Who is Vasanne Tinsley, interim DeKalb County school superintendent?

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

The DeKalb County Board of Education on Tuesday appointed Vasanne S. Tinsley as its interim superintendent.

She now leads a district with more than 93,000 students and 15,500 employees.

The announcement was made shortly after the board terminated Cheryl Watson-Harris. She had been superintendent of the state’s third-largest school system for less than two years.

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The board’s 4-1 vote to fire Watson-Harris happened during a virtual meeting. Vicki Turner, Diijon DaCosta, Anna Hill and Joyce Morley voted in favor of termination. Deirdre Pierce was the lone no vote. Two board members, Allyson Gevertz and Marshall Orson, were absent.

The board plans to conduct a formal search for a permanent superintendent, according to a statement released late Tuesday. It said the board wants to shift the school system in a new direction with the leadership change.

“The Board expects Dr. Tinsley to be the unifying leader the community currently needs,” the statement said.

Before retiring from the district in 2020, Tinsley served as the district’s deputy superintendent of student support and intervention. In that role she was directly responsible for athletics, community and family engagement, English learners, post-secondary transition, public safety, school choice options, student relations and student support services, according to a statement on the district’s website.

With more than 25 years of experience, the statement said, “Tinsley has contributed to various change initiatives in her career that have propelled turnaround and growth efforts within the educational, curriculum and technological sector.”

She also served as director of student support, assistant director of guidance counseling and mentoring and began her career as a school counselor. She has a doctoral degree in educational leadership and a master’s degree in counseling from Clark Atlanta University.

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Tinsley was voted interim superintendent the day Board Chair Vicki Turner sent a letter to Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods blaming Watson-Harris for unacceptable conditions at the aging Druid Hills High School.

The board is in the midst of changing its approach to facility maintenance to focus on critical needs at schools rather than select major projects. Tinsley will inherit the responsibility of enacting that plan.