April 17, 2014

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Atkinson doesn’t get superintendent job in Atlanta Schools

LORAIN — Thank you for your interest in the opening, and best of luck in your job search.

Atkinson

Atkinson

For the second time in a month, Lorain Schools Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has been rejected for a job.

On the heels of a report on the cover-up of widespread cheating on test scores by district administrators and teachers, the Atlanta Schools on Thursday announced interim Superintendent Erroll Davis Jr. will stay at least a year.

Davis replaced Superintendent Beverly Hall, whose contract expired June 30. Atkinson and Prince County, Md., Superintendent Bonita Coleman-Potter were finalists for the job and interviewed in Atlanta last week.

Davis retired on June 30 as chancellor of University System of Georgia, and district spokesman Keith Bromery said the cheating scandal convinced Atlanta Board of Education members to hire locally.

“He had the credentials in terms of a leadership role for a large educational organization. He was local. He was right here,” Bromery said. “It just made good sense.”

Atkinson, passed over on June 7 for the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools CEO job for an in-house candidate, didn’t return a call for comment Thursday. However, Lorain Board of Education Chairman Tony Dimacchia said Atkinson had contemplated withdrawing her candidacy several days ago and dropped out Thursday.

Dimacchia said he didn’t know if Atkinson dropped out before it was announced the job wouldn’t be available for at least a year.

“Even if she was selected, I don’t know if she was prepared to leave right away anyway because of some of the things she had to finish up here in Lorain,” Dimacchia said. “She made that extremely clear to the Atlanta board several weeks ago when this process started.”

Despite the job interviews, Dimacchia said Atkinson was happy in Lorain and wasn’t interviewing for any other jobs, “as far as I know.” Dimacchia said he expects Atkinson to fulfill her contract, which expires in July 2014.

With the school year beginning soon, board member and Atkinson critic Jim Smith said he expects Atkinson will stay at least for the 2011-12 school year.

Nonetheless, Smith said it would be helpful if Atkinson publicly declared she was staying for at least a year so board members know they don’t have to conduct a job search.

Board member and Atkinson supporter Paul Biber said a public declaration isn’t necessary but thinks Atkinson will stay at least another year. While the district just laid off 27 teachers and is grappling with huge projected deficits, Biber said Atkinson’s job shopping wasn’t awkward, but he does hope it’s over.

“Given the financial issues, this was a problem we didn’t need to have,” he said. “From our perspective, it’s a relief.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.