Memphis-Shelby County Schools Vice Chair Quits After Heated School Board Meeting

After a heated meeting that loosened the qualification guidelines for hiring the school district’s next superintendent, the vice chair of the Board for Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) resigned from her post.

The meeting was described as “heated and plagued with parliamentary issues,” and ultimately led to the resignation of Vice Chair Sheleah Harris.

“At this point, this is my last board meeting,” Harris (pictured above) said. “I appreciate the support of my colleagues. I am choosing to step down from this board. I will continue to advocate and serve, but this is the highest level of ignorance I have ever been a part of.”

The boiling point for Harris, it appeared, was when the board voted to allow people with professional experience outside of the education industry for the new superintendent role.

MSCS Board Chair Dr. Althea Greene later released a statement officially accepting Harris’ resignation:

During yesterday’s Memphis Shelby County Schools Board meeting, you advised the Board, those in attendance and the listening public that this would be your last board meeting.

You further stated that you were resigning from your position on the Memphis Shelby County Schools Board.

As Chair of the Memphis Shelby County Schools Board, I accept your resignation effective immediately.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank you for your services and wish you all the best.

According to reports, Greene was pleased with the board’s progress in finding a new superintendent.

“I think we have spent a long time tonight and I am very pleased with the progress of this board,” she said. “We have had three board retreats, we had to put in the hours, but we got there.”

MSCS still has not named a new superintendent.

In what has been a tumultuous year for the school district, former MSCS superintendent Dr. Joris Ray resigned from his post in August of last year, amid controversy that led to an external investigation.

In September, Deputy Superintendent for Strategic Operations and Finance, Dr. John Barker was placed on administrative leave and escorted off of school grounds after an “employee complaint.”

In the same week, the MSCS school board urged elected board member Keith Williams to leave his position as executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, citing a potential conflict of interest, as reported by The Tennessee Star.

In October, MSCS’ chief of human resources was placed under investigation by the school district after an alleged employee complaint.

“The District investigates all employee complaints as we continue our on-going efforts to emphasize integrity in all MSCS functions,” MSCS reportedly said. “As we follow our outlined process in this matter, ensuring that children have the best education and experience possible remains our North Star.”

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter.
Photo “Sheleah Harris” by Sheleah Harris. 




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6 Thoughts to “Memphis-Shelby County Schools Vice Chair Quits After Heated School Board Meeting”

  1. Randy

    Given the amount of funding being provided public education, it would seem that you would want the most effective and efficient individual leading your organization to succeed. It does not take a Doctorate in education to fail, but we seem to have plenty of Superintendents that do just that. The #1 goal in public education today seems to be get and spend more money. Teaching has taken a back seat to greed amongst academics.

  2. Clarence Stubblefield

    Who other than themselves made the Dr.. in Education such an Elegist group?

  3. The Professor

    Permitting non-educators to serve as district superintendent is a bad idea. It seems to point out the board does not value teachers, does not appreciate that teaching is a profession and does not recognize the importance of direct teaching experience. Having a teaching background, an advanced degree coupled with managerial training/experience ought to be the minimum prerequisites for the position.

  4. Nameless Hunter

    Always get a kick out of education Phd’s demanding they be addressed as “doctor”. An old friend of mine (who happened to be a dean at UCONN) would laugh at them, and refused to say “doctor”.

  5. nicky wicks

    memphis a trash fire. big surprise.

  6. Rocky

    It appears that Harris is the ignorant one.
    Unqualified and in over her head .