by: Shae Rozzi Updated:
DUNWOODY, Ga. - Inside a crowded community clubhouse in Dunwoody, DeKalb County Schools interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond told parents and members of the Homeowners Association that he's focused on three L's.
"I am here to listen, to learn and then to lead," Thurmond said.
Thurmond said he is confident that the district will not lose accreditation as he and Gov. Nathan Deal work to turn things around.
Deal recently suspended six school board members after allegations of financial mismanagement and other issues put the district's accreditation in jeopardy.
Channel 2's Shae Rozzi said Thurmond got the biggest applause from the crowd when he stated, "We're paying too much," in legal fees and for the defense of the board members in question.
Rozzi spotted one of the suspended members, Nancy Jester, at the meeting. She was tweeting parts of what Thurmond was telling the audience.
Rozzi also saw former state Sen. Dan Weber, who is one of the candidates being interviewed for the school board.
More than 400 people applied for the six positions.
A panel selected by the governor narrowed the list down to nearly 60 people.
Interviews began Saturday and are expected to be complete by Monday afternoon, according to State Rep. Tom Taylor, R-DeKalb County.
Taylor and other members of the DeKalb County delegation met with the panel for an update on the interview process.
Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, told Rozzi that he is confident in the work the panel is doing.
Thurmond told Rozzi that he is not paying close attention to the interview process.
"I have not followed it. I have not looked at the list one time because I'm focused on my job and my job is to lead the district," he said. "As soon as we have a new board, they will be my new bosses and I look forward to working with them."
Parents Rozzi spoke with said they're looking forward to working with Thurmond.
"He has the experience of being an executive," Stacey Harris, the mother of a first- and fifth-grader, told Rozzi.
Harris is also the president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association.
"He's not an educator, we've had educators and it hasn't worked so I guess I am optimistic," she said.
Heyward Wescott is part of DunwoodyParents.org, a group that's exploring breaking away from DeKalb County and creating its own school district, among other options.
"I am optimistic, but we've heard this dance before," Wescott said. "He's the fourth superintendent in five years that we've had, but I am optimistic on his leadership."