DeKalb NAACP: Removing superintendent ‘harms the district’(left to right) Merrill White and Lance Hammonds talk at the DeKalb Strong Candidate Forum at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker, Ga. on April 30, 2016. (photo by Rebecca Breyer/freelance photographer)
DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County School Board on April 26 fired Superintendent Cheryl Watson Harris.
Reaction to the firing was swift and overwhelmingly against the board’s decision. State Sen. Elena Parent called on the governor and state school superintendent to investigate the district.
This morning, the DeKalb County NAACP also spoke out against the move.
Lance Hammonds, President of NAACP DeKalb County, said, “The Revolving Door of superintendents does not benefit our children and puts our district certification at risk. The firing of Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris continues the Board of Education’s trend of providing short-term leadership for our school district.”
Watson-Harris’ firing followed a period of turmoil for the district surrounding a proposed renovation project for Druid Hills High. The school board has repeatedly blocked that project, doing so even after students at the high school released a video showing the unsafe and unsanitary conditions in their building.
The board gave no explanation for the superintendent’s firing.
Here’s the full statement from the DeKalb County NAACP:
Lance Hammonds, President of NAACP DeKalb County, says “The Revolving Door of superintendents does not benefit our children and puts our district certification at risk. The firing of Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris continues the Board of Education’s trend of providing short-term leadership for our school district.
The Board of Education has two primary jobs: approve the budget and hire the superintendent.
In the last 25 years, Dekalb School District has had Johnny Brown, Crawford Lewis, Cheryl Atkinson, Michael Thurmond, Ramona Tyson (twice once as interim), Steven Green, Rudy Crew, a fumbled attempt that cost the district $750,000, Cheryl Watson-Harris who was fired yesterday who we must pay out the remainder of her contract with taxpayer dollars and now an interim superintendent, Vasanne Tinsley.
That’s 10 superintendents in the last 25 years in DeKalb County. Compare that to the Gwinnett County School District. What has been the difference between Gwinnett and DeKalb schools? Gwinnett up until 2021 had the same School Superintendent for 25 years! They had consistent leadership with the time and resources to improve the academics of their district. When I moved to DeKalb in 1984, with my 2-year-old daughter, I asked the realtor where the best schools in the Metro area and they all said Dekalb County. The Superintendent at that time served from 1980-to 1996, with 16 years of consistent leadership.
Gwinnett has been very consistent in improving their academic performance, while our school district has underperformed because of revolving leadership. The only constant in the rocky relationships between our ten superintendents has been our Boards of Education. This is an election year, and the citizens of DeKalb must be committed to electing better school board members, that’s how we get the right superintendent to serve our children.
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