Replacement For Deputy Superintendent Irving Hamer One More Uncertainty For Memphis City Schools

Mar 15, 2012

Deputy Superintendent of the Memphis City Schools Irving Hamer resigned Monday after commenting on an employee’s breasts. The remarks happened at a party in February hosted by Hamer’s boss, Superintendent Kriner Cash. The party was at Cash’s house and many members of Memphis City Schools’ top brass were there.

The woman filed a complaint after Hamer further offended her in an email with the subject line: “Apology.” In that email Hamer said he could not blame his behavior on the two or three small drinks he’d had that night.

Hamer wrote, “The only explanation for my behavior was my failure to recognize where we were, what we were doing, who was in attendance, and being too familiar with you and our colleagues.” Hamer cc’ed 16 other school employees. The woman felt Hamer’s email implied they had a relationship outside the office and wrote in her complaint: “I am TOTALLY appalled by this statement! Dr Hamer is in NO WAY familiar with me under any circumstances!”

Superintendent Cash told an attorney hired to investigate that he believed Hamer had been intoxicated at the party for several reasons. The attorney then listed them in his report: “(1) Dr. Hamer’s nearly incoherent speech, (2) Dr. Hamer attempting to play music while Dr. Cash was speaking to those in attendance, and (3) Dr. Hamer falling to the floor on one occasion.”

Hamer was Superintendent Cash’s right-hand man. Cash worked with Hamer in the Miami-Dade school system and brought Hamer to Memphis. Hamer dealt with the details of Cash’s reform agenda.

“Irving Hamer was the guy who took these reforms, and the marching orders, to the teachers, to the principals, to the administrators at the school level. He was the one who walked in there and said, ‘This is the way it is going to be,’” said Senior Reporter for the Memphis Daily News Bill Dries.

When Hamer and Cash arrived there was no plan for consolidation with the Shelby County Schools, no Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded Teacher Effectiveness Initiative, and no federal Race to the Top funding in the Memphis City Schools.

“All of that has unfolded since Cash and Hamer came here,” Dries said.

The question of who will replace Hamer is one more uncertainty for a system facing many.