MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray has written a letter to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association outlining concerns he, parents and other district stakeholders have with their guidelines regarding athletics during the pandemic.
He announced the creation of an “exploratory committee” that will look into the district’s continued participation in the TSSAA.
Ray said the TSSAA’s decision to permit students across the state to participate in athletics with the addition of new protocols lacked scientific evidence, did not consider various counties in Tennessee and did not ensure the health and safety of children.
He wrote in part:
“As the leader of the state’s largest school district, I have grown increasingly concerned by the TSSAA’s inattention to equity and the impact of antiquated rules and regulations that penalize our students, particularly students of color from disadvantaged homes and neighborhoods.
I know that the City of Memphis is committed to being a premier destination for high school, college and professional sports competition; yet, the TSSAA repeatedly insists our student-athletes travel hours form their homes for play that is frequently less competitive and severely less diverse, limiting the ability for parents and community alike to support their cherished teams.”
As the superintendent of the largest school district in Tennessee, Ray said he had more than 100,000 children enrolled in his district, more than 90% of those students are children of color and more than 60% are disadvantaged.
Ray said based on financial records, the district along with parents are seeing $150,000 in additional costs each year creating a financial burden. He also mentioned the lack of representation on the TSSAA Board of Control for the urban district.
He says the district and its students cannot rely on the TSSAA to consider them or their interests.
Ray said the committee will return a recommendation to him this fall regarding the future of SCS’s participation in TSSAA.
This story will be updated.