DEKALB COUNTY, GA – The DeKalb County School Board voted today (April 19) to hire Dr. Devon Horton as the next superintendent of the DeKalb County School District.
The board confirmed the selection of Horton, who was the board’s sole finalist, as the new superintendent in a 6-1 vote. Joyce Morley cast the dissenting vote. The board’s decision brought an end to a 14-day period of public comment after Horton was announced as the board’s sole finalist for the job.
School Board Chairman Diijon DaCosta, Sr. told On Common Ground News (ocgnews.com) that Horton is expected to officially take the reigns on July 1. Details of Horton’s contract have not been finalized, Dacosta said.
DaCosta stated the board’s confidence in Horton’s experience, leadership and vision to oversee DCSC’s nearly 93,000 scholars and 14,500 employees in its decision.
Horton expressed gratitude in the board’s decision and reaffirmed his commitment to improving student achievement, saying that he believes that the DeKalb County’s School District could be a “hallmark for the country.”
“I’m on cloud nine,” an elated Horton said.
”Being chosen as the superintendent of DeKalb County Schools and becoming a part of this vibrant school district and deeply caring community is both humbling and exhilarating,” Horton stated later in a news release. “Everything I have seen, everything I have learned, and everyone I have met throughout this process have done nothing but solidity my belief that this is a District with a substantial foundation upon which to build. Working with our Board, teachers, students, and many invested community partners, I am confident we will deliver on the promise to provide the finest public education for all students in every school.”
DaCosta said the board approved extending Interim Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley’s one-year contract through June 30, 2023 to ensure a smooth transition.
Tinsley’s contract was set to end on April 25. She retired from the district in 2020 after 25 years of service and was rehired to serve as interim superintendent last year after the board fired Cheryl Watson-Harris, who was hired as superintendent in 2020.
Former DeKalb County CEO Lee May, who is now pastor of Transforming Faith Church and head of the DeKalb Pastors Christian Alliance, said that he is looking forward to Horton’s leadership. May said after hearing what Horton had to say about moving the district ahead with excellence and transparency, he believes Horton should be given the chance and the support needed to succeed in leading the school district.
May said the revolving door of DeKalb school superintendents—nine in 10 years—has taken its toll on the school district.
“I’m excited that we have a full-time, permanent superintendent who hopefully will be with us for the long haul—at least 10 years,” said May. “I was glad to see the board get behind him with their vote today. “We need stability in our leadership and we must help Dr. Horton to succeed, if our students and teachers are to succeed.”
Horton formerly served as superintendent of the Evanston/Skokie school District 65 in Illinois, which has 6,500 students and no high schools. Prior to that, he served as chief of schools for Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky, which has more than 100,000 students.
Some critics had questioned Horton’s selection as the school board’s sole finalist for superintendent because he came from a small, rural school district near Chicago.
Horton said, however, he has worked steadfastly to prepare himself for the challenge of running a large school district, by moving up the ranks during his career.
Community activist Teresa Hardy said that she hopes Horton will work to address critical issues and involve the community in the process.
“The board has spoken. We have to get back to the DeKalb School system operating in excellence. My concern is that Dr. Horton will provide the assistance to our teachers, wrap around services with community partners, facility management—making sure that all of the buildings are in good condition and that we have school social workers, the needs of our bus drivers and others who have critical roles with our students.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with Dr. Horton so that we can bring all of the key community groups and stakeholders to discuss these issues.”
Amos King, talk show host of The Amen Corner on WIGO-AM radio, said he believes that Horton is a good fit for the DeKalb County School District. King formerly worked as principal of a private school and is a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.
“I liked the way he addressed the community and shared his vision for success. He recognizes the work ahead: We have nine senior management positions to be filled. He knows the fundamentals of leading a school district. He sounds energetic,” King said. “I think we have to give him a chance.”
Photo: Members of the DeKalb County School Board posed in solidarity after voting to officially hire Dr. Devon Horton as superintendent. Pictured left to right: Anna Hill, Board Vice Chair Deirdre P. Pierce, Dr. Devon Horton, Board Chair Diijon DaCosta Sr., Allyson Gevertz, Whitney McGinniss, and Vickie B. Turner