State education officials say they're "disappointed" that school districts in Nashville and Memphis won't budge. Both systems had until Monday to turn over data that would help charter schools overseen by the state recruit new students. The districts missed the deadline, even though they may lose education funding as a consequence.
Education Commissioner Candice McQueen has not said precisely what the punishment will be for ignoring a demand to share student data, though typically the budget has been used to keep districts in line.
"Given the disregard these districts have shown for fulfilling their legal responsibilities, we must consider all options available in situations where a district actively chooses to ignore the law," McQueen says in an emailed statement to WPLN.
She calls this case "especially egregious" considering districts already share the same student contact information with dozens of outside groups, including for-profit corporations. In Nashville, the same data is already shared with charter operators overseen by the district. But this instance involves sharing contact info with the state's entity for turning around the lowest performing schools, known as the Achievement School District.
The school boards in Nashville and Memphis say they're not allowed to hand over the data because of federal privacy rules, even though the Tennessee Attorney General disagrees. But they're also attacking the state-run ASD, which is pushing to get the information to help fill empty seats in its charter schools. In Nashville, its schools are run by LEAD, a well-established charter operator.
Metro board chair Anna Shepherd calls the ASD a "failed experiment" where she wouldn't send her own children.
"I personally just don't think they're better off in those schools, and I'm not playing politics," Shepherd tells WPLN. "I wouldn't put my children in those schools. I can tell you that right now."