Reinstatement of Watson-Harris fails as board of education approves interim superintendent’s contract

A motion to reinstate former DeKalb County School District Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris failed while a motion to ratify the contract with interim Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley passed with a 4-to-2 vote on April 29.

DeKalb Board of Education (BOE) member Allyson Gevertz made the motion to reinstate Watson-Harris, who was terminated on April 26 in a move that surprised many DeKalb County officials and some board members.

Watson-Harris has stated that she was “blindsided” when she was let go at the April 26 meeting. “I was unaware that my contract or employment would be discussed during (the April 26) meeting as I was not notified and it was not identified on the meeting notice,” she said.

BOE member Marshall Orson was the only other “yes” vote for Watson-Harris’ reinstatement at the April 29 meeting.

After Gevertz’s motion failed, the motion to approve the employment contract between the DeKalb County Board of Education and Tinsley passed after Gevertz and Orson were the only two “no” votes.

According to officials, Tinsley’s contract includes a base bi-monthly salary of $13,541.67 during the term of the contract in addition to an expense allotment of $2,600 per month and additional benefits.

After the motion passed, Tinsley said she has been working on a plan for her first 30 days in office that includes “focusing on emergency issues, with the first and foremost being facilities throughout the district.”

“I’ve already started some analysis through some visits to some of our schools,” Tinsley said. “I needed to see for myself what these conditions look like. I have visited Druid Hills High School and I plan to look as well at McNair High School, Cross Keys High School and others.”

Tinsley said looking at finances and what could be allocated to facility repairs and increasing safety for students is also in the works.

“Despite some of the challenges you came in the midst of, we have the utmost confidence in your ability,” said BOE Chair Vickie Turner. “The truth is you’re the right woman for the hour.”

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