Cheryl Watson-Harris will officially become the DeKalb County School District superintendent starting July 1.

The DeKalb County Board of Education hired Watson-Harris in a 6-1 vote during a June 18 virtual called meeting. The board offered Watson-Harris a three-year contract with a base salary of $325,000.

Cheryl Watson-Harris. (Special)

Watson-Harris, who had been serving as the second in command at the New York City Department of Education, was named the sole finalist earlier this month.

“Her experience as both an innovator at the New York City Department of Education and a passionate champion for children is precisely what we need to continue positioning our students for success,”  board chair Marshall Orson said in a press release.

District 7 board member Joyce Morley voted against the hire and said in the meeting that she was ashamed of the board for making a hasty decision. She said a new search was never reopened after the board named Rudolph “Rudy” Crew a finalist then rejected officially hiring him because of public outcry regarding his previous controversies.

Morley said Watson-Harris is not qualified to run the district because she does not have prior superintendent experience.

“Children have not been at the front or the forefront of what has been going on with this board,” said Morley. She suggested someone who knows the community may have been a better fit for the position.

Watson-Harris will take over for Superintendent Ramona Tyson, who will retire at the end of the month.

During a June 11 virtual town hall, Watson-Harris said her first orders of business are to create a detailed return plan after COVID-19 school closures and fill vacant positions in district leadership.

Watson-Harris said she’ll also spend the first few months listening to stakeholders and learning about the district in order to improve equity and address school overcrowding.