- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Shelby County Commission has filed a motion to dismiss its lawsuit attempting to stop six Memphis suburbs from starting their own public school systems.

The Commercial Appeal (https://bit.ly/1dvRTnI ) reports that the motion was filed in federal court in Memphis on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Samuel Mays must approve the motion.

The commission sued in 2012 after the suburbs of Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington decided to break away from the merger between Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County school district and start individual school systems.

The lawsuit challenged the validity of any vote to approve new school systems in Shelby County under state law. It also claimed the suburbs wanted to avoid the merger on racial grounds, citing the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Voters approved the new school districts, but Mays ruled the law that allowed the vote was unconstitutional. The state Legislature changed the law, allowing the municipalities to vote again, and residents approved municipal school systems for a second time.



The second vote came too late for the suburbs to start their school systems for the 2013-2014 school year. The suburbs are currently part of the merged system, which has about 150,000 students in its first year of operation.

The suburbs have hired superintendents and could have their school systems up and running in time for the 2014-2015 school year.

Each municipality will pay a set portion of its state funding for schools to Shelby County Schools over 12 years to help fund its staff retirement benefits.

The county commission agreed it will not sue the municipalities for any equal protection issues. It also agrees that it will not reduce funding to Shelby County Schools based on payments the school district gets from the municipalities.

“The overwhelming majority of us approve the settlement and are glad the litigation is over,” county Commissioner Steve Mulroy said. “We’re ready to move on.”

The initial lawsuit, filed by Shelby County Schools, is still active.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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