Schools chief says he was audited in 2007, but SCS says they can’t find the files

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The interim superintendent of Shelby County Schools claims he was audited for money misuse while working for the district in 2007 but now, the district can’t find those files.

WREG has been asking for the information on Dr. Joris Ray in a series of open records requests, emails and at the board meeting Tuesday.

Thursday afternoon, Shelby County Schools internal audit chief Leon Pattman says there’s no trace of the investigation, even though Ray told a law firm something different.

Ray was investigated and interviewed by outside attorneys last fall for sexual harassment claims. They were ruled unfounded.

But buried in the firm’s report, there’s a brief mention about another investigation into Ray from 2007, for “improper and unethical hiring and misuse of school funds.”

He stated an internal audit showed it was unfounded.

So why did Ray say that? He wasn’t around to ask Thursday, so Pattman tried to answer.

“I would surmise because he was aware of an allegation, he thought there was an investigation,” Pattman said.

The district was not able to say where the initial complaint was filed.

State law says the public has access to all government documents and files, and WREG always asks for these things when someone steps into a leadership role.

Neither investigation was in Ray’s files.

SCS says there are exceptions and different procedures depending on where the complaints are filed and if they warrant disciplinary action.

“When matters are investigated externally, there are different processes that are followed regarding the housing of a file,” district spokeswoman Natalia Powers said.

Any complaints their auditors receive are stored electronically and they claim those documents are confidential, they said.

SCS sent a statement earlier this week:

There are several factors that may become apparent upon receipt or during the course of investigating a complaint that may also determine the best course of action in ensuring a thorough, fair and impartial investigation into the complaint. Those factors vary and include, but are not limited to, the nature of the complaint, the multiplicity of similar complaints, any legal implications that may impact employees beyond the scope of the investigation, and the sensitivity of the allegations. When some or all of these factors exist, SCBE may escalate a matter to the legal department for handling in order to preserve the integrity of the matter’s investigation until it is concluded.

“The questions you, Jessica, keep continuing to ask have been clarified,” Powers said Thursday. “We keep going back and forth this week, so at this point we can end this piece of the interviews.”

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