Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed made a public declaration of support for APS school chief Erroll B. Davis last week, raising the question of whether Davis was in need of allies to retain his job.
“I happen to believe that Erroll Davis is the right guy to lead us for the next two years,” said Reed during a Commerce Club luncheon speech.
In October, the Atlanta school board deferred its decision whether to extend the contract of Davis, who has come under attack for his sudden purge of top administrators at North Atlanta High School. The vote is now expected next month.
APS board Chairman Reuben McDaniel said the decision to delay the vote “is a process we are going through to make sure all the parties are heard.”
As the AJC’s Jeffry Scott reported:
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.
I expect Davis to be retained despite the reservations of some board members upset over the North Atlanta High mess. (I still think the removal of the school’s leadership was handled badly and created unnecessary strife that will dog Davis for the rest of his tenure, however long that may be.)
Reed’s endorsement of Davis prompted some emails to me from parents critical of what they deem the Atlanta school chief’’s “my way or the highway approach.”
One parent said, “…he has demonstrated his inability to be a team player and effectively communicate with board members, staff, principals, teachers and parents.”
It may be that Reed, aware of the North Atlanta parent discord, felt that a mayoral shout-out would help Davis.
Here is an account of Reed’s speech from my former AJC colleague Maria Saporta, writing in her Saporta Report: (Please read the full piece before commenting. This is an excerpt.)
It’s also important to note that the City of Atlanta has no direct oversight or formal relationship with the Atlanta Public Schools. But for Reed, that doesn’t appear to be an issue. What seems to matter most to him is whether families will choose to move inside the city and send their children to public schools.
“We have a private school tax in the city,” Reed said, adding that many families that live within the city limits will send their children to private schools instead of enrolling them in the public schools. If they are homeowners, that means that they not only pay property taxes to fund public schools, but they also pay the private school tuition.
Reed offered several ways of how he could become more involved with the Atlanta Public Schools. First, he said the community needs to encourage top-notched people to run for the school board. “It can’t be a political office of last option,” Reed said. “We’ve got to make it an attractive place to serve. We need to recruit.”
Next, Reed said he would be willing to re-engage the philanthropic community. “There’s a ton of private philanthropy on the sidelines,” he said. “Many people in the philanthropic community got burned in the last investment.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog