AJC Annouces New DeKalb School Board Superintendent

DeKalb School Board

DeKalb School Board
Big news from the DeKalb School Board: Cheryl Atkinson is out after just a short stay as the Superntendent of DeKalb County Schools. Former Georgia labor commissioner Michael Thurmond is in as the new Interim DeKalb County School Superintendent.

As reported by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution:

After first failing to muster a majority, the DeKalb school board tried a second time Friday and by a 5-4 vote approved a separation agreement that pays Atkinson $114,583 to leave.

Then, they voted 7-2 to approve an employment agreement with Michael Thurmond, a former Georgia lawmaker who went on to become state labor commissioner.

Thurmond will be paid the same $275,000 salary Atkinson got, and will receive three months’ pay if the DeKalb board replaces him before his year-g contract expires.

He said he had no interest in holding the position long-term. Thurmond said the search for a permanent superintendent would begin immediately and he would leave as soon as one is found.

The transition at the top of a system that educates almost 100,000 students comes at a perilous moment. An accrediting agency has threatened to strip DeKalb’s accreditation, alleging a multitude of governance sins by the school board.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accused the board of nepotism and financial mismanagement, among other things, and placed the system on accreditation probation in December. That triggered a provision in state law allowing removal of the school board. The board goes before the Georgia Board of Education for a hearing on the matter on Feb. 21.

If the state board recommend it, Gov. Nathan Deal would have authority to remove all nine DeKalb board members. Neither Deal nor the state board chairwoman had comments about that.

Atkinson’s separation document and official statements describe the break as a mutual agreement, but she wasn’t around to comment. She’s been absent since her father died Jan. 23.”

Thurmond is a professional politician and many are skeptical of his ability to lead the DeKalb County School system – the third largest in the state.  Others are concerned about his close ties with DeKalb County School Board Chair Eugene Walker.  

Hmmm.  I wonder what this does for the State Board’s concerns about the ability of the DeKalb County School Board to 
meet SACs demands for certification.  I am guessing the Thurmond move will not impress the State Board.