After a town hall meeting in Chamblee that left some attendees unsatisfied with the lack of audience participation, Dr. Devon Horton, the sole finalist set to become the next superintendent of DeKalb County School District (DCSD), answered questions submitted online and from parents and teachers in attendance during an event held at McNair Middle School in Decatur on April 13.
While some audience members in attendance asked questions about Horton’s experience and goals for the district, others voiced concerns about any potential superintendent candidate working with the DeKalb County Board of Education.
“We have a dysfunctional board of education that can’t work with one another and you’re coming into (the school district) with your own baggage, so I have a problem,” said one audience member. “You don’t want to come here. We’re dealing with a corrupt system.”
Horton said if he is selected as the next superintendent of DCSD, he will be a “disruptive leader,” which he described as “removing the barriers that have been in the way that have stopped us from moving forward.”
“A disruptive leader refuses to accept the norm,” said Horton. “From what I’ve observed, it means not accepting an attitude of ‘this is just how we do things in DeKalb.’ It means being innovative and not being afraid to make the moves that need to be made for our children.”
Horton was also asked multiple questions about his own experiences in education. He described being a teacher for more than ten years before moving into administrative roles.
“I understand challenges and what it takes to be in the classroom when you’re under-resourced and over-crowded,” said Horton. “That can’t continue to happen. For anyone thinking ‘this is a bureaucrat who doesn’t know this work,’ I’ve got many stories I can tell about my time teaching.”
His descriptions of teaching middle school and being a basketball coach gained applause from the audience which consisted of many DCSD teachers.
When asked what his first order of business would be if selected as superintendent, Horton said he would work with the school board and DCSD cabinet members on a 90-day plan.
“In those first 90 days I would like to look, listen and learn,” said Horton. “I need to hear from constituents in every corner. I believe in leading with empathy and I believe it is our role as leaders to inspire our community and our students. I also believe in leading with righteousness which means we’re going to be transparent.”
DCSD Board of Education member Allyson Gevertz said Horton “stayed late to speak to a long line of people waiting to meet him.”
“Stakeholders asked tough questions and Dr. Horton responded honestly and capably,” said Gevertz.
A final town hall is scheduled for 6 p.m. on April 14 at the DeKalb County BOE Administrative and Instructional Complex located at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd in Stone Mountain.
For more information visit https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/.