Memphis-Shelby County School parents fight to keep ‘3Gs’ in the district

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 11:11 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) could enter a brewing fight to keep three schools from leaving the school district despite state legislation that would force the move.

In 2013, a federal judge allowed MSCS to retain Germantown Elementary, Middle, and High School, also known as the “3Gs.”

In April, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation that has now become law, shifting control of the 3Gs to the Germantown Municipal School District (GMSD).

This law will also shift Lucy Elementary back to the Millington Municipal School District (MMSD). It also makes it illegal for a county school system like MSCS to operate a school inside a municipality like Lucy and the so-called 3Gs without a special agreement.

In August, the school board passed a resolution asking district officials to “explore all options and remedies” regarding this issue.

MSCS told Action News 5 on Monday that the move wouldn’t begin until July 1, 2023, unless a written agreement is reached.

MSCS staff told families and parents at a community meeting on Monday that the district will have three options on what happens next: pursue legal action, seek funding to build new schools, or bus students to different schools.

A packed house full of parents, students and faculty from Germantown Elementary, Middle and High School is ready to fight for the schools they love.

“We feel that it was our duty tonight because our children’s education is important, and we felt that it was our duty to come here tonight that our voice may be heard,” said parent Timothy Totten.

Timothy Totten and his wife Pepper have two children at Germantown Elementary. Their older daughter also graduated from Germantown High School.

They say if an agreement can’t be reached to keep the schools under MSCS control, they’d consider choosing a private school for their kids or even moving out of state to another district.

“I’m not happy about that at all,” said Dr. Pepper Totten. “We chose this school particularly clearly because of the high standards in education.”

MSCS says shifting control of the 3G schools to GMSD and Lucy Elementary to MMSD would affect 4,000 students.

MSCS says it’s in preliminary conversations with MMSD and GMSD to reach a solution.

“We hear our parents,” said MSCS Chief of Communications Dr. Cathryn Stout. “We hear teachers. We hear our principals. We hear staff and we hope that the other parties involved also listen to the voice as well.”

In addition to education, many families and students say they’re concerned about the culture of the schools changing.

For Germantown High School Student Government President Peyton Scott, it’s about keeping the students and memories made together.

“The school can be put anywhere; but building a family, building friends, once you’re split up, that can’t be rebuilt,” Scott said.

According to MSCS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Angela Whitelaw, MMSD says it needs Lucy Elementary’s building and GMSD has said they have no need for the three schools within their municipality.

Whitelaw also says staff is compiling information gathered at community meetings and parent surveys to present to the school board at the end of the month.

They’ll make a recommendation to the board and the board will vote on what to do next.

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