Unified school board holds special meeting about Supt. Cash's contract

Dr. Kriner Cash
Dr. Kriner Cash

(WMC-TV) – The Memphis and Shelby County Unified School Board is kicking off a special meeting that is clouded by controversy.

The subject of the meeting? The contract of Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

The board chairman who called the meeting was too tied up Monday to go into detail about the specifics of the discussion. But some commissioners speculate, since Dr. Cash's contract expires when city and county schools merge, the only action that could be discussed is early termination.

"I would contend if there is any action that comes out of this, Dr. Cash has grounds for a lawsuit because there would be a violation of state law," said Martavius Jones, Unified School Board Commissioner.

Unified School Board Commissioner Martavius Jones questioned the need for Monday's meeting since the beginning.

He says state law requires the purpose of a special meeting to be clearly stated. He also calls the timing of the meeting's announcement peculiar.

"That 15 day notice requirement is only if there is to be action taken on a superintendent's contract," said Jones.

He said it is convenient that Monday's meeting was scheduled right before the school board election deadline.

"Unless there is some kind of justifiable basis, you cannot take any action on a superintendent's contract within 45 days of a school board election," Jones explained.

The board voted down Jones' attempt to add Shelby County Superintendent John Aitken's contract to the agenda, but he said nothing is in his way to question its legality.

He plans to raise questions if the Shelby County School Board gave proper notice to extend Aitken's contract beyond the merger, through 2015.

Aitken's contract extension includes a $400,000 severance package if he is not named superintendent of a unified district.

If the board terminates Cash, he would get his yearly salary, paid in full, 60 days before he leaves.

Jones doesn't think the commission would meet the required two-thirds vote.

Action News 5 is following the special meeting. Tune in to the news at 10 p.m. for the latest.

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