Can ‘take-no-prisoners’ superintendent save scandal-plagued Atlanta schools?

Jul 9, 2011 by

Stacy Teicher Khadaroo – In the wake of its massive cheating scandal, the Atlantic Public School district is trying to move forward on more solid ground. Among its first steps: new whistleblower procedures and ways to monitor unusually high test-score increases.

Brand-new interim Superintendent Erroll Davis Jr. announced his preliminary plan yesterday, saying more details will come after he’s had a chance to thoroughly review the 800-plus page state report that implicated district leaders and 178 educators in the manipulation of state tests.

“I believe that we must change the culture of the organization. We have to move to a more open, more transparent, and more empowering culture,” Mr. Davis said at Thursday’s board meeting.

The board has suspended its search for a new permanent superintendent, giving Davis 12 months to effect that kind of cultural transformation.

That was a wise move because Davis’s business background and “straight-ahead, take-no-prisoners approach may be what is needed” in the short term, says Mark Musick, an Atlanta resident and president emeritus of the Southern Regional Education Board.

Davis is the former president and CEO of the multi-billion-dollar Alliant Energy Corporation.

Systemic changes at Atlanta Public Schools

Mr. Musick says he was particularly disturbed by the district’s handling of whistleblower allegations internally, instead of through a body that reports directly to the board. He hopes school districts across country are now checking their whistleblower policies.

As a corrective, Davis announced that the Office of Internal Resolution, which handles such complaints, will no longer be part of the Human Resources Department, but will move to Internal Audits, which reports directly to the Atlanta Board of Education.

Prior to Tuesday’s state report on cheating in Atlanta, the district had already set up a 24-hour hotline for people to report testing improprieties. It had also increased security for testing materials.


via Can ‘take-no-prisoners’ superintendent save scandal-plagued Atlanta schools? –

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