Exclusive: Private emails show local clash - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Exclusive: Private emails show clash between Shelby Co. and Germantown mayor

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(WMC-TV) – Action News 5 has exclusive new details about a clash between Shelby County school board members and the Germantown mayor.

During a recent meeting over school buildings, school board members caught the mayor off guard about some private communications between Germantown leaders and constituents.

The conflict surfaced Wednesday, when Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy asked the Shelby County school board to grant the future Germantown Municipal Schools a 40-year lease on ALL current Germantown schools, including the three schools that Shelby County Schools wants to take over: Germantown Elementary, Middle and High.

"Our proposal seeks to minimize the disruption," Goldsworthy said in her pitch to the school board.

School Board member Kevin Woods put Goldsworthy in the hot seat about an e-mail she wrote to a constituent in 2011.

"It is not us causing the disruption, it is e-mails like this that have us concerned," Woods told Goldsworthy.

In the e-mail, Goldsworthy says non-Germantown students could pay tuition to attend Germantown Municipal Schools.

"Were these your words?," Woods asked Goldsworthy.

"I have absolutely no recollection of saying anything like that," Goldsworthy responded.

In another e-mail, Goldsworthy tells a constituent that Germantown residents take precedence over non-Germantown students, if private and home-schooled students join Germantown Municipal Schools, "...they would need to be accommodated, shrinking the availability of space for kids from outside the district."

"If my name's on it and it's from my email, I'm not about to suggest I didn't write it," Goldsworthy explained to the school board.

In an e-mail to another constituent about transportation costs for non-Germantown students, Goldsworthy says, "Technically, we don't have to provide transportation to anyone but special needs students IF the students have safe sidewalks to the schools."

Goldsworthy said the e-mails should be read in context.

"Certainly, there were probably a lot of conversations in which possibilities or the uncertainties were examined," Goldsworthy told to the board.

School board commissioner Teresa Jones quoted an excerpt from the "My Germantown Schools Position Statement":

"'Germantown residents may be reluctant to provide funding for programs to benefit non-residents?'" quoted Jones asked Goldsworthy.

"I don't mean to interrupt, but I have no idea what you're talking about,"  Goldsworthy cut in.  "I have never seen any statement like that," Goldsworthy added.

My Germantown Schools is a citizens' group led by Germantown Municipal school board candidate Ken Hoover.

"We've got to find an arrangement that works for everybody,"  Hoover said about Wednesday's fiery exchange.  "The best news in this whole building discussion is that everybody would like to resolve this via negotiation, via an agreement," he added.

Goldsworthy was unavailable for comment.

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