For the first time, council members hear from special school district study's authors

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Two pivotal players in the fight to surrender the Memphis City Schools charter broke their silence Tuesday.  The researchers who conducted the study that prompted the charter surrender now have the green light to talk about their findings.

University of Memphis city and regional planning professors Charlie Santo and Steve Redding wrote the study that launched the Memphis City Schools charter surrender.

After the Memphis City Schools board gave Santo and Redding permission to talk publicly about their study, Memphis City Council member Wanda Halbert asked them to present their findings to a council committee Tuesday.

"We were trying to get them a long time ago, and unfortunately Memphis City Schools would not release them to be able to talk with us," Halbert said.

During Tuesday's committee meeting, Halbert expressed concern that unknowns were treated as facts by supporters of the charter surrender.

"There are a number of educational guesses," she said.

Santo and Redding said they would have preferred to speak about these unknowns sooner than one week before the charter surrender vote.

"This whole process is a reaction to what might happen," Santo said.

According to Santo, whether or not you're making a case for or against the charter surrender, you can find facts to support both arguments in their study.

"Each person who has an opinion on this issue is able to point to something in the study and make a case," he said.

Action News 5 asked the men if they believe the Memphis School Board would have surrendered the charter if the pair had been given a chance to answer questions about their findings.

"It's difficult to say," Redding said, who would not comment on whether or not the school board made the right decision.

"The question is: Will the creation of a special school district create harm for MCS or city of Memphis residents? The answer is: It depends," Santo added.

Keep in mind that the Memphis City Schools administration is against the charter surrender.  They are not to be confused with the Memphis City Schools board, which surrendered the charter and did not allow the researchers to speak until Tuesday.

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