Heated e-mail exchange about municipal schools - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Heated e-mail exchange about municipal schools

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) – An e-mail fight reveals tensions between a lawmaker and the very commission he brought into being.

Before the federal trial questioning the legality of municipal schools in Shelby County began last Tuesday, there was a heated e-mail exchange between two heavy-hitters.

School merger Transition Planning Commission (TPC) Chairwoman Dr. Barbara Prescott fired an e-mail to Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris in April, reacting to a newspaper quote about his amendment lifting the ban on municipal schools.

Prescott wrote, "I am simply requesting, respectfully, that you not make statements that imply that the TPC favors, requested or has indicated that the bill and amendment that you are sponsoring will assist in its planning process".

She attached a letter to the House Education Chairman that said, "Our planning process is not assisted by this amendment."

Norris fired back, "Please do not misstate my intention".

While the two would not comment on the e-mail fight, Norris shared his intention outside federal court Wednesday.

"To give the Transition Planning Commission more guidance on the best plan," said Norris.

The TPC made it known they never asked for guidance and viewed municipal schools as uncertain.  Meanwhile, Norris took his intent to the Senate floor.

"We seek a smooth transition.  We seek the opportunity for the Transition Planning Commission which that legislation created," Norris stated.

Months later, the relevance of the municipal option is playing out in court.  The lawsuit alleges municipal schools are unconstitutional because the amendment was designed for the Shelby County suburbs only.

State laws must be relevant to the whole state.  Norris says his is.

He adds the TPC had plenty of time to incorporate the municipal school option in its plan before the June deadline.

"It advances the public interest," Norris said.

Now, that's for a judge to decide.  The federal bench trial resumes September 20th.

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