DeKalb Superintendent Steve Green announced he will not stay beyond the end of his 2020 contract.

With news Steve Green will leave DeKalb Schools next year, what’s next? 

District has history of turnover in leadership, which may reflect stubborn problems in central office

Given the stresses and strife in DeKalb County Schools, it will not surprise many followers of district news that Superintendent Steve Green is leaving at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
The rumor has been percolating for a while, and Green, who has led the district nearly four years, made it official with this letter:

Congratulations on a strong finish to another incredible year! Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the students and families of our DeKalb County School District. It is truly an honor to serve alongside you, and I look forward to serving as your superintendent for the 2019-2020 school year.
As this school year wraps up, I feel it is important to also let you know that after thoughtful consideration with my family, I have decided not to pursue an extension to my current contract that ends June 30, 2020.
The DeKalb County Schools community is truly inspirational. We have amazing teachers and staff who are dedicated to our mission of ensuring student success and who work hard every day to make it a reality. Together, over the last four years, we’ve seen our graduation rates and our College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score increase more than ever before. Also, the number of students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs has significantly increased. Our expanding career and technical education efforts have also been strengthened. I hope the bold decision the Board made to invest in our Family Impact Hub and our Early Learning Center, the only center of its kind in the state, is a legacy that will last and pay dividends for generations.
I am proud to work with you to inspire our students to achieve educational excellence and will continue to do so in my remaining time with the District. The Board and I promise to help make the search for and transition to the next superintendent as smooth and thoughtful as possible. We are excited to see what the future holds for our District and our students – both have limitless potential.
I look forward to continuing in my superintendent role through next June and then to the next chapter of my career. Thank you for your continued support.
With sincere gratitude,
Dr. R. Stephen Green
Superintendent/CEO

I usually endorse visionary educators to lead school districts, but DeKalb needs someone who can revamp how the district operates. There are many challenges in human resources, maintenance, budget and communications.
I found Green to be committed to education excellence and focused on the classroom. But the systems in DeKalb diverted time and energy that should have gone to academic matters.
It should not take months to fix leaks, yet parents continually complained about the conditions of their children’s schools and the lack of regular upkeep.
And the teacher alarm over the faulty salary schedule earlier this year exposed major flaws in how human resources functions.
As my AJC colleague Marlon Walker reports today:

Green was called a change agent when he first arrived, but little has come to fruition under his leadership. The district boasts its highest graduation rate, but standardized test scores are flat and teacher turnover continues at the highest rate among metro Atlanta school districts.

The district has come under fire for its hiring, with the district employing hundreds of teachers through certification waivers, which allow uncertified teachers to lead classrooms. Many were supposed to work toward full certification, but many remain on staff without clearly laid out certification paths.

DeKalb has churned through a lot of school chiefs, most of whom arrived with records of great success in other places. It’s had five superintendents in the last 12 years. Gwinnett’s progress owes in large part to the staying power of its long-time superintendent, J. Alvin Wilbanks. 
I am not sure the exact sort of leader DeKalb needs, but certainly one who stays long enough to not only initiate changes, but see them through.

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.
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