School board votes against state’s order to share student data with charter schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Shelby County Schools board voted unanimously at a packed meeting Tuesday night to withold student data from charter schools, in defiance of a new state law.

Charter schools have argued they need the data which includes information such as names, addresses and grade levels in order to recruit students, but board members expressed concern the information could compromise student safety.

"The first time we did that we had people showing up at families’ homes and asking about their children, and so it was very alarming to people," said board member Chris Caldwell, who proposed the resolution withholding student data.

But for parents like Natoria Carpenter, with four children in the Shelby County School system, it boils to down to a question of options.

“I want to know my options. I feel that I need to know what’s the best education that my child can get," said Carpenter.

In August, the state education commissioner sent a letter to Shelby County Schools ordering them to release data to charter school operators.

Sheamus Cox had to be escorted from the microphone by security at Tuesday's meeting after he used an analogy to argue in favor of data sharing that board members deemed inappropriate.

"Right before your eyes they pull the trigger and shoot them right in the face. That’s the shame thing that we doing to our children," Cox began, as he tried to make the point that student opportunity dies when Shelby County Schools withholds this data.

"To hear someone evoke or make a comparison between shooting a child in the face and not giving up school data, it breaks my heart," said Superintendent Dorsey Hopson.