MEMPHIS, Tenn.– When the Memphis Shelby County School Board voted to accept the resignation of Superintendent Joris Ray, it seemed to be severing ties with the school system leader. But a closer look reveals otherwise.
In a copy of the Agreement released by the School Board, under the terms of Ray’s resignation, it said Joris Ray will assist the Board with succession planning and the transition of the Superintendent’s job duties and responsibilities to other persons.
The agreement further said Ray will cooperate for a period of one year and any expenses he incurs during that time will be reimbursed at an hourly rate. This means Joris Ray will still be getting paid by the Board.
School Board Member Elect Amber Huett-Garcia will be sworn in as a new School Board Member next month. She said she has been told Ray would not be a part of the process as they move forward.
“We have a lot of trust to rebuild and I think that means understanding when it’s in our best interest to have a clean break and have a fresh start and that would be my preference because mostly that’s what voters have told me,” Huett-Garcia said.
Employment attorney Alan Crone was not a part of the Joris Ray negotiations but said it is common for an outgoing person to assist with transitioning.
“A school superintendent deals with a host of issues that he is gonna have institutional knowledge that it is much easier to pay him something hourly to get that information from him rather than reinventing the wheel,” Crone said.
We were unable to reach anyone with the current School Board or attorneys to discuss what that succession work will entail.
And there may be a reason. Looking further into the agreement, there is a clause where Joris Ray and his attorney or representatives agree to not publicize or discuss the settlement with the media or any website or electronic media available to the public.
But not discussing the agreement means you may never hear more of the details on how this agreement was reached and what was in the now closed investigation.
What was found? Is there a duty to report certain things discovered? That’s anyone’s guess.
“I am sure one of the things he benefits from that may have induced him to get into this and agree to this severance contract is that he can put this behind him and move on as a private citizen. And I suspect that also motivated the board,” Crone said. “They want to put this chapter behind them.”
Joris Ray is getting more than $400,000 in severance as part of the agreement. Some are asking since he is in the middle of a divorce will half of that go to his ex-wife who exposed Ray’s extramarital relationships?
We asked attorney Crone about that. He said in theory if they are not divorced yet, that money probably figures in their divorce proceeding in some way.