The DeKalb County Board of Education voted Friday 7-2 to appoint former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond to serve as interim superintendent. He will be the temporary replacement of Cheryl Atkinson, who has resigned after 16 months on the job.
The board also voted 5-4 to approve Dr. Atkinson's separation agreement which gives her a six-figure payout.
“We are delighted Mr. Thurmond has agreed to serve as our interim superintendent,” said Board Chairman Eugene Walker in a statement. “Our school district is facing significant challenges, and we need a leader with a strong record of making fundamental changes in large, complex organizations.
“The board is committed to working with Mr. Thurmond,” said Jim McMahan, vice-chair of the DeKalb board. “Under his leadership, we will work to ensure that every child in DeKalb has equal access to a quality education.”
“I welcome the opportunity to serve the 99,000 students of the DeKalb
County Schools,” said Thurmond. “By all of us coming together
across our county - parents, employees, citizens and businesses North and
South - there's no limit to what we will accomplish for our schoolchildren.”
At the same time, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis issued a statement expressing his concern about recent events surrounding the county's school board.
"I am compelled to act on this urgent matter," Ellis said. "In the next few days, key stakeholders and I will convene a meeting of academic, business, community, and political leaders to fully discern what actions the school board is taking to remedy the issues articulated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council (SACS) and the Georgia State Board of Education. We will also explore how best to assist in the process."