Incoming Memphis schools leader Marie Feagins begins work, set to assume superintendent role April 1

A woman wearing a dark suit jacket waves and walks in front of a crowd of people in the background.
Marie Feagins, who appeared at a meet-and-greet event for superintendent finalists, is set to take over as superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools on April 1. (Image courtesy of Memphis-Shelby County Schools)

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Update: This story has been updated with details of Feagins’ per diem contract.

Incoming Superintendent Marie Feagins has started working with Memphis-Shelby County Schools under a per diem agreement, allowing her to begin a transition to the superintendent role while the school board hammers out her contract.

Feagins’ temporary employment took effect March 1, according to a press release from school board Chair Althea Greene on the same day. Greene said she expects Feagins, a Detroit public school district administrator, to begin officially as MSCS superintendent on April 1, months ahead of the July 1 start that board members had targeted during the search process.

Greene said it is important for Feagins to begin work soon, especially as Tennessee’s largest school district faces major budget decisions and state lawmakers consider several changes to education policy, including a major expansion of private school vouchers that could affect district revenues.

“Dr. Feagins is excited to be here now to start making Memphis and Shelby County her home,” Greene said.

Since the board selected Feagins on Feb. 9, she has been in Memphis for several meetings, including a lunch Friday co-hosted in part by former Memphis schools Superintendent Carol Johnson-Dean.

“Everybody wants to welcome her, and they want her to be successful,” Johnson-Dean told Chalkbeat, adding that several community leaders attended, including both the city and county mayors. She said school board members did not attend.

Feagins also attended part of the Memphis school board’s February business meeting and received a standing ovation. A separate press release at the time said she was working on a plan for her first 100 days on the job.

But at the time of the per diem announcement, the school board had not otherwise discussed her employment in a public meeting, and board members had taken no votes on a contract.

Board members Mauricio Calvo and Stephanie Love said that they had not seen the per diem contract. The following week, Calvo shared a copy of the contract to social media with a caption that said: “...Transparency is key as we work to build confidence and trust.”

The document showed Feagins can earn up to $20,000 in March, as she transitions into the role. Greene, in a statement on March 13, also shared the contract.

Chalkbeat’s attempts to reach Feagins for comment on March 1 were unsuccessful.

Greene has said she expects the board to take action on Feagins’ superintendent contract at a meeting scheduled for March 26. The per diem contract also requires board approval, according to the document.

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

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