MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson announced his resignation Tuesday.
Hopson says his resignation is effective Jan. 8, 2019. He is joining Cigna, a global health insurance service company, following his departure from SCS.
At a news conference, Hopson spoke at length about his family and how he sometimes felt like he was missing out since taking on his role. He gave his official resignation letter to the board Tuesday morning and said he’s been thinking about what’s next for him for quite some time.
"I would love to see this work to the finish line, but I feel confident that we have laid a strong foundation for the next leader of the Shelby County Schools,” Hopson said.
Hopson said deciding to resign from his role with Shelby County Schools was a difficult one. He said he’s proud of how far SCS has come in the last six years.
"We went from $100 million structural deficit to two years' worth of surplus,” Hopson said. “We went from laying off 2,000 people to giving people a living wage. From closing schools to building new schools in intercity Memphis."
However, Board Chair Shante Avant said Hopson and the Board have worked well together over the years.
“The superintendent and his team have not always gotten it right, but we’ve appreciated and acknowledged errors and transparency in the repair process,” Avant said. “I think it has made us stronger as a district.”
Hopson said he plans on spending more time with his family, but he assures he won't forget about his Shelby County Schools family.
"I’ll continue to be a Shelby County supporter as dad and chief and look forward to being a part of Shelby County Schools family from the outside,” Hopson said.
We also reached out to Cigna, which released the following statement on Hopson’s hiring:
Hopson has served as superintendent of SCS since 2013.
An interim superintendent will be named before the winter break.
One parent organization, Memphis Lift, said parents should be part of the conversation when it comes to picking the next superintendent.
"We're going to demand that we be at the table and we'll bring our own chair,” said Memphis Lift Director Sarah Carpenter.
Memphis Lift leaders want to be included in the conversation for Shelby County Schools’ next district leader. The organization demands high-quality schools and changes in public education to help students. They say they aren’t mad at Hopson for announcing his resignation, they simply want their voices heard moving forward.
“We want the best to take over that job,” Carpenter said. “Hate to lose Superintendent Hopson. We just built a good relationship with him and it’s like, ‘my god. What now?’”
"We need someone that is culturally aware of what’s happening here in Memphis and know how to produce problem solving efforts to our needs,” said Dianechia Fields, director of Public Advocate Fellowship for Memphis Lift.
Hopson assured the next leader of SCS will face challenges, but he’s confident the board will make a good decision.
"Most importantly from the interim perspective, somebody who can reassure the people doing the teaching and learning every day that things are going to be okay and however they get to that point, I’ll be here to support them,” Hopson said.
The school board will meet in executive session next week to talk about that process and what happens going forward.
"We have in capable hands board members who are going to be very thoughtful and intentional about the process of choosing an interim and then a successor,” Avant said.
When asked what he thinks will be a challenge moving forward for the district’s next leader, Hopson said the poverty in our area often impacts education.