Melrose (Memphis) football coach Teli White is serving his second suspension in connection with a grading scandal at Trezevant High School.
Shelby County Schools suspended White in June, according to an email sent from Superintendent Dorsey Hopson to school board members.
White, who was the head football coach at Trezevant at the time, previously served a five-day suspension when the district first investigated allegations of grade changing. New information caused the district to suspend him again pending the outcome of a more extensive, external investigation.
The current suspension is with pay.
In his email, dated June 21 and obtained by The Commercial Appeal on Wednesday, Hopson said White was on an “administrative suspension” and information was turned over to the third-party investigators.
According to the email, the new information was an interview a former Trezevant clerical employee did with a local television station.
Shirley Quinn, who resigned from the district before she could be terminated, had previously declined during the first investigation, in September, to name the person who had allegedly instructed her to alter students’ transcripts.
In her interview, Quinn implicated White, which Hopson said was new information that prompted the second suspension.
The district launched its second investigation into Trezevant after the school’s principal, Ronnie Mackin, resigned from the district in early June. Mackin issued a six-page, single-spaced letter alleging the district had covered up the grading scandal because the person who was really at fault was never held accountable.
The district hired an auditing firm to conduct a district-wide review of grade changing practices to ensure the problems found at Trezevant were isolated to that school. The district also hired three lawyers to look into Mackin’s extensive list of claims, some of which related to grade changing and others to school culture and financial allegations.
White, reached by phone Wednesday, referred all questions to the district.
The Commercial Appeal received White’s personnel file in a records request last week, but nearly half of the 134 pages were completely redacted, sent via email as black pages. The district did not provide an explanation for the redactions. If documentation of White’s suspension is in the file, it is not part of what was released publicly.
In November, the district released a report that said 33 active students at the time were found to have altered transcripts, and changes dated back to 2012. White was suspended for allegedly not cooperating with the investigation and for possessing altered transcripts on his computer.
White was named Melrose coach at the end of March. In his resignation letter, Mackin said he fired White from Trezevant.
White is arguably the most successful high school coach in the area, guiding Trezevant to four state championship game appearances since 2010. He coached the Bears to Class 2A state titles in 2015 and 2016; making Trezevant the only Shelby County Division 1 school to accomplish the feat.
Trezevant finished state runner-up in 2010 and 2014 when it was classified as a 4A school. White has a 91-38 record in his 10-year career.
Ron Davis, formerly of Sherwood Middle School, is coaching Melrose during White’s absence.