Suburban mayors withdraw from schools mediation - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Suburban mayors withdraw from schools mediation

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BARTLETT, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Suburban mayors are withdrawing from mediation in the municipal schools lawsuit after meeting with state legislators in Nashville earlier in the week.

"We weren't going to go anywhere with this mediation and we informed our attorneys to let the other side know that we were finished with mediation," says Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald.

McDonald says county commissioners and city councilmen weren't budging during negotiations, but commissioners say the suburbs were flip-flopping.

"We found creative solutions to our problems. We found win-win solutions and we were, like I said, 90-percent of the way towards a resolution I think would have worked for both sides," says Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy.

It was the latest proposal from the county commission and city council that was the straw that broke the camel's back for suburban mayors.

"For ten years they're going to have to provide that citizens from all over the county, school children from all over the county, go to the schools, the charter schools. If they decided they wanted to do something with extraordinary financing they would have to treat the unified system similarly," says Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz.

Ritz adds that in this latest proposal they also mandated that employment the schools' principals would have to "look like the school race-wise."

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald says this proposal overall gave the unified district too much power.

In response, Mulroy says, "What we were trying to do throughout consistently was preserve the power and control of the unified school board. We don't want to get involved in the nitty-gritty of the school system. We want to make sure the school board has all the powers it would normally have."

If state legislators don't lift the ban on municipal schools, McDonald says their next option is charter schools. Suburbs would need 60 percent of teacher and parent votes from each school approve the change.

"We'd have to do that 11 times so it's a little bit laborious as opposed to what we hope might be new legislation that will let us do that as a bundle," says McDonald, "We're still hopeful that something can be done to lift the ban on municipal schools statewide and as I said, no promises were made but we had a good discussion with them."

Last year Judge Hardy Mayes ruled that the part of Norris-Todd that allowed municipals school to establish this year instead of 2014 is unconstitutional. Still to be decided on is the part of the law that lifts the ban on municipal schools.

The federal decision about if municipal schools would re-segregate schools was postponed.

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