State News

Atkinson wants clear statement on who runs N.C. schools

Posted February 3, 2009 8:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2009 9:18 a.m. EST

— North Carolina schools superintendent June Atkinson wants the Legislature to decide once and for all her role in supervising public education.

Atkinson wrote a letter Tuesday to House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, asking them to work to restore authority to her job or give the governor complete control over the public schools.

The Legislature and State Board of Education have given power to and taken away power from the superintendent since the 1990s. The post currently has few duties, although voters elect the superintendent. Atkinson was re-elected in November.

Gov. Bev Perdue last week appointed Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Bill Harrison as chairman of the State Board of Education and chief executive of the state's public school system. Former education board Chairman Howard Lee was named executive director of the Education Cabinet, a policy-making group that has been dormant for several years.

Perdue's move came in response to a consultant's report that criticized the state Department of Public Instruction for lacking a clearly defined leadership structure.