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Delving into DeKalb County's Superintendent Choice | People

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Delving into DeKalb County's Superintendent Choice
People, Politics, Schools
Delving into DeKalb County's Superintendent Choice

ATLANTA--- A team of three journalists at 11Alive News spent Wednesday checking into the background and work history of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, the finalist for superintendent of DeKalb County Schools.

Duffie Dixon, Donna Lowry and Ross McLaughlin were prompted by emails and calls from teachers, parents and homeowners who question whether Atkinson is up to the task of leading DeKalb's system.

Lowry  found is that Dr. Cheryl Atkinson current district in Lorain, Ohio ranks second to the lowest designation in performance, but Atkinson has said that test scores and overall performance have gone up.

According to the Ohio State Board of Education actual figures to substantiate that don't come out until August 24.

McLaughlin looked at the background check on Atkinson performed by a company hired by the DeKalb County School Board. On the paperword Atkinson was asked if she'd every been named or involved in a lawsuit.  She checked the "no" box.  McLauglin  found she was involved in a bankruptcy in Florida where she once worked and she was named as a defendant in the case.

"We're not sure if the company that performed the background check missed it or why she wouldn't check yes and then go on to explain it," said McLaughlin.

11Alive News has brought up the question to the DeKalb County School Board, but so far no one has responded.

Dixon contacted reporters in all of the cities Atkinson has worked in recently including Kansas City, Missouri and Charlotte, North Carolina.

"No reporters remembered her by name.  They did check their notes and files and nothing sticks out as a red flag," said Dixon.

Because Atkinson served as a Deputy Superintendent she would not be the front person dealing with the media. 

One criticism of Atkinson has been that she doesn't have experience in large school districts.  According to Pete Kaliner, a longtime reporter who covers Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, Atkinson likely does.  She is one of several administrators who has since been tapped to lead other school districts, in part because of the size and scope of that city.

"We're talking about 120,00 students when she was here and a very diverse student population that encompasses the suburbs and urban areas.  This is a school system that prepares them," Kaliner said.


People, Politics, Schools