Aitken contract controversy

(WMC-TV) – As the Unified School Board prepares for the June 11th special called meeting to review the Memphis superintendent's contract, School Board Commissioner Martavius Jones says a contract review of Shelby County Superintendent John Aitken should be added to the agenda.

Commissioner Jones believes Aitken's contract is not worth the paper it was written on.

"There are questions surrounding Aitken's contract.  I would even contend that it is an illegal contract," Jones stated.

Jones says when the Memphis school board surrendered its charter in December 2010, county schools absorbed city schools.  Jones believes the Shelby County School Board that drew up the contract with Aitken became unconstitutional because the board did embody commissioners who also represented Memphis students.

"That contract extension was made without the input of 16 members," said Jones.

Herein lies the gray area. A judge deemed the Shelby County School Board unconstitutional on August 8, 2011.  That was five months after voters approved the Memphis City Schools charter surrender (March 8), and nearly six months after Aitken's contract extension (February 24).

It's unclear if the judge's ruling is retroactive to the actual charter surrender in 2010 or to last March, when voters approved the surrender.

"It was made by an unconstitutional Board of Shelby County Schools because it was not comprised of the seven appointed members, or the nine members that was Memphis City Schools," said Jones.

No matter how the timeline plays out, Jones believes the Unified School Board should choose its own superintendent.

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