Lt. Governor Ramsey moves to block or delay charter referendum

By Jason Miles - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey touched a nerve Thursday night when he threatened a state takeover of Memphis City Schools in an effort to stop consolidation with county schools.

During a packed town hall meeting in North Memphis, Memphis City School Board member Martavius Jones joined a panel of politicians calling out Ramsey in front of a receptive crowd.

"I would say, lieutenant governor, start at home first," said Jones.  "Let the state take care of your school system, we can handle ours."

The reaction followed remarks by Ramsey about his desire for legislative action in Nashville to stop the March 8 referendum on the charter surrender.

"I think we need to make sure that cooler heads prevail in this situation," said Ramsey.

Ramsey said one possible remedy if voters approve a merger is a state takeover of Memphis City Schools using a law that allows such action in under-performing districts.

"I do think it would be a terrible decision to absorb one system into another without planning whatsoever," said Ramsey.

Former Memphis Mayor and longtime Superintendent Willie Herenton reminded people of a study he commissioned while pushing consolidation years ago.

"There are plans," said Herenton.  "They need to be updated, that is all."

While Herenton's successor has yet to take a stand on the issue of consolidation, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton agreed legislative interference is unnecessary.

"Anything that gets in the way of the vote, I am opposed to that," said Wharton during his State of the City address.

Democratic State Senator Beverly Marrero of Memphis issued a statement Thursday saying, in part, that this is the same sort of interference Ramsey would deplore if it came from Washington.

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