Avossa accepts Florida job. Fulton now in market for new school chief

Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa is leaving Georgia and Fulton Schools to become the new school chief for Palm Beach County Schools.

The 43-year-old educator was in West Palm today where the school board announced his selection. He had been the favored candidate.

From Fulton Schools this afternoon:

The Fulton County Board of Education congratulates Dr. Robert Avossa on being named the superintendent for the School District of Palm Beach County in Florida. We appreciate his willingness to keep us informed throughout the selection process, and believe that our colleagues on the Palm Beach County Board of Education see the same leadership qualities that have made him so successful in Fulton County.

Meanwhile, we are confident that our careful planning will ensure a smooth leadership transition for our school district. We have a solid strategic plan, excellent staff and highly capable leaders who will keep our district moving forward. The Board is confident that when the time comes to choose a successor, we will hire someone well suited to complete the work that has been started in our current strategic plan and to address the future needs of Fulton County Schools.

We wish Dr. Avossa and his family the best.  He has led Fulton County Schools to accomplish great things during his tenure. While we’re in the midst of our five-year strategic plan, Dr. Avossa has built a framework that will successfully transition a new leader to continue the work of the Board. When the Board of Education hired Dr. Avossa four years ago, we were just embarking on our journey to become a charter system. He brought his knowledge, philosophy, energy and passion to his role as superintendent, and the children of Fulton County Schools were the beneficiaries of his tireless efforts.

Dr. Robert Avossa

Dr. Robert Avossa

Our parents, community members and all stakeholders can rest assured that a succession plan is in place. There are excellent people in our own Fulton County School System to potentially serve in the interim.  ​

And here is what Palm Beach County Schools said:

The School Board of Palm Beach County has unanimously selected Dr. Robert Avossa  to serve as Palm Beach County’s next superintendent.

“We strongly believe that Dr. Avossa is the candidate to successfully lead our district in building upon our strengths and help us overcome the challenges that school districts face today,” said School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw.

The School Board selected Avossa as superintendent and authorized contract negotiations after extensive interviews with Dr. Avossa, Dr. Desmond Blackburn and Dr. Jesus Jara. The Board repeatedly commented that all three candidates were “super stars,” but ultimately selected Dr. Avossa unanimously without debate.

“I am excited about the opportunity to join a great school system,” Avossa said. “In many ways, this is a homecoming. I grew up in and graduated from Brevard County schools and many of my family still lives in Florida.”

The Superintendent Search began in January after current Superintendent E. Wayne Gent announced in January that he would not seek to renew his contract. The Board selected the search firm of Ray & Associates to conduct a national search and recruit candidates on the district’s behalf, with the goal of naming a new superintendent this month.

The search included a series of public forums and an online survey that gave the community an opportunity to share their ideal qualities and characteristics for the next superintendent of schools. Ray and Associates used that input to help recruit candidates that fit the profile.

“This has been a comprehensive, inclusive and open process to find our next superintendent,” said School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw. “We had an impressive group of candidates, but the board unanimously agreed that Dr. Avossa presents the best vision for the district going forward. We look forward to working with Dr. Avossa on the terms of his contract and beginning his work with the district.”

Once a contract is reached, Avossa will be the 25th Superintendent for the School District of Palm Beach County.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

33 comments
FultonMB
FultonMB

@starik An AJC article posted 4/15/11, announcing Avossa's finalist status, noted that he would be the seventh superintendent in 14 years. (The headline, in fact, was "Revolving door in Fulton superintendent's office.") Less stable than some want to believe. The churn caused with so many changes in leadership (philosophy, priorities, staff) is not good for students.  With Avossa in particular, the change has also included a huge majority of principals leaving or moving positions.  School culture in many instances has seriously deteriorated with fear and intimidation as a common "management" tool, from Talent down through principals. Mid-career teachers in particular have begun to leave in large numbers as Fulton compressed steps to the point that those teachers' salaries are last among the eight major metro districts. (APS has always been the higher-pay alternative for Fulton teachers but, with furloughs ended, Cherokee and Forsyth have become very lucrative transfer options for north Fulton staff as well.) 

FultonCountyAdmin
FultonCountyAdmin

With Dr. Muri most likely headed to Texas...FC needs someone with some school experience to be superintendent. Ken Zeff is a great guy, but has never led a school. Amy Barger is super smart, but she's never led a school. What Fulton needs is for one of the experienced principals to lead the system...we don't need to change direction but rather continue what has been started. Surely there is someone at one of the schools who has been there a while that can lead us - someone smart with a heart. Any suggestions?

gactzn2
gactzn2

@FultonCountyAdmin I think they should have varied experiences that are not limited to just the schools.  There is just so much more involved at the central admin level.  Central Admin experience a definite requirement coupled with SUCCESSFUL and EFFECTIVE school leadership experience are pluses.

FultonCountyAdmin
FultonCountyAdmin

@gactzn2 @FultonCountyAdmin  Any principal that has 5 years or more experience as a school leader also has plenty of political acumen and knows how the county/system works. I don't think county experience is required but certainly a little would help him/her hit the ground running.

FultonMB
FultonMB

@FultonCountyAdmin @gactzn2  The problem with that idea is that, with the extraordinary turnover in principals over the past four years, not many (at secondary level, especially) have five years of Fulton principal experience. Duncan, Huff, Spurka, Taylor, Melin, Williamson. Which of those would you choose to lead Fulton?

FultonMB
FultonMB

@FultonCountyAdmin @gactzn2  Which elementary principal would you choose? I think a super would need some secondary experience (if not principal-ship) as many issues (graduation, virtual school, sports, etc) are at that level. (And budgets are larger and more complex at secondary level as well.) Can't identify anyone at CO who has the combination of school admin experience, smart and heart.  So much churn in CO as well; much institutional knowledge has been drained.  I'd love to see Dolinger back, but not sure the board's changed enough for that...  At least the $100K Palm Beach will pay for Avossa to break his Fulton contract will help cover some of the recruitment fees. (We'll just have to make sure we don't get someone who also has a payout) 

Cere
Cere

Fulton County, Georgia vs Palm Beach, Florida. Hmmm. Can't say I blame him for his choice!

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

I find it a joke that Avossa has taken credit for the many successes of the schools in North Fulton.  These school were successful long before he showed up.

Starik
Starik

Fulton is a stable, successful district that loses superintendents amicably, not through scandal or indictment. Quite a contrast with some other local districts. There will be plenty of qualified applicants of all races, another difference.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

@Starik 


Fulton is stable only because of the money pumped into the county from North Fulton.

Starik
Starik

@MiltonMan @Starik A bigger reason is that South Fulton is separated from North Fulton by a large independent city school district - two different worlds, like East Pakistan and West Pakistan.

gactzn2
gactzn2

@MiltonMan @Starik as well as the title 1 funds "pumped" in from schools on the south side- North Fulton alone is incapable of economically sustaining the district

Starik
Starik

@gactzn2 @MiltonMan @Starik North Fulton would like to try an independent district, like a Milton County district.  I expect it would succeed.

fultonschoolsparent
fultonschoolsparent

This has been one of the best public relations superintendents that Fulton has hired.  Too bad that those skills masked some pretty awful choices - one way too young principal hire after another.  In the mean time, he ran off a lot of really fine teachers and administrators.  Charm never wins over substance and this guy was only charm.  Good riddance!

FultonMB
FultonMB

Umm... continuous achievement was from Dr. Dolinger's (seven year) term as superintendent and the move to charter district was underway when Avossa came to the district. Many who "remember when" would love to see Dr. Dolinger back as super!

drevange
drevange

Although disappointed, I take this as a positive sign of where Fulton is headed and that what has been put in place is the right direction and this is being recognized.  Some may take it as he is jumping ship, but Palm Beach County is a much higher profile system (11th largest) and I do not begrudge him at all going for a position that is higher paying and a much higher profile.


As a personal aside - hopefully the School Board will strongly consider Scott Muri, the Deputy Superintendent of Academics to ensure a strong continuity of what has been put in place by the county.  The Charter System with flexibilities and the Continuous Achievement Framework especially (which allows each child to progress in math and language arts at their pace) are the right path forward.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

When will these school districts learn that nationwide searches only bring in the narcistic gypsies who will stay for a few years and then bolt to the next, greatest thing.  Anyone want to wager how long APS's Carstarphen hangs around?

It's called "succession planning".  I guarantee you if an executive at Coca Cola, or Delta, or any number of successful businesses were to leave, they know exactly who will fill the job, and then who will fill that job, and so on down the line.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 

It may work that way in Business, but it doesn't work that way in Education.  Either K-12 Education or Higher Education.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@OriginalProf

I disagree.  One of your responsibilities as a manager is to prepare your subordinates for the next level.  Fulton County has twelve Assistant Superintendents.  You're telling me that none of those twelve have the skill level or experience to step into the Superintendent position?

If so, then Avossa has failed in dramatic fashion.

anothercomment
anothercomment

This is the best news that Fulton County school district could get, other that the legislature getting some balls and removing 8 words from the constitution.

Now the ladies of the board can make the smartest call of their life and Call Dr. John Barge and bring him in as Interium. Then in a few months name his as permenant, saving the cost of a Search by one of these big search firms. Barge made it all the way to the final 3 for the Utah State supt, then and only then did they go for political reasons with a Utah Native and Morman.

Barge was the best state school supt. Georgia has had in years. He started getting rid of Math 1,2,3 fiasco.

As has been noted Avossa blatantly committed age discrimination against older Teachers and administratiors. My next door neighbor was one of these blatantly over stepped Assistant Principals who did her rounds at the various North Fulton High Schools and Middle Schools, waiting for the next promotion to Principal. This was after the years, as a teacher, lead teacher, All to be over stepped by Avvosa and one of His girls with minimal experience to be promoted Principal over her, She took the 29 years she had and retired,, luckily to the West Coast of Florida.

I suggest the ladies bringing in John Barge quickly. No one in Avossa's cabinet is capable of running the district even on an Interium bases.

Just as charlotte found they were left with a mess by Avossa. Let's see we will have the Eddie former Riverwood Principal wrong ful termination and trumpted up theft that DA Howard refused to prosecute will cost. All so Avossa could bring his buddy from Charlotte to run the IB school ( only thing is that guy didn't realize the whole school wasn't an IB choice school like Charlotte and you had 40% Hispanic., 25 % black section 8 you were stuck with. He didn't even last a year. Then we had Avossa revocking the charters of the highest performing charter school over financial issues that are so minor compared to what goes on in District schools.

Freedom for FCS
Freedom for FCS

Muri is going to Texas.  Zeff - oh please god no.  Have you ever seen this stumbling, mumbling person try to talk in front of people - no substance!

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

Ken Zeff will make a fine interim candidate and hopefully permanent Superintendent of Fulton County Schools.

anothercomment
anothercomment

Muriel, won't return a phone call or an e-mail. Everyone in Avossa's cabinet must go.

If you want to see a promotion scandal, Fulton passes children on routinely who have Failed the CRCT and not attended school. Then the worse thing of all is they have zero designated Hospital Homebound teachers, At least Cobb had 3 hospital home bound teachers for 100,000 student.

I am sorry but when student gets sick has doctors excuses es that they have contagious diseasous they Can not come to school. It is the districts responsibility to provide a teacher who has experience tutoring sick children.

I have written proof of avosso's whole crew trying to promote a child and I suspect many more who did not pass the CRCT, even over the Parents objections. The law states if the failure of the CRCT is waived the parent must sign off on it, not just thee school. if a child is sick and misses most of the school year they need to repeat. However, this was not the Fultons way. I can only imagine what this was with low income and Non-English speaking parents.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed I truly hope Zeff stays.  He just finished his Leadership Atlanta program and he's a very committed and capable administrator. It would be sad if he leaves but it's certainly a possibility.  @JB1983 I don't know the hierarchy there.  Zeff is Chief Strategy Officer and a very smart lad.

GT_Grad!
GT_Grad!

Good riddance!! Best news I've heard all day. I finally gave up after 15 years of service to the students in Fulton due to his horrible choices in leaders.  I LOVED the students and will gladly go back if many of his "buddies" go with him. 

Maureen - I realize that he is charismatic and has all the "right" answers - trust me, he had me snowed when I met him right after he was hired. There is a SNAKE underneath that lovely public personality. 

Unlike many of my co-workers, I have many job options so I was able to leave. Perhaps now Fulton can heal from the years of abuse heaped on teachers, especially those over the age of 50.  The age discrimination wasn't even masked; it was blatant. 

I wish the students, teachers, and families of Palm Beach the best of luck...

drevange
drevange

@GT_Grad!  Sorry that you feel that way but the direction Dr. Avossa has Fulton now headed is the right path.  The Charter System with flexibilities and the Continuous Achievement Framework especially (which allows each child to progress in math and language arts at their pace) are the right path forward.

Point
Point

He'll be 50 before he knows it. You know what they say about karma!

Starik
Starik

No worries about icy roads down there.