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Should APS' Board of Education Extend Erroll Davis' Contract?

Though superintendent has his detractors, many parents rally around him and want to keep him. One parent has even started a petition to extend the contract.

Just when parents thought the drama at Atlanta Public Schools was settling down, there's a new chapter in the saga.

On Monday, the APS Board of Education was to have taken up the issue of whether or not to extend the Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr.'s contract for two years.

But the board, after some lengthy discussion, opted to delay voting on it until a special meeting called for Monday, Dec. 10. Board members — after a strong push by Nancy Meister, who represents Buckhead — decided that a supermajority of its nine members would have to vote to extend Davis' contract in order to keep him.

That means seven will have to vote "yea" instead of the simple majority of five.

While Davis has his share of detractors — a good number of them from Meister's district who are irked by a round of adminstrative firings at North Atlanta High School that Davis enacted— he has strong contingent of supporters who see him a much-needed administrator that APS needed.

What's more, with some board members not seeking reelection, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane among them, some parents caution now isn't the time to start a search for new superintendent.

Suzanne Mitchell, a Summerhill parent and that neighborhood's president-elect, told board members the district is still in transition, the district's blog, Talk Up APS, reported. With some board members stepping down, she said the board should wait until after the 2013 elections before starting a search.

Mitchell's sentiments are echoed by Andrea Knight, a Grant Park parent who started a petition on Change.org to get the board to extend Davis' contract.

"The election year handicaps the search process. ... The best applicants can't even be confident they would be permitted to continue when the new board members begin their terms in January 2014," she wrote in the petition.

"Erroll Davis is the best person to serve as interim superintendent," she continued. "Davis has proven he is a non-political leader, capable of making tough decisions. Davis came to APS at a moment of chaos, following a decade of turmoil and educational neglect."

Even Mayor Kasim Reed has thrown his support behind Davis for a two-year extension.

At a Commerce Club luncheon last month, he said: “I happen to believe that Erroll Davis is the right guy to lead us for the next two years,” SaportaReport.com reported.

It wasn't too long ago that Davis a former member of the Georgia Board of Regents, arrived to APS — at one of one of the lowest points in district history.

There was the national cheating scandal in which former Superintendent Beverly Hall left in disgrace. And the school board, known for its infighting and shenanigans, put the district's accreditation at risk.

Weathering those storms, Davis had the unenviable task of leading APS through a controversial schools redistricting and closures to address declining enrollment.

Though it was an angst-ridden process that often pitted neighborhoods against each other, one benefit of the redistricting is that many more parents became engaged.

Davis himself has said he wanted to keep that engagement level high and build on it to improve school quality.

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