Gwinnett County

Parents split on Gwinnett school board voting to renew superintendent’s contract

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — There are new developments in the fate of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent. A year of controversies had the Gwinnett County School Board voting on that district’s leader’s future.

Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson was at the meeting where the board discussed Dr. Calvin Watts’ future.

The board met in executive session at Peachtree Ridge High School on whether or not to bring back the man at the center of the controversy.

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There were several reasons from this school year that some Gwinnett County parents said it’s time for a change, including a 35 percent increase in fights this year, the murder of Norcross High School student DeAndre Henderson near campus, and a controversial discipline policy that focused on “restorative practices” over tribunals.

“Some of these kids are getting bolder and brasher and it’s going on every day,” parent Steve Smith said.

Smith is one of the parents who thought the school board should vote to not renew Watts’ contract.

In the end, Dr. Watts’ contract was renewed for another two years.

“We need a leader who’s going to be consistent and that our educators actually want to work for to stay here and help our kids,” Smith said.


The school board hired Dr. Watts in 2021 and his contract was set to expire in July. Some supporters showed up at the last school board meeting to help him keep his job.

“All of the indicators, well I’m not going to say all, but the majority for Dr. Calvin J. Watts, are positive. If you fire this Superintendent it’s not because of education,” Verdaillia Turner with Georgia Federation of Teachers said.

Most recently the State Superintendent criticized Gwinnett schools for wanting to move away from abstinence-only sex education.

After criticism about the discipline policy that the school board passed, Watts paused it in December.

Channel 2′s Candace McCowan was also at the meeting Tuesday night and parents really had something to say.

“I wasn’t happy about it,” said Kimia Mehok, a parent. “I just wish the district would get back to quality education, and less of trying to be the parent to these children because we’re the parents we should have control over sex education, being kind to others.”

Mekoh’s daughter is a junior. She said the district has changed and not for the better.

Fights are up 35% over the past year, involving students and occasionally teachers.

Watts said he takes full accountability.

“I take personal responsibility regardless of who is saying what, I take accountability,” said Watts.

Accountability is what some Gwinnett County School board members promised parents after voting to extend the contract of Watts. Only one member voted against the extensions Tuesday.

“My decision today is rooted in the principal for that reason, the reason to always put children first and do what is right regardless of politics, regardless of position,” said Dr. Traece Johnson, School Board Chairperson.

Some parents believe Watts needs more time.

“We can’t look at students any more just from an academia standpoint we are looking at the student from everything, everything is comprised, sex education is important, academics are important,” said Domonique Cooper, a parent.

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