|DeKalb schools’ superintendent could be headed out|
|Friday, 01 February 2013 11:00 | Written by Valerie J. Morgan|
There is high speculation that DeKalb County Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson may soon be resigning from her post. The embattled Atkinson has come under fire as questions have arisen over her use of consultants.
Just days ago, a school administrator Atkinson hired resigned after he was accused of plagiarizing several parts of a 15-page audit addressing the district’s school safety and alternative programs. Ralph Taylor received a $10,000 contract to conduct the audit and then was given a $117,000-a-year job as associate superintendent for support services in December 2011. Atkinson and Taylor knew one another from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district, where they both previously held jobs before coming to DeKalb. Taylor resigned from the DeKalb district on Jan. 28 after it was discovered that he had copied several parts of the report from other people’s work off of the internet.
Atkinson also is at the center of a lawsuit alleging the district violated state law in the way it conducted layoffs and her text messages are said to be a critical point in the suit.
David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, said he contacted Atkinson and asked her if she was resigning and she said she couldn't discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, the School Board headquarters have been a hive of activity with board members holding a series of executive session meetings and lawyers in and out of district offices. Sources speculate negotiations are under way to end Atkinson’s contract. Atkinson started the job in September 2011 with a $275,000 yearly contract.
“The timing for all of this could not be worse,” said Schutten, acknowledging that Atkinson lost her father recently and the fact that the nine-member school board is fighting to keep their jobs.
All of the board members had to testify before the state Board of Education in January after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) placed the district on probation. The accrediting agency cited the school district with ineffective government, decline in student performance and potentially millions in missing money. SACS said the school board has been ineffective for more than a decade.
School board members are scheduled to return before the Board of Education on Feb. 21 to tell the board what corrective actions have been taken to put the district on track.
Board member Eugene Walker said he didn’t feel positive about the January meeting with state board members.
“We asked them to monitor our behavior in good faith as we develop actions to put the system on track. They basically said they want to see immediate results,” Walker said.
Media outlets must credit On Common Ground News editor Valerie Morgan as the source for this story.