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Preparations ongoing for school district

By Stan Joyner

Collierville Mayor

On Aug. 2, voters of Collierville gave their overwhelming support to a referendum establishing a Collierville Municipal School District.

The referendum passed with nearly a 7-1 margin. Despite the fact that the passage of this referendum was clearly a “mandate from the citizens,” the issue remains far from over.

During the summer leading up to the referendum, the County Commission filed a lawsuit charging that the state laws allowing the referendum were unconstitutional. The crux of this lawsuit is whether school merger laws passed in 2011 and 2012 lifting the ban on new municipal school districts are unconstitutional.

The first question is whether they violate the Tennessee Constitution by applying new laws to Shelby County that may not apply in other Tennessee Counties. A non-jury trial occurred on this issue on Sept. 4-5 in U.S. District Court before Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays. I attended portions of the two-day trial, where our legal counsel did an outstanding job of representing the Town’s interest in the matter and presented a compelling case.

The trial will resume on Sept. 20 and the judge has indicated that he could rule sometime near the end of September or early October.

The second question is whether the laws violate the equal protection provisions of the federal and state constitutions. A trial on that part of the case is set to begin on Nov. 6 and preparations are ongoing now.

I am confident we are providing ample proof and evidence of the constitutionality of the laws, but I remain cautiously optimistic. From the onset of our effort to form a Collierville Municipal School District, we have known that it will be a lengthy and involved process. I expected many challenges to our efforts and see them as opportunities to strengthen our resolve and sharpen our focus.

While we monitor and participate in the legal process, other activities related to the municipal school effort continue to move forward. Candidates for school board are in place with elections for the school board set for Nov. 6 as part of the general election. Early voting starts on Oct. 17 and runs through Nov. 1.

I want to reassure you that I have complete faith we are on the right path, and I am committed to the goal of establishing a Collierville Municipal School District. I believe we will ultimately achieve our goal of providing a school system that offers every student in Collierville an opportunity for an outstanding quality education.

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