MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Shelby County Schools will not start the new school year with a new superintendent as promised.

After months of searching and narrowing down candidates, Memphis Shelby County School board members decided during Thursday night’s retreat that they will not have a superintendent hired by August 7th. 

“We will not have a superintendent by the first day of school,” said Joyce Dorse Coleman from District 9.

Tomeka Hart Wigginton, former Memphis City Schools Board member, asked if anybody thought they would have someone in the position by August 7, to which the board members replied, “No.” 

The board initially planned to have a new superintendent hired this summer. 

Sheleah Harris, “I think it’s a disservice to the community. It’s a disservice to all stakeholders, but it’s on us.  So, I just hate that this is the case. There’s nothing that we can do about it.”

During the retreat, the board spent time breaking down a list of candidate qualifications to present to the search firm, which included finding someone who has a proven track record, a background in budgeting and financing and is a strong academic visionary.

“I don’t know if one person exists that has all of these at a high level that we’re probably expecting,” Harris said.

Michelle Robinson McKissack from District 1 gave her opinion. “Part of the problem was that we had not conducted a Superintendent search in well over a decade. I say a national one, and so it unearthed all these problems that no one anticipated.”

It was even discussed whether the board would reopen the candidate pool. There are three top contenders, including interim superintendent Toni Williams– who once said she was not interested in the role permanently.

Hart, who facilitated the meeting, mentioned reopening the pool could add at least 21 days to the process. 

“I feel like we are running, and we’re going in the right direction, but I still feel like we’re in molasses,” said Harris.

Board members say they will meet next Friday to determine what steps they need to take regarding the interim superintendent’s contract and whether they plan on sticking with the same search firm.

A decision on a possible new timeline is expected to be made during a special called meeting on June 13.