The DeKalb County Board of Education announced a new finalist for the superintendent position after the previous candidate was ultimately rejected by the board in a split vote last month.

Cheryl Watson-Harris, who is currently second in command at the New York City Department of Education, would take the superintendent position at the DeKalb County School District on July 1, if she makes it through the two-week public input period required by Georgia law.

Cheryl Watson-Harris. (Special)

Watson-Harris has 26 years of experience in urban school districts, according to a biography released by the school board. In her current role, she serves 1.1 million students in the largest school district in the country, touting accomplishments such as an increase in graduation rates and test scores during her time with NYC.

“Cheryl Watson-Harris is part of the next generation of outstanding leaders in public education,” school board chair Marshall Orson said in the press release. “She fits the criteria desired by the DeKalb community, including her dedication to high levels of academic achievement, her experience helping lead large, diverse, urban districts, her commitment to equity for all students, and her ability to plan with a long-term vision for the district.”

Rudolph “Rudy” Crew advanced to this point in the DeKalb County School District superintendent hiring process in May, but board members rejected him in a 4-3 vote because of public criticism regarding past controversies.

Crew had a rocky exit from Flordia’s Miami-Dade County schools superintendent amid budget shortfalls and racial discrimination accusations, allegations of misspending of public money at Medgar Evers College, and a 1990s dispute over the failure to secure a room in a school where a student was later raped.

Superintendent Ramona Tyson will retire at the end of June, so the district has only a few weeks to finalize her replacement. Tyson took the interim position in November 2019 after former Superintendent R. Stephen Green was dismissed after he announced plans to resign.

During the 14-day period between the announcement and official hiring, Watson-Harris will meet remotely with district employees and community members, including a June 11 town hall where residents can submit questions via phone at 678-676-0722 or via email at dcsdsupersearch@dekalbschoolsga.org.

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