MSCS school board launches investigation into Superintendent Joris Ray

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis-Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray has reportedly had multiple extramarital affairs with employees of the school district he leads.

In divorce documents obtained by FOX13, Ray is accused of having relationships outside of his marriage with possible former and current employees of the school district.

Ray’s wife filed for divorce last year.

In the documents, Ray’s wife even revealed a non-disclosure agreement in one of the relationships.

She alleged that district staff set up and participated in meetings with women for Ray outside of his marriage.

At least two of the women named in the court documents have been employed by MSCS within the last five years.

FOX13 is not disclosing anyone named in those documents at this time, and we are continuing to comb through them.

The affairs date back to 2004.

Ray’s wife said she could present evidence to the court showing Delta plane tickets to Atlanta with the Superintendent’s name on them and one of the women named in the filing.

MSCS held an emergency executive session Wednesday night.

MSCS released the following statement Thursday:

During an emergency executive session last night, the full nine-member Board for Memphis-Shelby County Schools met with contracted legal counsel Herman Morris. It was recommended to begin an external review into recent allegations of impropriety by MSCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray.

“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.”

McKissack says the Board determined Superintendent Ray can continue to serve in the current role as the review is conducted. Pending the outcome of the review, the Board will determine the next and appropriate steps. 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.

Over the next few days, McKissack says the Board will seek independent counsel to conduct the review. McKissack will have virtual press availability today, July 7, from 2 - 5 p.m. to answer any outstanding questions, but per Morris’ guidance, the Board will then refrain from any further public comment on the issue until the review is complete. To request an interview, please email the media contacts above.

Supt. Ray also released a statement:

Recently, some have watched as a personal family matter has played out publicly. Divorces are hard. I have hired a law firm who I’ve been working with, and they are focused on that personal matter.

My focus is 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.

As Superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools, I understand that my public actions are subject to scrutiny by the School Board, members of the community, and the media. As a matter of principle, I strive to represent the District, faculty, staff, students, and parents with integrity and professionalism.

I am aware that on rare occasion, the personal and professional aspects of a public figure’s life intersect. In this case, allegations asserted in my private divorce matter have been made public and are being discussed outside the confines of the judicial system. As such, 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.

I respect the Board’s oversight responsibility to conduct due diligence as it relates to allegations of violations of policies and welcome 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.