MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A couple of old friends and former big wigs in Memphis city government are hoping to get a big thumbs-up from the state Board of Education.
Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton wants to open a total of nine charter schools through his W.E.B. Du Bois Consortium. The man the former mayor hired to run MLGW, Joseph Lee, is part of another group hoping to open a charter school in Orange Mound.
The unified Memphis and Shelby County school board turned down several applications. They were all qualified, all good ideas, but the board felt the charter schools would take away too much money from the regular schools.
The Tennessee State Treasurer disagreed, and now the board is giving in.
"We are now hereby petitioning the state board for public charter school designation," stated Joseph Lee, for the Arrow Academy of Excellence.
Now that the district will support charter schools, "We look forward to working with them," said Herenton. He's only upset about the fact he can't open his nine schools by this fall. "It's regrettable its taken so many months to reach finality on that issue to the extent the cast majority of these applications cannot be implemented for the coming school year.>
The head of the Tennessee Board of Education, Dr. Gary Nixon, pretty much let the cat out of the bag, saying since these charter school plans were turned down only because of financial impact, and the State Treasurer says there is not going to be financial impact, things for the former mayor and others look pretty good.
"None of them were denied on merits," he said. "I don't think the local board is challenging the quality of applications."
Dr. Nixon isn't sure when the final decisions will be made. They will start reviewing the appeals in one week.