Whalum walks out "in resignation" during MCS planning meeting - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Whalum walks out "in resignation" during MCS planning meeting

Dr. Kenneth Whalum Jr. Dr. Kenneth Whalum Jr.

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Dr. Kenneth Whalum Jr., walked out of a Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners meeting "in resignation" Friday afternoon as board members discussed who should represent Memphis on the state team that would plan for a city and county schools merger.

"As I walk out of this meeting, I'm not walking out of anger, or defiance, but I am walking out in resignation," Whalum said.

Whalum made the announcement while the school board was meeting to discuss appointments to its Educational Planning Commission.  If a charter surrender is approved on March 8, state law says the board must appoint five members who will represent Memphis on the 25 member Commission.

After his exit Whalum refused to elaborate.

"I said what I said," he said. "I'm walking out in resignation, and I'll explain. I think I owe it to my constituents to explain at my rally tonight at six. I'll give every reason and every justification."

Accustomed to Whalum's style, board members immediately went back to the business at hand, many of them unsure whether Whalum meant what he said.

Board members said the law regarding who should be appointed to the Educational Planning Commission isn't clear - it only says the school board president must appoint five competent citizens.

"I had no intentions of moving forward without your input," board chairperson Freda Williams said.

The majority of board members agreed they should all have a say on who serves.  

"We will come up with a process and those five have to be approved by the board first, and then once those five are approved, then they will be selected by the board president," board member Martavius Jones said.

Commissioner Beverly Mallot was concerned that the issue of the appointees would drive another wedge into a board already divided over the decision to surrender it's charter.  

"I think that because we have such a divided board right now there is a lack of trust among board members about what is our intention and how are we going to implement the will of the board moving forward," she said.

Mallot added that putting the wrong people on the state's Educational Planning Commission could undermine the success of a unified school board.

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