The DeKalb County School System has announced its choice to be the new superintendent of schools: Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, the current superintendent of the Lorain, Ohio city schools.
This choice is cause for concern. The school system in Lorain, Ohio has approximately 8,000 students. DeKalb County has approximately 98,000 students. Plus, Dr. Atkinson lacks a clear track record of improving student achievement in her present school district.
The board of education had other choices and attempted to negotiate with two candidates hailing from larger school systems. Details of those talks were leaked by someone with inside knowledge of the process in an effort to scuttle the negotiations.
Unfortunately, this tactic succeeded.
Senator Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), and I — among others — lent our support to Brad Bryant, a former member of the DeKalb County Board of Education and State Board of Education and former State Superintendent of Schools, whom we hoped would be named to the post on an interim basis. This would have been similar to the stabilizing role that Erroll Davis, the former Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, is currently playing as the interim superintendent for the Atlanta Public Schools.
This suggestion was ignored.
Dr. Atkinson likely will arrive in DeKalb following a non-unanimous vote of the school board. Board members Nancy Jester and Don McChesney already have announced that they disagree with the choice. Click here to read what they had to say.
I encourage you to review the facts and, if you agree with Nancy Jester and Don McChesney, contact the other school board members. This is a crucial decision for a school system that is standing at a crossroads with its SACS accreditation on the line. Click here for contact details for the school board.
For further information, please click here for a blog post about an upcoming opportunity to meet Dr. Atkinson this Saturday, August 27, and for details about her proposed contract.