New tutoring program could be trouble for Memphis City Schools

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A new school tutoring program at Memphis City Schools could bring legal hassles to the district.

The program focuses on college students tutoring students in the city school district, a policy attorneys insist could bring forward a discrimination lawsuit.

Memphis City Schools wants to hire 2,000 to 3,000 college student tutors and pay them $10 an hour to help students who are struggling back on track.

The problem, opponents say, is way the policy is set up.  Some people who are not college age but consider themselves very qualified to tutor children are left out because the district is only looking for college students.

Dr. Irving Hamer, Memphis City School's deputy of academic operations, describes the program as aimed at overage elementary students.

"What were going to do is to pay 3,000 undergraduate students to actually tutor the 9,000 children to prepare them for TCAP," he said.

But attorney Webb Brewer, an expert on discrimination law, sees pitfalls with the program.

"I think it would be a risky plan," he said. "You know, federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based upon age."
Brewer believes the best way to fix the problem is allow the application process to be open for everyone, or have the university set up some sort of college credit for students tutoring others.

Either way would put Memphis City Schools in the clear from litigation regarding this issue.

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