MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A planned news conference by a Memphis-Shelby County School Board member took a turn Monday as parents expressed their concerns and frustrations over the superintendent search.

The search has been paused, but the school board is planned to hold a special called meeting get underway regarding the next steps in the search.

A crowd of frustrated parents surrounded school board member Michelle McKissack at a news conference at Downtown Elementary Monday. 

McKissack acknowledged the pause in the superintendent search, saying she’s speaking as an individual board member. She doesn’t want to see the search stopped and is proposing ideas for the next steps to engage families across the county. 

“That we propose having two parents randomly selected through a lottery from each district so that they can be a voice in all this,” McKissack said. “I’m just simply proposing to try and bring some peace to this process to make sure that individual parents are engaged as well.”

But parents and grandparents, many of them members of the group Memphis Lift, yelled out their complaints. Some called the news conference a photo op as McKissack is running to be the mayor of Memphis.

We asked her to address the comments. 

“I’m here because I cannot be at the board meeting tonight,’ McKissack said. “This meeting was scheduled after I had already made a commitment to participate in a candidate forum so that is what is taking place.”

As for McKissack’s proposal, concerned parent Damon Curry Morris said the community needs to be included in the search.

“We don’t want the search to stop but we want it to continue and we want it to involve the integrity of everybody that is out here in this community. It needs to include everybody, not two people from a district,” he said.

The group said they want to make sure the next superintendent has educator experience and they don’t favor one particular candidate. 

The special called meeting is set to happen Monday at 5:30 p.m. at district headquarters.