Could Michael Thurmond Be DeKalb's Interim Superintendent?

Feb 4, 2013

Speculation continues to swirl about whether the DeKalb County school district is searching for a new superintendent. The DeKalb school board met in executive session Monday after postponing a regular meeting.

Former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond has offered the DeKalb school board his help.
Credit Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, LLP

The purpose of Monday’s regular board meeting was to elect a new chair and vice chair. However, as the meeting began, current board chair Eugene Walker announced it would be rescheduled.

“Someone said proper notice had not been taken, [so] the election of our chair and vice chair [will be held] at our next meeting,” Walker said. 

The board failed to give the public 24 hours’ notice of the meeting, as required by law. It was the third time the board tried to hold the elections.

Later that afternoon, the board met in executive session.

About two hours later, former Georgia labor commissioner Michael Thurmond emerged from the meeting. Some speculated the board interviewed Thurmond to temporarily take Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s place should she resign. He said he was just there to help:

“You could say it was an interview, but I made it clear, I am here to help in any capacity I can to help make sure that we have 99,000 young people in this county getting continued access to public education,” Thurmond said. 

Thurmond said he thinks he can help the board with the governance issues that caused its accrediting agency to put the district on probation.

“I’ve worked with troubled organizations before," he said, "I was the director of the Department of Family and Children's Services; we had issues at the labor department. You know my experience, my expertise. So, I feel like I can assist them right now.”

District officials said Atkinson is still the superintendent. Spokesperson Lillian Govus said that’s evidenced by the fact there’s no opening right now for DeKalb superintendent.

“Any position you’re hiring for must be posted,” Govus explained. 

The embattled DeKalb board will have to go before the state board of education again later this month. Board members will need to demonstrate how they’ve improved their efforts to effectively govern the district.