Monroe County hires Memphis pre-K director as superintendent

The early childhood education director for Shelby County Schools was named this week as superintendent of a rural district across the state.

DeAnna McClendon, who was also being investigated after the Memphis district received anonymous complaints, will lead Monroe County Schools, the district announced Thursday. The southeast Tennessee district has about 5,200 students, a third of whom live in poverty, and performs slightly poorer than the state average on state tests.

A Shelby County Schools spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing and she did not know if McClendon had submitted her resignation as of Friday afternoon. At least one member of Monroe’s school board said Thursday evening the vote to appoint McClendon, who was one of three finalists, should be postponed until the investigation was over, according to television station WVLT in Knoxville.

While with the Memphis district, McClendon oversaw the expansion of preschool classrooms as Shelby County seeks to make early childhood education available to all low-income families.

A recent national report praised the district’s preschool programs for accessibility, classroom size, teacher-child ratio, and teacher education level, but missed the mark when it came to curriculum or learning goals, teacher professional development, and local funding commitment.