SCS Superintendent’s contract being questioned

(WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Superintendent's contract is being questioned. It's the latest wrench in the search for a leader for the unified school district.

In less than a week, the unified board will be taking a look at the contracts of Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken and Memphis City Schools' Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

But one board member is putting Aitken's contract extension under the microscope, and attorneys are taking a closer look.

The districts will merge, but so far a superintedent for the unified district has not been chosen.

State law makes school boards tell the public when decisions could impact their tax dollars.

"What the Tennessee code is trying to do is ensure that the actions of an elected body are done in the full light of the public," said unified board member David Pickler.

Pickler is on the unified board and was the former chairman for the Shelby County School Board.

Extending a Superintendent's contract requires 15 days notice, something current unified board member and former Shelby County board member Diane George says the county board didn't in 2011.

"I didn't get 15 days notice," George continued. "I didn't get my packet until that Monday which is the 14th."

Unified board member Martavius Jones says the extension's legality is something that should be looked into.

"The contract was signed on February 24th, 15 days prior notice would have been February 9th," Jones said.

The Shelby County School's board ultimately approved an extension for Aitken. George says she voted against the extension.

Pickler believes any issues with the extension should have been brought up a long time ago.

"To come back after over a year into that contract and try to contest the legality of it we think is really questionable," Pickler said.

George said she just learned of a potential discrepancy within the past couple of weeks.

Jones says that Aitken's extension grants him $400,000 if he's not chosen to be the new superintendent after the merger. He says those details are why all legal questions should be raised about the public notice.

"There could have been someone in the public that objected to that particular contract extension," Jones said.

Pickler contends that the board gave proper notice and that Aitken's contract is valid.

"We're very comfortable that adequate notice was provided," Pickler said.

George says school board attorneys are looking into her concerns.

The unified board is expected to discuss Aitken and Dr. Kriner Cash's contracts on Tuesday June 19.

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