Durham Public Schools head tapped for national post

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Carl Harris will be celebrating the holidays in the nation’s capital this year.

DPS announced Monday that Harris will resign from his post as superintendent and become deputy assistant secretary for policy and strategic initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education in December. Harris’ new post begins Jan. 1.

“I am so proud of the work that we have done over the last few years,” Harris wrote in an e-mail to DPS employees Monday morning. “It has been an honor to serve with you and to witness your commitment to making this school district a leader in so many ways.”

Harris’ time as district superintendent has seen increased student achievement, a lower dropout rate and greater participation in advanced academic programs, according to a DPS news release. The district has also opened seven new schools within the last three years.

“I thought he was a very good leader for our school system in a number of ways,” school board Vice Chairwoman Heidi Carter told The Herald-Sun Tuesday. “The very fact that he’s been selected to take this position with the U.S. Department of Education I think is an indication of just how good a job he did here.”

Harris—who had earlier this year received a contract extension to summer 2013—began his three-year tenure in July 2006, when he was unanimously elected by the DPS Board of Education to the position after the retirement of previous superintendent Ann Denlinger. Prior to his appointment as superintendent, Harris served as deputy superintendent for the school district.

Minnie Forte-Brown, DPS school board chair, told media the district will seek an interim superintendent for the remainder of the school year. A permanent replacement will be found with the help of the N.C. School Boards Association and the Broad Foundation, a philanthropy that focuses on improving urban schools particularly through establishing strong leadership.

Harris was among the first to attend the Broad Superintendents Academy, a ten-month program that primes educators for leadership roles in urban school districts. He was named Central Carolina Regional Superintendent of the Year in August.

“I have never worked with a group of parents who are more passionate about their children’s education,” Harris wrote in an e-mail to the Durham community Monday afternoon. “I thank you for the opportunity to have served our students and families and I celebrate what we have been able to accomplish together.”


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