Jan. 3 New Trial Date In Schools Case

By Bill Dries

The second part of the federal court case on municipal school districts will go to trial Jan. 3 before U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays.

Attorneys on all sides of the case agreed Thursday, Sept. 27, on the new calendar for the non-jury trial which was originally to go to trial on Nov. 6.

The second part of the case deals with claims by the Shelby County Commission that the establishment of the municipal school districts is a violation of the U.S. Constitution because the suburban school districts would, in part, promote racial segregation of the county’s school age population.

Suburban leaders have vocally denied the claim in court and out of court.

The first part of the third party claim by the county commission has already been heard by Mays whose decision is pending.

That part of the case is a claim that the Tennessee laws enacted by the Tennessee legislature in 2011 and 2012 violate the Tennessee Constitution. The County Commission claims the laws on municipal school districts were written to apply only to Shelby County and violate standards in the state constitution for general laws.

Attorneys for the suburbs argued in the most detailed and complex arguments of the nearly two-year old case that the laws could “reasonably” be applied to other counties and their school systems.

Mays heard all of the proof in that part of the case over three days earlier this month. He is awaiting a set of six population maps for Gibson and Carroll counties that are due by Oct. 4.

Attorneys on all sides in the case agreed that the trial on the U.S. Constitution questions should take eight to 10 days.