Memphis council passes muni schools lawsuit settlement - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Memphis council passes muni schools lawsuit settlement

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

UPDATE: During their session on Tuesday, Memphis City Council passed the municipal schools-county schools three-year-old merger lawsuit settlement.

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(from earlier)

Memphis City Council attorney Alan Wade has urged council members to pass a resolution officially withdrawing the city's participation in the three-year-old city-county school merger lawsuit.

Wade told the council with all six municipalities having worked out deals with the Shelby County Schools board of education on student assignments and school buildings, the interest of city taxpayers in this case are now protected.

There are some experiences in life you just won't miss after they're gone. Like chasing grim-faced, tight-lipped lawyers in the wind, rain, snow and stifling heat around the federal building, year after year, in hopes of securing one crumb of information on the progress in the school merger lawsuit.

No, I won't miss that because in our business there's always another story and somebody else to chase.

Wade is he silver-haired sage legal eagle who never seems to be wrong with his advice to his employers on city council. So, when council consigliori publicly pronounces the protracted city-county school merger lawsuit is over, then he knows of what he speaks.

"We believe the objectives of the lawsuit have been concluded and I would strongly recommend that you approve us withdrawing and dismissing the case," Wade said.

Just last month, the ever cautious Wade had asked a council committee to hold off passing a similar resolution of withdrawal proposed by an anxious Councilman Lee Harris. Then Wade pointed out only five of the six municipalities had worked out deals on student assignments and school buildings in negotiating with the SCS board.

Since that time, Germantown has agreed to terms with the board in being given liens on five of the eight buildings they wanted for their school district. In representing the city's interest Wade has worked in conjunction with Shelby County Commission outside attorneys since legal proceedings began three years ago.

Wade said although federal Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays, Jr., didn't give the plaintiffs all they wanted he did try to give both sides leeway in mediating the issues until he'd be forced to step in to keep the merger on track.

"He tried to do that, Wade said. "But, I think he realized that people were at such polar opposites that he had to make some decisions."

With the angry rhetoric, the various suits, appeals, motions and millions of dollars spent, especially by the municipalities, critics would point to all the litigation as accomplishing nothing at all except to make some law firms richer.

"I don't think so," Wade said. "I think, one, you have a unified system. You have individual municipal schools. It's not completely the same. All the students are not there. The school board made a conscious decision, as we proved in the case, that you can't give up all these kids without hurting yourself financially.

"I think it's the best of all worlds," he added. "I mean it could have been more divisive and a lot worse. So, I think it's a good result."

And remember, Wade just never seems to be wrong.

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