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Memphis City Schools (MCS) was the school district operating public schools in the city of Memphis, Tennessee and also served some unincorporated areas in Shelby County, Tennessee. It was headquartered in the Francis E. Coe Administration Building. On March 8, 2011, residents voted to disband the city school district, effectively merging it with the Shelby County School District. The merger took effect July 1, 2013. After much legal maneuvering, all six incorporated municipalities (other than Memphis) planned to create separate school districts in 2014.
Total enrollment, as of the 2010-2011 school year, was about 103,000 students, which made the district the largest in Tennessee.
Memphis City Schools was the school district operating public schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis formed this school district in 1830. This procedure was done since the first Memphis schools were charted without an public school district. The first recorded school was "Clay Street School" that was built in 1873. Some of the schools were segregated in Memphis City Schools, while others were not. Segregation started in Memphis City Schools in 1864 to 1890 and started back years later until things had changed.
Spanish sign of Berclair Elementary School
In the mid-1960s the district had about 130,000 students. The numbers of white students and black students were almost equal.
The federal government ordered desegregation in Memphis schools in the 1950s. As a result, Memphis City Schools began desegregation in May 1954. This procedure was done effectively since some of the Memphis schools were all white, but progress was slow. In the mid-1960s the district still segregated its schools.
Daniel Kiel, a law professor at the University of Memphis who had authored publications about school integration in Memphis, said the efforts to desegregate were, as paraphrased by Sam Dillon of The New York Times, "subterfuge and delay". Desegregation first began with the Memphis 13, a group of first graders. The federal government ordered desegregation busing in Memphis in the early 1970s. As a result, massive white flight occurred in Memphis City Schools beginning in 1973. The school district had 71,000 white students. In 1977, the last recorded white students were in Memphis City Schools. Forty thousand white students left while the other 30,000 stayed in the school district.
In July 2011, the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners voted to postpone opening Memphis City Schools indefinitely until the Memphis City Council provides money set aside for the school system. The incident was reported in national news.
In 2011 Marcus Pohlmann, a Rhodes College political science professor, wanted to study the Memphis schools to compare performances of schools with low income student bodies and schools with higher income student bodies. He concluded that he was unable to do so because "There are no middle-class black schools in Memphis. They're all poor."
All MCS students were needed to wear school uniforms from the fall of 2002 until the district was dissolved in 2013. Students could wear oxford shirts, polo shirts, turtlenecks, and blouses with "Peter Pan" collars. Colors varied, depending upon the school. In general, all white shirts were acceptable. Sweatshirts had to be white, black, navy blue, tan or any other colors approved by the individual campus. Trousers, shorts, skirts, and jumpers had to be black, tan, or navy blue. Denim clothing was not allowed. When MCS and SCS merged in 2013, the former MCS schools kept this uniform policy while the existing SCS schools did not, since the suburbs plan to form their own districts and leave SCS within a year.
Notice: Some of the schools were zoned to Memphis City Schools in unincorporated areas, while schools for Shelby County Schools zoned for elementary and middle schools.
Notice: As of July 2013, Most of all Memphis City Schools were officially zoned to the Shelby County Schools. Some of them became an Shelby County Schools district campus and became apart of a charter school district.
Ridgeway Elementary School was merged into Balmoral Elementary in spring 2007. The building underwent moderate renovations to accommodate what is currently Ridgeway High School's Ninth Grade Freshmen Academy.
Graves Elementary School, closed in 2014.
Hyde Park Elementary School, demolished in the 1970s.
Frayser-Raleigh Elementary School, opened as Spring Hill in the 1980s, the school is officially known as Promise Academy.
Memphis City Schools was headquartered in the Francis E. Coe Administration Building, It was shared with the pre-merger Shelby County Schools. The building has two wings, one for each district. As of 2013 the corridor linking the wings had a double-locked doors, and the glass panels had been covered by particle boards. Irving Hamer, the deputy superintendent of Memphis City Schools, described the barrier as "our Berlin Wall."