DeKalb County Schools will have a new superintendent starting July 1.
The DeKalb County School board voted 6-1 Thursday to appoint Cheryl Watson-Harris the new superintendent of schools. The sole dissenting vote came from Dr. Joyce Morley, who represents District 7.
Watson-Harris was signed to a three-year contract with a base salary of $325,000.
“We are excited and proud to officially welcome Mrs. Watson-Harris to DeKalb County School District as our next superintendent,” said Board Chair Marshall Orson. “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.”
Watson-Harris was named the sole finalist in the board’s search for a new superintendent on June 4. During the last 14 days, a waiting period required by Georgia law after announcing a superintendent finalist, Watson-Harris participated in virtual meetings with employees, community members, public officials and the media. During these interactions, she discussed her experience, work style and vision for the District while learning more about the community’s expectations and priorities for the school district.
“The community’s passion for student success was palpable in each meeting I had, and I want to thank everyone who engaged with me. I intend to meet as many of you in person as soon as conditions permit,” Watson-Harris said. “It is encouraging to see an abundance of support for the important work ahead, and I am excited to get started.”
Watson-Harris brings a wealth of experience from her roles in New York and Boston. She currently serves as First Deputy Chancellor, Senior Director of Field Support and Brooklyn Executive Director for the New York City Department of Education. Previously she served as Network Superintendent and principal for Boston Public Schools. She is the youngest person ever named to a principal position in the Boston school system.
Watson-Harris has an undergraduate degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. She is a doctoral candidate at New York University’s Steinhardt School with an anticipated completion date of 2021 for a degree in educational leadership and innovation.
Watson-Harris will succeed Ramona Tyson, who has served as interim superintendent and superintendent since November 2019. Tyson has led the school district through the COVID-19 pandemic, reprioritized the organization’s fiscal responsibilities and instituted changes to relieve overcrowded schools. After three decades of extraordinary service to the DeKalb County School District, she will retire on June 30.