MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis and Shelby County are in one corner, and the other cities and towns of Shelby County are in the other. Somebody ought to call the WWE, because we’ve got a heck of a tag team wrestling match here. It’s a lot more serious than that, however. Face it, the city of Memphis and the Shelby County Commission against the suburban cities and towns is a match made in a place geographically south of Heaven.
The issue is well known. One side says the law to allow municipalities to set up their own school systems is unconstitutional. The suburbs say balderdash to all of that. And a judge says, come on guys; see if you can work out an agreement. “We gave it our best shot,“ says Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, who was involved in the negotiations. “We met on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and couldn’t reach an agreement.”
On Friday, Judge Mayes said, ok, you guys can’t work out an agreement. There is speculation the judge had at least a rough draft of an opinion on whether the law is constitutional before ordering one last round of mediation. Now the talk is the judge will release a ruling before he goes on vacation, which means it has to come in the next day or so. “We have to have a school district ready to start next fall,” Mulroy says. “There have been municipal school board elections that have already taken place. Those people need to know when they’ll be taking office in their districts. I think the sooner this is resolved, the better for everybody.”
You can’t push a U.S. District Court Judge around. He’ll issue the ruling when he issues the ruling. But there is something else to consider in all of this. In January, the judge is scheduled to hold another hearing on the plan - this one to see if municipal school plans are discriminatory against minorities. “The discrimination claim in January would be unnecessary if our side were to prevail on the state constitutional issue this week,” Mulroy says. “But if the court doesn’t rule between now and then, or rules against us, then we’d have the discrimination hearing concerning the federal equal protection claim trial in January.”
Any decision made is expected to be appealed.