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Memphis schools superintendent resigns during investigation

August 24, 2022 GMT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The superintendent of Tennessee’s largest school district has resigned as he was being investigated by an outside attorney for allegations that he abused his power and violated policies.

The Shelby County School Board accepted the resignation of Joris Ray during a specially called meeting Tuesday evening, officials said in a news release. Ray was appointed to lead Memphis-Shelby County Schools in 2019 and he had worked in the district for more than 24 years.

The board had suspended Ray during an investigation stemming from allegations made in divorce proceedings between Ray and his wife, who is also a school district employee.

A board resolution says it took action “to review the allegations to determine whether Superintendent Ray, during his tenure as Superintendent, engaged in relationships with District employees violative of MSCS policies.”

The investigation was being led by former U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III.

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In a statement posted on Twitter, Ray thanked colleagues for their “many, many small but powerful acts of devotion and commitment.”

“I’m deeply grateful to have had the honor to lead the very school district where I was nurtured and educated by loving and compassionate teachers,” Ray said.

Ray navigated the 100,000-student district through the coronavirus pandemic, “improved benefits and pay for teachers and staff, and championed initiatives that helped students recover from pandemic learning loss,” the district said.

The district also made gains in the state-mandated TCAP exams, officials said.

Two deputy superintendents assumed Ray’s responsibilities during his suspension. Board members will discuss plans to find the next superintendent, the district said.