Aitken Asks School Board to Consider Buyout

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(Memphis) Shelby County Superintendent John Aitken is considering leaving his job as his district and the Memphis City Schools prepare to merge this summer.

This bombshell creates even more chaos when board members say stability and leadership is needed more than ever.

Last month, with former MCS Superintendent Kriner Cash out of the way, Aitken said he really wanted the job.

“I have a contract through 2015.  They are undergoing a national search for a superintendent.  I’m aware of that and have asked them to go ahead and do it,” said Aitken in an interview with News Channel 3 in February.

Now Aitken’s attorney is telling the school board he wants to talk to them about considering buying out his contract.  He makes $200,000 a year.

School board member Betty Mallott says she doesn’t understand why Aitken wants to do this unless he is worried he will not be selected after the nationwide search for a new superintendent which is currently underway.

“He’s been doing a tremendous amount of work to accomplish the merger so he may interpret this as a lack of confidence and he may feel like he has no chance to get the job because he’s been demonstrating his ability for a while and he may feel the board has no confidence in that ability in doing the job,” said Mallott.

Board members say Aitken is being considered for the job.

Mallott says it could also be for financial reasons because if he leaves before he doesn’t get the job, he would be able to get his payout.

News Channel 3 tried to get in touch with Aitken for comment, but he was unavailable and didn’t return our calls, but last month he said everyone needs to come together and he is the leader to do it.

“I’ll lead it. I want to pull the people together. I can do it.  We’ve got to get over the divisiveness, we’ve got to pull together and we’ve got to make this thing work for Shelby County,” said Aitken.