A closer look into the background of Shelby County’s first Director of Education

Closer look into Cedrick Gray's background

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Doctor Cedrick Gray has been named Shelby County’s first Director of Education and is already on the job.

According to Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, commissioners do not have to approve of Gray’s hiring.

Harris said the offices that require commission approval are laid out in the county charter and this isn’t one of them.

“That’s where we sit as a county, you’ve got somebody who’s homegrown, the best experience there.. these things have got to be based on their credentials,” said Harris.

Gray served as a principal in Memphis, then superintendent of Fayette County Schools.

In 2012, the district's budget and alleged overspending became the focus of multiple news stories.

WMC pulled a 2012 Fayette County audit from the Tennessee Comptroller.

Auditors wrote in a comment, "It does not appear that the budget was monitored or adhered to at any time during the audit period…"

Multiple Fayette County school staff members also got raises ranging from 17 to 65 percent.

Auditors also wrote, "These and other salaries, which include excessive supplements, appear to be unreasonable and the totals compensated are questionable."

Gray left Fayette County Schools to lead Jackson Public Schools in Mississippi.

He presided over district gains there but left in 2016 after this state audit found violations with state accreditation standards. Auditors also questioned his leadership.

When asked about the situation in Jackson, Gray said the following:

“I knew at that point we needed to have wholesale change in the district. The school board did not agree with those wholesale changes, so we agreed to disagree.”

County Commission Chairman Van Turner said he's aware of Gray's background, but it should not stop him from serving.

“I’m comfortable that he has addressed those issues and concerns and I think he will be good in the position he’s been nominated for,” said Turner.

Gray said he has learned from previous experiences and is glad to be handling education-related issues for the county.

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