MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Richard Atwill, the superintendent of schools in West Memphis, Arkansas has been terminated by the school board.

In what came as a surprise to many, the school board fired Superintendent Richard Atwill Tuesday night. Atwill had only held the position for about 11 months. He was appointed as superintendent in May of last year after former Superintendent Jon Collins resigned.

Joann Faulkner, the school board president, told WREG, “I don’t have a comment about the dismissal and the reasons behind it” and to check the school district’s website.

West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon also confirmed the news Wednesday morning on WREG’s Live At 9.

McClendon, noting that the school board is separate from city government, said he had no information about why Atwill was terminated.

“Mr. Atwill is a pretty good guy, and I hope whatever decision is being made is being done in the best interests of our children,” the mayor said.

As school board leaders remain tight lipped about the firing, WREG has learned four of the seven-member board voted to pay out the remainder of Atwill’s three year contract.

Willie Rhodes, a former assistant superintendent in Memphis-Shelby County Schools, will serve as interim superintendent until the board appoints its next school leader.

We asked Mayor McClendon what he will be looking for in a candidate during the search for a new superintendent.

“Well, I guess someone who has the kids best interest at heart as well as come up with new strategic ways to make sure the learning process and to offer more with STEM and different things like that,” he said.

West Memphis school leaders aren’t saying how long they think the search will take to find a new superintendent. We will let you know when that decision is made.