Shelby County Schools could face lawsuit by state over student info vote

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County could soon face a lawsuit from the state if the Tennessee Department of Education follows similar steps to those taken against the Nashville School Board.

The Shelby County School board voted unanimously Tuesday night not to share information like student names, addresses and ages with the Achievement School District, a grouping of charter schools run by the state. But that put Shelby County in direct violation of state law.

The Tennessee Department of Education released a statement to WREG Wednesday: “We are disappointed by this decision from the Shelby County Board of Education as we in good faith provided the district with additional time to comply. We will evaluate our options in considering next steps.”

WREG has obtained a lawsuit the state filed within the last two weeks against the Nashville school district for its refusal to turn over student information. Board member Will Pinkston said Shelby County should expect a lawsuit too.

“The local school boards have decided were not going to imperil students by turning over data to a bad operator,” Pinkston said.

He said Nashville’s school board believes the state law violates the The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects student privacy.

Pinkston also said he’s in touch with Shelby County board members, including Chris Caldwell.

“If necessary we join in any legal action Nashville may take," Caldwell said.

Nashville has its first day in court against the state on November 28.

Board members said the cases could take years to litigate.