Update: See later blog on terminations today at DOE. Bryant is staying, but others are not.
The speculation about the fate of interim Georgia school chief Brad Bryant is over. Bryant told me this morning that he will be staying at the state Department of Education as its general counsel.
An attorney, Bryant was the governor’s choice for the state school superintendent’s post after GOP incumbent Kathy Cox decided to drop out of the election and resign to take an advocacy job in Washington. But Cox resigned too late for Bryant to get on the July GOP primary ballot, and he was unable to gather the petition signatures necessary to run as an independent. (The Legislature sets the bar at an impossible height to ward off competition from independents.)
That clearly disappointed Gov. Sonny Perdue who has great respect and a long relationship with the even-tempered and intellectual Bryant. Perdue had appointed Bryant to the state Board of Education and tapped him to help Clayton through its accreditation woes. Bryant served on the DeKalb Board of Education for 12 years, including seven years as its chair.
Perdue had no history with the two Republicans on the ballot challenging Cox. Like everyone else, he expected Cox to win. But her resignation changed the landscape, and Perdue did not like what he saw since both Republican candidates opposed the federal Race to the Top grant, which he favored and for which he led Georgia’s winning effort.
The winner of that primary and this month’s general election was John Barge, a former DOE official and a Bartow administrator. Barge takes over in January.
There had been speculation that Perdue would return Bryant to his state board seat, which remains unfilled. But Bryant can probably be more helpful to DOE in the paid capacity of its top legal adviser.
Some folks suggested to me that Bryant would be the shadow agency leader, but he was vehement today that he is not going to be the head of DOE in any way, and that he believes Barge’s long education background is vital now in the department.
–By Maureen Downey, AJC Get Schooled blog