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Dorsey Hopson is superintendent of Shelby County Schools in Memphis.

Dorsey Hopson is superintendent of Shelby County Schools in Memphis.

Cabinet shuffle includes three new leaders for Shelby County Schools

Following the exit last summer of three top-level officials with Shelby County Schools, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson announced Friday the addition of three new cabinet members.

The new administrators, who will regularly advise Hopson as part of his nine-member cabinet, fill the district’s leadership ranks as Tennessee’s largest school system faces major challenges in budgeting, technology and other issues in behalf of its more than 109,000 students and 14,000 employees.

“We conducted national searches to fill these positions and ensure we provided Shelby County students, parents and staff with some of the most knowledgeable, capable and experienced leaders possible,” Hopson said in a news release.

John Michael Williams will serve as chief information officer, a role he also filled with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. He has held technology and telecommunications positions with Atlanta Public Schools and Orange County Schools in Orlando, Fla. Williams replaces Rich Valerga, who left in 2013 and whose job has since been filled on an interim basis.

Lin Johnson III is the new chief financial officer, replacing Alicia Lindsey, who was fired in July. He is a former director of special initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Education and director of finance and operations for the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board.

Leon Pattman is the new chief of internal audit. He most recently served as chief audit executive for the city of Memphis and also has held roles in finance, compliance, auditing and information management with the U.S. Treasury and U.S. Air Force. He replaces Melvin Burgess, the longtime audit director who was reassigned last spring.

Created in 2013 with the historic merger of the former city and county school systems, the consolidated district has undergone $275 million in budget cuts while dealing with shrinking student enrollment. Rather than unifying school services under the merger, the city’s educational landscape has subsequently splintered to include a growing charter sector, the introduction of the state-run Achievement School District, and the creation of six suburban school districts. Shelby County Schools also is trying to equip and prepare itself for the state’s new TNReady exam, which will be administered mostly online, and to turn around a large number of low-performing priority schools.

“We have to do more with less,” Hopson told Chalkbeat last summer.

Other members of Hopson’s cabinet include:

  • Reginald Porter Jr., chief of staff;
  • Gerald Darling, chief of student services;
  • Bradley Leon, chief innovation officer;
  • Heidi Ramirez, chief academic officer;
  • Trinette Small, chief of human resources