender fight in voters' hands

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Despite all the opinions about whether Memphis City Schools can abolish their school district, councilman Shea Flinn said Thursday a simple document could put the issue into the hands of voters in a matter of days.

A petition could force the Shelby County Election Commission to hold an election in the City of Memphis School District at the earliest possible date.

"This is explicitly spelled out in the statute," said Flinn.  "You have an election, you have an election, you know who votes in it, and that vote is final."

Flinn submitted the petition form to the election commission Wednesday.  The commission has 15 days to very the language.  Only 25 registered voters have to sign it to push it through.

"There is no doubt in my mind that right now, we have at least 25 signatures," said Flinn.  "Probably significantly more."

Once the election commission verifies all the signatures, it has 10 days to schedule a special election.

"The petition would put this measure on the ballot very quickly," said Flinn.

Flinn admitted the issue of abolishing the city school district will likely have to be worked out in the court system, but he respects that process.

"There's a lot of strong feelings on both sides of it," said Flinn.  "But at the end of the day, there will be a vote, and I think that most courts are going to respect that vote."

City council attorney Allan Wade and city attorney Herman Morris both disagreed with the opinion of the state election coordinator, who said the city council must vote on whether the district can surrender its charter.

Wade and Morris said it does not require a city council vote.  The council is scheduled to vote on the matter January 18.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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