Local News

Durham superintendent resigns, accepts U.S. education job

Posted November 2, 2009

— Durham Public Schools Superintendent Carl Harris has resigned his position and accepted a job with the U.S. Department of Education, school officials announced Monday.

Harris will serve as deputy assistant secretary of education for policy and strategic initiatives. He has served as Durham's superintendent since July 1, 2006. He previously served as deputy superintendent.

From 1999 until 2004, he was superintendent of Franklin County Schools.

“It is with heavy but deeply grateful hearts that the members of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education accept the resignation of Dr. Carl Harris," Board of Education Chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown said in a statement.

"Dr. Harris has provided a quiet strength in his leadership of our district over the past three-and-a-half years,” Forte-Brown said. “Dr. Harris leaves a school system that has improved academic achievement, a significantly lower dropout rate and a slate of new schools that offer support targeted to specific student needs."

Harris received the Central Carolina Regional Superintendent of the Year in August. Earlier in the year, he was appointed a member of a steering committee of The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to develop advanced certification for school administrators.

Six new schools opened in Durham under Harris’s administration, with a seventh in the works. Hillside New Tech High School, Southern School of Engineering, City of Medicine Academy, W.G. Pearson Magnet Middle School, Spring Valley Elementary School, the Performance Learning Center and the Holton Career and Resource Center all have opened in the last three years.

Lakewood Middle Montessori School will begin serving sixth-graders next fall and will open in the renovated Lakewood YMCA in fall 2011.


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  • Varna Nov 3, 2009

    ksh33, I have worked for the school system for many years! I am making a positive difference. Everyone who works for the school system should be a role model to students! Not having affairs with employees and giving them special treatment at the expense of others who are doing the right thing!!! It sickens me that immoral people get promoted and patted on the back constantly!!!

  • Varna Nov 3, 2009

    Check this guys background before patting him on the back! Dr. Harris was Superintendent for Franklin County schools before making it to Durham. I worked with him for many years. He WAS well respected, married for many years with children. Until..he decided to have an affair with one of his employees. A high school counselor,Deborah Joyner Battle. This "counselor" would threaten people, sabotage staff, harrass students,ruin students chances for getting into their college of choice and even defy local police! EVERYONE knew she was evil yet she was always protected and no one knew why. After Dr. Harris took an Asst. Superintendent position with Durham, the new Franklin County superintendent fired Battle because she had threatened a school employee and the employee pressed charges! Finally! She was escorted out by police! Guess where she went to work? Durham! Dr. Harris protected this evil subordinate and created a very hostile working environment for many. Hurt many people!

  • Jack Flash Nov 2, 2009

    "I will personally attest that we specifically left Durham in 2005 and moved to Wake Co. with the intent of giving our kids a better education. The school system in Durham is deplorable, and I know it is not totally the teachers' fault. The administration in Durham is what truly needs to be fixed."
    Well, thanks, I guess, for not blaming the teachers. For the record, Harris was not in charge until after you left.

    I do think there is too much emphasis on administration, but is that really just Durham? They're always sticking their fingers in and coming up with some new plan that basically just interferes with our ability to teach. I would guess that's the nature of bureaucrats everywhere, though, not just Durham.

    Durham's real issues are deeply rooted in the community itself. The schools are too often used to cover those problems up for 8 hours a day, 5 days per week, 36 weeks per year. We get scapegoated, too, when it's the community itself choosing to sweep it under our rug.

  • ksh33 Nov 2, 2009

    Wow there are some haters on this story! For those who have been in the Durham Schools System under supt's before him know from whence we came. I began my teaching career there and have since moved to a neighboring county and I would have loved to come back under his leadership. Progress has been made in Durham Co. educational system. This was a man with a vision and who made things happen; schools were no longer one size fit all and all have to go the a large public schools. Schools became smaller learning communities that catered to the needs of the students. At least he had a vision, what do you all have beside a bunch of negative comments. Do some good and get a job helping our students be successful in school instead of beat the system or leader who is about action and not talk. Now I know where our students get such a negative outlook on learning and no respect for authority!

  • MamaPossum Nov 2, 2009

    Congrats to Harris if he is truly suited to his new position. Time will tell if he was promoted above his ability. Unfortunately, it will be at the expense of how many millions of kids vs. the thousands he oversaw in Durham. I will personally attest that we specifically left Durham in 2005 and moved to Wake Co. with the intent of giving our kids a better education. The school system in Durham is deplorable, and I know it is not totally the teachers' fault. The administration in Durham is what truly needs to be fixed.

  • nagreene Nov 2, 2009

    *Can we all just be happy for this man instead of cutting him down*

    Sounds like a lot of people here have compliants against this man, Dr. Harris. Instead of complaining, voice your concerns to the Durham County School Board about hiring a better Superintendant. Attend open school board meetings. You have the power when you vote for members on the school board. Apparently Dr. Harris qualifies for this position based on his education and work experience.

  • vsusu2002 Nov 2, 2009

    I do not know Dr. Harris nor have I attended Durham schools, but I congratulate him for his career advancement during these tough economic time.

  • Jack Flash Nov 2, 2009

    Dr Harris has only been at the helm in Durham since 2006. Surely those of you taking so many cheapshots at the Bull City don't believe our problems are so shallowly rooted as to be yanked out in that short period of time, do you?

    I've only heard one specific complaint about Harris himself. That came from Varna, and all due respect to her, her stance on the matter seems exacerbated by personal feelings. Everyone else has basically made cheap jokes about Durham schools and blamed Harris.

  • thnkb4uspk Nov 2, 2009

    "Rank"? Who cares about rankings? They are all bogus, using questionable formulas that change with each passing whim of someone at DPI. Each school in each school system KNOWS what its strengths and weaknesses are and WHY they exist. We really don't need a superintendent in any school system. Money wasted...

  • UNCfuturealumi Nov 2, 2009

    Shucks, I was hoping they would take Bev Perdue.