A divided APS school board decides today whether to dump embattled school chief Erroll Davis

 Should Erroll B. Davis Jr. stay or go?

Should Erroll B. Davis Jr. stay or go?

DeKalb is not the only metro school district with a consequential decision pending today.

While the DeKalb school board will vote on a controversial five year plan that includes school closings and redistricting, the Atlanta Board of Education will take up superintendent Erroll B. Davis’ contract extension today,

And the stage is set for a close vote.

At a meeting last week, the nine-member APS board changed its policy, now requiring a super majority of seven votes to extend the school chief’s contract rather than a majority of five votes. At that Dec. 3  session, the board delayed a decision on Davis’ contract for a second time, reflective of the residual anger over his abrupt leadership changes at North Atlanta High School in October.

There are two petitions at Change.org, one for Davis and one against:

The one in favor of keeping Davis — which has 241 supporters this morning — states:

Erroll Davis is the best person to serve as interim superintendent.  Davis has proven he is a non-political leader, capable of making tough decisions.  Davis came to APS at a moment of chaos, following a decade of turmoil and educational neglect.  He restored a significant measure of stability and trust, earning him the support of Atlanta’s mayor and many APS parents and teachers.  Extending Davis’s contract provides stability that permits our children to learn and grow.

The one in favor of replacing Davis — which has 83 supporters this morning — states:

Please allow Superintendent Davis’ contract to expire without renewal, and move immediately to find a new Superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools to take over when Davis’ term ends this summer. Atlanta needs a superintendent who can communicate well, work effectively with school leaders, and rise above political maneuvering to provide the best education possible for our students.

For a sense of the public divide over Davis, here is an excerpt from Talk Up APS, which is a system-sponsored blog. Please note that this is not my account, but a report from the official APS blog of some parent comments made during the Dec. 3 board discussion of Davis’ future:

Cynthia Briscoe-Brown- I am here today to ask each of you to vote against extending interim Superintendent Davis’ contract. He lacks the leadership essential to this position. Every one of his stated reasons for “Bloody Friday” have been proven false. This superintendent has lost the confidence of a significant number of the community–he should not be allowed to continue. There are highly qualified individuals who would welcome the challenge of leading APS into the future.

Yvette Bolwaire, former NAHS parent:  I come as I did last month in support of superintendent Davis.  He has proven time and time again that he is not only willing but capable of tackling, SACS, redistricting and most recently North Atlanta High.  It is his responsibility to do what is in the best interest of all students.  I am in total support of his decision to restructure NAHS and how it was carried out.  What has been characterized as Bloody Friday by some was seen as a long awaited glimmer of hope by those who have waited for years.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get School blog

110 comments Add your comment

V for Vendetta

December 10th, 2012
8:20 am

I think the answer here is pretty obvious. Which is why I think APS will vote to extend.

Another Voice

December 10th, 2012
8:36 am

Atlanta. The City Too Busy To Hate … but not too busy to whine and complain.

Does anyone really think that the APS Board could manage an effective search for a new superintendent, or would it just be more of the same level of incompetence we see everyday from them? Starting with engaging a QUALIFIED search firm, instead of some rinky-dink outfit that barely does anything more than post an ad in the education trade publications, review resumes and sends five to the board for interviews? I think not. So stick with Davis for at least another year.

the good doctor

December 10th, 2012
8:41 am

hummm… I say give him an opportunity to finish what he started…

Bob

December 10th, 2012
8:45 am

”Erroll Davis is the best person to serve as interim superintendent. Davis has proven he is a non-political leader, capable of making tough decisions”. Davis removed administrators at North Atlanta high because of politics then lied about it. Calling someone a liar is strong language but in this case it is the besst word to use. North Atlanta was never slated to be taken over by the state and Davis told us it was. If Davis does not like to be called a liar he can show us what actions the state had taken to take over the school. Mr. Davis, if I am wrong I will admit it, please fill us in on who with the state approached you concerning the takeover. And did the state specifically want the adminstrators released or did you just remove them so you could say you acted ?

muddy waters

December 10th, 2012
8:59 am

I agree with Another Voice. While Davis’ performance has not been flawless, he’s accomplished much difficult work that needed to be done in a short, transitional period, for which the School Board can’t take much credit. In other words, his track record is better than theirs.

He has never been positioned to be the permanent “answer.” When the School Board’s search yields a superior candidate — one who wants the job (are you listening, DeKalb County?) — THEN hire that candidate, thank Mr. Davis and let him ride off into the sunset.

I don’t have any kids my own but I like to think of all these kids as “my kids.” Do what’s best for THEM.

JB

December 10th, 2012
9:31 am

I can understand and sympathize with the anger and frustration of NAHS parents. Terminating Davis in retaliation will not change the situation or solve a single one of their short-term challenges. It is likely to create and/or exacerbate several new and existing long-term problems for NAHS and everyone else in the District. I respectfully ask that they outline their needs, work with Davis and the Board to find creative solutions to those specific issues, and allow Davis to finish the other projects he started.

Bob

December 10th, 2012
9:35 am

JB, how do you work with someone that looks you in the eyes and lies ? I can outline one very important need, tell the truth !

Democrat Man

December 10th, 2012
9:53 am

Bring back Beverly Hall.
She fundamently improved APS.
She can save DeKalb County BOE.

Inman/Grady Parent

December 10th, 2012
10:02 am

Another Voice, the good doctor, & Muddy Waters: I totally agree with y’all.

intowner

December 10th, 2012
10:05 am

I am surprised that only 83 folks are signed against Davis. Given the squalling from NAHS and the fear at Grady that this too shall come their way, 83 is a paltry number. You’d think the number of Stepford Moms would be legion, 83 ain’t no legion.
Further, there will be some serious contenders for numerous school board seats in the next/upcoming election. Let that dust settle, and let them find a new Supt that they start a new relationship with.
Besides, if most of this fracas is really coming from Ruben McDaniel and not Supt Davis, getting rid of Davis isn’t gonna do squat to quell the potstirring by McDaniel, i don’t think. If he’s feeling his oats so much as to come outa the woodwork to actually *do* something and do something this high profile, what does he care about Davis? Doesn’t stop his axe grinding on NAHS skulls one little bit, esp as Kasim Reed seems to have his back~

Meli

December 10th, 2012
10:07 am

Mr. Davis completely mishandled the NAHS situation. Does he deserve to be fired for it, considering APS is still under a cloud of suspicion over the cheating on test scores, and firing him would surely lead to a full-scale SACS investigation and the overwhelming likelihood that SACS–who’ve stayed out of this so far–would uncover many more skeletons under the floorboards and be forced to remove accreditation from a major city’s school system? Well it depends on how well the rest of the APS board thinks they’ve hidden those skeletons.

Beyond NAHS

December 10th, 2012
10:07 am

It’s not just NAHS (though the lies that accompany that are outrageous)… Davis’s administration fails to recognize that schools are built on relationships: between teacher and student, between admin and teachers, between staff and community. All small school high school teachers forced to re-interview to keep their jobs last spring, interim principals not given a chance to interview for those jobs after they stepped into a tough situation, interims replaced by interims, administrators removed without cause mid-year… When the district treats employees like widgets, moving them around like interchangeable parts it sends the message: “Don’t work too hard here. Don’t go the extra miles for these families, because you’re not going to see it through. Don’t build better programs, because the change is so constant nothing is sustainable.” Or to students: “Don’t rely on this adult too much, because she may not be here tomorrow.” APS is losing and will continute to lose good employees who are disempowered by this approach. Mr. Davis has done some hard, necessary work, but he and his approach are also doing real damage. He has said himself he wouldn’t want to be a principal. Let’s get someone who understands and respects the work.

V for Vendetta

December 10th, 2012
10:08 am

I would have thought that the North Atlanta debacle was enough to raise serious questions and doubts about him. I guess not. Wonder what it WOULD take…?

Oh, right. Beverly Hall already showed us.

Meli

December 10th, 2012
10:16 am

Firing Errol Davis at this point would raise too many suspicions with SACS. He was asked to step in and take care of the debacle with APS over the test scores, and now suddenly APS members are requiring a super majority to reapprove him, which they never wanted before? Makes you wonder what other skeletons he may have unearthed beneath the floorboards at APS.So far SACS has stayed out of it. Do we really want them stepping in with a full-scale investigation using a microscope on everything involved, and pressured to remove accreditation? That depends on how well APS thinks they’ve covered up the activity that simply wasn’t caught.

Maude

December 10th, 2012
10:21 am

He lied to the parents and public about North Atlanta High School about to be taken over by the state. You only get to lie to me once. Then it is time to go. So good-bye.

charles

December 10th, 2012
10:25 am

APS has long been a system that resents rather than encourages their few high performing schools. It will be interesting to see how central office copes with many of these schools going charter to better serve their communities by listening to the very parents who contribute so mightly to that very success. Imagine what the system wide performance numbers will look like when only those schools tightly controlled by the administrators downtown are left? Then there will be “two school systems” = those run by central office and the board of eduction and those run by a partnership between educators, students and involved parents. Let the games begin and may the better approach win.

Sandy Springs parent

December 10th, 2012
10:26 am

It is amazing how race blinds some folks. Lets see the obvious errors or Error’s ways except for the fact that he is nothing more that Kaseem and McDaniel’s butt kicker. All who appear on the down low.

It has been a year and a half and we are no closer to going after Bev Hall. No claw back of her fat bonuses for cheating, no RICO charges. We have mainly just have a parade of tea

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
10:30 am

“At a meeting last week, the nine-member APS board changed its policy, now requiring a super majority of seven votes to extend the school chief’s contract rather than a majority of five votes”

Supermajority? Isn’t that what McDaniel and others who wanted to protect Hall asked for when they tired to prevent Butler, and the entire truth about the cheating scandal from being ousted by the Furious Five (catchy eh? wonder who thought of it.)

Hmm…dare we say McDaniel was hoisted by his own petard?

Perhaps McDaniel will recall this next time Markie Mark asks him to do his dirty work for him.

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
10:36 am

From Meli

“Firing Errol Davis at this point would raise too many suspicions with SACS….now suddenly APS members are requiring a super majority to reapprove him, which they never wanted before?”

Well thank goodness Meli came along, to make sure we got our daily dose of partisan hacks

Umm, Meli, who do you think all but demanded a supermajority in the first place, under the (so called) guise of good governance?

Youuuuuu, guessed it Meli; Markie Mark and SACS.

Hoisted by their own petard shall we say?

RCB

December 10th, 2012
10:36 am

The Board has no choice now but to extend his contract. They’ve done nothing for a year about finding a permanent replacement. BTW, exactly what WERE the consequences for Hall? That nice retirement package?

Sandy Springs parent

December 10th, 2012
10:42 am

Whoops A parade of teachers who have lost their jobs. Several whose cases had to be dropped, nothing but the the investigators bullying. The truth is Error has not cleaned house and many of the problems continue at Trinity street.

The bus route fiasco in the worse areas of town that would have sent small children walking through dangerous areas on the way to school.

Of course there was the mess of redistricting last year which showed that Error did just get it.

The North Atlanta situation based on anonymous claims of racism are just absurd. Every statement is show to be wrong. We once again see that McDaniel has an agenda. The bigger question should be why the actual upper class white children who are the children o

Mountain Man

December 10th, 2012
10:42 am

“He has proven time and time again that he is not only willing but capable of tackling, SACS, redistricting and most recently North Atlanta High. ”

Any of you English teachers want to comment on use of commas?
Panda walks into a diner and orders a sandwich. After eating it he pulls out a pistol, fires it into the ceiling and makes for the door. The bewildered manager rushes after him, saying “Why did you do that.” The panda hands him a book on wildlife and says “Look up Panda”. This is what the manager found:
Panda – large black and white mammal- native to China – eats, shoots, and leaves (from the book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.)

dougmo2

December 10th, 2012
10:48 am

Here is a better question: When will Paul Howard decide to ask for an indictment against The Beverly Hall Crew? It seems to me that he is sitting on his hands,doing nothing,hoping that the fervor will blow over. It has been almost 18 months, why is he waiting? Then again, this is the same DA who could’t get a murder conviction in the Cobalt Lounge killings.

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
10:51 am

Time for a history lesson:

From Meli.

Firing Errol Davis at this point would raise too many suspicions with SACS. He was asked to step in and take care of the debacle with APS over the test scores, and now suddenly APS members are requiring a super majority to reapprove him, which they never wanted before?

Umm, Meli, who do you think asked for the supermajority in the first place?

That’s right; Markie Mark

And as stated before, this board could be seen en masse, dancing on a stripper pole at Magic City barnyard animals in tow and Markie Mark STILL wouldn’t remove APS’s accreditation.

Worst case scenario? They do some sort of “probation” so that Deal/Markie Mark can do a political power play and remove the board members that won’t play ball with the “bidness” community. (You remember the “bidness” community don’t you? Those “stalwarts” who tried to cover up the largest cheating scandal in United States educational history; kinda makes the “talent” at Magic City look like upstanding citizens in comparison, one might say…)

Atlanta Mom

December 10th, 2012
10:52 am

Mr. Davis stated that NAHS COULD have been seized by the State. That was an accurate statement. He did not say the State was coming in. Seems to me that he was trying to get the parents’ attention.
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/10/10/was-north-atlanta-high-ever-in-danger-of-state-takeover/

Mountain Man

December 10th, 2012
11:02 am

My opinion is that Errol Davis moved a little too hastily on teachers SUSPECTED of cheating. Thus a large number of the “fired” teachers have been reinstated.

If they get rid of Davis, then they will have to look for another superintendent (of the proper color, of course).

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
11:06 am

Is there a more damning indictment of Davis’s utter unwillingness to lead than the fact that he has been at the helm for well over a year and has yet to address discipline?

I would say “You’re doing a great job, Browie” yet don’t wish to offend the willfully ignorant and uninformed who will see a racial connotation, instead of a reference to Bush’s Nero, former FEMA head Brown.

So I won’t.

Sandy Springs parent

December 10th, 2012
11:14 am

Whoops again the I pad. Why don’t they find out why the residents of the zone don’t send their kids. Why should Buckhead residents have to pay what the mayor termed the Buckhead Private school tax. This school should be majority white, and clearly one of the top performing schools in the state. If it mirrored the neighorhod demographics. Why doesn’t it and then after it does. It should be used as a model for others.

Without these changes you will see continued failure for all.

Now the CO issue, one would think that an Engineer could show leadership on an engineering problem. But instead Erorr Davis leads by covering up his incompetence lets blame someone low on the totem pole. No, Error, you are wrong, the man on the top is where the buck always stops. As an engineer I can look from afar and tell you have a cracked boiled lining. Why wasn’t someone notified when the boiler lost water levels and steam pressure and it cracked the lining. Why wasn’t the boiler on an automated BMS that reported to a central control room. This controller room shouldn’t have had certified boiler operators and controls engineers monioring the read outs from all of the schools 24/7/365. Not $7.25 hr contract security guards. But $25-30hr boiler operators preferable with 4-6 year gained via a Navy Sub or a Union apprenticeship program. If this had been done some one accidentally leaving shut off a water nine valve would not have had such catestophic implication. This goes back to not prioritizing and managing your budget . You can not cut facilities to the core thy have life threatening implications. You can not give certain project to patronage buddies who are incompetant. You can not contract out high skilled crafts meant for lows killed skilled workers to save $1.

Davis has got to go!!!!!!!!

living in an outdated ed system

December 10th, 2012
11:15 am

I think the “right” answer is the most difficult pill to swallow. Davis has made several bad decisions and under normal circumstances should not be allowed to continue to serve. HOWEVER, the most important thing for APS, IMO, is stability for the children and the system, and I would reluctantly vote to leave Davis in the role so that APS can continue to “stabilize” and then make the job more attractive to a rock star candidate. I don’t think any high quality candidate would want the job right now, and so it would be painful to cause more disruption to a system already in major disarray.

HOC

December 10th, 2012
11:18 am

Give him a chance. The problem with education is we never give anyone or anything an opportunity to actually work. The North Atlanta event should not be the only determinant. Atlanta has a difficult population with varying socioeconomic groups. To search for a leader now would be very disruptive!

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
11:20 am

Well let’s get the “snarky” quota taken care of for today:

As if APS didn’t have enough systemic dysfunction to begin with, now it has a year long plus case of ED to contend with.

Can’t be good for the ole self esteem…

pb

December 10th, 2012
11:20 am

Beverly Fraud,

Think the guy’s nickname from Bush was Brownie, not Browie. But I get your point. Maybe Errol will have to take the blame for the mess at APS, and hit the bricks. But I sort of doubt it, because who are they going to get who is better, right now?

bootney farnsworth

December 10th, 2012
11:20 am

non political?

a guess if you consider race baiting, lying, and cronyistic non political…

bootney farnsworth

December 10th, 2012
11:22 am

I’ll say it:
if Erroll was white, he’d be gone.

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
11:25 am

HOWEVER, the most important thing for APS, IMO, is stability for the children and the system, and I would reluctantly vote to leave Davis in the role so that APS can continue to “stabilize” and then make the job more attractive to a rock star candidate.

@Outdated, I would put forth the proposition to you that if anything is “outdated” in education, (or at least deserves to be) it’s the notion that a snake oil salesman “rockstar” candidate can bring real and lasting change to a school system.

Or have we forgotten a decade’s worth of Beverly Hall? Or Rhee in D.C.? Or Duncan in Chicago? Or the many “Broad Academy” minted rockstars who have been complete and utter disasters elsewhere?

bootney farnsworth

December 10th, 2012
11:29 am

we don’t need rockstars, their egos are a large part of what dug this hole.
we need workhorses who put getting the job done – colorblindly- than getting ink.

the last thing APS needs is the sort of stability Erroll brings

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
11:40 am

Thanks pb for catching the typo…

Don’t know who a better superintendent might be, but I’d lay odds (where is Jerry Eads when you need him?) that 3 drunks, 2 street preachers, 3 turnstiles and a urine soaked elevator from MARTA’s Five Points Station could choose a better candidate than the current 9 on the board or any search firm they may hire.

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
11:44 am

Well, if we are merely looking for “stable” why not bring in someone whose past, while admittedly checkered, has beendecidedly more stable than that of APS’s the last couple of years?

Talking about Lindsey Lohan, of course

living in an outdated ed system

December 10th, 2012
11:46 am

You guys are ridiculous. When I say “rockstar,” I mean a STRONG leader. A strong reformer, a respected leader. Beverly Hall was not a strong leader – she failed in leadership.

Lets give Bootney the APS job.

Private Citizen

December 10th, 2012
11:48 am

When the district treats employees like widgets, moving them around like interchangeable parts

This is a government schools management culture in Georgia. How it got to be that way, who knows? Any sane professional would not want to work in this kind of condition where one can be uprooted and moved around as standard operating procedure. There is much frequency of this type activity. It has the effect of focusing all power on the central office and everyone else is powerless, can be destabilized and removed at will, it can be done with a phone call. It gives huge power to a small group of people, is core to the main office blight / power thing going on. The favored few get taken care. If you are not part of the networked-connected bunch, highly likelihood of getting churned and moved around.

Poor Boy from Alabama

December 10th, 2012
11:55 am

Erroll Davis was never supposed to be more than an interim superintendent. Two years is long enough unless folks can make a credible case that Erroll Davis is the kind of leader who can improve student performance. Nothing about his performance to date gives me confidence that he’s the right choice for the job on a permanent basis.

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
11:58 am

But outdated, by all accounts the education community (with the notable exception of Dr. John Trotter at MACE) the “bidness” community (including this very paper) praised her specifically for being a strong reformer.

Perhaps the key is to redefine what we consider to be “real reform” in education.

Perhaps we start with…discipline? Holding students accountable? You know, real reforms.

living in an outdated ed system

December 10th, 2012
12:00 pm

She was not a strong reformer. She had an “ends justifies the means” mentality and only cared about test scores. There are many strong leaders out there, and I can tell you, none will want the APS job right now. The kids need stability, period.

Private Citizen

December 10th, 2012
12:00 pm

Opinion: Davis did one bad thing, and everyone makes mistakes, especially with the multi-dimensional aspects of education work. Question is, how are the people he removed, how are they fairing? Was it ever made right? Do they have their dignity? -because they were treated in a rough manner. So what do they have to say about it? No communication on this anywhere. Like most education workers, they must want to hide in a corner somewhere. It’s like any time outside management shows up at your building, you’re in for a bad time. Sometimes you’re in for a real bad time. Same year that I delivered very high test scores from my students and as a result got zero recommendation or recognition for it, same year some board of education member camped outside of my classroom door for thirty minutes having a nice chat with somebody. NEVER a good omen. These folks run schools like they’re private country clubs for their own pleasure. No, not the NAHS parents who are so often scapegoated. What does it matter. They tore my school apart before I got there, and now they’re tearing it apart again. Sure is a lot of change and rearrange afoot. Might be a good time to go camping until this stuff settles out. No doubt the favored few get the good set-up. There is just massive instability in school management in Georgia. It is completely crazy, never seen anything like it anywhere. Hey neighbor, want to make 100k a year management salary? Get this mail order degree and come with me, we’ll put you to work….

Beyond NAHS

December 10th, 2012
12:00 pm

@ Private Citizen – Maybe that was part of the problem at NAHS: Administrators who had been there too long, had too much support from the community and thus a threat to central office? New Principal not going to be able to do Davis’s bidding with the existing, connected-to-the-community staff?

And sane professionals don’t want to work like that, but some of them do it for the kids, who really need them to stay. APS is a system where many kids need stability at school (because they don’t have it at home), but they’re not getting it under Davis & company.

Ray

December 10th, 2012
12:00 pm

Beverly Fraud: In your opinion, is there a single good person associated with Atlanta Public Schools? Why don’t you run for school board if the current board is lower than “drunks, street preachers, and MARTA turnstiles and urine soaked elevators”?

Private Citizen

December 10th, 2012
12:12 pm

Ray, that’s BF’s one liner. I agree they need a new line, and maybe a new user name not based on harassing somebody. I suggest “Little Flower.” There we go.

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
12:14 pm

Actually Ray, I know of a couple, but would never dare mention them by name, lest they face the administrative retaliation that permeates the corporate culture of APS.

As for the school board, I never did say they were “lower” than the assortment from the Five Points Station; I merely asserted that the Five Points Station assortment might be more likely to name better candidates for superintendent.

But looking at the numerous board members who were routinely reelected during what one would be within their rights to describe as no less than a decade’s worth of academic genocide, it appears that Atlanta is getting the school system it fully and richly deserves.

Pity the children aren’t.

Concerned taxpayer

December 10th, 2012
12:17 pm

“APS has long been a system that resents rather than encourages their few high performing schools.” The same could be said of Dekalb. I think it is because the goal today in public education (at least in metro-Atlanta) is not to provide a challenging education for every student; it is to “narrow the achievement gap.” If narrowing the gap is the goal, then having the non-struggling students improve becomes a problem for the system. The solution in Dekalb appears to be to drive these families out of the County, or at least out of the public schools. Wonder if that was the thinking behind the NAHS debacle

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
12:27 pm

and maybe a new user name not based on harassing somebody.

@Private Citizen that would presuppose that Beverly Fraud is based on a real person, and I have explicitly stated that any resemblance between the name Beverly Fraud, and anyone else, living or deceased is purely coincidental.

And of course I would fully expect most individuals to see it that way; but there may be some outliers, some “august” individuals if you will, who may see something differently…