Tennessee Principal Sues Shelby County Schools for Violating First Amendment Rights

A Memphis-area high school principal has filed suit against Shelby County Schools for violating his First Amendment rights after he was suspended for telling students social media and technology companies pose a threat to free speech.

Cordova High School Principal Barton Thorne was placed on administrative leave by the district in January after expressing concern to students over the way unregulated tech and social media companies have the power to control conversations and shut down discussions online.

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Tennessee Senate Education Committee Recommends Passage of Legislation Enabling Governor to Override School Closures

If local officials decide on emergency school closures in the future, Tennessee’s governor may have the power to override them. This, according to a bill recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. Its companion bill in the House was passed on first consideration on Monday, gaining a little progress since its filing last month.

The bill would also grant all local education authorities (LEAs) with the sole power to open or close schools during an emergency as defined by the Tennessee Code. However, if the governor, local health board, or public health official were to issue orders to the contrary, then the LEA’s decision would be nullified. The bill also noted that the governor’s authority would supersede the authority of local health boards and public health officials. 

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Shelby County Schools Introduces Updated Plan for Re-Entry, Still No Date Established

Shelby County Schools (SCS) unveiled a detailed plan for in-person learning – but they haven’t offered any reopening dates or criteria. These updates were shared on Thursday by SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray. 

SCS also created several simulation videos for what their in-person schooling and transportation would look like. Masked students engaged in all their school activities socially-distanced, including meals. And, students who opt for in-person schooling would still have to learn through virtual instruction.

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Tennessee Supreme Court Agrees to Hear State’s School Voucher Appeal

The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to the state’s appeal on the constitutionality of its education savings account program (ESA). The pilot school voucher program has been tied up in a legal battle for all of 2020 after its passage by the General Assembly in 2019, thereby preventing any planned advancement of the program.

The program was previously ruled unconstitutional by Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Anne Martin. She assessed it would disproportionately impact two counties: Shelby County Schools (SCS) and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). Those districts reportedly contain about 90 percent of the state’s failing schools list. The Court of Appeals upheld Martin’s decision last September.

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Memphis City Council Entertains Black Lives Matter, Other Activist Demands for Wealth Equity, Minimum Wage, Representation

Memphis City Council devoted the first portion of its Tuesday meeting to hearing the demands of activists. The proposals were a part of a plan called “From Protest to Progress,” organized and sponsored by the Greater Memphis Chamber (GMC). GMC President and CEO Beverly Robertson presented the proposals to the council during Tuesday’s meeting. 

A total of five activist groups, eleven faith-based organizations, around two dozen companies, and one school system are involved. The activist groups are the Peace & Justice Center, Black Lives Matter (BLM), Coalition of Concerned Citizens (C3), Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope (MICAH), and Up the Vote. Shelby County Schools is represented in the initiative through their Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) Manager, Joyce Douglas.

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Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson Endorses Bill Lee for Governor

The leader of Tennessee’s largest school district is supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee, education news website Chalkbeat reported. Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Lee would be “open-minded and solutions-oriented” on issues important to him such as “improving testing, raising teacher pay, supporting students’ social and emotional needs…

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Teachers at Memphis High School Told Not to Give Students Grades Below 65

A Memphis high school is telling teachers not to give grades below a 65, leaving some teachers feeling frustrated, reports WREG News Channel 3. One teacher at Kingsbury High School shared an email with WREG that Assistant Principal Nora Jones sent to teachers Monday asking them to fill in missing grades…

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Shelby County Schools Teacher Questions Value of Standardized Testing Blitz

Woodson Maher wonders why more people don’t stop to ask how the Greatest Generation turned out OK without having been subjected to the battery of standardized tests that take up so much time in public schools today. Maher, who teaches marketing at Cordova High School in Shelby County Schools, isn’t…

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Memphis Parents Upset About High School STEM Program

  Some parents in Memphis are upset about East High School becoming a STEM school, with at least one parent saying the plan is racist. “I feel like it’s just like Jim Crow,” parent Jacquelyn Webb told WREG News Channel 3. “They legally separating our students because they want the cream…

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Memphis Principal Resigns, Citing Grades Scandal and Chaos at Trezevant High School

Tennessee Star

  The principal of a Memphis high school has resigned, saying he faced retaliation for drawing attention to a pattern of grades being changed, which has led to an investigation by an independent auditor of all high school records in the district. In a lengthy and revealing resignation letter dated June 1…

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Memphis Middle School Student Attacks Teacher In Latest of Series of Violent Incidents

Tennessee Star

  A 12-year-old Memphis middle school student is accused of assaulting her teacher and school officers, WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis reported last week. The incident at Sherwood Middle School started after the student was asked to leave class because she was listening to music during a test, police said.…

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