Friday, August 16, 2013

Mays asks county commission why challenge to municipal schools should continue

A Wednesday afternoon order issued by U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays asks the County Commission why revamped state legislation on municipal schools earlier this year doesn’t make the commission’s arguments against the suburban school districts “moot.”

The three-page order directs the parties to present their positions on the question by Aug. 23.

The commission filed a third-party complaint in June, 2012, challenging legislation earlier that year allowing the suburbs to pursue municipal schools after the Memphis City Schools, and Memphis voters, surrendered the schools charter. The suburbs have stated they want to remain separate from the resulting countywide configuration that emerged from the charter surrender — a school system that opened its first year this month.

On Nov. 27, 2012, Mays issued a ruling saying the 2012 legislation was unconstitutional because it applied exclusively to Shelby County. His ruling also voided referendums for municipal schools in all six suburbs last summer and school board elections in November.

In this year’s legislative session, the General Assembly passed another bill applicable to other counties in the state, thus solving the constitutionality question. The suburbs again overwhelmingly approved the referendums for municipal schools on July 16, and each is going through the ordinance process aiming for school board elections on Nov. 7.

Mays asked in Wednesday’s order whether the new legislation resolved the legal question posed by the county commission, citing legal language that states a “statute passed during the course of litigation may make unnecessary a determination of the former controversy and render the case moot.”
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