Meet the new team at the state Department of Education. It is not quite the same as the old team.
Sounds like superintendent-elect John Barge is replacing Kathy Cox’s south metro cabinet with a north Georgia one. (Cox came to DOE from Peachtree City. Barge has ties to west and north Georgia.)
Several key folks are gone at DOE, largely due to their perceived alliances.
They include Erin Hames, GaDOE chief of staff, Courtney Burnett, coordinator, external affairs, and Buck Hilliard, GaDOE’s liaison to the State Board of Education. Burnett and Hilliard were close to former Superintendent Cox. Hames was Gov. Sonny Perdue’s policy director and only recently moved to DOE. I understand efforts were made to protect Hames, but they did not work and she was asked to resign.
Barge sent out this e-mail today announcing his inner circle:
Below are brief biographies of the new team members:
Chief of Staff – Joel Thornton – Joel is currently the President and CEO of the International Human Rights Group and has held various positions within the American Center for Law and Justice. He received his undergraduate degree from Berry College and his law degree from Georgia State University. Joel has also served as a classroom teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School and Model Middle School in Rome, GA.
Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff and State School Superintendent – Bill Gambill (currently at GaDOE and will continue part-time)
General Counsel – Brad Bryant (currently State School Superintendent)
Deputy Superintendent for External Affairs (TBA)
Deputy Superintendent for School Improvement – Avis King – Avis is currently the Director of School Improvement in the Bartow County School System. She brings experience as a Principal, Assistant Principal, and Curriculum Director. Avis has a degree in Education Administration Leadership from Jacksonville State in AL, and several degrees from West Georgia College, including a Specialist Degree in School Counseling, Masters Degree in School Counseling, and Behavior Disorders Degree, as well as an undergraduate degree from Berry College.
Chief Deputy – Michael Buck – Mike is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Rome City Schools, where he oversees school improvement, school safety, transportation, public relations, and a variety of other areas. He has also held positions as the Title I, Title III, and Pre-K Director of Rome City Schools, as well as being the Principal of Rome High School. Mike has Ed.D, MED and BSED degrees from the University of Georgia and an Ed.S from Augusta State University.
Reporting to Chief Deputy Michael Buck will be the following positions:
Chief Financial Officer, Scott Austensen (currently at GaDOE)
Chief Information Officer, Bob Swiggum (currently at GaDOE)
Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum & Assessment, TBA
Deputy Superintendent for School Turnaround, TBD
Deputy Superintendent for School Improvement, Avis King
Dr. Martha Reichrath and Clara Keith will both continue to serve on my team in leadership capacities. I greatly value their leadership and experience and look forward to working with them.
Jennifer Hackemeyer will move to the position of Deputy General Counsel. Her experience will be invaluable to our team.
Dr. Diane Bradford has announced that she will retire effective December 1. She has been a valuable member of the GaDOE team and I wish her the best in her retirement.
If there are any other changes to the organization we will be certain to let you know. Thank you for your service and dedication to our children and youth!
– By Maureen Downey, AJC Get Schooled blog