Judge Considers ‘Special Master’ to Oversee School Merger

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(Memphis) A federal judge is tired of issuing orders, only to be ignored by the Shelby County School Board.

Judge Samuel 'Hardy' Mays is considering appointing a Special Master to oversee the merger of the two school districts set to open in July.

The suburbs and Shelby County have two days to turn in a list of names to the judge and he will pick someone as early as the end of the week.

Shelby County Commission Chairman Mike Ritz says this person doesn’t necessarily have to have an education background or be from Shelby County, “Those who have enjoyed watching the school board have a problem, that’s going to go away."

Ritz says the merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools is taking a turn.

Monday a federal judge told all parties in the lawsuit between the county and suburbs he is considering forcing the school board to cooperate.

“They know what they’re supposed to do to make the budget work and they’re not doing any of it,” said Ritz.

Ritz says the judge is considering appointing a special master who would rule over the school board and keep them accountable.

Ritz says the judge is being forced to do this because the board can’t agree on a reasonable budget, operating practices, leadership, and are being bogged down with petty issues.

“I don’t think he was concerned it wouldn’t get started by July, it would just be more difficult to get it started by July.  They created the problem themselves by making these decisions,” said Ritz.

There are still two constitutionality issues the judge hasn’t ruled on.

Commissioner Ritz says he hoped the judge would decide the future of those two issues Monday, but that wasn’t the case.

Mays says he won’t take up the two remaining items until this issue is resolved.