Charter surrender referendum set for March 8 - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Charter surrender referendum set for March 8

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Election Commission has set March 8, 2011 as the date for the Memphis City Schools charter surrender referendum.

Commissioners made the decision at a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

"It's a done deal," Election Commission Chairman Bill Giannini said.

The Memphis City Schools board originally called for the referendum by voting to surrender the system's charter at a meeting in late December, an action that requires approval from Memphis voters.

The Shelby County Election Commission held a meeting a month later, but did not set a date for the referendum because the State Elections Coordinator's Office claimed the Memphis City Council needed to approve it before a date could be set.

"We were never concerned with the speed," Giannini said. "There wasn't a sense of urgency for us. There was a sense about getting it right."

Soon after, the group 'Citizens for Better Education' filed a lawsuit, claiming the Shelby County Election Commission was stalling for opponents of the school merger to block the vote.  Elections Coordinator Mark Goins then received clarification about the issue, and a judge ordered the Election Commission to set a date.

During the March 8 referendum, Memphis voters will decide if they want to surrender the city schools charter.  That action could trigger the unification of Memphis and Shelby County Schools.

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