#TBT – Superintendent Search

A DeKalb School Board member said at the last school board meeting, “[The Emory Lavista Parent Council] wants the board to understand the history of Superintendent searches in DeKalb. All of which have gone extremely well from what I’ve heard.”  This #ThrowBack Thursday will pay homage to our previous Superintendents and the searches that brought them to us.
Current Superintendent Search Status
At the April 1 2014 Board Meeting, the board announced their plans to commence a superintendent search. The current Superintendent, Michael Thurmond, intends on completing the 2014-2015 school year, and the new Superintendent will start sometime in the summer of ’15.
At the September 8 2014 Board Meeting, we learned that on August 21 2014 an RFP for a national search firm was issued. The proposal deadline was Sept 16. Between now and the Oct 6 board meeting, the school board will conduct interviews with a list of finalist search firms picked by the administration.
#ThrowBack Thursday – Superintendents & Searches
2004: Superintendent Johnny Brown is replaced with Dr. Crawford Lewis with no formal Superintendent search.
2007:  Midst the racketeering and fraud, SACS fully accredits DeKalb Schools declaring, “Effective leadership at all levels”.  Superintendent Crawford Lewis is subsequently fired and charged with racketeering and theft.
2007-2011: DeKalb Schools is run by Lewis’ senior administration.
2011:  At the behest of SACS, DeKalb Schools begins a new Superintendent search.
The search for a new Superintendent, according to Don McChesney, is “the most arduous and difficult task I dealt with while on the Board”. The original search criteria, as McChesney goes on to say, was a superintendent with a track record of raising student achievement and removing central office bloat.
The board offered Dr. Lillie Cox a contract. That effort was thwarted by members of the board, according to 11 alive, “after details of her negotiations, including her requests for vacation time, severance and salary, were leaked to the media.”
Aug 2011: In the end, the board majority “lost focus on the students”. The board brought back Dr. Atkinson, whom they had passed on earlier. You can read letters to the public from McChesney and Nancy Jester about their thoughts on that decision.
Dec 2012: A lawsuit is filed against DeKalb Schools, “[accussing] the school system of violating the state open records law in failing to release Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s text messages”.
Feb 2013: DeKalb School Board approves by a vote of 5-4, a separation agreement that pays Atkinson $115K to leave.
Facing removal by the Governor, the board skips a formal Superintendent search and on the same day votes (7-2) to bring on Michael Thurmond as interim superintendent until a permanent Superintendent is found. The AJC reports, “Thurmond said the search for a permanent superintendent would begin immediately and he would leave as soon as one is found.”
Why Thurmond and whose idea was it?  Marshall Orson said, in the same AJC article,  ” he’s the one who brought up Thurmond’s name”. He had seen Thurmond speaking publicly and in small groups over the years, and was impressed.  Thurmond’s lack of a track record in education or any educational experience at all “seemed an asset”, said Orson.
Sep 2014:  The process of selecting a permanent Superintendent has begun.  The new Superintendent should take office in the Summer of 2015.
Superintendent Search Docs
Superintendent Search
Search Process Timeline for 2014-2015

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