DeKalb superintendent candidate answers Tough Questions - CBS46 News

DeKalb superintendent candidate answers Tough Questions

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STONE MOUNTAIN, GA (CBS46) -

DeKalb County superintendent nominee Cheryl Atkinson is in the district to answer media and community questions about her qualifications to run the troubled district.

Atkinson is currently superintendent in Lorain, OH, a district with approximately 8,000 students. DeKalb County has nearly 100,000 students.

She sat down for a one-on-one interview with CBS Atlanta on Friday at school district headquarters in Stone Mountain.

The Lorain school district was on "Academic Watch" for two years in a row. It is the second lowest rating a school system can receive in Ohio.

"Does it concern you that you enter the district with a black cloud over your head in some areas?" asked reporter Renee Starzyk.

"No, once we get rolling I think we'll be together," said Atkinson.

She said the poor scores in Lorain were due to the fact the district laid off 1/3 of its staff prior to her taking over as superintendent.

"Should parents be concerned about the academic performance in Lorain?" Starzyk asked Atkinson.

"We are certainly not where Lorain is going to be, but we are certainly far better than we were when I entered the district," said Atkinson.

The district moved from "Academic Watch" to "Continuous Improvement" in the latest report card for the 2010-2011 school year.

But some parents continue to question Atkinson's qualifications.

"The fact that the school board has tried to portray Dr. Atkinson as a leader with a proven record of lifting academic achievement is a false one, and you owe the parents and stakeholders of this school system an apology and explanation," wrote parent Paula Caldarella in a letter to the school board.

"What do you say to your critics as you get ready to start?" asked Starzyk.

"Give me an opportunity, and I won't let you down," replied Atkinson.

The DeKalb School Board is scheduled to vote on Atkinson's contract Monday at 10 a.m.  Her compensation package includes a $275,000 salary.

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