New finalists for MSCS superintendent revealed after school board pauses search

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 10:54 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - What comes next for choosing the top educator from Tennessee’s largest school district is up in the air.

At a work session meeting Tuesday, the Memphis-Shelby County School (MSCS) Board discussed how they’ll move forward with the search for the next superintendent after pausing the process.

The board released a list of the current applicants, including four finalists, but members are at odds on how to move forward, including whether or not to change the rules or start from scratch.

Tuesday’s meeting comes days after a tumultuous meeting over the weekend that revealed the top candidates for superintendent.

Now, MSCS Board members charting the course for what’s next in the process.

“I’m grateful for all the input, encouragement and constructive criticism,” said MSCS Board Chair Althea Greene. “We must get this right.”

Greene says the search firm recommends either interviewing the finalists or reopening the search in the fall.

The finalists are:

  • Interim Superintendent Toni Williams
  • MSCS Deputy Superintendent Angela Whitelaw
  • Carlton Jenkins, superintendent for Madison Metropolitan Schools in Wisconsin
  • Keith Miles Jr., superintendent of Bridgeton Public Schools in New Jersey

“If we were to start it all the way back over in the fall or whenever the case may be, it would yield very similar results... from what I’ve been told from other colleagues I’ve sought out advice from,” said MSCS Board member Michelle McKissack.

A majority of board members say they do not want to start the process over, but believe the public deserves more transparency on what the criteria are for choosing finalists, and ultimately, the right person for the job.

The search firm Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates was paid at least $38,000 and did not enforce the board’s policy when choosing applicants.

“It’s been a lack of transparency among board members,” said MSCS Board Vice-Chair Sheleah Harris. “It’s been a lack of transparency to the community. I will own that, but moving forward we are gonna have to do a little bit better.”

Greene says after Saturday, several candidates withdrew, including one finalist, former Superintendent for Boston Public Schools Brenda Cassellius.

So what’s next?

The board will meet next week to discuss policy, whether or not to continue this search, and what qualifications are being used by the search firm for this process.

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