Cash came to Memphis in the summer of 2008 and has been something of a lightning rod. He is given credit for raising TCAP and ACT scores and graduation rates, creating in-school health clinics, and helping the district win a $90 million Bill and Melinda Gates grant for teacher effectiveness.
His personal style, including using a personal driver, and pushing to create an MCS police department drew criticism.
The board determined that Cash will serve in an advisory capacity through the end of his contract, July 31st. He will then receive six months' severance plus moving expenses ($17,000).
Cash’s resignation will reduce the number of the county’s school superintendents to one: John Aitken, holdover superintendent of Shelby County Schools. The current city and county school systems will merge in August, and the formal withdrawal of Cash boosts Aitken’s prospects to become permanent superintendent of the new Unified District.
Aitken’s contract was extended by the former Shelby County board through 2015. The Unified board has meanwhile begun a formal search for a full-time permanent superintendent of the new Unified District, setting a provisional hiring deadline of next month. Aitken may therefore become at least a temporary default answer to the search, given that his contract runs for two more years.
The suburban municipalities of Shelby County have served notice that they will continue to seek pathways toward forming independent districts for their public schools after that date – perhaps through legislation extending and easing requirements to form charter schools.
U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays recently struck down state legislation permitting the municipalities to form independent new districts of the conventional sort as soon as the 2013-14 school year, and a provision of the Norris-Todd Act of 2011 which would permit later formation of such districts also appears vulnerable to Mays’ continuing judicial review.