DeKalb Schools turns to parents to help pick the next district superintendent

DeKalb Schools turns to parents to help pick the next district superintendent
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 12:13 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2022 at 8:45 AM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Thursday, dozens of DeKalb County parents huddled at cafeteria tables as the school board called on parents to help them select the district’s next superintendent.

“It’s not the best school system,” said Tiffany Duncan, who has two kids in high school in the district. “I do feel like there’s so much that needs to be worked on, but at the same time, I feel like there are so many parents that are not involved.”

Dr. Vasanne Tinsley has served as interim superintendent for the state’s third-largest district since April when the school board suddenly fired then-superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris amidst public outcry from a viral video showing poor facility conditions at Druid Hills High School.

In September, the Board of Education voted to hire Dr. Sam King and the Georgia School Board Association to help lead the superintendent search.

“We’ve never done it before. We’ve done other head-hunting groups, and we know what the outcome has been for that, not to say that that has been a bad process,” said Deirdre Pierce, in an interview with Atlanta News First on Thursday.

King guided parents through a presentation and then a question-answer forum.

King outlined that the district plans to accept applications through February. The board will hold interviews with prospective candidates in March and April and is expected to appoint a new superintendent in May.

When prompted, parents said they value the district’s diversity, system of accountability, researched-based curriculum, and the programming offered.

“To be honest, I really feel like a good superintendent will make sure that everyone under him will be held accountable,” said Duncan.

A consensus among parents during a breakout forum is they’d like to see improved equitable distribution of district resources.

Multiple parents said that their children’s schools need drastic facility improvements.

Pierce said the feedback from parents will be included in their process of narrowing down their final list of candidates for superintendent.

“We can hear their perspective on who they would like us to consider, why they want us to consider it, and then for us to decide on what’s best for the whole district to the best of our ability,” said Pierce.

The board is hosting two more parent forums: Dec. 13 in Lithonia and Dec. 15 in Tucker.