Haslam calls for plan concerning Memphis teachers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Haslam calls for plan concerning Memphis teachers

Gov. Bill Haslam Gov. Bill Haslam

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC-TV) -  Gov. Bill Haslam has asked for a personnel plan addressing teachers in Memphis and Shelby County, regardless of the outcome of a March 8 referendum for city voters to decide whether to dissolve the city school system.

In a press conference held in Nashville late Tuesday morning, Haslam said state law requires such a plan for teachers be approved by the Education Commissioner, and he had sent a letter to the Memphis and Shelby County school superintendents seeking their plans.

"Obviously, we have a legal responsibility as it relates to teachers," Haslam said. "That's the letter that we sent. We're also saying beyond that we think all of us have a reason to step in here and make sure there's an orderly plan."

Haslam's demand has no impact on the Memphis vote March 8th on whether or not to transfer city schools to the county, but could put the actual merger in jeopardy if the schools do not comply with his mandate.

Haslam's letter requires the schools create a personnel plan by February 15, and a transition plan by March 1st.

Haslam said everything from school bus contracts to how lunch will be served must be outlined before moving forward with such a monumental task.

"We will continue to monitor and take additional action if necessary," he said.

Tennessee's Acting Commissioner of Education, Patrick Smith, told reporters what actions the state could take.

"There's broad authority for the Commissioner of Education to withhold state funds any time there's noncompliance with a rule or a state statute," he said.

If the superintendents meet the deadlines, Smith will review the plans to determine if the actual merger needs more time to be carried out.

"The time period in which we receive that plan and the time it takes to review that plan will certainly be instructing insofar as to whether we think there should be some longer time period to do the broader consolidation plan," he said.

Shortly after the news conference, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton tweeted that he agreed with Haslam that a plan needs to be put in place.

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