After much debate and failed motions, Atlanta board keeps school chief Erroll Davis at helm through 2014

A divided Atlanta school board extended superintendent Erroll Davis’ contract by 18 months after protracted public and closed-door debates Monday.

The board, which began its deliberations in the afternoon, voted six hours later to add 18 months to Davis’ contract, which now goes through June.  The contract contains two trigger clauses that allow the school board to fire Davis with 90 days’ notice.

The Atlanta school board had been considering offering Davis a contract that added two years to his tenure but settled on 18 months after several rounds of convoluted and terse discussions punctuated by closed door sessions.

A thread throughout the debate was that Davis was originally brought  on board as an interim to steady Atlanta schools and was never meant to be their long-term leader. At one point, board member Brenda Muhammad asked Davis, “But I want to know if anyone has ever asked if you were interested in the permanent position?”

“No one has asked me,” said Davis. “Permanent is a difficult word. The average life of an urban superintendent is 2.9 years. If you are asking if I want to make this a career, the answer is no. I’ve had enough careers. Are there things that remain to be done?  The answer is yes, specifically with career academies.  I don’t have aspirations or desires, but I appreciate your asking.”

The board vote to retain Davis occurred after he left to catch a flight at 8 p.m. so he was not on hand to see the conclusion of the arduous process, which began at 3:20 p.m. with public comments, most in support of keeping him at the helm of APS.

Among the comments: I know Superintendent Davis has made some mistakes. I think the North Atlanta High School situation was handled clumsily but I know that North Atlanta has some of the same problems high schools across the city have with graduation rates.  But I watched him go through the redistricting process and he was transparent and it was probably the best thing that has happened to this school district.  It had great results.  We have seen much positive academic and personnel movement in the Jackson cluster and this is not because of the board’s actions, but because of Mr. Davis’ action.

According to the AJC account of the marathon meeting:

The 9-member board has been sharply split since it delayed a vote to extend Davis’ contract last October, weeks after the superintendent stirred an uprising of Buckhead students and parents by removing six administrators from North Atlanta High.

Motion after motion to extend Davis’s contract with two trigger, and various extension clauses, failed by 6-3 votes. When the contract passed 7-2, Nancy Meister and board member Brenda Muhammad voted against it.

Chairman Reuben McDaniel, who had campaigned publicly and behind the scenes for a 2-year extension of Davis’ contract, said afterward he was happy with the process. He said Davis, who was not available for comment after the vote, “is fully on board with” the 18-month extension.

About a dozen speakers urged the board to extend Davis’ contract before the board went into executive session behind closed doors to debate the fate of the superintendent who has steered the district for 18 months in the aftermath of a cheating scandal.

Many supporters were disappointed by the outcome. “It’s a 90 day contract,” said supporter Abby Martin. “If they don’t like him he’s gone in 90 days.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

48 comments Add your comment

Tired!

December 10th, 2012
10:48 pm

Well as an APS employee, this speaks volumes. It says that neither the Board nor Davis knows whats going on. The smoke and mirrors continue. There is not real change that has occured that will make a difference in the lives of the majority of the students APS. The students north of the city will be fine…their tax dollars will ensure that every vote allows them to pull valuable resources away from the most impoverished areas to fund the multi-million dollar buildings, renovations to existing structures, and unnecessary additions (gym at SPARK). It is interesting that not one board member ever tried to speak to the teachers, the instructional support personnel that educate the students day in and day out. Instead, they follow the leader of McDaniel….a man who would rather play politics than take a stand for children. This all came down to politics and deep pockets. As an individual who believes in service to the community, this was a major set back to our city. We will see greater divides occuring throughout the city! Davis has no connection to the city, could care less about the students and has no idea what it takes to run a system. His hiring decisions…starting with Karen Waldon speaks volumes. While my voice won’t change the vote…I must voice my deepest concern for this public education system that I believe just betrayed the very students it is supposed to support and educate.

In the Know

December 10th, 2012
11:10 pm

If we look back to July 2011 we will remember a school board who had just sued each other over internal squabbling on the removal of Lashandra Butler Burks as Chair. Yes, they sued each other! This resulted in SACS placing the system on probation and a requirement that the board undergo training and assistance on how to get along from a Mediator. A new Ga. law required that the local board go before the State Board for a hearing on whether or not the APS school board should be recommended for removal. There was only one reason the State Board did not recommend removal of the local board: Erroll Davis Jr. Every state board member wanted assurrance that Mr. Davis would stay on a superintendent.
With his leadership, the district now enjoys full accreditation.
Then remember the cheating scandal that broke during this same period. The Board, which had been there for years, had no idea, and some still deny it. Mr. Davis took it on, stayed the course, and today, almost all these cases are resolved in favor of the school district. So what does this meeting discussion of the Board on Supt. Davis contract which has gone on over four meetings look like? July 2011. The good news is that all board members are up for re election in less than a year.

RCB

December 10th, 2012
11:30 pm

If only those elections would result in something different. Sigh.

Tired!

December 10th, 2012
11:31 pm

@in the know
You give Erroll too much credit! He has not LEAD this district, he has bullied this district!
A good bully makes you fearful of reporting wrongdoing…a good bully employs other cronies to do their dirty work – a good bully talks a lot of big talk then hides behind lies and intimidation to force others to follow!

Beverly Fraud

December 10th, 2012
11:32 pm

“With his leadership, the district now enjoys full ccreditation.”

Please; there was never a threat that APS would actually lose accreditation. It was all a political ploy. This isn’t hindsight, as it was stated before SACS stepped in that this board could be seen en masse, barnyard animals in tow, dancing on a stripper pole at Magic City and SACS still would not yank APS’s accreditation.

There may be some other reasons to keep Davis, but the empty threat of loss of accreditation isn’t one.

Tired!

December 10th, 2012
11:32 pm

sorry LED not LEAD

Tired!

December 10th, 2012
11:35 pm

Right! Get over it, Davis is not the savior of APS! He is merely a man out of retirement that wants to make a mark, make some money, and make people believe his jargon! The loss of accreditation was never going to happen! Too much North end money to get Mark to see their way!

tjatl

December 10th, 2012
11:40 pm

@In the Know – unfortunately, there are very few candidates that I’m aware of gearing up to run against current Board members seeking re-election.

@Tired – I hear you, but when the ship is sinking there is some structural work to be done. Doesn’t excuse lack of focus on teaching and best methods (which are structural, no doubt), but both can be done at the same time with appropriate pressure. Mutiny is not necessarily the answer.

Tired!

December 10th, 2012
11:46 pm

@tjatl
Well at least can an educator make the decisions to support this sinking ship. At the end of the day it was the few wealthy made it out alive from the Titanic not the majority from the lower decks. Erroll is only looking out for upper crust and that isn’t the majority! I’m not suggesting mutiny, I’m suggesting real solutions and practical methods that can support, transform and rebuild at the same time. Erroll is not the man to do it. If we were talking about engineering a plane, I would hire him; educating children…NOT!

Unbelievable

December 10th, 2012
11:49 pm

Absolutely unbelievable that Error’s contract was extended!!!!! APS continues to run like the MAFIA!!!! In fact the city of Atlanta has become as corrupt as Chicago.

Unbelievable

December 10th, 2012
11:50 pm

Absolutely unbelievable that Error’s contract was extended!!!!! APS continues to run like the MAFIA!!!!

Tired!

December 11th, 2012
12:01 am

If you have ever watched a series of BOSS; this is stripped straight from the storyline. I never thought Atlanta would be this corrupt! As a native Atlantan, Kasim Reed should be ashamed. I guess the Airport was just the beginning!

Tired!

December 11th, 2012
12:07 am

As we enter into this two year extension, I guess the slogan should be “Follow the Money!” I think all will be revealed soon enough!

tjatl

December 11th, 2012
12:31 am

Tired, I totally agree that he is not the one to make educational reforms, and we need to apply pressure to make that happen simultaneously until his replacement comes. But there were fatal flaws in the setup with regard to infrastructure (both physical and human).
Past administrations had been swayed by arguments for school facilities as a real estate growth tool (if you build it they will come). They were also woefully out of step with the changes in Atlanta Housing Authority policies and plans, unless they were unduly influenced by the business community (developers) – again, “if you build it/renovate it we’ll replace those residents”.
Marry that to the small campus model and you have massive overruns, which the 2010 census revealed. The kids are not where the facilities are. (??? – how did that happen?)
But there is still much to be done. Whatever happened to the RIF the Board approved? Nothing has been done about that. It’s still nearly impossible for a principal to get an external hire approved. Leveling? A mess.
How would you personally fix this? Other than getting someone else to assume the helm, I mean.

redweather

December 11th, 2012
6:38 am

I’ll take Erroll Davis over any one of the jokes on the Atlanta Fool Board.

catlady

December 11th, 2012
6:47 am

Ms. Downey, How much does APS pay per year to SACS for accreditation? I know it is no “Anglie’s List.”

Doris M

December 11th, 2012
7:06 am

Well, here we go again!

Ronin

December 11th, 2012
7:23 am

May fortune favor the foolish.

MyNameisQ

December 11th, 2012
8:19 am

Hey Atlanta! I live in DeKalb Co. and we’re up for a trade. Our super for yours. What do you say?

the good doctor

December 11th, 2012
8:29 am

People… do you really think Mr. Davis needs the money? Who has done more for this system which has layers upon layers of bureaucracy? Here is the thing he has already made his money so he can make decsions that people do not like and not have to worry about where is his next meal is coming from. Just a thought?

Pride and Joy

December 11th, 2012
8:41 am

To Tired ! — you complain that all the tax money is going to the North — which is code for “white” schools.
Baloney.
Coan, a failing cheating school, which is so bad that even local residents don’t want to attend, got tons of money and resources to stay open.
Your characterization that “white” schools get all the resources is laughable because there ARE NO white schools in APS. It is also laughable because enormous amount of money, time and effort goes from white families to black families to try to close the achievement gap.

Pride and Joy

December 11th, 2012
8:44 am

The good doctor — I agree with you that Davis doesn’t need the money — I also say he doesn’t need the “prestige” of being a super because he has already held more prestigious jobs…but that does NOT prevent him from having a political agenda.
Davis flat out lied about the firings at NAHS. The school was never in danger of being closed by the State as he lied to us and said.
Further, other schools in APS performed as poorly or even worse and were not closed.
The issue was race. He wanted to fire the white leadership and he did.

indigo

December 11th, 2012
8:53 am

The Atlanta school board has a lengthy history of making one bad decision after another.

At least they are consistent.

pookums

December 11th, 2012
9:07 am

Yes, people, Davis blundered by relieving the NAHS leadership. I think he’s learned his lesson. However the problem is not Davis, the problem is the sorry excuse for a School Board. The School Board is playing race politics and everything they do reeks of it. Davis is trying to clean up their mess, but every once in awhile they manage to get him to do something he otherwise shouldn’t.

I think he sees the School Board for the hacks that they are. Focus on defeating them all at election time and worry less about Davis.

Sandy Springs parent

December 11th, 2012
9:27 am

One thing this vote showed fornthenfirst time was that the two

Sandy Springs parent

December 11th, 2012
9:37 am

One thing that this showed that the two white board members for the most part left their respective voting blocks and voted together, along with their new found partner ms Mouhamud to show how Raciest this board had become. It is clear that the block of 6 is only interest in promoting major Reed and his black mafia. Rueben McDaniel and Error are just a couple of his street gang enforcers. Reed should end up like Campbell in federal Penn..

The only there that care for all the students are all these ladies. Everyone else needs to be votes out of office. We need Mary Norwoqd for mayor.

20/20

December 11th, 2012
9:39 am

Well I am proud of Meister and Muhammad. They voted no for extending the contract and the rest will be taken care of by the universe. Erroll Davis is the wrong man for the job and he won’t sucreed. Just watching! !

CJae of EAV

December 11th, 2012
10:21 am

@Pride & Joy – Whle you’re riding on your high horse, take a look around at the changing demographics of the community surrounding Coan and then re-examine your rebuttal comment to @Tired. The decision on the part of APS to commit to invest in keeping Coan open is driven by some of the same logic that @tjatl pointed out.

Maude

December 11th, 2012
10:34 am

Where is SACS?? Davis lied doing what the board instructed him to do. If he worked in Clayton County they would be uncredited again.

KIM

December 11th, 2012
10:36 am

Pride and Joy and CJae of EAV…race, changing demos have nothing to do with poor decision making.

Inman Parker

December 11th, 2012
10:42 am

Have you ever given thought to just why Atlanta schools are so deficient? When was the last time this city had a really competent superintendent and not some politically correct hack?

intown parent

December 11th, 2012
10:43 am

To Tired: Your comment about all the money going to the white schools is pretty laughable, so i assume you’re relatively new. When the first major population bubble was starting to hit Morningside Elem about 10 yrs ago, the dust settling of which eventually resulted in SPARK, a black ABOE member told a white parent at an ABOE meeting that there was NO growth in white students in APS on the north side, so there was absolutely no reason to spend $$ on construction to handle the non-existant growth. This when APS had for *years* spent boatloads of SPLOST $$ on new elementaries in districts where COA / Atlanta Housing Authority had already announced the timeline for the demolition of public housing which supplied upwards of 50% of the students. So, scads of new schools rattling half-empty with no influx of students in sight (nor had been for 5-10 yrs), but oh no can’t close them…

That you’re just NOW figuring out how corrupt Atlanta is ??? Did you drink the Kasim Kool-Aid too -? As soon as the Mayor, from whom ALL power flows in this city, got back into the fray and said he wanted Davis to stay, it was a done deal. He didn’t succeed in protecting B.Hall but Davis was saved over expectations he was going out. That Reed was confident enough to open his mouth on the topic again -??? How did so many board members who don’t like Davis or each other manage to come together? One of Reed’s favorite ploys is to give enemies (and friends) jobs in the Mayor’s office, a tactic that Shirley used to great benefit; sniff around that idea and see what shakes.

You need to find a real insider to tell you how to read the tea leaves.
Saying it’s simply race politics is facile and naive.
It’s always about money and the power to control it.

Private Citizen

December 11th, 2012
10:54 am

sandy springs parent, would you puhhlease figure out how to spell “racist?” as opposed to “the person that is most exciting / racy = raciest. Thank you.

Private Citizen

December 11th, 2012
11:07 am

I’ll tell you one thing, this fraternal black thing that has taken over Atlanta government, I don’t know what to make of it. It’s not much race or good or bad, but for an outside observer it gives the impression that “no non-black person” need apply. And even if there was a non-black person at the helm, the rest seems fraternal. The city government system does not give the impression of egalitarian multicultural. Maybe it will be that way forever now, but it’s weird. Fraternal people tend to talk-a-talk and dress-a-dress and walk-a-walk and there is this power expectation that other people “recognise” or play along. For an intellectual, it is just like wtf?, pardon me. Mr. David said something about work left to be done setting up some academy schools. That’s certainly egalitarian, but yes it looks like someone set him up on an errand to do a racial hit job at NAHS. All I can say is don’t put up with it and use the court to set the standard because we have laws in this country. Maybe Mr. Davis got used / set-up like like Colin Powell. They guy got all set-up and sat there and lied to the world, reading his reports about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” now. Colin Powell regrets it now because it destroyed his credibility. Mr. Davis put his toe in the same waters. Maybe he knows better now that to be used by some behind the scenes charismatic string puller. Those folks can be good at seduction on the first time around. Davis probably wants to get away from them and give them the middle finger from the tarmack at the airport.

Prof

December 11th, 2012
11:43 am

Practically speaking, this decision to extend Superintendent Davis’s contract seems the most sensible. In 18 months, the Board elections should have taken place so it won’t be lame ducks making the decision to hire the new Superintendent, and the search for this new person should be finished. It’s hard to imagine an outstanding professional candidate being willing to come to take over the APS as it stands right now.

It does seem a mite odd though that the Board hasn’t started the national search for a permanent Superintendent by now……….

Private Citizen

December 11th, 2012
11:49 am

Prof, When the time comes, they shouldn’t do the search. A consulting firm known to the public should do the search/ vetting.

living in an outdated ed system

December 11th, 2012
12:25 pm

This was the right decision for APS at this time. I do know that the mayor’s office worked VERY HARD behind the scenes to corral the votes. The children don’t need more disruption right now. Davis has not been a great leader, but APS needs stability more than anything right now. Then, APS can recruit a nationally recognized education leader. We don’t need a rock star (bad word for this blog community), but we need a visionary leader. I know that’s an oxymoron in the world of public education.

Prof

December 11th, 2012
12:53 pm

@ Private Citizen. Totally agree…or an external professional educational search agency. But I don’t think that will happen. This Board will never let the search process out of their grasp.

Prof

December 11th, 2012
12:56 pm

Also, usually the search process takes place, and then the Board makes the final decision of which candidate to hire.

Private Citizen

December 11th, 2012
1:21 pm

Prof, This is key. The public can focus on the excellence / integrity of the consultant and at least be informed. This is a simple matter if your priority is result, no different than building a road and using design consultants to make certain the road is well built. Hey Prof, ever notice that Acura stole their logo / derivative of the Autobahn icon? http://www.goodlogo.com/extended.info/acura-logo-2972 to this http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/logo/autobahn

Notice anything here? :-) http://www.hdtvexpressservices.com/images/mitsubishi-logo.jpg to this http://www.logoeps.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/mercedes-benz-vector.jpg

Both of the Japanese companies have used pointy trapezoids to replicate the logos they are borrowing from. One of the originals means “Land / Sea / Air,” is deliberate, has meaning.

bootney farnsworth

December 11th, 2012
3:57 pm

sad, very sad.

the beatings and intimidation will continue until the cronyism improves.

said it before, stand by it: if Erroll were white, he’d have already been gone.

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

December 11th, 2012
4:23 pm

I wonder what kind of palm greasing went down over the past week since the board voted to ‘postpone’ this vote until today. I bet Kasim Reed is behind it.

I only pray that Reed’s, McDaniel’s, and the rest of the kronie krew’s dirty little secrets will come to surface soon.

Private Citizen for Mayor! Bootney Farnsworth for Superintendent!

V for Vendetta

December 11th, 2012
7:13 pm

I don’t want to say I told you so…. but….

Tired!

December 11th, 2012
11:30 pm

@Pride & Joy and Intown parent
PLEASE! Sell that jargon to someone else. I know that a lot of money is being used to support the North End schools. And yes, there are white, i.e. North End schools in APS – Sarah smith, Jackson, Brandon, Morningside, Springdale Park, Mary Lin – I must admit some more upper crust than others. Just as you commented about Coan, years ago many of these parents did not choose to send their kids to these ‘now white’ north end schools, opting for private. Then they looked at all of the kids from other areas being dropped off at their neighborhood school and they decided to take them back over, ending the M&M transporation to these schools. Now that all of these parents are opting for public education (now really due to financial reasons), there is a definite pull of resources to support their school facilities. Starting with the creation of annex buildings for Smith, Jackson, Morningside, which led to the construction of other campuses, now the groundbreaking of the new high school that is so far north it may be in the fulton County district, the creation of a boutique elementary school named SPARK, (just the beginning). And with the SPLOST money going to major renovations and upgrades to these recent constructions there is a reality that money is spent on these areas which takes away from the majority of the students. So don’t try to quote some information about a census. Here is my theory…We know what your hidden agenda is. Allow APS to build these wonderful facilities, use the tax payer money and then Buckhead will pull away to make their own Charter system, leaving the rest of APS to make due with the leftovers.

Chris Murphy

December 12th, 2012
8:07 am

@Tired: you have stated before that you are a principal in APS. If that is true, please quit your job and leave the system, and education, entirely.

Chris Murphy

December 12th, 2012
8:12 am

It is a very good thing that Mr. Davis was retained. The search firms will be chosen by a Board committee; 4 firms have responded to RFP’s already.

There is a great degree of improvement in APS already under Mr. Davis- most of the new principals chosen have been excellent hires. Those are the most important personnel positions in a school system, IMO- they make or break where a district is going. Remember, almost half of the principals in APS were implicated in the cheating scandal; indeed, most cheating on those tests could only be done with the approval of a principal. Davis and his staff have done terrific work in changing schools’ leadership so far.

Entitlement Society

December 12th, 2012
10:15 am

@Tired – give me a break on the race issues. Do a little research before you spout off ignorance. I just looked up our two schools – Sarah Smith 69% white, 31% non-white and Sutton Middle 36% white and 64% non-white. Why don’t you just buy a house in the northern part of the city if you think it’s so great up here? It’s not. Why do you think that the majority of the middle school is non-white when I would guess Buckhead as a whole is probably over half white? Because the schools are awful! Take your own time to look up the stats on the other schools you named.

Top School

December 31st, 2012
7:10 pm

and with that …Top School checks out…and gives all this to a higher power.
The truth was told. And the future unfolds.
Top School is retired. Over and out!

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com
Closed.