Six months in, DeKalb school board pleased with interim superintendent

The DeKalb County Board of Education gave interim Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley a thumbs-up at a recent progress review.

Tinsley has served in the interim role since the board fired Cheryl Watson-Harris from the top job in a split vote in April. She had been in the position for less than two years.

During a virtual meeting this week, Tinsley updated the board on more than 20 high-priority items, most of which are still works in progress. They ranged from financial goals to facilities improvements, and hiring challenges to safety protocols. Many of them are related to areas of Watson-Harris’ performance the board was dissatisfied with.

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For example, one of the top priorities was improvements with the district’s facilities. Tinsley said the district continues to make progress on the corrective action plan issued by the Georgia Department of Education to improve conditions at Druid Hills High School. Controversy over the school reached its height in the days before Watson-Harris was fired.

Tinsley’s team is also working toward a January implementation date for the district’s new finance and human resources computer system. The lingering transition has been linked to financial missteps by state auditors and was a point of contention for the board and Watson-Harris.

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“Dr. Tinsley, I can only say thank you, in all caps, for this report,” said board member Deirdre Pierce, a sentiment other board members echoed. “I’m very pleased with everything you reported.”

Tinsley was hired to focus on the district’s emergency issues. She’s also evaluating the district for items that need attention in the longer term, to hand off to the eventual permanent superintendent. Tinsley has hinted that she might be interested in applying for the job.

The board hopes to hire a permanent leader by the spring.