Sources report that Superintendent Dorsey Hopson will resign after five years of leading Shelby County Schools.
Rumors of Hopson’s departure have been flying for months. He said as recently as early October he had no intention of leaving, saying he was “excited about our momentum.” However, three sources told Chalkbeat Monday night that district administrators told them Hopson will make an announcement on Tuesday detailing his transition from the helm.
The Commercial Appeal also reported Monday night that Hopson likely will resign.
Check back with Chalkbeat on Tuesday for updates.
Hopson took charge of Shelby County Schools in 2013 as the first superintendent after the former city district merged with the suburban school system. An attorney, he previously worked as associate general counsel for Atlanta Public Schools and later as general counsel for the Clayton County School System in Georgia. In 2008, he became general counsel of Memphis City Schools.
Hopson has overseen a tumultuous time for the district. In 2013, the city’s school district folded into the county system, a complicated logistical feat that still reverberates today. The following year, six suburban towns split off to create their own districts with about 34,000 students. At the same time, the state-run Achievement School District grew as it took over district schools that had chronic low performance on state tests. Nearly two dozen district schools closed during that time as Hopson and his staff rushed to fill budget deficits left in the wake of all the changes and reductions in student enrollment.
Despite the strenuous circumstances, fewer schools are on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools and the district’s Innovation Zone has boosted test scores at a faster rate than the state’s district. Schools across the state are looking to strategies in Memphis to improve schools — a far cry from six years ago. And recently, Hopson was among nine finalists for a national award recognizing urban district leaders.
In recent years, the Shelby County Schools board has rated Hopson as satisfactory, though not exemplary, and extended his contract last year to 2020 with a $16,000 raise. Next week, the board is scheduled to present its most recent evaluation of his performance as the panel seeks to tweak how it rates the district’s leader.
Hopson was one of several superintendents consulted by Gov.-elect Bill Lee while on the campaign trail, and he publicly expressed his support of the Republican businessman before Lee won the election. Last week, Lee told Memphis TV station Local 24 News that he hadn’t spoken with Hopson specifically about his administration but added: “He has a role. We talk. We’ve become friends. I have a great deal of respect for his expertise.”
Hopson told Chalkbeat before the election that he was “not angling for a job,” but rather that he and Lee had developed a mutual respect while getting to know each during the last year and a half. Sources did not confirm Hopson’s next steps.
Reporter Laura Faith Kebede contributed to this report.