From T-shirts to campaign headquarters, Shelby County Schools board candidates spend to get ahead

With less than a month until the Aug. 7 election, Shelby County Schools board candidates have begun taking out loans, raising funds from family and friends and setting up their campaign headquarters.

Fourteen candidates are running for seven seats.  Only candidates in districts 7 and 8 are running unopposed. With only three incumbents running, the election is set to dramatically change the face of the district’s 9-member board.

Candidates have raised and spent from zero to several thousand dollars between April 1 and June 30, according to the financial disclosure statements that they submitted to the Shelby County Election Commission this week.

Damon Morris, a candidate for district 9, raised $2,000 through a personal loan.

Anthony Lockhart, a candidate in district 2, listed a series of small donations between $10 and $100, with a personal donation to his own campaign of $270.

Morris and Lockhart spent most of their money on signs and flyers, although Morris also spent $450 to set up his campaign headquarters.
Mike Kernell, a candidate for district 9, raised and spent over $2,000, the most of any candidate during the period, but his itemized list of donations and expenditures was missing from the election commission website.
Scott McCormick, a candidate for district 5, was the only candidate who did not raise or spend any money during the period.
Stephanie Love, a candidate in district 3, raised $689 and spent $200.
As of July 11 only five of the 14 candidates’ financial disclosure documents were posted on the Shelby County Election Commission’s website.
Candidates are required to file a financial disclosure statement by July 10, ten days after the end of the quarter.  The election commission says that it posts all the documents it receives within one business day.
Candidates who did not submit their financial disclosure documents will receive a certified letter informing them of their delinquency and giving them an additional five days to submit. If candidates still don’t submit their paperwork, their names will be sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance for possible disciplinary action.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.