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Memphis school board delays start of superintendent search

One man and four women sit behind a dais for the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board

The Memphis-Shelby County Schools board will discuss a timeline for the superintendent search during a board retreat scheduled for Oct. 28 and 29, and again at its next committee meetings on Nov. 8.

Ariel Cobbert for Chalkbeat

The Memphis-Shelby County Schools board has delayed the start of its search for a new superintendent to replace Joris Ray, so that its newest members can get up to speed on the process.

The board initially planned to discuss the search during its monthly committee meetings Tuesday. But newly appointed board Chair Althea Greene said she decided to push the conversation off for several weeks. During that time, Greene said, she will meet with each new member to share a proposed timeline and “ensure all the necessary information is shared with them before it’s shared with the public.” After that, Greene said the board will launch the bidding process for search firms.

The board has two new members who were elected in August: Keith Williams, representing District 6, and Amber Huett-Garcia, District 8. Another member will join later this month to replace Miska Clay Bibbs, who was elected to the Shelby County Commission in August. Clay Bibbs had represented District 7 since 2014.

The county commission will interview the applicants and appoint Clay Bibbs’ replacement on Oct. 17. That person will fill the rest of her term, which expires in August 2024.

Greene said the board will likely discuss the superintendent search during its retreat scheduled for Oct. 28 and 29, and again at its next committee meetings on Nov. 8.

Ray resigned as superintendent on Aug. 23 under an agreement with the school board that gave him a severance package of about $480,000 plus some other benefits. The agreement ended an external investigation into claims that Ray abused his power and violated district policies by engaging in sexual relationships with subordinates. Ray denied any wrongdoing. 

District finance chief Toni Williams has been serving as interim superintendent since Aug. 30.

Samantha West is a reporter for Chalkbeat Tennessee, where she covers K-12 education in Memphis. Connect with Samantha at swest@chalkbeat.org.

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