DeKalb Schools just issued a statement announcing that former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond will be appointed interim superintendent
Former Gov. Roy Barnes, at the AJC today for a meeting with reporters, praised Thurmond, with whom he worked for years in state government.
“Michael Thurmond is one of the most inspirational speakers I’ve ever heard. If DeKalb can be brought over with guts, vision and passion, he can do it. For an interim to kind of stir things up, Michael would be an excellent choice,” said Barnes. (More later on Barnes’ view of where Georgia is on education issues.)
Here is the official DeKalb statement:
“We are delighted Mr. Thurmond has agreed to serve as our interim superintendent,” said Board Chairman Eugene Walker. “Our school district is facing significant challenges, and we need a leader with a strong record of making fundamental changes in large, complex organizations. Throughout our state, you’ll find almost universal agreement that Michael Thurmond has consistently demonstrated those abilities.”
“The board is committed to working with Mr. Thurmond,” said Jim McMahan, vice-chair of the DeKalb board. “Under his leadership, we will work to ensure that every child in DeKalb has equal access to a quality education.”
“I welcome the opportunity to serve the 99,000 students of the DeKalb County Schools,” said Mr. Thurmond. “By all of us coming together across our county – parents, employees, citizens and businesses North and South – there’s no limit to what we will accomplish for our schoolchildren.”
Thurmond is credited with transforming two unwieldy state agencies, first as director of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and then as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor. At DFCS, Thurmond instituted a shift away from a culture of dependency for welfare recipients to a new focus on employment, job-training and personal responsibility. The Department of Labor underwent a similar change under his leadership, from a department that administered jobless benefits into a statewide resource for Georgians seeking career opportunities and training at newly created Career Centers throughout the state.
“We think that fundamental change is what our parents and stakeholders are demanding,” Dr. Walker said. “We are confident that Michael Thurmond is the leader with the track record and the ability to improve education for all of our schoolchildren.”
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog