Municipal schools lawsuit approaches mediation deadline

Municipal schools lawsuit approaches mediation deadline

(WMC-TV) - As Shelby County's municipal schools lawsuit approaches the mediation deadline, rumblings of settlement talks loom.

The federal bench trial to block Shelby County suburbs from starting their own schools next fall - came to an abrupt halt in September.

Since then, the judge placed a gag order on all 15 parties.

Though the case is not posted on the court calendar, insiders said mediation talks between two dozen attorneys are scheduled to begin Monday.

Before the gag order, Senator Mark Norris said arguments against the state law he authored to allow suburban schools - were irrelevant.

"I think they're trying to just fill available time with whatever proof they can," said Norris.

Back then, Memphis Council Attorney Allen Wade asserted state lawmakers gave the suburbs special treatment.

"These tools were designed exclusively for Shelby County and nowhere else," said Wade.

The Memphis and Shelby County schools merger in 2010 triggered two years of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits.

At the heart of this case, the Shelby County Commission contends suburban schools are unconstitutional on five counts, including school segregation.

The municipalities said that's not the case and they're moving full-steam ahead to start their own schools next fall.

University of Memphis Law School Professor Daniel Kiel was a witness in September.

His comments still hold true.

"I don't think we know the outcome of this case right now, so I don't think it's a sure thing," said Kiel.

It's unclear which aspect of the case could be discussed Monday.

The mediation deadline is Nov. 27

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