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Jackson named interim superintendent

Popular retired educator replaces Heatley temporarily

Luvenia Jackson

Luvenia Jackson

— Clayton County’s school board Monday appointed an interim superintendent Monday and tabled indefinitely a controversial early-release schedule in the wake of superintendent Edmond Heatley’s resignation last week.

The board voted to name longtime Clayton County educator Luvenia Jackson interim superintendent, starting Oct. 1. While the vote wasn’t unanimous, even those who voted against her acknowledged that she would be a capable manager until a new superintendent is hired.

Others wished Jackson well after the meeting, including a smiling Sid Chapman of the Clayton County Education Association, who said as he waited to see her that she was a “good choice.”

Jackson, who retired from the system in 2009, served Clayton County schools as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and other cabinet-level positions.

Board chair Pam Adamson emphasized that Jackson would serve only temporarily.

“Miss Jackson is not a candidate for superintendent, and that levels the playing field for all current employees to have an equal opportunity to apply for the position,” Adamson said.

Adamson also said that forums would be scheduled to seek public input on whoever is eventually the next permanent school superintendent.

Several members of the public spoke at the meeting, and most addressed the issue of superintendent.

Angela Swain said she was disappointed in the board’s leadership in choosing superintendents, and she drew audience applause when she said “we deserve to have a say in governing our system.”

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Photo by Jim Massara Jeffery Benoit appealed to the school board to look locally for its next superintendent — and then offered himself for the top job.

Former Georgia House candidate Jeffery Benoit also drew applause when he said there were “qualified people right here in Clayton County” for the top job. But the applause turned to laughter when Benoit added he “would love to be considered” for the spot himself.

The board also voted 6-2 to postpone indefinitely a controversial early-release schedule originally proposed by Heatley to accommodate teacher preparation.

When first announced in a letter to parents less than a month before the beginning of school, Wednesday classes were to be shortened by as much as 90 minutes. But public outcry forced the board to reconsider. An alternate plan, which would have shortened classes only one Wednesday a month, was proposed at last month’s work session.

Board member Jessie Goree motioned to table any change in the schedule until the new superintendent had a chance to consider it.

“I didn’t think it was a good idea in the first place,” Goree said after the meeting. “I believe teachers need whatever training they need for Common Core [the new curriculum], I believe in that, but I still have an issue with us not even thinking about the instructional time that will be lost.”

In addition, the board amended its budget to drop the $35 activities fee and not charge for AP, IB and PSAT testing.

“I think this is kind of a no-brainer here,” Adamson said as the board voted unanimously to kill the fees.