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Three candidates seek open Memphis-Shelby County Schools board seat

Two women and two men sit behind the dais for the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board

An educator, an activist, and a youth advocate are competing to fill the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board’s vacant District 7 seat.

Ariel Cobbert for Chalkbeat

Three Memphians have thrown their hat in the ring to fill the District 7 seat on the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board vacated by Miska Clay Bibbs.

Clay Bibbs had represented District 7’s southeast Memphis neighborhoods such as Parkway Village and Oakhaven since 2014, but she left the board in August after winning election to the Shelby County Commission, which will appoint her replacement.

The commission will interview the three applicants at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 17 and vote later that day, said Michael Whaley, vice chair of the commission’s education committee. 

The applicants are: 

  • Terrell Mitchell, a Teach for America educator, according to his LinkedIn profile.
  • Frank Johnson, a former MSCS teacher and current South Memphis community activist with the Center for Transforming Communities, according to his LinkedIn profile. The Center for Transforming Communities describes itself as a nonprofit “dedicated to the holistic transformation of neighborhoods and communities in and around Memphis.”.
  • Jason Sharif, a Memphis youth and community advocate for over 20 years, according to his biography at Whole Child Strategies, a nonprofit that aims to support children and families affected by poverty. Before becoming a neighborhood organizer there, the Whitehaven native worked for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services as an investigator, juvenile justice probation officer, and a juvenile justice regional coordinator. Sharif also previously taught sixth grade social studies at Craigmont Middle School and was the director of the Westwood High School Boys & Girls Club.

Chalkbeat will update this story with more information once it obtains copies of the candidates’ applications.

The appointee will fill Clay Bibbs’ seat through the rest of her term, which expires in August 2024. That person will join two other new board members — Keith Williams in District 6 and Amber Huett-Garcia in District 8 — at a critical moment as the board embarks on the district’s first national superintendent search in over a decade.

Newly appointed board Chair Althea Greene announced Tuesday that she would delay the start of the search to replace former Superintendent Joris Ray several more weeks, so that the board’s newest members can get up to speed on the process.

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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