DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The DeKalb County Board of Education approved a new superintendent contract in a 6-1 vote on June 18.

Set to take over the position July 1, Cheryl Watson-Harris comes to DeKalb from her current role with the New York City Department of Education, the largest school district in the country. The three-year employment contract has an annual 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,” Board Chair Marshall Orson said. “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.”

The candidacy of Watson-Harris was announced publicly June 4. During the 14-day state-mandated waiting period, Watson-Harris participated in virtual meetings with employees, community members, public officials and the media.

“The community’s passion for student success was palpable in each meeting I had, and I want to thank everyone who engaged with me,” she said. “I intend to meet as many of you in person as soon as conditions permit. It is encouraging to see an abundance of support for the important work ahead, and I am excited to get started.”

A New York City native, Watson-Harris has held executive positions with the New York City Department of Education and Boston Public Schools. She has an undergraduate degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.

She is currently 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.

The sole dissenting vote came from School Board Member Joyce Morley, who represents District 7. Morely said she was concerned about Watson-Harris’s lack of experience as head of a school district.

Watson-Harris will succeed Ramona Tyson, who has served as interim superintendent since November 2019. Former Superintendent Stephen Green’s contract terminated half a year earlier than when it was originally set to expire this month. Watson-Harris will be DeKalb County Schools’ sixth superintendent in the last decade.

Carson Cook is an Editor with Appen Media Group and covers Johns Creek, Dunwoody and Fulton County.

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