(Memphis) As former mayor Willie Herenton leaves the Juvenile Court building in Memphis, he still gets a warm greeting from well-wishers, but in Middle Tennessee, a Nashville School Board review committee gave his charter school plans the cold shoulder.
“I could tell that it wasn’t a warm reception to this kind of school in Nashville. They act as if they don’t have crime in Nashville. They act as if there are no juvenile offenders in Nashville. That’s not true,” Herenton said.
The Nashville review team said Herenton’s application failed in three of four categories and it didn’t meet the needed details in order to understand how the school would operate. The team recommended his plan be denied.
“Nashville has some of the same problems as Memphis, only we are different and we care about kids even if they’re in juvenile court,” Herenton said.
Herenton did get the OK for similar plans by the Shelby County Unified School Board last fall to help young offenders in Juvenile Court custody. They open this fall at Northside High.
The former Memphis City School superintendent says he was motivated after a mentoring a young man in Juvenile Court custody.
“I told this boy life owes him more than just being in a cell and I said I’m going to devote a portion of my life coming back to Juvenile Court and helping as many of these kids get rehabilitated and educated,” Herenton said.
Even though Herenton is disappointed with the Nashville decision, he says it’s not slowing down his plans in Memphis.
“Nashville made a decision, but we are moving forward in Memphis and Shelby County,” he said. “Nothing will stop us. We are dedicated and we have a passion about his. It will happen in Memphis.”