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MSCS Vice Chair speaks on where the district is one year after Former Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray's resignation

Vice-Chair Joyce Dorse-Coleman said the goal is to have the next school leader by July, 2024.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, officially marked one year since Memphis-Shelby County Schools former Superintendent Joris Ray resigned in a scandal and the district is still on the search for the next school leader.

We spoke one-on-one with MSCS Vice Chair Joyce Dorse-Colman of District 9, who said the board has already met with their parent advocacy group, which aims for education equality.

The board is also in the process of planning several district community meetings to actively work on finding the next school leader.

“This is a tough job ... a very tough job,” Coleman expressed.

It is even more of a reason why she said the board needs more time to find the next school leader. The goal is to have someone officially in the position by next July.

“We will have somebody named before then, but we want to have them have enough time to transition, and we are fortunate that Superintendent Toni Williams has agreed to stay on in that position to help the transfer to get them to the day-to-day operations of our district,” Coleman stated.

The school board launched an external review on former superintendent Dr. Joris Ray last July, following allegations of Ray’s involvement in inappropriate sexual conduct with school district employees. Since then, the school board has hired a search firm, met with the community about what they want to see in the next leader, and updated its policy.

Parent Veronica Boyd said there is a lot at stake for everyone.

“We need someone to come in that can make this shift, where we need to go in the future, know how to engage the community to get the staff motivated, be able to communicate with all staff that are in the school system. Cause a lot of the time, we just think about teachers,” Boyd explained.

The board recently reposted the open position to its website with the updated policy, which requires the next school leader to have at least 10 years of experience in school administration or working. They must also have an advanced degree with a concentration in administration, business, finance, leadership, public administration, or policy, or be eligible for a license to qualify in Tennessee, or a board-approved equivalent.

“The next leader will be responsible for 150 schools, over 110,000 children, and about 14,000 employees,” Coleman said. “Including 9 board members.”

Coleman and co-chair Stephanie Love said they do not want to rush the process because the board wants to choose the right person, so they can hopefully fill the position long-term. 

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