SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - The new leadership of the Shelby County Commission is weighing in on two issues facing Shelby County Schools.
Commission Chair Democrat Van Turner and Vice-Chair Republican Mark Billingsley sat down with WMC5’s Kendall Downing for an interview about SCS and those high-profile headlines.
“We could sit up here and beat up Shelby County Schools,” Turner said. “We could sit up here and beat up Superintendent Hopson and the school board, but where are we after that?”
The new leaders of the Shelby County Commission say they’re watching events inside Shelby County Schools and vowing to work with the district to make improvements.
Last week an auditing firm hired by SCS told the district there weren’t enough records to complete a wide-ranging grade changing investigation. The probe was launched after allegations surfaced at Trezevant High, and the investigation spread to nine other schools.
“Sure the money was spent, we didn’t get the results,” Turner said. “That’s disappointing. You can’t dwell on that.”
Without documents, auditors said it’d be too expensive to continue. The inconclusive investigation cost you the taxpayer roughly $160,000. SCS says student records will now be digital with an oversight committee, district-wide training, and limited employee access.
“There does have to be accountability,” Billingsley said. “We continue to make errors or have major issues and we swipe the problem under the table and say we are going to do better next time.”
Monday, 800 students from Kirby High school went back to class in three separate locations after a rat infestation shut down the school and kept students out of class. The cleanup is expected to take six to eight weeks, and the building will be closed for the whole semester.
“We want to provide the very best classroom a safe classroom a friendly classroom where children can learn,” Billingsley said.
Kirby High is in Chair Van Turner’s commission district. Turner said given the age of many SCS properties, areas in and around other school buildings may need to be inspected as a preventative action.
“I think we need to look at other schools to make sure we don't have some of these same challenges,” Turner said.
Monday, SCS said they are helping students recover missed instructional time through online classes they can access on laptops.
Watch WMC Action News 5 later this week to see more from the interview with the two new leaders of the commission.