MSCS board calls meeting to discuss claims against Superintendent Joris Ray

A man wearing a suit speaks into a microphone and as he gestures with his left hand.
Wednesday’s meeting comes less than a week after the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board announced an external review of Superintendent Joris Ray. (Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat)

The Memphis-Shelby County Schools board has called a special meeting for Wednesday to discuss its response to allegations against Superintendent Joris Ray.

The meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m., comes less than a week after the board announced an external review of Ray after a report in The Daily Memphian that Ray had adulterous relationships, potentially with current and former district employees.

According to recent court filings in Ray’s divorce, he admitted to having sexual relationships outside of his marriage. The Commercial Appeal reported that it had confirmed that two of the women named in the court documents currently or previously worked for the district.

The divorce records, which Chalkbeat obtained, do not specify when the alleged relationships occurred, other than a reference to a nondisclosure agreement signed by one of the women in January 2004. It also remains unclear whether Ray directly supervised either of the women, how much their time at the district overlapped, or how closely they worked together.

In a statement last week, Ray said he is confident he has not broken any district policies. Ray continues to lead Tennessee’s largest school district pending the review. 

The agenda, posted Tuesday evening, says the board will consider an action item: to “consider and take action on allegations of MSCS policy violations pertinent to Superintendent Ray.” The board has not announced any details of the external review, including its parameters, who would be conducting it, or an anticipated timeframe.

In a committee meeting hours earlier Tuesday, the board formally began Ray’s regular annual review process, outlining next steps. According to board documents, the board will receive the superintendent report and other information about Ray’s performance on July 22, and board members’ comments will be due Aug. 3. Final scores for Ray’s performance will be shared at a work session on Aug. 23. The review will be performed by DMH Consulting, a human resources consulting firm in Memphis.

Ray received a score of 4.2 out of 5  — or “completely meets expectations” — on his most recent review in August 2021. His highest marks were in the management of business and finance and community relations categories. His lowest were for governance and relations with the board and staff.

Samantha West is a reporter for Chalkbeat Tennessee, where she covers K-12 education in Memphis. Connect with Samantha at swest@chalkbeat.org.

The Latest

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson asked Illinois Senate President Don Harmon in a letter late Thursday to hold a bill that would block changes to selective enrollment schools and prevent any school closures until 2027.

Lawmakers last year relaxed income eligibility rules so that most Indiana families now qualify for the Choice Scholarship program.

Students work with artists to find themselves, learn about their world, and see their work showcased around the city.

El programa capacitará a jóvenes de entre 18 y 24 años para actuar “como navegadores que sirven a estudiantes de secundaria y preparatoria en escuelas y en organizaciones comunitarias.”

The teachers union’s 7,000 members are scheduled to take a ratification vote on June 6.

The state superintendent said cuts to staff won’t be prevalent in all districts. But educators say the “fiscal cliff” existed in the state well before federal COVID relief funds.