Emergency meeting called by mom shocked at SCS transfer decision

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

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Changes at one Memphis high school sparked an emergency meeting among parents.

They said they learned at the last minute that their kids may have to switch schools.

"I thought my son was going to East High School…now he's not," said parent and former SCS teacher Jacquelyn Webb.

Webb was transferring her son, who's heading into the 10th grade, to East High School this year. Just days ago, however, she found out that won't be possible.

EHS is making the transition into a STEM school, and they aren't taking any transfer students.

But Webb said she had to find this out from teachers at the school and not the district.

"I'm very frustrated just knowing they're affecting the children like this here," Webb said.

To make matters worse, Webb said the district is now putting her son at Douglas High School, which is performing in the bottom five percent of schools in the district.

"We're taxpayers," Webb said. "So we should have an option to where our child should go, what school they attend as well. I was not given an option, I was just told he had to attend Douglas High School."

And she's not happy about that.

"If I have to home school him, I'll home school him. He's not going to Douglas," Webb said.

Shelby County Schools said they hosted several meetings and called parents to inform them of the change at East.

Webb scheduled what she says is an emergency town hall Friday night, inviting parents, school board members, and the superintendent.

She said she wants to set the record straight because she said those meetings weren't enough.

"Maybe they have…but not an effective communication," Webb said.

At the meeting, Commissioner Terry Roland sat in front of an angry crowd of parents in Binghamton, upset over changes at East High School.

Nikki Winston is one of those parents. Her son Justin was supposed to transfer to EHS after moving and was excited to play for their state championship football program.

He practiced all summer with the team, and now he's devastated.

"When he called me, I told him well I have a little bit of bad news, you won't be able to attend East," Winston said. "So he started crying and as a mom you have to console your son."

"East High School will now be an optional school," said Natalia Powers, chief of communications Shelby County Schools.

These parents want to know why their children can't go to the school nearest to them.

"What we've done is, we wanted the program to start, and we didn't want to rezone and completely restart the school, so what we've done is we've phased it in," Powers said. "So we're starting with the 9th graders."

Powers said SCS is stopping all transfers to East. Instead, students have to opt in and pass the 3.0 GPA requirement.

She said they spent countless hours informing the public of the changes this past year.

"We have extensive meetings about this. You guys have done an awesome job helping us with media coverage," Powers said.

After our interview, Powers said she would attend Friday night's meeting, but then she never showed up. That didn't sit well with parents.

"No, they didn't show up so to me that was considered being a coward," Winston said.

"Shelby County Schools didn't show up today," Roland said. "Yeah, shame on them."

These parents are looking for answers before that first bell rings on Monday. They're being told they don't have any options besides Melrose or Douglas High Schools.

Both of those schools are currently performing in the bottom five percent.

"Address the issue head on," Winston said. "And answer our questions, that's all we want is answers."

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.