County Commissioners May Consider Dropping Federal Schools Lawsuit
(Memphis) The move to drop the county’s lawsuit against the suburbs over schools is now stalled but not dead.
Shelby County Commissioner Chris Thomas wants to drop the county’s federal lawsuit.
A judge ruled on part of the lawsuit earlier this year but must still decide if creating municipal school districts would re-segregate public schools and violate the Constitution.
Thomas says it looks like other parties in the lawsuit are ready to moving past that issue.
He says it’s time for the commission to do the same.
“I was told we’ve already spent $7 million in legal fees,” said Thomas.
Thomas wants the county to drop the lawsuit but decided against bringing up a resolution today because he didn’t have enough support from his fellow commission members to add it to the agenda.
He said, “I was given information that we could procedurally add it to the agenda today with a simple majority but then I was told no it takes two-thirds.”
Thomas didn’t have the votes today but he put his colleagues on notice a resolution is coming.
He says the Shelby County School District and suburbs are making progress and may soon reach a settlement.
Hearing that is convincing some commissioners to have a change of heart.
“I find it appropriate when the resolution comes to highly consider coming out of the lawsuit wasting our money,” said Harvey.
However, some who still support the lawsuit aren’t giving up without a fight.
Sidney Chism said, “That’s the same position that some of us took when we were trying to debate or trying to settle that matter before we got to court. Oh, they’re talking but when they got to the final resolution, they didn’t do anything.”
Brooks, “Why not have the school board here so they can have some input in this discussion. I think they are a vital part of this.”
Thomas says the issue isn’t going away. He plans to bring up dropping the lawsuit as early as next week and he believes he has the 7 votes needed to do that.
Conversations between the unified district and municipalities are now focused on the use of school buildings.
Thomas says that’s an issue for those two parties to solve and the commission is now a distraction.