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Memphis interim superintendent adds two cabinet-level positions in first month on the job

Joris Ray, the interim superintendent for Shelby County Schools, expressed interest in the permanent position when the school board appointed him.
Joris Ray, the interim superintendent for Shelby County Schools, expressed interest in the permanent position when the school board appointed him.
Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat

Less than one month after Joris Ray was named interim leader of Shelby County Schools, he has added two cabinet-level positions and replaced the district’s chief of staff.

The shuffle suggests a leader planning to stick around for the long term. His contract as interim superintendent gives him the “authority to organize, reorganize, and rearrange the central office.”

Lin Johnson, the former chief financial officer, is now a deputy superintendent overseeing business operations, human resources, and information technology, in addition to finance. The chiefs of those departments no longer directly report to the superintendent.

Angela Whitelaw, formerly the interim chief of schools after Sharon Griffin left to lead the state-run Achievement School District, is now also a deputy superintendent. She oversees schools and academic support, which includes supervising family and community engagement, research, and Ray’s former position in academic operations.

Left: John Barker, new chief of staff for Shelby County Schools
Left: John Barker, new chief of staff for Shelby County Schools
Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat

And last week, Ray announced that John Barker, a former chief of staff under the defunct Memphis City Schools, will be the new chief of staff with an annual salary of $170,000. He replaces Brian Stockton, a Memphis native who returned home from a corporate job in Washington D.C. in 2016 under former superintendent Dorsey Hopson.


From the archive: This is what Shelby County Schools’ top leadership looked like under Hopson


The school board is taking a slow approach to filling the district’s top position. Some board members have said they would rather have someone in place by the start of the school year, while others said they wouldn’t mind stretching the search into early 2020 if needed.

Almost three months after Hopson announced his resignation, the school board is still accepting proposals from national search firms. Members have vowed to hear community input during the process, but have not decided how that will look. Ray’s contract, with an annual pay of $285,000, goes through June 2020 unless the board finds someone else before then.

Related: Take our survey on what you want in your next superintendent

Below is Ray’s updated organizational chart. New salaries for Whitelaw and Johnson were not provided Thursday. This story will be updated when we get that information.

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