Herenton Forced To Close One Of His Charter Schools

Herenton Forced To Close One Of His Charter Schools

Former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton said he didn't like it, but had to do it.
MEMPHIS, TN ( - Former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton said he didn't like it, but had to do it.

The former Memphis City School superintendent opened several charter schools this year. Most are doing fine.

But his dream, the school set up to help kids convicted of crimes in juvenile court, is dead.

The victim of people not ordering the kids to show up at school.

What happened to him with the Thurgood Marshall Academy happens every day in Memphis. Sometimes kids just don't show up at school. There aren't enough people to enforce the rules and get the kids back into class.

Doctor Willie Herenton is a product of Memphis and some of its toughest neighborhood. He talks of his mother, a single parent, who pushed her son to success to become an educator.

The tough guy from south Memphis became a teacher, a school superintendent, and a mayor of this city. Now he runs charter schools. And the one he was proudest of was the Thurgood Marshall School for kids who'd been in the juvenile justice system.

“I mean, we had close to 150 kids that were supposed to attend our schools. But Mike, guess what, they didn't show up,” Herenton said.

Everything looked great on the first day of classes. But these are some of this city's toughest kids. There were fights and gang problems. The mayor admits it.

They were expected. What he needed to see was butts in the seats.

“To make a program like this work, there must be some accountability on the part of the parents and the court system. And there must be a partnership that involves the district attorney's office. Parents must be held accountable. The juvenile courts must enforce the court order,” Herenton said.

The other schools in the Dubois Charter School Consortium are doing well, he said. Attendance is in the 90 percent area at all schools.

Grades are good and lots of parents getting involved. In other words everything that was missing from this school.

“I can't give up on these kids. Even though this program…lack of enforcement made it impossible to maintain. That's simply what it is,” Herenton said.

Doctor Herenton said the school lost about $70,000 a month and it was in operation for about two months.

The students will now go to regular Shelby County Schools.
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