APS school board mulls superintendent's fate

Atlanta school board delays vote on Davis’ contract

The Atlanta school board on Monday deferred until December deciding whether to extend the contract of Superintendent Erroll Davis, who has come under sharp criticism in recent weeks over his removal of top administrators from North Atlanta High School.

Board Chairman Reuben McDaniel declined afterward to describe how the discussion went in the approximately three-hour-long executive session the nine-member board went into to consider Davis’ contract.

He said the decision to delay the vote until December “is a process we are going through to make sure all the parties are heard.” He commended Davis for his work so far: “Now we are looking at going forward.”

According to Davis’ contract, the board has to make a decision by December whether to renew his contract, which expires next June. The former chancellor of the University System of Georgia was lured out of retirement and given a one-year contract in July 2011 to run the Atlanta school system, which was rocked by a cheating scandal that has implicated about 180 educators.

Last year, the board extended his contract a year. In August, he said he would be willing to stay two more years because he felt like there was more work to be done. Davis’ stint has been controversial from the start, when he moved for the firing of about 180 educators accused in the 2009 CRCT cheating scandal just three weeks before the start of the 2011 school year.

He was the point man in a redistricting of schools, and he drew heat at the beginning of this school year for a restructuring of bus routes that critics said forced some students to have to walk to school through rough intown neighborhoods. A week later, the routes were adjusted to address the problems.

His Oct. 5 removal of six administrators from North Atlanta High, including principal Mark MyGrant, sparked protests from parents and students, and the firestorm of criticism was fanned by Davis’ comments during a meeting at the school three days later when he said the school was on the verge of being taken over by the state because of poor academic performance.

The next day, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education said the state had no intention of taking over the school. Parents and critics have since questioned other assertions made at the meeting by Davis, particularly the school graduation rate.

Allegations of institutional racism have since surfaced. In August, an Atlanta Public Schools administrator told MyGrant that one of the school’s teachers had been accused of racism, an allegation the teacher, Amy Durham, denied, and resigned over.

For two days, the school board has been subjected to an email campaign organized by North Atlanta High parents asking that the board delay taking a vote at the specially called session Monday until more is learned about Davis’ decision to dismiss the school’s administrators.

About 25 people, including a handful of parents, showed up at Monday’s meeting. They waited while the board went into executive session to discuss Davis’ contract.

A North Atlanta High parent, Cynthia Briscoe Brown, said she was happy the board delayed its vote so more can be discovered about Davis’ handling of that school.

“There’s no hurry,” she said. “It’s just October.”

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