Another top candidate for Memphis superintendent withdraws

A logo bears the words “Memphis Shelby County Schools”
Keith Miles Jr., a New Jersey educator, has withdrawn as a top contender in the Memphis superintendent search. (Ariel Cobbert for Chalkbeat)

Another top contender for the Memphis-Shelby County Schools superintendent job has withdrawn.

Keith Miles Jr., the current superintendent of Bridgeton Public Schools in New Jersey, is expected to become the superintendent of the School District of Lancaster in Pennsylvania. The firm leading the MSCS search informed board members Wednesday morning that Miles had taken his name out of the running in Memphis, according to an email obtained by Chalkbeat.

Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the search firm, introduced Miles as one of two suggested additions to the Memphis superintendent finalist list on Tuesday. 

Miles’ withdrawal again leaves the Memphis school board with three top candidates for a search process that has been in turmoil since an initial batch of finalists was announced at a Saturday board meeting that exposed deep disagreements about the process. 

One of the initial finalists, Brenda Cassellius, a recent Boston superintendent with Memphis ties, withdrew after that meeting.

Board members continued to question the search process and results in a Tuesday evening work session, where they resolved to vote about how to proceed next week.

One next step could be to add Angela Whitelaw, the district’s top academic official, to the finalist slate, as suggested by Hazard Young on Tuesday. She would join remaining finalists Carlton Jenkins, of Wisconsin’s Madison Metropolitan School District; and Toni Williams, the current interim superintendent of MSCS.

The board is poised to determine whether Williams, whose experience is mainly in finance rather than academics, is sufficiently qualified for the permanent role.

Laura Testino covers Memphis-Shelby County Schools for Chalkbeat Tennessee. Reach Laura at LTestino@chalkbeat.org.

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