MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) — The Memphis-Shelby County School District’s top educator and Shelby County’s highest-paid employee is missing.
Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray resigned on Tuesday after an investigation was launched into allegations of extramarital affairs with school district staff.
Ray’s resignation is effective immediately.
The school district will have to pay him nearly half a million dollars in severance pay.
School board members say the deal Ray made was necessary for the district to move forward.
“We think this is the best way to go,” Memphis Shelby School Board President Michelle McKissack said.
In an 8-0-1 vote, Memphis Shelby County School Board members voted to accept a mutual agreement to end their working relationship with Ray and accept his resignation.
Board member Stephanie Love chose not to vote on the mutual agreement.
“On August 12, Dr. Ray’s attorney contacted my office and expressed Dr. Ray’s wish to sever his employment and relationship with the District through a mutual agreement,” attorney Herman Morris said. , who served as counsel for the board.
The district will have to pay Ray $480,000 in severance pay.
“The superintendent has been awarded the lesser of the 18 months as opposed to the remaining balance of his contract,” said MSCS board attorney Kenneth Walker.
The cost of the survey? About $19,000 is “concluded” and not “completed,” according to Walker.
“The board has not received any documentation from independent legal counsel, Dr. Stanton,” McKissack said.
Dr. Ray had been superintendent since 2019.
In a press release from Ray’s legal counsel, Robert LJ Spence, Jr. Esq. wrote that Ray “regrets that unsubstantiated allegations emanating from a deeply private matter have been made public by the media”.
In a statement, Dr Ray said:
“During my tenure as superintendent, we triumphed during one of the most difficult times in the history of education. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about challenges that have threatened the institution of formal learning. Yet, with unwavering community support, we catapulted MSCS into the national spotlight as a district breaking down barriers inside and outside the classroom. Thank you for believing in my leadership. Thank you for believing in the abilities of our students. Memphis-Shelby County Schools has my most sincere best wishes. We are committed to restoring our district to TVAAS Level 5 status. Despite the daunting obstacles, we have achieved this goal. Our students are now on an upward path to continued growth and success that cannot be derailed by detractors or distractions. Together we MUST BELIEVE. Together we will ACHIEVE. Together we are REIMAGINE THE 901!
Now the district will seek to find Ray’s replacement.
“We will continue to do as we do. Your child’s principal, your child’s teachers, all of the support systems within our school, they’re always there for you,” McKissack said. “That hasn’t changed. This will not change. We will move forward and we will become stronger through all of this.
The board is expected to release more information about the search for the next superintendent soon.
Assistant superintendents Dr. John Barker and Dr. Angela Whitelaw will continue to lead the district for the time being.
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