Call to Action on Superintendent Contract

Something has come to my attention that requires immediate citizen action. In the message (click for link) that I sent earlier this week, I told you about the DeKalb County School System’s choice of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson to be the new superintendent of schools.

Embedded in the proposed contract between Dr. Atkinson and the school system is the following, very troubling termination clause:

“The BOARD, upon a three-fourths (3/4) vote of its members, may at its option unilaterally terminate this Contract for its convenience by giving the SUPERINTENDENT a minimum of ninety (90) days written notice of termination at any time. In the event of such termination, the BOARD shall pay to the SUPERINTENDENT severance pay, either all of the aggregate salary she would have earned under this Contract from the actual date of termination to the termination date set forth in this Contract, or a sum equivalent to twelve (12) months of the annual base salary as stated in Paragraph 4 of this Contract, whichever is less.”

You read that correctly. The DeKalb County Board of Education proposes to require a three-fourths (3/4) supermajority of its members to terminate the new superintendent’s contract.

That makes it difficult to fire a superintendent whose performance is lackluster. The contract should provide for termination upon a simple majority vote. Our school board is failing us on this one.

The school board has a poor track record of picking superintendents. Our most recent superintendent, Crawford Lewis, was indicted. The superintendent before him, Johnny Brown, was a failure and released from the position. Why on earth would our school board want to make it more difficult to dismiss a superintendent who is failing our children?

The three-fourths termination clause, standing alone, is terrible. When viewed in context with DeKalb’s history of hiring bad superintendents, it’s unconscionable. And if Dr. Atkinson won’t come to DeKalb without the three-fourths clause in her contract, we don’t need her.

Please take a minute to call or e-mail the members of the board of education and ask them to rewrite the termination clause to allow the superintendent to be released by simple majority vote of the school board. Here is their contact information:

Tom Bowen, Chairman
(404) 392-1621
[email protected]

Paul Womack, Vice Chairman
(404) 680-8790
[email protected]

Sarah Copelin-Wood
(404) 371-1490
[email protected]

Jay Cunningham
(404) 392-3091
[email protected]

Donna Edler
(404) 394-1238
[email protected]

Nancy Jester
(404) 394-8750
[email protected]

Don McChesney
(404) 664-2458
[email protected]

Pam Speaks
(404) 931-7971
[email protected]

Eugene Walker
(404) 593-5095
[email protected]

I am told that some of the school board members would prefer that the contract provision be eliminated, but a majority of the school board is intent on proceeding with the contract as written. You can read the full contract by clicking here.

Please consider forwarding this message to your neighbors and urging them to take action.

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