Gwinnett school board plans confirmation vote on Wilbanks’ successor

Calvin Watts, the finalist for superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools. Courtesy Kent School District.

Credit: Kent School District

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Calvin Watts, the finalist for superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools. Courtesy Kent School District.

Credit: Kent School District

If approved Friday, Calvin Watts will become the district’s first Black superintendent

The Gwinnett County Board of Education will take a final vote Friday on whether to hire Calvin J. Watts as the district’s next superintendent.

Watts is currently superintendent of Kent School District in Washington state. He would replace J. Alvin Wilbanks, who is serving his last week in office after 25 years as the Gwinnett district’s superintendent.

The board narrowly voted in March to end Wilbanks’ contract 11 months early with a payout of more than $530,000.

ExploreGwinnett superintendent’s legacy confronts increased diversity

Watts worked in the Gwinnett district for 13 years in various administrative roles before leaving to become superintendent in Kent, a suburb of Seattle. He was a 2018-2019 member of the nationally-known Broad Academy Fellowship program for school system leaders.

Earlier this month, the Gwinnett school board named Watts as its sole superintendent finalist. The choice was unanimous.

“I have always referred to Gwinnett County Public Schools as the place where I grew up professionally,” Watts told the board audience via video stream after he was named the finalist. “J. Alvin Wilbanks leaves a great legacy.”

If approved Friday, Watts will become the first Black superintendent in the diverse Gwinnett County district, where the student population is 80% nonwhite.

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03/24/2021 —Suwanee, Georgia — Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent and CEO J. Alvin Wilbanks speaks with Burnette Elementary School parents and staff during a meeting in the school’s library in Suwanee, March 24, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

03/24/2021 —Suwanee, Georgia — Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent and CEO J. Alvin Wilbanks speaks with Burnette Elementary School parents and staff during a meeting in the school’s library in Suwanee, March 24, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
03/24/2021 —Suwanee, Georgia — Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent and CEO J. Alvin Wilbanks speaks with Burnette Elementary School parents and staff during a meeting in the school’s library in Suwanee, March 24, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

ExploreIn choice of superintendent finalist, Gwinnett district targets equity

The board will meet at the district’s central office at 5 p.m. Friday and go into closed session to discuss Watts’ contract, as the state Open Meetings Act allows. After the closed session, the board will reconvene for a public vote on Watts’ confirmation, which is expected to pass.

Watts is expected to attend.

The board in Friday’s public session will “officially appoint and welcome Dr. Watts as the district’s new superintendent,” said a news release from Gwinnett County Public Schools.