Commissioners debate make-up of combined school board - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioners debate make-up of combined school board

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Attorney Kelly Rayne could be the most important legal mind in the fight to surrender the Memphis City Schools charter.

If Memphis voters decide to transfer public schools to the county, she will guide the Shelby County Commission through the transition process.

Wednesday, Rayne said until countywide school boundaries and a new school board are formed, the current Shelby County School Board would run both systems.

"(The Board would have) Control over what is now the Shelby County School system and also the Memphis City School system," Rayne said.

Commissioners are concerned about how long the current county school board members will remain in office. Three of the seven are scheduled to remain in office until 2012, and the other four are in office until 2014.

There is talk of getting a federal judge to call a special election to remove those board members on the basis of unequal representation.

"To remedy what it might find to be a violation of federal law in that, for a two to four year period, seventy percent of the county is going unrepresented," Commissioner Steve Mulroy said.

That didn't sit well with Commissioner Terry Roland.

"Couldn't the people that are in those districts of those seven people do the same thing?" Roland asked. "Go to Federal Court and say, 'We elected those people.  They've got to stay there for their term.'"

The answer was 'yes.'

While the law says the new school board should have seven members, special circumstances could allow an unlimited number.

Wednesday, Commissioners talked about aligning the school board with the 13 districts of the current Shelby County Commission.

Commissioners will meet every other Wednesday until they hammer the issue out.

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