By Sara Amis, Contributor
DeKalb County, Georgia — The DeKalb County School Board has released a copy of its contract with new acting superintendent Dr. Vasanne Tinsley after approving it at a contentious April 29 meeting.
The contract gives Tinsley, the district’s retired assistant superintendent, a base salary of approximately $325,000. Additionally, Tinsley will receive a monthly expense allowance of $2,600 plus an additional $500 in travel expenses each month. The DeKalb County School District will also provide an automobile for Dr. Tinsley.
The board also agreed to reimburse Tinsley for up to $5,000 in legal fees related to his employment by May 31, 2022.
The board issued a termination letter for Dr. Cheryl Watson-Harris, who was hastily terminated as superintendent on April 26. This letter states that the board terminated her “for convenience,” which requires them to pay twelve months of her base salary of $325,000. per year as compensation.
If the board terminated Watson-Harris for cause, her contract stated that she would receive 30 days’ notice and a formal hearing.
Some board members publicly criticized Watson-Harris before and after the school board voted to terminate her contract.
As part of discussing a motion to reinstate Watson-Harris, DeKalb County School Board President Vickie Turner accused Watson-Harris of issues with the online academy and school choice. of the district, as well as what she claimed was an increase in violence in schools in the district, at the April 29 board meeting. Council member Allyson Gevertz said in response that the council had been informed by the district’s public safety department that the violence was not increasing.
In his response to an April 25 letter from State Superintendent Robert Woods that criticized the board and advised it to “hold accountable” then-Superintendent Watson-Harris, Turner instead pointed the finger at Watson-Harris.
“Consistent with our Purchasing Policy, the Superintendent is empowered to promptly deal with any situation that threatens to jeopardize the health, welfare, or safety of students, staff, district, or the public by waiving competitive selection rules for the purchase of goods and services,” Turner wrote to Woods. Turner went on to say that the board expected the superintendent to comply with recommendations from the Georgia Department of Education to address “unacceptable conditions at Druid Hills High School as well as other facilities in the district.”
In a recent interview, Watson-Harris categorically told Decaturish that Druid Hills’ needs exceeded what she was allowed under her spending power. In October of last year, the board reduced the superintendent’s power to enter into contracts without board approval from $100,000 to $50,000.
Board member Dr. Joyce Morley also publicly criticized Watson-Harris, disparaging her knowledge, decisions and qualifications during the April 29 board meeting. Among a confusing array of other statements, Morley’s claim that Watson-Harris had never been a director is not based on fact.
Morley was named individually with the DeKalb County School District by former superintendent candidate Rudy Crew. Crew alleged in a 2020 lawsuit that he had been discriminated against because of his age and race. Court documents claim Morley had complained to “several people” that Crew did not respect black women because his late wife was white.
DCSD settled that lawsuit for $750,000.
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