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MSCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray responds to news of external review by school board

The board said the review would look into recent "allegations of impropriety" by Ray.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board is launching an external review into “allegations of impropriety by MSCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray.” And Ray responded after news of the review, saying the board has his full cooperation.

Court documents obtained by ABC24 show Dr. Ray's wife Tiffany accusing him of extramarital affairs with three women, whose names match those of either current or former MSCS employees. Court records also claim Dr. Ray admitted to engaging in extramarital relationships.

The Board held an emergency session Wednesday night, where members met with legal counsel Herman Morris and determined a review was the next step. Now, the board is looking for an independent counsel to conduct the review.

The board said Ray would continue in his role as Superintendent while the review is conducted, and once that is finished, board members will determine the next steps.

"We are focusing on making sure that our community understands that we are taking these allegations very seriously and we are going to review and have our legal counsel ask all the questions, look through all the documents to make sure this is fair for all parties involved," MSCS Board Chair Michelle McKissack said.

The board said it “urges the community not to rush to judgment and to allow due process to play out.”

"I think from the outcry in the community, we want to assure them that if the review will determine if policies, if ethics, if the code, if anything was violated, that is the purpose of the review," MSCS Board Vice-Chair Bishop Althea Greene added.

Those with Memphis LIFT - an organization often critical of Dr. Ray's performance - also supported launching the review. 

"I'm grateful that the board is listening to the people that voted them in and when they come back with the conclusions we have to accept whatever it is," Sarah Carpenter with Memphis LIFT said.

Statement from Dr. Ray

Thursday afternoon, Dr. Joris Ray responded to the situation, saying: "Recently, some have watched as a personal family matter has played out publicly. Divorces are hard. I have hired a law firm who I’ve been working with, and they are focused on that personal matter.

My focus is on the students, teachers, employees, and families of Memphis-Shelby County Schools. I know that our School Board is also focused on ensuring the efficiency of our District and the well-being of our students and staff, and they have my full cooperation in those pursuits.

As Superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools, I understand that my public actions are subject to scrutiny by the School Board, members of the community, and the media. As a matter of principle, I strive to represent the District, faculty, staff, students, and parents with integrity and professionalism.

I am aware that on rare occasion, the personal and professional aspects of a public figure’s life intersect. In this case, allegations asserted in my private divorce matter have been made public and are being discussed outside the confines of the judicial system. As such, I’d like to express to this Board, the education community, and the public that I am confident that my private actions have not broken any rules of conduct nor violated any policies.

I respect the Board’s oversight responsibility to conduct due diligence as it relates to allegations of violations of policies and welcome a fair investigation of my adherence to the policies of Memphis-Shelby County Schools. I will cooperate with the investigation in every way possible. I apologize that my private life has become a public distraction from the serious educational work that remains to be done. I will refrain from further public comment on the matter."

Statement from Dr. Ray's attorneys

In a statement to ABC24, attorneys for Dr. Ray said, "The very nature of litigation is adversarial, even in divorce cases. The matter between Dr. Joris M. Ray and his wife is no different. As such, allegations asserted in court pleadings should not be reported as truths.

Dr. Ray and his wife, both highly respected members of our community, are entitled to the space needed to resolve their private divorce between themselves and within the confines of the judicial system. Given this matter is currently being litigated, it is inappropriate to comment further."

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