The Aug. 4 election for the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board comes at a turbulent time for Tennessee’s largest school district.

Superintendent Joris Ray has been placed on leave, pending the outcome of an investigation into whether he abused his power and violated district policies by engaging in relationships with co-workers. District leaders have their sights set on improving academic achievement after last year’s state standardized test scores showed students recovered some ground from the steep declines caused by the pandemic.

Four board seats are up for grabs — including the three held by incumbents Michelle McKissack in District 1, Joyce Dorse-Coleman in District 9, and Charles Everett in District 6. Meanwhile, two longtime board members are set to leave the board next month: Billy Orgel, who isn’t seeking reelection, and Miska Clay-Bibbs, who is running for a seat on the Shelby County Commission.

To help voters across Memphis make an informed choice at this critical time, Chalkbeat Tennessee asked candidates to share their thoughts on major education issues facing the district. 

Below, you can sort through each school board district race and see candidates’ answers to a survey Chalkbeat sent out last month. Some of the questions came from our readers. Click on the district you are interested in learning about, and then click into the questions to see candidates’ responses.

You can learn more about how candidates hope to lead the district by attending our forum on July 21, either in person or online:

  • Districts 1, 8, and 9: from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • District 6: from 7 to 8 p.m.

RSVP to let us know whether you’re attending in person or online, and whether you require child care or translation services. 

If you’re unsure which district you live in, check out these maps.

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