Home Career Joris Ray managed two women with whom he allegedly had affairs

Joris Ray managed two women with whom he allegedly had affairs

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Memphis-Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray managed at least two women with whom his wife claims he had affairs, personal files show.

Employee performance evaluation documents from 2005, 2008 and 2009, obtained by Chalkbeat on July 29 through public requests, show that Ray was the direct supervisor of one of the three women who are said to have had sexual relations with him in the divorce filings.

Rae became the Alternative Schools Coordinator in 2002 and later became the Head of the Office of Alternative Schools in 2006. The woman’s 2008 and 2009 personnel records do not list the woman’s job title, but she held several roles, including as a receptionist, secretary, and administrative assistant in various district offices while working in the district from August 2001 to October 2018.

The woman received high marks from Ray in all performance reviews. Ray gave her a 30 out of 35 in a review in June 2005 while she was working as a receptionist, calling her a “dedicated and loyal employee”.

“She far exceeds the job knowledge for this position,” Wray wrote. “I would not hesitate to recommend her for any desired position.”

Ray gave Woman a 4.4 out of 5 in a June 2008 review and a 4.7 in a July 2009 review. In the woman’s personal file, there are no reviews for 2006 and 2007. It is also not known when she resigned from the Office of Alternative Schools, but her first response was in the district’s policy department in August 2011.

Earlier this week The Commercial Appeal informed another of the three women was Rae’s subordinate in 2004, when she is said to have signed a non-disclosure agreement about their affair. Chalkbeat obtained these records.

The chronology and other details of the two alleged affairs are unclear, so it is not known whether the alleged affairs took place while Ray was supervising the women. Ray admitted to having sex outside of marriage with three women in recent divorce court documents, but the documents do not specify when the alleged relationship took place, other than referring to an NDA signed by one of the women in January 2004.

Robert Spence Jr., an attorney representing Ray, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. In a statement to Chalkbeat earlier this month, Spence said “the allegations made in the court filings should not be taken as true.”

It’s also unclear whether any of the alleged cases fall within the scope of the school board’s investigation. Asked if the scope of the investigation had changed, board chairwoman Michelle McKissack said: “At the direction of our legal counsel, the board has to limit comment while the investigation is ongoing.”

The district’s current policy “strongly discourages romantic or sexual relationships between a supervisor or other supervisory employee and their employees,” according to the district employee handbookciting the risk of actual or perceived conflict of interest, favoritism and bias.

The policy also requires parties to disclose information about any relationship to supervisors. On July 14, Chalkbeat filed a public records request asking the school district whether Ray disclosed such a relationship. On Friday afternoon, the district replied that it does not have such documents.

Ray previously denied violating any district policies.

The school board also has a politicians, passed in 2017, which outlines the code of ethics to which the superintendent must adhere. The code requires the superintendent to “adhere to standards of exemplary professional conduct” and includes the following statement, which the superintendent must sign: “I will endeavor to perform my professional duties with honesty and integrity.”

On July 13, the MSCS board voted 7-2 initiate an external investigation about whether Ray abused his power and violated the district’s co-worker policies during his tenure as superintendent. By the same vote, the board selected former U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III to lead the investigation and appointed Herman Morris Jr. as a consultant to the board before, during and after the investigation.

Ray, who served as superintendent of Tennessee’s largest school district for more than three years, remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. John Barker, deputy head of strategic operations and finance, and Angela Whitelaw, deputy head of schools and academic support, serve in his place.

Samantha West is a reporter for Chalkbeat Tennessee, where she covers K-12 education in Memphis. Contact Samantha at swest@chalkbeat.org.

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