School board member talks phone calls, emails, and backlash over G'town schools

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

GERMANTOWN, TN (WMC) - A Germantown Municipal School Board member is breaking her silence and talking about the backlash she has received from the Shelby County School Board chairman in a fight over Germantown heritage schools.

The chairman said school board member Suzanne Jones was out of place.

A chain of emails between Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo and Shelby County School Board Chairman Chris Cadwell details the mayor's attempt to obtain the Germantown Heritage Schools.

"As you are aware, the City of Germantown and our Germantown Municipal School District have keen interest in our heritage schools of Germantown Elementary, Middle, and High School," the mayor wrote, in part.

It's a decision some parents agree with, but Cadwell is against.

"I think it makes the feasibility of purchasing existing facilities versus building something that nobody can agree on where to build it makes more sense to me," parent Jennifer Gaia said.

Without naming a specific person, Cadwell said "GMS Board members to push this issue with individual SCS Board members have been unhelpful and could possibly derail future progress on this issue."

Now one board member says Cadwell had the wrong idea when she tried to call him and discuss the matter.

Jones released a statement that reads, in part, "I would like to be very clear. I have not tried to negotiate at any level for the 3Gs. What I did do was to try to establish a rapport with fellow Board members and Administration to begin to build relationships."

Jones said through a series of phone calls, emails, and lunches, she has talked about the matter to build a relationship. But, she was asked to stop contacting him after imitating the process.

She said her actions were mistaken and she wanted to find ways to better save money before the Germantown District builds a new school that will cost $25-$30 million dollars.

Some parents said the move could benefit both sides.

"If it's going to be a help to Shelby County Schools, yes I agree with that. I think with all the issues that we are facing in our schools there are some things that can be addressed," parent Clarence Alexander said.

"Yes, it definitely needs to be evaluated in terms of the cost implications," Gaia said.

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