AG opinion stops ASD from adding grades

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It was business as usual Thursday afternoon for a seventh-grade class at Achievement School District's Aspire Coleman School.

However, that could all change next year after an opinion by the Tennessee Attorney General was released on ASD school's adding grades. 

This was at the request of state representatives Antonio Parkinson of Memphis and Harry Brooks of Knoxville. The opinion, which can be viewed in its entirety here, stated in part "There is nothing that would authorize the commissioner or ASD authority to allow an already under-performing school in the ASD to serve grades in addition to the ones it was serving..."

"They're going to be in the position of having to find another school to go to for one year then another after that to go to high school," said Principal Owen Ricciardi.

But Ricciardi says they didn't have problems adding these sixth and seventh grade classes before.

Presently they have 36 seventh graders that would be affected. Ricciardi said they have the space and they're just waiting on approval to hire the one additional teacher needed.

Parents are meeting at 5:30 at the school to hear about the potential change of plans.

Parent Carla Johnson has a son in sixth and a daughter in seventh grade at the school. She says she's not ready to let go of the stability the school's given her children.

"It's like a home away from home," Johnson said. "My kids, they're happy now, they love this school, love it."

However, according to ASD representatives, Shelby County Schools could give permission to allow ASD schools to add grades.

Ricciardi is reaching out to school board members hoping for their support before the next board meeting where they plan to bring it up for a ruling.

"Before the next board meeting we're working to try and bring it up and get a ruling on it," Ricciardi said.

Shelby County Schools sent this statement below:

"We have  received requests from Aspire Coleman and Scholars Florida Kansas to add grades to their schools. The District's legal counselor will advise the Board of Education of its legal rights, options and responsibilities."

ASD representatives said at least two other schools would be affected
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