The Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) board has initiated an external review into recent allegations of impropriety by Supt. Dr. Joris M. Ray.
The allegations assert that Ray had multiple sexual relationships with MSCS employees. Published reports reflect Ray acknowledging in divorce proceedings that he has had extramarital affairs.
On Wednesday night, the full nine-member MSCS Board of Education met in an emergency executive session with contracted legal counsel Herman Morris.
“We have called for a full and complete review into these allegations,” said Michelle McKissack, MSCS board chair. “If there are allegations of impropriety against the superintendent, the sole position we oversee at the school district, then it’s our sworn obligation to look further into the allegations.”
The Board – over the next few days – will seek independent counsel to conduct the review, according to McKissack.
Ray will continue to serve as superintendent amid the review. Pending the outcome, the board will determine the next and appropriate steps.
A media release about the review included this reference: “Despite rumors and reports, the Board urges the community not to rush to judgment and to allow due process to play out. The Board is committed to uncovering the truth in support of MSCS employees and families.”
Ray issued a statement on Thursday.
“I’d like to express to this Board, the education community and the public that I am confident that my private actions have not broken any rules of conduct nor violated any policies,” said Ray, acknowledging that allegations in his “private divorce matter” were being discussed beyond the judicial system.
While a law firm works in his behalf regarding the divorce proceedings, Ray said he was focused on “the students, teachers, employees, and families of Memphis-Shelby County Schools. I know that our School Board is also focused on ensuring the efficiency of our District and the well-being of our students and staff, and they have my full cooperation in those pursuits.”
Ray’s statement also reflected what he called “respect (for) the Board’s oversight responsibility to conduct due diligence as it relates to allegations of violations of policies” adding that he welcomed “a fair investigation of my adherence to the policies of Memphis-Shelby County Schools.
“I will cooperate with the investigation in every way possible. I apologize that my private life has become a public distraction from the serious educational work that remains to be done. I will refrain from further public comment on the matter.”
In a statement on the investigation issued through school district communications Thursday afternoon,