by: Erica Byfield Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A Georgia lawmaker thinks the DeKalb County School Board is trying to secretly hire an interim superintendent.
"She may be on vacation or whatever they want to call it, but they have been interviewing people since last week for her position. So I would say that she's basically gone," state Sen. Fran Millar said at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Millar, who represents DeKalb County, told Channel 2's Erica Byfield he personally knows someone the board tried to recruit. He added he doesn't understand why the board is trying to hire anyone.
"To be hired by this board, which potentially may not be the board in another 45 days or something, is a little bit silly, they need to focus on the accreditation issue," Millar said.
For months now, Channel 2 Action News has reported on controversy involving accreditation, DeKalb's School Board and Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson.
Last year, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the district on probation.
Later this month, the Georgia Board of Education may recommend that the current school board members lose their seats.
And in December, Channel 2 Action News broke a story involving a lawsuit that suggests Superintendent Atkinson allegedly offered to give people their jobs back if they withdrew their requests for her emails and text messages.
On Monday, Channel 2 reported that the school board met with former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond to talk about his leadership style and the words "interim-superintendent" were discussed.
"I'm here today because I'm interested in the future of public education in DeKalb County and I came and offered my support to help the DeKalb School Board overcome the challenges that were faced," Thurmond said.
Millar thinks DeKalb's board is trying to bring in a big name to save themselves.
"This to me is just a distraction. It's not good, but it's not the issue, the issue is accreditation and this board and I don't lose sight of that," Millar said.
A spokesperson for the DeKalb County School District told Byfield that Atkinson is on bereavement leave.
When asked if the district was interviewing anyone for interim superintendent, the spokesperson replied "no comment."