NewsDeKalb County School Board Votes In Favor Of $300K+ Settlement With Terminated...

DeKalb County School Board Votes In Favor Of $300K+ Settlement With Terminated Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris

The DeKalb County School Board has approved a substantial settlement of over $300,000 for former Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris following a contentious dismissal in 2022.

With a final vote of 6-1, the board announced the settlement, which according to 11 Alive, includes $325,000 based on Watson-Harris’ original contract terms, along with an additional $16,000 in attorney fees.

Watson-Harris’ tenure with DeKalb County came to an end in April 2022 after she was unexpectedly fired during an executive meeting. She expressed that she was “blindsided” by the school board’s decision to authorize a separation agreement, effective immediately. The dismissal unfolded amid friction surrounding the renovations at Druid Hills High School, in which 2022 videos went viral of students showcasing the disturbing conditions that included mold, a sewage leak, and crumbling walls.

Constant leaks, raw sewage pooling, exposed wires and rampant mold. All claims made by Druid Hills High students who took these videos. The action students are demanding to address the “unacceptable conditions” tonight at 5/6pm. ⁦@cbs46⁩ #modernizedhhs— Zac Summers (@ZacOnTV) April 12, 2022

On April 25, 2022, State School Superintendent Richard Woods addressed members of the DeKalb County Board of Education concerning the school’s toxic conditions and questioned “why these issues were only addressed after they were raised by students — rather than being identified and promptly addressed by the adults responsible for them.” His statement continued, “In reality, there has been a lack of leadership, responsibility, and urgency regarding this core responsibility of DeKalb County Schools: providing safe and fully functioning facilities.” Watson-Harris was prompted to take immediate action.

Today @georgiadeptofed @woodsforsuper released the below letter calling on @DeKalbSchools Board to address unsafe & unsanitary conditions at @DruidHillsHigh. The Board’s current plan won’t get it done. My colleagues & I are paying attention – let’s work together & fix this.— Elena Parent (@elenaparent) April 25, 2022

Vickie Turner, the DeKalb School Board Chair, defended the dismissal of the former superintendent, as reported by 11 Alive. “We have been plagued by a lot of negative press. And it was time to make an adjustment, make a change, and not be afraid to look into the lion’s den, and this is what it looks like,” Turner stated in 2022. “We are not afraid; we are running in. So, will everyone agree with us? No, but that’s OK. We are doing it with a heart for our children.”

However, the decision faced dissent from some DeKalb School Board members, who criticized it as hasty and lacking transparency. Marshall Orson expressed disappointment over the decision in 2022, stating, “We had an exceptional leader in Cheryl Watson-Harris.”

In the wake of Watson-Harris’s departure, Dr. Vasanne Tinsley assumed the role of interim DeKalb County Schools Superintendent. Following a search for a permanent replacement, Dr. Devon Horton was appointed to the position, with his contract spanning until June 30, 2025, and the option for a third-year extension.

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Source: Black Enterprise

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