MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County commissioners are pushing back against a charter school’s recent decision to move from Downtown Memphis to Bartlett.
Shelby County Schools was notified of Gateway University Charter School’s location change just a few weeks shy of the first day of classes.
Gateway Charter was supposed to be somewhere downtown to accommodate students from North and South Memphis, but the school said they couldn’t find the space downtown and are instead moving to Bartlett.
Commissioner David Reaves proposed a resolution Monday to ask the Tennessee Department of Education to postpone the opening of Gateway University Charter School until a location is found for it in Downtown Memphis.
It passed 9-1.
“I think it’s probably a result of some of the frustration that’s just out there given some of the loose regulations with our charter schools,” said SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson.
Superintendent Hopson said SCS has already received calls from upset parents about the charter school’s decision to change locations.
“With their decision to locate in Bartlett, it’s not ideal. I think it may cause a lot of confusion for families.”
Commissioners pointed out how the computer science and IT school was supposed to be for students in North and South Memphis, where they see a struggle with enrollment.
The superintendent said the location is out of his hands since the board already approved the school last year.
“Our job and the board’s job is to monitor the performance and hold them accountable.”
Gateway Charter representatives didn’t want to comment on the matter and said they’re preparing for classes, which are listed as starting next week.
Bartlett City Schools released the following statement:
“Bartlett City Schools is aware of a Shelby County charter school’s interest in opening within the City of Bartlett and the confusion this may cause parents. As a district, we are currently working to get clarity to questions and whether a charter school approved in one district could operate within the boundaries of another and what implications this could have statewide.”
The resolution passed by commissioners also says the location in Bartlett where this charter school is going proved to be a failure for a different charter school, and want it to instead open somewhere downtown next year.