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Atlanta school board extends superintendent's contract | Schools

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Atlanta school board extends superintendent's contract
Atlanta school board extends superintendent's contract

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Public Schools Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis has an extension on his contract, but it's far from iron-clad.

The APS Board agreed Monday night to keep Davis on for up to 18 months, possibly through December 2014, while the board searches for a permanent superintendent.

"We're really just making sure that as we go out and search for a new superintendent, we have to do that over the next year or two years no matter what and we want to make sure that if we find that candidate, we're really prepared to move that candidate in," said Reuben Daniels, APS Board Chairman.

Davis' current contract expires on June 30, 2013.

Davis signed on as interim superintendent two years earlier, to help the school system out of its cheating scandal and other problems.  He told the board Monday night he had never intended to "make a career" of being superintendent, but did want to stay on a bit longer to complete some unfinished business.

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"I don't have long-term aspirations or desires," said Davis.

Board members are just beginning their search for a permanent superintendent.  Monday night they decided to include, in Davis' contract extension, a provision to terminate his contract early, at any time with 90 days notice, if a 5-4 majority of the board decides to fire him, or in case they hire a new superintendent before the end of Davis' contract extension in December 2014.

Since arriving, Davis has worked to keep accreditation for the district and led a massive redistricting process.

Davis supporters and opponents have become quite vocal in recent weeks.

"He had 71 meetings in one month and that was after this process started in 2009," said Shawnna Hayes-Tavares, a parent who supports Davis. "As a parent, I've been involved in every one of those meetings since 2009, and I think he listened to the demographers, he listened to the public based on the options they changed. He listened and got input from board members and others. He came into this school system right on the heals of the CRTC scandal."

But others say Davis has poorly handled several big challenges, such as the cheating scandal at North Atlanta High School. Six administrators, including the principal, were fired in October.

"I think he did do a lot of destruction because he didn't communicate with the people who are involved with these school systems. The people who really know how to make it work," said Molly Read Woo, a parent who opposes keeping Davis. "The people who've dedicated their lives to seeing a lot of success for our students. For example when he pretty much gutted the administration at North Atlanta. He didn't communicate with Nancy Meister the board member who's in charge of that district before he just beheaded it."