VOL. 127 | NO. 120 | Wednesday, June 20, 2012
School Board Votes Not To Renew Cash's Contract
By Bill Dries
The countywide school board voted Tuesday, June 19, not to renew the contract of Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash past August 2013 when it is scheduled to run out.
The 14-8 vote came during two back-to-back school board meetings covering five hours in which the board also agreed to talk more about a process for selecting the superintendent of the consolidated school system to come at a meeting next week.
The board also voted down a similar contract non-renewal motion involving Shelby County Schools superintendent John Aitken whose contract runs through August of 2015.
“I don’t know what they did,” Cash said initially as he left the meeting. “I really don’t.”
He also said he would be talking with his attorney. Cash’s attorney has been talking with the board’s legal counsel in contract buyout talks that began last December and have paused at least twice since then including when Cash applied to be superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina.
School board attorney Dorsey Hopson told the board Tuesday evening that a vote for non renewal of Cash’s contract triggers a contract clause in which Cash can move to have the school system buy out the remainder of his contract.
Cash said he hoped for about a four-month selection process in which he and Aitken could compete for the job with other applicants as well.
“Most folks who have an opinion about me haven’t engaged me, haven’t heard me. And vice-versa. Folks that know John, they probably know him based on a perception in terms of this community – the Memphis side. In Shelby, they don’t know me. I think we missed out on that opportunity,” Cash said. “There could be someone else out there who wants to apply at this time. I think we should get the very best person. And, of course personally, I would think that would be me. But I won’t get a chance to probably be in that process after tonight. We’ll see.”
The 14 “yes” votes for the non-renewal of Cash’s contract were: board chairman Billy Orgel, Snowden Carruthers, Chris Caldwell, Kevin Woods, Dr. Jeff Warren, David Pickler, Betty Mallott, Raphael McInnis, Joseph Clayton, Mike Wissman, Reginald Porter Jr., Ernest Chism and Sara Lewis.
The eight “no” votes were: Vanecia Kimbrow, Stephanie Gatewood, Tomeka Hart, Diane George, Patrice Robinson, Martavius Jones, Teresa Jones and Freda Williams.
The board vote doesn’t mean Aitken is the merger superintendent. Board members could ultimately vote to hold a national or local search and even hire a firm to conduct the search. The idea of holding a search was vigorously debated before the board voted on Cash’s contract and then Aitken’s. Some board members argued a search is the only way to guarantee the best choice to head the school system. Other board members argued there isn’t enough time and the best choice to take both school systems through the next year of transition into the first school year of the merger is a superintendent already familiar with the school systems.