#Update: July 17, 2020

Today, I suspended my School Board campaign and I call for supporters to vote for Sheleah Harris For District 5 School Board. I call for incumbent Scott McCormick to do the same.

The transcript from the announcement is below:

During the first day of early voting, candidates join efforts for Shelby County School Board. Students, parents, and teachers need effective and committed Board leadership.

As COVID-19 continues to surge and disproportionately impact the Hispanic community and other vulnerable populations, I must give my undivided attention to this crisis. When I decided to run for the Shelby County School Board, I hoped by summer the virus spread would be decreased. Unfortunately, that is not the case and at Latino Memphis, we must redouble our efforts working with government, private, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to support the people most adversely affected by the dire consequences of the pandemic.

The 100,000 students starting school next month need and deserve Board members able to immediately devote the necessary energy and attention to duties that have never been more important. Unfortunately, because of the ongoing and surging pandemic, I cannot guarantee that I can be that person at this time. Right now, Latino Memphis needs a laser-focused leader and so does District 5. Our children are in need of a proven dedicated leader. A leader with a track record in public education, advocacy for children, and government relations. This is why today I am officially suspending my campaign and asking my supporters and all voters in District 5 to elect Sheleah Harris, who has been rightfully endorsed by Stand for Children, the Labor Council, and others.

As a Black woman, Sheleah understands the importance of representation and her presence would add another impressive woman into the ranks of public service in Memphis and Shelby County. As we have seen during the pandemic and in the widespread cries for justice, some of this country’s most effective and trusted political leaders are women of color. I call on my fellow Memphians to please make every effort to vote and take this opportunity to support Sheleah Harris.

With this announcement, I have three calls to action:

  1. Clear the way. To incumbent Scott McCormick, I ask you to join me and step aside to clear the way so our kids, including my three children, can receive the active, dedicated representation they deserve from a Board member. I recognize that you have dedicated many years to public service, however, you have failed at bringing the necessary leadership and sense of urgency so needed for our students. At this moment, District 5, our school system, our city, and our county need an energetic leader with a new perspective not encumbered and committed to the status quo.
  2. Better representation for ALL students. Sheleah has committed to truly represent ALL students when making decisions, and I ask all current and future Board members to do the same. Today, approximately 15% of all SCS students are Latinx and many more also come from families of new and aspiring Americans. This makes our region richer and the potential benefit to our community will be even greater by being intentional to address their educational needs. Consider that of the 200+ schools in the district, only one has a Hispanic principal. My three kids attend public schools and it was last year that our oldest, Anna, a sophomore in Crosstown High, had a Hispanic teacher for the first time in her life. Her two middle-school siblings, Carolina and Santiago, have never had a Hispanic teacher or school leader.
  3. Importance of Voting for Change. The August election could be overlooked and bring a record low turnout for many reasons -- the pandemic, confusion over absentee voting, media attention to the November general election. Today, on the first day of early voting, we must be clear and emphatic about the importance of this election. If you feel that our education system is on track, do nothing, or vote for the incumbent. We are talking about 200 schools, over 100,000 students, our region’s second-largest employer, and an annual budget of over a billion dollars, almost twice the size of our city’s budget. Sheleah Harris will bring a fresh perspective informed by her own experiences as a student and educator in Shelby County Schools, and an emerging leader at one of our community’s most respected businesses.