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Greene County Board of Education hires Pulliam

By Adam Thompson

adam.thompson@onlineathens.com

GREENSBORO - The Greene County Board of Education on Tuesday hired former Clayton County schools superintendent Barbara Moore Pulliam to lead the rural district through the end of next school year.

The board voted unanimously to offer the interim superintendent position to Pulliam, who led the troubled Clayton County system for three and a half years. The Greene County school district released former superintendent Shawn McCollough less than a week ago.

Though Pulliam worked during a recent time of turmoil that continues in Clayton County schools, her credentials are "outstanding," Greene County Board of Education Chairwoman Janice Gallimore said Tuesday.

Pulliam, who spent most of her career in schools in the Midwest, also has the support of Georgia Schools Superintendent Association Executive Director Herb Garrett, who called her "a class act."

"I would think Greene County would be very fortunate to have her ... I hope the community won't judge her based on the fact that she was in Clayton County," said Garrett, a former superintendent in neighboring Henry County, who advised Pulliam when she made the move to Georgia in 2004.

Greene County locals, however, were wary of Pulliam's appointment. The Greene County school district has been through its own tumultuous period recently, including frequent clashes among board members and with residents over a plan to implement gender-separate classes.

The school board voted last Wednesday to release McCollough with about $50,000 severance pay, just one year into a three-year contract.

"I think people are going to be concerned because of the cloud hanging over Clayton County," said Terrance Stembridge, a former school district employee who attended the Tuesday meeting.

Pulliam's $155,000 salary, as head of a district with only 2,100 students, also is a concern, Stembridge said. Board member Velicia Cobb echoed that opinion, but voted to approve Pulliam's appointment.

The much larger Clayton County school district hired Pulliam in 2004 after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits school districts in the region, placed the district on probation.

Though the school district came off the probation list during her tenure, Pulliam also faced criticism over a land deal. She resigned suddenly last July.

This year, however, Clayton board members reportedly considered rehiring Pulliam as a corrective superintendent to save the district's accreditation, which again is in jeopardy and likely will be revoked Sept. 1. A SACS report in February blamed the district's troubles on board members, not the superintendent.

Most recently, Pulliam was expected to accept a position with a school district in Racine, Wis. Pulliam and officials with the Racine Unified School District were weeks into contract negotiations when she abruptly pulled out of the deal on Monday, according to the city's Journal-Times newspaper.

She has accepted the Greene County board's offer and will take over there on Monday, according to a school district news release.

The search for a permanent superintendent will begin after Jan.1, when two new school board members will be seated, Gallimore said.

-- This article is printed by permission of the Athens Banner-Herald.