MSCS board chair re-elected, longtime teacher union leader unseats recent appointee

Longtime teacher union leader Keith Williams unseated incumbent Charles Everett in the Memphis-Shelby County Schools election for District 6, encompassing Whitehaven and South Memphis, marking the second change in representation for the region this year.

Two other incumbents, board chair Michelle McKissack and Joyce Dorse-Coleman, were re-elected to the district's school board, which recently called an external investigation of its superintendent and placed him on paid leave.

Two other seats on the nine-member board will turn over this fall, making for an eventual three new members.

Longtime board member Billy Orgel did not run for re-election, paving the way for Amber Huett-Garcia to secure the District 8 East Memphis seat in an uncontested election.

Miska Clay Bibbs, another longtime school board member, secured her seat on the Shelby County Commission in May when she won the Democratic nomination in the unchallenged race. The commission will be tasked with appointing a successor to her District 7 seat, encompassing southern Shelby County, later this summer or early fall.

It is possible this newly elected board will be the group to review the first findings of the external investigation into the district's superintendent, Joris Ray, who the board placed on paid leave in July. The board has yet to announce when the findings are expected or named a date for inaugurating new board members.

McKissack was "excited and honored" by her re-election, she told The Commercial Appeal Thursday evening, adding she would listen to the community and do "all that I can to strengthen our school district.”

Inauguration of new board members will come at an undetermined date later this August. Edward L. Stanton III, lead on the external investigation, has been reviewing documents and completing interviews, McKissack said.

McKissack said she did not have a timeline for when the investigation will complete, adding "a lot can happen between now and when (new board members) are formally sworn in in a few weeks.”

Whether the initial findings come before inauguration or after, the board as elected Thursday will likely see the investigation to a close, and in the process determine the future of the district's leadership.

Dorse-Coleman, Everett and Williams could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

In April, Huett-Garcia told The Commercial Appeal she was "honored to be on the ballot and eager to represent District 8."

MSCS District 1

Michelle McKissack, current MSCS board chair, retained her District 1 seat, receiving 46% of the vote.

Candidates and vote percentages are below, with the board member-elect in bold. The tallies reflect early voting totals and 18 of 18 District 1 precincts on Election Day:

  • Chris Caldwell, former school board member and vice president at Raymond James: 26%, 2,799 votes

  • Michelle McKissack, incumbent, current board chair who was elected to the board in 2018: 46%, 4,951 votes

  • Rachael Goodwin Spriggs, a member of Educational Equity who has worked with MSCS' research and equity departments: 27%, 2,919 votes

MSCS District 6

Charles Everett, appointed to the seat by the Shelby County Commission in March, lost his District 6 seat to Keith Williams. Williams received 42% of the vote.

More: Who will join the MSCS school board this month? Here's who could represent South Memphis

Candidates and vote percentages are below, with the board member-elect in bold. The tallies reflect early voting totals and 15 of 15 District 6 precincts on Election Day:

  • Charles Everett, incumbent, who has served on board of community development corporations and parent teacher associations: 16%, 1,785 votes

  • Timothy Green Jr., an education consultant and former teacher: 12%, 1,338 votes

  • Kenny Lee, talkshow host and among the leadership of The Ride of Tears: 5%, 559 votes

  • David Page, previous school board candidate, current neighborhood association president and former teacher's union president in West Memphis: 4%, 421 votes

  • Tiffani Perry, chief of staff at Rust College and former public information officer for MSCS: 22%, 2,492 votes

  • Keith Williams, longtime executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, the larger of two unions representing MSCS teachers: 42%, 4,760 votes

MSCS District 8

Amber Huett-Garcia will be the new board member for District 8.

Longtime board member Billy Orgel did not run for re-election, paving the way for Huett-Garcia to win an uncontested election.

More: Developer Billy Orgel won't seek school board re-election, state official could run uncontested

Originally from central Illinois, Huett-Garcia has lived in Memphis for the last decade. She was most recently the senior director of Student and Family Supports Comprehensive Planning with the Tennessee Department of Education.

After a failed campaign in 2018 for the District 86 seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives, Huett-Garcia became a board member on First 8 Memphis, the early childhood education group that works with local government on preschool initiatives.

She was a 2019 Public Policy fellow with Leadership for Education Equity, where she worked in Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris' office with Cedrick Gray, the county's education director.

MSCS District 9

Joyce Dorse-Coleman was successfully re-elected for a second term, receiving 61% of the vote.

Candidates and vote percentages are below, with the board member-elect in bold. The tallies reflect early voting totals and 18 of 18 District 9 precincts on Election Day:

  • Joyce Dorse-Coleman, incumbent, who came to the board in 2018 as a parent teacher organization leader: 59%, 4,741 votes

  • Rebecca Jane Edwards, founder of an arts organization for under-resourced communities: 41%, 3,295 votes

Appointment slated for District 7

Miska Clay Bibbs, a longtime board member, was unchallenged in the general election for the District 11 seat on the Shelby County Commission.

Her departure from the school board will create the board's second vacancy this year. In February, longtime board member Shante Avant departed her South Memphis seat on the board to run for a county commission seat representing Cordova, a seat she won Thursday evening.

Everett, who has lost his seat to Williams, was appointed in her place in March.

The commission has not yet released a timeline for the District 7 vacancy appointment.

Once Clay Bibbs transitions to the county commission, the school board will continue with an even eight members until she has a replacement.

Laura Testino covers education and children's issues for the Commercial Appeal. Reach her at or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: MSCS school board: Recent appointee unseated, two incumbents re-elected