MSCS board decides to meet again to clarify policies for superintendent search

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 10:18 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new chapter was reached Monday night in the search for a new superintendent for the state’s largest school district.

While the process for choosing who will head up Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) is on pause, board members voted Monday to seek more clarity on the rules and policies in place.

Several speakers and board members expressed frustration with the search process.

Monday, Board Chair Althea Greene said the board’s action will give them a chance to reset.

“What does reset mean? We come back and have some board governances,” said Board Chair Althea Greene. “We’re admitting we’re going to continue the process but we’re going to pause to reset.”

One thing is clear— all board members are now on the same page; they now need to agree on policies and how they’re enforced in order to move forward with the search for the next leader of MSCS.

A confusing and at times chaotic special meeting left board members punting what’s next in the search for at least another two weeks after parents and community advocates like Memphis Lift claimed there was a lack of transparency with how finalists were selected.

“I think it’s good,” Memphis Lift executive director Sarah Carpenter said. “They didn’t stop the process. That’s what I was worried about. We need a superintendent when school starts. Our kids deserve it. Our community deserves it.”

Three finalists for the position remain, two of them current MSCS employees - Interim Superintendent Toni Williams, Deputy Superintendent Angela Whitelaw and Carlton Jenkins, superintendent for Madison Metropolitan Schools in Wisconsin.

Monday’s meeting caused some board members to doubt the process after the search firm confirmed they did not enforce at least one of the board’s policies, ten years of teaching or administration experience.

“If you’re confused or felt confused over the last few months, I felt that too, and as board members we felt confused because we should’ve had this conversation a long time ago,” said MSCS Board member Amber Garcia.

After debating whether or not the board should move forward with the finalists, allow applicants to reapply, or some other remedy, the board will instead meet on how to continue with a search according to their current policy.

This is not suspending the process; instead, the board will come up with a date for a meeting with all board members to discuss policies when it comes to the search within two weeks.

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