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Civil rights lawsuit regarding creation of new suburban districts nears close

Papers were filed this week to end the civil rights lawsuit involving the creation of new municipal school districts in six suburbs near Memphis, The Commercial Appeal reported today.

The six suburbs are planning to create their own new school districts, carved out of the boundaries of the new merged Shelby County school district. The merged district includes the legacy Shelby County Schools, which served the Memphis suburbs, and legacy Memphis City Schools.

Leaders in the towns have long been planning to create their own smaller districts to avoid being part of the merged system, which they say will be less efficient and reduce local control. The plans to create new districts brought up a number of legal issues and challenges, and eventually prompted a change in state law. Among those legal issues was a lawsuit was brought against the municipalities, alleging that the creation of the new districts was partially racially motivated.

The Shelby County school board reached settlements with each of the suburbs over the course of November and December 2013, and the county commission approved those settlements. The district deeded school buildings to each of the municipalities.

Judge Samuel Mays, who has overseen legal matters involving the merger over the course of the past year, is expected to approve the settlement.