FOX13 Exclusive: Alleged MSCS employee letter accuses deputy superintendent of discrimination

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 is learning more about an investigation into one of Memphis-Shelby County School’s deputy superintendents following employee complaints. This comes on the heels of the resignation of former Superintendent Joris Ray.

FOX13 has obtained an exclusive document that was said to be part of an email that was submitted Aug. 28 by an MSCS employee.

The 8-page letter highlights several complaints against Deputy Superintendent of Strategic Operations Dr. John Barker.

MORE: MSCS deputy superintendent placed on paid administrative leave

Although the correspondence has not been confirmed to be the document that caused the investigation, in the letter Barker is accused of intimidation and discrimination.

Back on Sept. 12, FOX13 learned that Barker had been placed on paid administrative leave due to an employee complaint pending review.

The letter was sent to Deputy Superintendent of Academics Dr. Angela Whitelaw, Cc’ed to MSCS Chief Legal Attorney Kenneth Walker, MSCS School Board Chair Michelle McKissack and Co-Chair Althea Greene. The document also shows the employee’s signature at the end of the letter.

Barker is accused of extreme discrimination, intimidation and continuous attempts to undermine the employee’s leadership, productivity and mental health.

The letter goes on to say, “I have experienced ongoing harassment, intimidation and discrimination by my direct supervisor Dr. John Barker, which has been exacerbated over the past few weeks.”

The letter offers up specific examples: “Dr. Barker makes me feel as though my voice does not matter and my thoughts are irrelevant as a black woman while taking close interest when white people offer comments and commentary.” The document further shared multiple alleged examples and allegations of discrimination, including claims that Barker allegedly hired an employee with less experience.

MORE: Dr. Joris Ray steps down as Memphis-Shelby County Schools superintendent

“He required that I type an offer letter that provided over $15,000 more than my salary. This employee had less experience and education than many black female members of the cabinet, yet paid more than many of us.”

The employee also alleged Barker hired a staff member at the top of the principal pay scale along with an additional $12,000-a-year stipend, alleging the staff member was allowed to skip the interview process, but still attained the job.

FOX13 reached out to board chair Michelle McKissack and co-chair Althea Greene; McKissack referred us to the district.

When we contacted the district, MSCS responded, “We do not comment on pending investigations.” In a previous comment, the district said it investigates all complaints lodged against employees. The complaints in the letter have not been confirmed by MSCS.