DeKalb School Board Appoints Michael Thurmond Interim Superintendent

The BOE narrowly approved Dr. Cheryl Atkinson's separation agreement with a vote of 5-4.

The DeKalb County Board of Education voted Friday 7-2 to appoint former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond to serve as interim superintendent. He will be the temporary replacement of Cheryl Atkinson, who has resigned after 16 months on the job.

The board also voted 5-4 to approve Dr. Atkinson's separation agreement which gives her a six-figure payout.

“We are delighted Mr. Thurmond has agreed to serve as our interim superintendent,” said Board Chairman Eugene Walker in a statement. “Our school district is facing significant challenges, and we need a leader with a strong record of making fundamental changes in large, complex organizations.

“The board is committed to working with Mr. Thurmond,” said Jim McMahan, vice-chair of the DeKalb board. “Under his leadership, we will work to ensure that every child in DeKalb has equal access to a quality education.”

“I welcome the opportunity to serve the 99,000 students of the DeKalb
County Schools,” said Thurmond. “By all of us coming together
across our county - parents, employees, citizens and businesses North and
South - there's no limit to what we will accomplish for our schoolchildren.”

At the same time, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis issued a statement expressing his concern about recent events surrounding the county's school board.

"I am compelled to act on this urgent matter," Ellis said. "In the next few days, key stakeholders and I will convene a meeting of academic, business, community, and political leaders to fully discern what actions the school board is taking to remedy the issues articulated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council (SACS) and the Georgia State Board of Education. We will also explore how best to assist in the process."

Tracy White February 09, 2013 at 04:31 AM
There is a move afoot to indeed secede from DeKalb County and become the "City of Lakeside".
dianne joy February 09, 2013 at 01:36 PM
I don't know whether she was turning things around but if the claims about the hiring and firing and dropping lawsuits are true, then that shows lack of integrity and honesty. When the school board is called before a grand jury, we have biproblems with that school board and the chairman needs to step down. Under his leadership, this school system has gone from worst to beyond worst. How can he NOT be accountable for all that has happened? From cell phone tower contracts to nepotism to hiring Freeman and then Atkinson. We have 3 new board members and they need to take control. It all starts with honesty, integrity and ethical conduct.
Sally February 09, 2013 at 01:48 PM
I have guarded optimism about Michael Thurmond. My first fear however, is that the state board and the governor will take this step as "progress" and not wipe the board slate clean. They all need to go. Immediately. Michael Thurmond had a good reputation as Labor Commissioner. Hopefully that will come through in this position as well. His hiring is not enough though. Just a start. Ultimately, I believe we are going to see new school systems formed in North Dekalb however. Because, even if the governor does fire all the current members and appoint a new board, eventually south Dekalb will elect new members of the same ilk as what has drained this system.
H.A. Hurley February 09, 2013 at 01:49 PM
I hear the cash register ringing again and again. It's not their money! What. Great investment for her. A few months of a crappy job and you can go on vacation in Hawaii. BTW, she may run into Dr. Beverly Hall in Hawaii. She fled APS after the cheating scandal. Maybe someone will start a retirement home for dishonest and criminal superintendents in Hawaii. They have all of our money. The interim did not say the words that we needed to hear. More political nice-speak. Pack your boxes and sell your homes.
Stephenson Community Council, Inc. February 09, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Wow Gene Seriously?
Stephenson Community Council, Inc. February 09, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Let us not forget that the Superintendent did not do this alone and is not the sole reason as to why the system is in the situation that its in. This should only be phase one of house cleaning- Next, The Board followed by the internal structures within the administrative offices and finally through the actual institutions themselves. Then perhaps our students, and those really great teachers and staff who are suffering through all of this might stand a chance,
Guy Midvale February 09, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Dianne Joy the two 'No' votes were Jester and Speaks. I applaud them for it. They have integrity. The BOE agreed to pay Mr. Thurmond $250K (or $275K depending on which source you read) for a one year contract. He has NO experience in education and lots of friends within the administration. I doubt he will do the housecleaning needed to change the downward spiral (read flush) of the school system.
HamBurger February 09, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Ms. Tracy, new city or not you will still be in DeKalb. Please pass the yellow mustard!
dianne joy February 09, 2013 at 03:44 PM
My perception is that this school board has ended up in this mess because they knew nothing about contracts, integrity, honesty and ethical behaviors. The problems are from administrative ignorance and Michael Thurmond turned the Dept of Labor into an efficient department that did serve the people well. I hope that his legal background will aid in clearing up he ridiculous legal quagmires they have found themselves in. Thanks for the names of the two dissenting votes. I could not find that anywhere. I am not sure what experience in education is needed here. Tracy White stated she is qualified because she and her children went through 12 years of dekalb county schools. I did, too, as did my children and now grandchildren. Thurmond also went through the public school system as well as college and law school which qualifies him as much as me or Tracy White. We do not need a teacher as superintendent--we need a hard worker with some vision and desire to straighten this mess out. It is not going to happen overnight but I sure hope he will begin by sending large number of those 100k salaried central office employees to the Department of Labor!
Rescue a Dog Today February 09, 2013 at 06:40 PM
First off, I knew Mr. Gene Cofer of Tucker and he is no longer with us. I know the family and do not recall another Gene Cofer. Which means that, someone is being cruel and unusually duplicitous, even for a public blog. The Mr. Cofer I knew was a fine man, Mr. DeKalb County, at one point, and I doubt would ever makes such a hateful comment. People! Really?
don Gabacho February 09, 2013 at 06:52 PM
"it's a far easier, though expensive, option than fighting the system."---MrMatt The evening news (Channel 46) actually stated that Thurmond's salary will be "$225,000" for the year. I'm glad they didn't contract an actual educator.
don Gabacho February 09, 2013 at 07:07 PM
"At one time DeKalb had one of the finest education systems in the country..."---Gene Cofer Hunh? I recall well classes being asked , in 1961, in the tenth grade on tests at Cross Keys HS, to spell: "pain." Or was it "pane" the teacher asked? "Peen"? "Pen"? "Pin"? "Ya'know: an EENK PAYNE" one student finally exclaimed to help. In other words: "pen." I should have realized that words with as many as four letters couldn't possibly have been considered. After all it was only the ninth grade. Has the school system prgressed as far as four letter words since?
don Gabacho February 09, 2013 at 07:12 PM
"...served the people."----dianne joy You mean 'el pueblo.'
don Gabacho February 09, 2013 at 07:16 PM
"Michael Thurmond is going to find he has jumped straight into the briar patch."---Lucy Mauterer While knowing that landing on his butt with his back pockets padded with "$250,000" will surely absorb any shock.
Enuff Govt Already February 09, 2013 at 10:59 PM
If we need someone to blame for the BOE we need to look in the mirror. Everyone on the BOE is an elected official put there by us. Seceding to a city of... changes nothing and forming a new school system for certain areas is only a short sighted approach. Our current public discussions and attention to the BOE is the most I've seen in a lifetime and a good start but we must use the best option which is the voting booth and vote in better candidates. Just MHO.
jimmie February 10, 2013 at 05:58 AM
amen Gene! What is the only trait the last 4 superintendants have in common?
Ms. February 10, 2013 at 01:10 PM
Yes, but when the school system requests reports about how to clean house, and she completely ignores them, raises school board members budgets, and doesn't fire anyone, just changes position names and shifts people around, you can tell she's not interested in change. Just collecting a paycheck and the status quo. In her defense, it sounded like she was in way over her head from the very start, and the board chose her for that reason.
Ms. February 10, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Fair point, but frankly some people will continue to be elected no matter what they do. Look at the Clayton Sheriff (accused of 40 felonies!!!!!). Look at the Dekalb tax commissioner who screws up assessments in very major and public ways, just right before the election this year even. All you have to do is look around at the government to see it doesn't matter what some do, they have a loyal base, and their reelection is never in question because of that.
Sally February 10, 2013 at 02:19 PM
I agree that the voting booth is the place to fix it. But dis agree that new cities and new school systems are short sighted. We in North Dekalb cannot control who South Dekalb elects. Therefore, the only option we have is to remove ourselves from their influence. Unfortunately it can't happen quickly.
Linda Riche February 10, 2013 at 02:58 PM
This City of Lakeside is crazy and makes no sense! Let's please let Tucker do their own thing - I personally like the improvements to the Tucker Main Street area and the new shops and restaurants are refreshing - and by the way where on earth would this new town hall be? Heck Northlake doesn't even have a Longhorn's!
Eddie E. February 10, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Enuff, We do need to look in the mirror. What happened here? Many have referenced the past effectiveness of Dekalb County Schools (my parental experience with the system just concluded a very few years ago and things were not deteriorated to the levels suggested even then). Of course, the most successful students came with parents who understood this is a COMMUNITY effort. It requires maximizing the value of our COLLECTIVE resources. As soon as the 'us-them' line is drawn and a sense of benighted self-importance takes over, everyone suffers.
VandyGrad February 10, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Wow 'Gene', that was uncalled for. But one thing it did was to get jimmie to stop practicing his angry arms akimbo look in the mirror long enough to concur with racist comments. Sad jimmie. And to think a certain sitting councilwoman calls jimmie her 'hero'. Let's hope jimmie keeps practicing his outrage look for Monday night's meeting and stops spreading his nonsense.
jimmie February 10, 2013 at 10:27 PM
It's not race it's results vandygrad. Speaking the truth takes more spine than you'll ever have. It's amazing when a couple folks defend dr bonser how all you pusses that attack her personally and professional see your arguments shrivel and blow away. Go truth! Go equity!
Appalachian-American February 11, 2013 at 01:01 AM
First of all, it's Mr. Gene to all of you.....Mr. Gene did more in for Dekalb Co. than Veron Jones, Rader, Ellis, Dorsey, Jarvis, Lewis, Crawford, and all the others....charged or not charged.
Galvanize February 12, 2013 at 01:20 PM
$2,600 a mont to cover routine expenses incurred in connection with his position, and the Interim Superintendent shall not be required to submit reimbursement requests for such expenses. Then lets add $750 a month for his personal car use. I get 40,200 in extra salary on top of his salary. I hope this gives him the balls to go after the bad Principals, and teachers, it is not just the top that needs a little house cleaning. Anyone want to name names?
Sally February 13, 2013 at 01:26 AM
He has already disappointed me. Greatly. Today I hear that he is trying to put off this state board meeting about whether or not the board members will be ousted. WOW! Huge Disappointment!!! HUGE!!!
Brookhaven Maven February 13, 2013 at 02:45 AM
To Sally at 9:19am Sunday -- We should do everything we can to force our current state leadership to allow us to have a separate charter school system for Dunwoody / Chamblee / Brookhaven. I have been rallying everyone I can to petition their state legislators to pass enabling legislation to make this happen. Please join me in talking to your neighbors, friends and associates to promote this idea. Thanks! -- The Maven
Brookhaven Maven February 13, 2013 at 02:49 AM
Sally -- In case you didn't see it --- http://dunwoody.patch.com/articles/local-lawmaker-plans-bill-for-a-dunwoody-school-system If it's good enough for Dunwoody children, why don't Taylor, Jacobs, Millar et al do it for our wonderful Brookhaven kids? -- The Maven
HamBurger February 13, 2013 at 05:00 AM
Ms. BM, Rep. Mike Jacobs, Rep Tom Taylor, and Sen. Fran Millar have been too busy creating new cities for an elite group of clueless people instead of attending to the business of ALL of their constituents and using their influence to reform DeKalb County government and DCSS. Funny how folks are under the impression that a new layer of government will insulate them from DeKalb County, yet they remain in DeKalb County. Why not reform what you have? Pay attention to Brookhaven. All is not as it was sold. And, there are consequences for city council actions. Please pass the yellow mustard!
Roger That February 13, 2013 at 05:31 AM
Thurmond on WSBTV Tuesday Feb 12, "I know I don't have the qualifications......" Hmmmm.... hmm... uh....


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