Superintendent David Dude leaving City Schools of DecaturFormer City Schools of Decatur superintendent David Dude. Image obtained from City Schools of Decatur
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA — The Decatur School Board has announced it is parting ways with Superintendent David Dude.
The board’s decision comes after months of investigative stories by Decaturish.com that examined allegations raised by the school district’s former human resources director.
“The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education and Dr. David Dude feel it is in the best interest of the school community and our stakeholders that we start anew as we begin our recovery from this terrible pandemic,” the School Board announced. “We mutually agree to amicably part ways, and both parties are looking forward to the future. The board thanks Dr. Dude for his nearly six years of service to the City Schools of Decatur and the greater City of Decatur community. Dr. Dude thanks current and past board members for their support through the years and is excited for opportunities to come.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Maggie Fehrman, who has been acting superintendent since Dude was placed on administrative leave earlier this month, will replace Dude, the School Board announced.
“The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education is proud to announce that Dr. Maggie Fehrman has been named the finalist for Superintendent of Schools,” the School Board’s announcement says. “The Board anticipates a vote on this decision at its May 11 regular meeting. If approved, a one-year contract will be approved for Dr. Fehrman.”
Dude has been under fire for weeks over allegations that he took more vacation than he was allowed under his contract. The claims were first raised in the lawsuit filed by the district’s former human resources director. Subsequent reporting by Decaturish revealed evidence to support the claims made in that lawsuit and also revealed that Dude’s most recent contract renewal made it harder and more expensive for the School Board to fire him. The board has since rescinded that contract and had planned to renegotiate it.
There have been five lawsuits filed against City Schools of Decatur on Dude’s watch, including the one filed by the former human resources director.
The School Board on April 15 unanimously voted to place Dude on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into Dude. That investigation is being conducted by the McGuire Woods firm. It’s unclear whether that investigation will be completed now that Dude is leaving the district.
David Adams, the district’s former human resources director, alleges in a lawsuit that Dude pushed him and former finance Director Susan Hurst out of the district after they raised questions about his time away from the office. They allege he violated of the Code of Ethics for Government Service. Misuse and misreporting of public funds would be a violation of the Georgia Professional Code of Ethics for Educators, according to the lawsuit.
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which certifies educators, on April 8 voted to remand complaint filed against Dude to the Decatur School Board. Public records show that since he became superintendent in 2015, Dude received $100,000 in additional compensation for cashing out the vacation days he said he didn’t use. While the nature of the PSC complaint is not clear, it likely stems from the allegations regarding his use of vacation time.
In addition, Decaturish discovered that when the board in September 2020 approved the now-rescinded contract, Dude’s PSC certification had lapsed because it had expired in June. Dude didn’t renew it until October. Dude’s contract makes it clear that maintaining this certification is a condition of Dude’s employment with the district.
A City Schools of Decatur spokesperson said the COVID-19 pandemic was the reason Dude’s certification lapsed. However, PSC did not cancel any reporting periods due to COVID-19.
Records provided by the district show that Dude was notified via email in April 2020 that his certification was about to expire.
Some CSD employees have alleged that he is often unreachable during the summer months. Evidence shows that during the summer of 2019, Dude was out of the office from June 11 through July 16, 2019. But according to vacation requests he entered into the school district’s payroll system, Dude’s only vacation days in the summer of 2019 were on July 12 and July 15.
His predecessor, Phyllis Edwards, said she was expected to work during the summer. She was expected to use her vacation days if she took time off during those breaks.
Dude has been responsible for documenting his own vacation since he was hired in 2015, but he input those vacation days into the district’s payroll system on Jan. 27 of this year in response to a records request from Decaturish.
Prior to joining CSD in 2015, Dude chief operating officer for the Iowa City Community School District.
Here is the full announcement from City Schools of Decatur:
City Schools of Decatur is announcing a leadership transition.
Here is a statement from the Board and Dr. Dude:
“The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education and Dr. David Dude feel it is in the best interest of the school community and our stakeholders that we start anew as we begin our recovery from this terrible pandemic. We mutually agree to amicably part ways, and both parties are looking forward to the future. The Board thanks Dr. Dude for his nearly six years of service to the City Schools of Decatur and the greater City of Decatur community. Dr. Dude thanks current and past Board members for their support through the years and is excited for opportunities to come.”
Here is the statement from the Board regarding the transition:
The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education is proud to announce that Dr. Maggie Fehrman has been named the finalist for Superintendent of Schools. The Board anticipates a vote on this decision at its May 11 regular meeting. If approved, a one-year contract will be approved for Dr. Fehrman.
“We are fortunate to have in Dr. Fehrman the leader City Schools of Decatur needs to ensure a continued focus on our students,” said Board Chair Tasha White. “We will not miss a beat as we finish this school year strong, focus this summer on remediation, and return to the classroom this fall with great confidence.”
Fehrman started her career in 2001, teaching 7th-grade social studies at Summerour Middle School in Gwinnett County. In 2005, she was promoted to assistant principal at Summerour. In 2009, she opened the new North Gwinnett Middle School as an assistant principal. In 2014, she became the principal of Bay Creek Middle school in Grayson before joining the City Schools of Decatur in 2018.
“I am humbled and honored to serve the students, staff, and community of Decatur,” said Dr. Fehrman. “I look forward to engaging with all stakeholder groups to ensure that our classrooms are a place where all students love learning and are challenged to meet the highest levels of success.”
This is a developing story and will be updated when more information becomes available.
Here are links to our previous stories about this issue:
Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.