In a twist of events no one in the education community could have predicted, the former chief counsel of Memphis City Schools is now the interim superintendent of the Unified system.
In a news conference Wednesday, Dorsey Hopson said he wanted to show the public that despite all the change and chaos, the hard work of running and merging the school system hasn't stopped.
Hopson, the former MCS attorney turned superintendent, introduced his executive cabinet. He and outgoing Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken interviewed 40-plus candidates to arrive at this group for Hopson's cabinet.
Six come from the Memphis City Schools, and four from Shelby county Schools. None are holdovers from former MCS Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash's administration, who brought with him from his last job in Florida. Dr. Cash's contract as MCS superintendent was bought out in January.
Hopson says their emphasis will be on merging the district and trying to get the city of Memphis to hand over the $57 million owed to the school system. Hopson says he's proposed a lesser settlement and a payment plan - with no response.
"It really is an issue of we all need to sit down at the table and see if we can get something worked out," he said. "Because it would be nice to reach some agreement and have some of the money from the settlement come in and close some of the budget gap."
Although he has taken over for both Dr. Cash and Aitken, Hopson says he will not be applying for the permanent superintendent position.
"We understand why people miss him," Hopson said of Aitken, who left as SCS superintendent in the past week. "We miss him, but given the gravity and the magnitude of the work that has to be done, we miss him, but the work goes on. This is bigger than any one person."
The school board has asked the national search firm to have a new superintendent in place this summer.