Education

New Durham superintendent had past problems

Posted April 29, 2010
Updated April 30, 2010

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— Members of the Durham County Board of Education said Thursday that they knew about blemishes on the record of the man they have picked to be their next superintendent.

Eric Becoats was named to the position Wednesday night and will begin work in Durham in July. He currently is chief administrative officer of Guilford County Schools.

Durham County Board of Education logo Durham officials 'fully aware' of Becoats' past

In 2004, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools suspended Becoats for one day without pay after administrators determined he had used district resources to work on his outside consulting business.

WSOC-TV in Charlotte reported at the time that administrators ordered him to repay $3,600. He resigned after the incident.

"We've had conversations about that, and the consulting business was ended and the issues were addressed," Becoats said Wednesday. "Now, I'm here, and my focus is on student achievement and making things better in Durham Public Schools."

Durham school board member Steve Martin said he and his colleagues "were fully aware" of Becoats' past problems, but they aren't concerned about it. Becoats' contract contains standard language about consequences of personal work during business hours, he said.

Instead, Martin said, board members focused on Becoats' leadership in Charlotte and, more recently, in Guilford County Schools.

"This is a very complex organization. It's a $480 million budget, and so we are looking for someone who understands the educational side of things but also understands the management side of things," Martin said. "(We liked him) for moving a district forward, for making systemic change, for focusing on student achievement and for doing it within a budget and garnering community and public suport."

Kirsten Kainz, the lone school board member to vote against hiring Becoats, said that her decision had nothing to do with the way he left Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

"I think that Dr. Becoats has expertise that he brings to table, but his expertise isn't necessarily working closely with teachers and principals, and that's what I was looking for," Kainz said. "It's not a vote against him. It's a vote to make sure that we prioritize teaching and learning in Durham. That is at the forefront of our vision."

Guilford County Board of Education Chairman Alan Duncan said Becoats has been good for that district and has shown leadership and creativity in tackling tough issues.

“I think he’s grown here in the five years he’s been here, and I think he’s done some fine work,” Duncan said.

Guilford County outscores Durham County on state tests, but both districts fall short of state averages in most subjects. Guilford County is at the state average on end-of-grade math scores.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, who has long overseen academic performance in the state's public schools, has ordered both districts to appear before him next week to answer for what he calls inadequate education.

"I wouldn't say it was daunting," Becoats said of Manning's order. "I think it really provides us with an opportunity to really examine the data and to really come up with real solutions to solve some of these challenging problems that are facing us, and I think that it can be done."

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  • Proud2BUS Citizen Apr 30, 2010

    Once again we are going down another wrong road.

    We need to STOP re-electing the same old people and get some new blood and things just might change. We couldn’t do any worse and if the new people don’t work don’t re-elect them. The only way things are going to change is if the people of Durham take a stand and work together and vote for better people.

  • anotherdurhammom Apr 30, 2010

    It is terribly disheartening to see another "bad" hire occur in the Durham Public School system. Until the children, ALL of the children, are put first the school system will continue to struggle and disinegrate. The Board of Ed had yet another opportunity to put the children first and failed again. I come from a teaching family and so am a public school advocate, but my son's four years in the DPS system left us no choice but to place him in a private school. My tax dollars are NOT benefiting my child, or any child...DPS is failiing...they are being called to account for this failure in front a judge. This hire could have shown the Durham community and the judge that students -- and real progress -- do matter and come first. But, no, they choose to continue the sorry status quo.

  • ORMA Apr 30, 2010

    How good for Durham. Let's just put a known criminal in charge of an already troubled school system. I am sure that there are better candidates out there. Think about the future of the kids and the school system and get one of them instead. Selecting this man is just asking for more trouble.

  • Barf-olomew Apr 30, 2010

    - my earlier post was somehow truncated. It ends as: "I love Durham, and think it has a lot to offer, but until this cesspool of corruption ends, there has to be a better place to live."

  • Barf-olomew Apr 30, 2010

    Such a sad day in Durham. Lived here all of my life. Went to DPS schools back when it was Durham County schools. Once they forced the City schools into the mix, it has been downhill from there. The problem wasn't bringing in inner-city children... quite the contrary. I believe that every child has the ability to learn. The sad fact was that the completely incompetent teachers from the city schools were also forced into the mix. Those teachers brought down the whole system, and have basically bounced around from position to position until they held district jobs, and now we see those results. I don't care if you are red, yellow, black, white or any other color, I want the best person for the job. The fact that Durham didn't do a full-sweep for this position speaks for itself. As a current Durham resident, with two kids close to starting school, I will tell you that we are looking to move out of this county. I love Durham, and think it has a lot to offer, but until this cesspool of corru

  • meh2 Apr 30, 2010

    No white candidate had the proper characteristics to be hired for that position.

  • G-man Apr 30, 2010

    When will they finally understand that they are not going to fix the school problem until they cut out welfare programs and people stop having children that shouldn't.

  • Lyle Apr 30, 2010

    Is this a "politically correct" hiring? Just askin'........

  • tamiya_stars Apr 30, 2010

    Guilford County schools is a cesspool of race baiting and affirmative action administrators. In other words he should fit right in in Durham.

  • starshield Apr 30, 2010

    Affirmative action at work. Did not expect anything different in Durham.

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