Decatur rights group calls for suspension of schools superintendent

Activists in Decatur want to see the City Schools of Decatur superintendent suspended amid an investigation into allegations about his financial conduct.

The Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights plans to rally in front of the Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center at 1 p.m. Friday to call for David Dude’s suspension, according to a Wednesday news release. The planned rally comes a month after Decatur School Board Chair Tasha White issued a news release announcing the board will investigate the allegations against Dude.

The allegations emerged from a lawsuit filed in January against Dude and the school district. The suit alleges that in 2017, former Chief Financial Officer Susan Hurst told former Human Resources chief David Adams that the school board provided “an improper salary increase” by reimbursing Dude’s expenses without receipts.

The lawsuit also alleged Dude underreported his time off, meaning he allegedly used vacation days that were not tracked in the district’s reporting system. Beacon Hill activists said they are concerned with the district’s ability to fairly investigate Dude while he is present, according to the news release., which initially reported on the lawsuit against Dude, reported its investigation unveiled evidence supporting the lawsuit’s allegations against Dude.

A City Schools of Decatur spokeswoman previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the district denies the allegations and cannot comment on any pending litigation.

The district spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the planned protest.

Dude was hired in 2015 and his base salary is $219,000. He’s eligible for bonuses of up to $20,000 a year.

Last month, School Board Chair White said in a news release that the board takes the allegations “very seriously,” adding that Dude will receive “the due process and fairness to which he is entitled” as the district addresses the issues raised by employees and the community.

“Dr. Dude suggested, and the Board agreed, to rescind his contract that was scheduled to take effect July 1, 2021, and sign a new agreement that provides for leave time that is consistent with other central office cabinet members,” White said in her statement.

“We believe this change will treat Dr. Dude in the same manner as all other cabinet-level employees and avoid further confusion in the future.”

But Carmen Sulton, chairperson of Decatur’s Black Parents Alliance, said in a released statement that district employees still question if the investigation is “truly independent” with Dude at the helm.

“It appears that the school board is allowing a double standard by not suspending the Superintendent the same way other employees have been suspended while under investigation,” Sulton said in a statement.