DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The DeKalb County School Board surprised even some of its own members by voting to reject the board's only candidate for superintendent.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned on Tuesday that criticism of Dr. Rudy Crew’s often controversial past apparently changed some votes.
Marshall Orson, a frustrated board chairman, called it a deliberate campaign to keep Crew from becoming superintendent.
Orson said focusing on Crew's past, which the board had sufficiently investigated, meant the board didn't focus on his skills at educating children. However, Orson's argument failed by one vote.
“I think the issue is the guy had too much baggage,” said Joel Edwards with the good government group, Restore DeKalb.
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Edwards was one of many community voices that peppered the school board with criticism of Crew.
But the board was confident enough of Crew's prospects that it released a slickly produced video introducing the nationally recognized educator to DeKalb County parents and taxpayers.
The problem was that Crew had generated a string of controversies like his spending and travel in Oregon, his spending in New York and his fights with his school board in Miami.
Board member Allyson Gevertz said she was upset when it became clear Crew's appointment was in jeopardy.
“We understood that as a high-profile and longtime leader, he had a controversial past. But the past was fully vetted,” Gevertz said.
Orson said critics were missing the most important thing.
“There was very little discussion in opposition that he was not good at the critical part of the job, which was getting children educated and ensuring they had opportunity,” Orson said.
Board member Stan Jester opposed Crew from the start.
“I've always had my concerns with Dr. Crew. I've always been concerned that his past would catch up with us in DeKalb,” Jester said.
Belcher asked Edwards why he thinks Crew went from apparent certainty to rejection in two weeks.
“Some of the board members came to the realization that their decision previously wasn't in the best interest of the children and the stakeholders of DeKalb County,” Edwards said.
DeKalb's interim superintendent leaves at the end of June, so the district will be looking for another interim superintendent and will have to start from scratch to find a permanent one.
Orson said he fears the district will be essentially rudderless.
Jester told Belcher that he believes the right superintendent is out there and can’t wait to meet them.