Dorsey Hopson announces that he's moving on from Shelby County Schools (Photo: Johnathan Martin/The New Tri-State Defender)

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II ended months of speculation Tuesday afternoon with a press conference announcing his resignation.

Whispered speculation over the past several months not only had him resigning from his SCS post, but rumblings also had him taking the state’s top education post under Governor-elect Bill Lee – a rumored reward for Hopson’s endorsement of the GOP candidate.

That was bogus.

Health-care conglomerate Cigna created a national position for Hopson “to help grow their business.” No other information was disclosed about the new job.

Hopson read from a prepared statement, calling his tenure as superintendent “quite a remarkable journey.”

Hopson joins Cigna at the beginning of next year. His resignation is effective January 8, 2019.

Secrecy surrounding the announcement with SCS staff was uncharacteristic of Hopson. The press conference was set up at his direction, but the subject of the event was not disclosed.

Shelby County Schools Board Chair Shante Avant said Hopson actually called her on Friday to share the news.

“After the call, Superintendent Hopson called each board member and spoke with them individually,” Avant said. “It’s still so early, we have not made any decisions regarding the search process, but we will as a body.

“Right now, we’re concentrating on appointing an interim until a permanent selection is made,” she said.

Hopson submitted his letter of resignation to the board early Tuesday morning. An interim will be named before school lets out for winter break.

“Frankly, I didn’t understand the secrecy, but we do wish Superintendent Hopson well,” said Keith Williams, executive director of the Memphis Shelby County Education Association. “We have to wait to see what the board decides, but we may actually need to do a national search. There are so many people in line for the position.

“Already, I’ve heard names floating around. Some are former school board members, but I won’t mention who they are. I am concerned about in-fighting if the search is only local.

“There are people who feel that they deserve the position,” he added. “In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a search is already underway. A national search may be the only way to go.”

Memphis Lift is a community-based organization of parents and guardians whose children attend schools deemed failing or low-performing. Executive Director Sarah Carpenter responded to news of the resignation by calling for an inclusive selection process.

“Parents should be part of the conversations about who will lead our schools next,” she sad. “Too many of our kids are still trapped in failing schools and being left behind, so our next superintendent has to be willing to work with parents to do better for our kids.”

Hopson became interim superintendent in 2013, and was given the permanent post when the school year began in September of that year. He was the legal counsel for Memphis City Schools at the time where his predecessor was Kriner Cash.

There was some pushback against his lack of practical education experience – he had little experience in the classroom or in school administration.

Hopson pushed back, touting his education in Memphis public schools and graduation from Whitehaven High School. He also pointed to his single mother who taught in the school system.