Cheryl Watson-Harris, DeKalb County, School Board, fired, 300k, settlement,

DeKalb County School Board Votes In Favor Of $300K+ Settlement With Terminated Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris

The board announced the settlement with the former superintendent after a 6-1 vote during a regular business meeting.

The DeKalb County School Board has approved a substantial settlement of over $300,000 for former Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris following a contentious dismissal in 2022.

With a final vote of 6-1, the board announced the settlement, which according to 11 Alive, includes $325,000 based on Watson-Harris’ original contract terms, along with an additional $16,000 in attorney fees.

Watson-Harris’ tenure with DeKalb County came to an end in April 2022 after she was unexpectedly fired during an executive meeting. She expressed that she was “blindsided” by the school board’s decision to authorize a separation agreement, effective immediately. The dismissal unfolded amid friction surrounding the renovations at Druid Hills High School, in which 2022 videos went viral of students showcasing the disturbing conditions that included mold, a sewage leak, and crumbling walls.

On April 25, 2022, State School Superintendent Richard Woods addressed members of the DeKalb County Board of Education concerning the school’s toxic conditions and questioned “why these issues were only addressed after they were raised by students — rather than being identified and promptly addressed by the adults responsible for them.” His statement continued, “In reality, there has been a lack of leadership, responsibility, and urgency regarding this core responsibility of DeKalb County Schools: providing safe and fully functioning facilities.” Watson-Harris was prompted to take immediate action.

Vickie Turner, the DeKalb School Board Chair, defended the dismissal of the former superintendent, as reported by 11 Alive. “We have been plagued by a lot of negative press. And it was time to make an adjustment, make a change, and not be afraid to look into the lion’s den, and this is what it looks like,” Turner stated in 2022. “We are not afraid; we are running in. So, will everyone agree with us? No, but that’s OK. We are doing it with a heart for our children.”

However, the decision faced dissent from some DeKalb School Board members, who criticized it as hasty and lacking transparency. Marshall Orson expressed disappointment over the decision in 2022, stating, “We had an exceptional leader in Cheryl Watson-Harris.”

In the wake of Watson-Harris’s departure, Dr. Vasanne Tinsley assumed the role of interim DeKalb County Schools Superintendent. Following a search for a permanent replacement, Dr. Devon Horton was appointed to the position, with his contract spanning until June 30, 2025, and the option for a third-year extension.

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