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MSCS board will launch national superintendent search this month

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

The Memphis-Shelby County School Board will launch a national superintendent search this month.

Ariel Cobbert for Chalkbeat

The Memphis-Shelby County School Board will look nationwide for a replacement for its former scandal-plagued superintendent Joris Ray. The search will begin this month.

“The MSCS Board will kick off a national search for a new superintendent this month with a vote to launch an RFP [Request for Proposals] to find a search firm,” board chair Althea Greene tweeted on Friday. “From there, we can hire a firm, engage the community and recruit candidates. We expect to name a new superintendent by the end of 2022-23.”

It’s been a decade since the board conducted a national superintendent search. 

In 2019, groups including the Memphis Education Fund and Memphis LIFT, a parent advocacy group, urged the board to launch a national search to replace Dorsey Hopson, who resigned as superintendent in 2018 to take a job with Cigna.

Instead, the board promoted Ray, who was serving as interim superintendent. He resigned in late August 2022 amid an investigation into abuse of power and inappropriate relationships with district employees.

On Friday, Sarah Carpenter, executive director of Memphis LIFT, praised the board’s decision and said she wasn’t surprised by it. She also said she’s organizing a parent committee to question and vet candidates for the job, something they didn’t get to do when Ray was appointed.

“We need them [the job candidates] to know what our needs are. That’s especially important with many parents coming from low-income communities,” Carpenter said.

Tonyaa Weathersbee is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Tennessee. Connect with Tonyaa at tweathersbee@chalkbeat.org.

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