Apr 26, 2022 - News

DeKalb County school board fires superintendent

Illustration of a burning chalkboard.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The DeKalb County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to fire Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris.

Driving the news: Watson-Harris' contract was terminated Tuesday during a virtual meeting. Vasanne Tinsley, who previously served as DeKalb's deputy superintendent of Student Support & Intervention, will be interim superintendent.

Board Chair Vickie Turner said in a statement the board appreciates Watson-Harris' service, and members "wish her the best in her future endeavors."

  • “The board has the utmost confidence in Dr. Tinsley serving as the interim superintendent," she said. "The board remains fully committed to an open and transparent process and supporting the students of DCSD.”

Catch up quick: DeKalb school board members have come under fire for their handling of serious infrastructure issues at Druid Hills High School.

  • Board members seemed set to move on a resolution to modernize the nearly 100-year-old school, but last week voted to broaden their approach and focus on the most serious issues at all of the district's schools.
  • Following the vote, Watson-Harris said she wished the district had more time to assess the board's new direction so "we weren’t making unfulfilled promises as we have been accused of as a school system."

The conditions of Druid Hills High School prompted members of the state Department of Education's facilities team to tour the building.

  • On Monday, State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods wrote a letter criticizing the school board over its inaction.

The board's decision also comes hours after Turner wrote in response to Woods' letter that the superintendent is "empowered to promptly address" issues that threaten the health and safety of students.

Flashback: Watson-Harris was hired in July 2020 to serve as the superintendent of DeKalb County schools, which has about 93,000 students, Georgia Department of Education data shows.

  • She previously served as the first deputy chancellor of the New York City Department of Public Education, according to her LinkedIn profile.
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