A DeKalb County commissioner is calling for a summit to discuss the future of education in the county following the termination of the school district’s superintendent. 

In a written statement, District 6 Ted Terry said he felt “shocked and saddened” at the news that the DeKalb County School Board of Education had decided to fire Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris. The board announced this decision in a press release on Tuesday. 

Edward ‘Ted’ Terry.

“Learning about it on my social media feed, after months of working side by side with the Superintendent and the board on a shared vision for our future partnership only underscores the rapid erosion of communication and trust between our two governing bodies,” Terry said. 

Watson-Harris’ termination came a day after State School Superintendent Richard Woods ordered the DeKalb County School Board to make immediate repairs at Druid Hills High School after a viral video showed water damage, mold, and other unsafe conditions. 

Terry’s statement calls for “stability and dependability” in leadership, and calls for a countywide summit to address the future of education in the county. 

“This crisis demands a true reset and change. It won’t be easy, but the fierce urgency of the moment requires leadership, not complacency,” Terry said. “It requires courage to the highest degree and sacrifice commensurate with the level of change we all wish to see.”

A spokesperson for Terry said that the date and specifics of the summit are to be determined, and the commissioner will wait to hear feedback from community members and leaders before moving forward. 

DeKalb County mayors, including Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch and Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst, also issued a statement late Thursday saying they were “concerned” with the school board’s decision to remove Watson-Harris.

“The board’s actions over the last few days indicate a need for new policies and procedures to address governance of the DeKalb School District,” reads the statement. “We are ready to work with the DeKalb legislative delegation to craft legislation which will protect DCSD students and educators. Serious changes are needed to prevent the chaos that seems to occur every few years in the DCSD.”

The statement calls for changes in the school district.

Cities make up 60% of the County population, and it is our duty to be engaged in ensuring successful outcomes for students in DeKalb,” reads the statement. “To that end, on April 21, 2022, the DeKalb Municipal Association formally established an Education Committee made up of mayors and council members. The purpose of this committee is simple – improve outcomes for DeKalb students. Education is a lifeline for our communities’ children.”

Update: this article has been updated with a statement from DeKalb County mayors.

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.