MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis-Shelby County School Board is preparing to give a new update on the search for a school superintendent.

The search was put on pause after some board members had questions for the firm doing the search.

“I believe we laid out the process. I’m not sure where the breakdown happened for some board members, for some of my colleagues,” said School Board Member Michelle McKissack.

Michelle McKissack said six months of community meetings, emails, and other events surrounding the search were available to keep everyone abreast of what was being done.

But Saturday when the search firm presented the three finalists, some board members seemed shocked and wanted to know about all the candidates who applied and why the three finalists were chosen, including the current interim Superintendent Toni Williams, who has a finance background.

“Why would you present a candidate for the largest school district in Tennessee without any background as an educator or a school leader,” asked School Board Member Sheleah Harris.

“A previous superintendent that worked in the school district you know, did not have a teaching experience within the classroom but led the district during a very pivotal period that was crucial to the expertise that he brought to the table at that time. So I think you have to look at any candidate in a holistic approach,” said McKissack.
The HYA Search Firm said they did what they were asked, and brought the board the top three candidates.

Former School Board Member Rev. Kenneth Whalum Jr. raised another question about Williams, who initially said she wouldn’t apply for the job.

“That’s an indication of integrity. She said she did not want to accept the position of Superintendent. Board members are on record of saying the only reason they hired her as interim was because she said she didn’t want it. So that part is not gonna sit firm with the public as far as I am concerned,” Whalum said.

The search firm said it will do as the board requested and provide a list of all the applicants. Despite the delay, some board members think a superintendent can still be in place by the start of next school year, and still with transparency.

“So this has been a very transparent process. I know that I’m not trying to hold anything back from anyone. I’m a parent first and foremost, I want to make sure that what I’m getting that everyone is getting,” McKissack said.

School Board Chair Althea Green said she is working right not on a new presentation about the superintendent search process. She said that will be shared at the Board’s work session Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. if not before.