Shelby County Schools to sue state of Tennessee - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County Schools to sue state of Tennessee

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Shelby County Schools is suing Tennessee.

SCS said the state failed to provide enough money to the district to educate all students.

According to SCS, funding currently falls short of the actual costs of offering students a quality education. The lack of funds are resulting in faculty cuts and a lack of supplies. Click here to read the complete complaint.

“While we appreciate and want to continue benefiting from the support of teachers, parents and community leaders who have played a significant role in donating books, supplies and time, our children deserve and the Tennessee Constitution mandates that the State adequately fund public education,” Teresa Jones, Shelby County Board of Education chairwoman, said.

Leaders described the lawsuit as an unprecedented move but one that is necessary to protect the students in the district.

"The Tennessee constitution and Tennessee Supreme Court requires the state to provide all public school children with equitable and adequate education,” Jones said.

Board members said the TN General Assembly failed to follow through.

At a news conference, they said the amount of money at stake is more than $100 million per year, and the absence of those funds over the years has forced all kinds of budget cuts and belt tightening.

"It takes people, it takes resources to keep the grass cut, to keep the school maintained; that's where those resources and personnel is needed," said Riverview School Principal Latasha Harris.

For schools, fewer dollars from the state has led to fewer opportunities for students, especially those who live in high-poverty areas, like that around Riverview K-8 School.

"As a matter of fact this zip code is one of the poorest zip codes in the country," said SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson.

Students said the art, music program, foreign languages and many other programs suffer even more.

"Our students don't get these years back and their future opportunity to have a successful life makes it harder to achieve because of it,” said school board member Chris Caldwell.

A spokesman for the Tennessee’s Attorney General office said the state just got the lawsuit and attorneys are reviewing it. They declined to comment, saying that they plan to comment at the appropriate time.

School leaders stress that resources matter and they are willing to do whatever it takes to drive that point home to state leaders.

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