Monday, April 18, 2011

Judge Mays Approves Two-Week Mediation Process in School Merger Case

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Leo Bearman, attorney for the Shelby County Commission, and one of the lawyers who must now agree on a mediator in the school-merger case
  • JB
  • Leo Bearman, attorney for the Shelby County Commission, and one of the lawyers who must now agree on a mediator in the school-merger case
After conferring with U.S. District Judge Samuel Hardy Mays, who is hearing the consolidated case involving rival plans for consolidating Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools, the various attorneys in the case have agreed to the appointment of a mediator in a last attempt to resolve the dispute prior to judgment on an injunction sought by the plaintiffs.

As a result of the new postponement, Tuesday morning’s scheduled hearing on the case in Judge Mays’ court has been rescheduled for May 3, the same date by which an appointed mediator would attempt to arrange a resolution of the case.

This is the second consecutive two-week delay mandated by Judge Mays prior to issuing a ruling.

The lawyers — representing MCS, SCS, the City of Memphis, the City Council, the Shelby County Commission, and other entities — will have their own meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Baker, Donelson legal offices, in an effort to agree on the identity of a mediator. If they do not agree, Judge Mays will appoint one himself.

The core of the case is a suit by Shelby County Schools, with the state of Tennessee as an associated party, against the Memphis City Council, MCS, and the Shelby County Commission, asking for a declaratory judgment against an ongoing effort to proceed with MCS-SCS consolidation.

By implication, the status of the Norris-Todd bill, passed by the legislature in January and signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, is also at stake, as the plaintiffs’ preferred method of completing the merger that was approved by Memphis voters in a March 8th referendum.

Pending is Judge Mays' action on an request by the primary litigants for an injunction preventing the Shelby County Commission from proceeding on its own merger plan, which involves the appointment of members to an interim all-county school board.

Mays will decide on the injunction by May 3 if mediation has been unsuccessful.

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