After North Atlanta Principal Howard “Gene” Taylor threatened to resign, he got promoted.
Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis announced Monday the city school system had won Taylor back, and he will take the job of his former boss as an area director overseeing about 20 schools. Taylor had planned to become principal of Berkmar High in Gwinnett County.
The job shuffling came after Taylor’s sudden resignation last week sparked questions among parents who wondered why he was leaving just 11 months after Davis brought him in to replace the school’s former leadership team.
Atlanta Board of Education Chairman Reuben McDaniel said the school system should do more to support its principals.
“Generally, we as a system want to give principals the tools and autonomy needed to be effective,” McDaniel said.
Taylor will become executive director of the North Region, replacing Tony Burks, who moves into the role of a principal mentor, Davis wrote in a letter posted on North Atlanta High’s website.
“APS is pleased that we were able to retain a talented employee,” Davis wrote.
North Atlanta High is Georgia’s most expensive school, with a $147 million cost for facilities that opened last month. Taylor oversaw the transition of the 1,600-student body to its new location.
Parents said they were pleased to hear that Taylor was staying in Atlanta Public Schools, but they wanted explanations of why the school system took action only after he had submitted his resignation.
“I would like some clarity from the school district moving forward,” said Akwokwo Redhead, whose daughter is a freshman at North Atlanta High. “Dr. Taylor is a very strategic person and this role may serve him better, but I do have questions.”
Patricia Israel, whose two eighth-grade sons will attend North Atlanta High next year, said she hopes Taylor can take on a leadership role within the struggling school system.
“If he can help direct change, that would be tremendous,” Israel said.
Taylor took over at North Atlanta High after Davis ousted former Principal Mark MyGrant and MyGrant’s administrative team last October. Davis said at the time that the school’s academic performance led to their dismissals, and an internal investigation of the school is pending.
Taylor had posted a video message to students Friday saying his departure was “necessary and appropriate,” but he didn’t further explain his planned exit. He said in the message he had intended to stay at North Atlanta High for three to five years.
Taylor was the principal of Lilburn Middle School in Gwinnett County before he was hired by Atlanta Public Schools, and the Gwinnett school board had voted to make him principal of Berkmar High on Friday.
“Dr. Taylor is a fine educator who is dedicated to improving schools and helping students. These attributes make him an asset to any school system and it is understandable that APS would want to keep Dr. Taylor on their leadership team,” said Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach. “We wish him well and will resume our work to fill the principal post at Berkmar High.”
North Atlanta High’s interim principal will be Curtis Douglass, who is currently an assistant principal at the school, Davis said.