Turnover 'seems higher than usual' as more top officials leave NC education agency

Posted August 25

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

— The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is preparing to say goodbye to more senior staff members, the latest in a string of high-level departures at the agency this year.

Those leaving include:

  • State Board of Education Attorney Katie Cornetto (resigning effective Sept. 15)
  • Special Deputy Attorney General Laura Crumpler (retiring effective Oct. 1. She is employed by the state Department of Justice but works with the state education agency on a daily basis and has an office in the building.)
  • K-3 Literacy Program Director Carolyn Guthrie (retiring effective Aug. 31)
  • Career and Technical Education Director Jo Anne Honeycutt (resigning in September)

A handful of other senior staff members left earlier this year, including the deputy state superintendent, chief financial officer, human resources director, legislative director and communications director, among others.

Many of those announcements came as newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said he was seeking ideas about "organizational and staff changes to make the department run more efficiently." Johnson, a Republican, beat out incumbent state superintendent June Atkinson, a Democrat, who served in the role for 11 years and spent 40 years at the state education agency.

Johnson released the following statement Friday: "I wish all four of these professionals the best in their careers, thank them for their service to students and the state, and look forward to working with them in their new capacities."

In an interview Thursday, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey praised the employees who are leaving as "outstanding" and "very talented."

"It does seem like we’ve lost a lot of our best staff," Cobey said. "We have been losing staff ever since I got here (four years ago), but it seems like we’ve lost more than usual."

Cobey attributes the rise in departures to "a combination of people getting good offers (and) of course, retirements."

"I don’t begrudge anybody getting an attractive offer and accepting it," he said.

Cornetto told WRAL News she has accepted a job at Schwartz and Shaw PLLC, an education law firm in Raleigh. She has worked with the state education agency since 2008.

Honeycutt said she has accepted a job as CTE director for the Wake County Public School System. Her first day is Sept. 18. She has been with the state education department since 2011.

The state board is expected to hire Cornetto's replacement, and Johnson will be responsible for hiring a new K-3 literacy program director and CTE director, according to Cobey.

Deputy State Superintendent Rebecca Garland is the highest-ranking education official to leave the agency this year. She announced her retirement in February after spending more than 30 years in education. She previously worked as the agency's chief academic officer and as executive director for the State Board of Education. Before that, she worked in school districts in Orange, Alamance and Harnett counties.

Rebecca Garland, Mark Johnson, Bill Cobey


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