Pulliam ?restructures' senior administration

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Pulliam "restructured" the school system's senior-level administration Monday night.

Pulliam recommended the hiring of two educators from Minnesota and another from Illinois, both places that she has worked before. The Clayton County Board of Education unanimously approved the superintendent's recommendations.

Pulliam changed the position of assistant to the superintendent, a position made vacant when David Gregory retired about a year ago, to chief of staff. She named Jean Hale Hicks to chief of staff. Hicks works as the director of human resources for the St. Louis Park Public Schools system in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Pulliam was superintendent of that school system immediately before becoming superintendent of Clayton County last month.

She also changed the deputy superintendent position, a position formerly held by Bill Horton, to chief academic officer.

Pulliam named Sharon Contreras-Halton to the position. Contreras-Halton works as the assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services for Rockford Public Schools in Rockford, Ill. Pulliam worked both as the associate superintendent of education and equity and general director of equity and desegregation for Rockford Public Schools.

Horton was interim deputy superintendent until being transferred to East Clayton Elementary School, where he is principal, last month.

Pulliam also made Cindy A. Brictson the Area 1 area instructional specialist. Brictson is the director of teaching and learning for the West Metro Education Program in Edina, Minn. She has worked for the St. Louis Parks school system as well.

She also named Derrick Dalton the principal of Mundy's Mill Middle School, a position made vacant by the retiring of Nancy Colwell, the wife of former superintendent Dan Colwell.

Dalton is the assistant principal of Pointe South Middle School.

Sid Chapman, the president of the Clayton County Education Association, said there are advantages to hiring from within and advantages to hiring from without.

A cycle of hiring from within creates a "good old boy" system, Chapman, who admitted not knowing any of the new administrators, said.

Pulliam said during the superintendent's report that her primary concern is getting the school system off probation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the system's accrediting agency, placed the system on probation in May for failing to follow its own policies and micromanaging the school system.

"I've been talking with parents, talking with staff and their concern continues to be SACS," she said. "I have never worked for a school system that is not accredited, and I do not intend to start at this time."

Pulliam announced she will meet with SACS next week to discuss the school system's probation and what needs to be done to get off probation.

When SACS returns in the spring, SACS could lift the year-long probation, extend the probation or revoke accreditation.

If accreditation is revoked, graduating seniors won't be eligible for the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Scholarship Program.