Clayton County School Superintendent Dr. Morcease J. Beasley is leaving when his contract ends in June 2023 but did not give any specific reasons that led to his Thursday announcement.
The AJC’s Leon Stafford reported that Beasley told staff of his decision on Tuesday. For some time, it has been an open secret that Beasley was not satisfied with his salary. In September 2020, the school board had approved a three-year contract with Beasley. Recently, he was offered a one-year contract instead of another three-year engagement.
In an interview with The Clayton Crescent on Thursday, Beasley only said it was time for him to move on to the next challenge. Some of his accomplishments and challenges included securing $10 million for electric school buses, managing the complexities of the COVID-19 crisis, the county’s and school district’s loss of airport jet fuel tax revenues that were a major part of school operating revenue, and two massive real estate deals: the convocation center to be built in the old Sears store at Southlake Mall, and a joint venture between the county, CCPS, and developers to build a large apartment complex and multigenerational community, The Flats at Mt. Zion and the Villages at Mt. Zion.
Asked specifically about the lingering impact on student performance as a result of the COVID-19 crisis that forced students to rely on online classes, Beasley acknowledged the problem and that it would continue to require ongoing support for students to catch up.
Beasley later posted this announcement:
Two federal lawsuits against Clayton County Public Schools involving sexual harassment and retaliation have been brought by female school resource officers. Those suits are Burgess v. Clayton County Schools, Thomas Y. Trawick, and Freddie L. Davis, Jr. and a related case, Joyclyn Lynn v. CCPS.
The last filing in the Burgess case as of press time Friday was a 156-page proposed consolidated pretrial order filed September 26. It contained lists of questions each side had for potential jurors, each side’s version of the case, and supporting case law.
And in 2018, when problems with the Clayton County Public Schools Police Department came to light, both Beasley and Trawick refused to comment to Fox 5’s Randy Travis:
A notice of a settlement conference in the Lynn case was filed and the parties “were able to reach a resolution” October 21:
On Wednesday night, the Board of Education held a special called meeting for an executive session on legal and personnel matters. It’s unclear whether that included Beasley’s resignation or the Burgess or Lynn cases. Under Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, the portion of an open meeting that is called into executive session does not generate public records that would confirm the substance of any discussion. (Georgia law does allow for judges to review the minutes of executive sessions in camera, or privately in the judge’s chambers, if need be.) No vote was taken on Beasley’s announcement or on any possible settlement in either the Burgess or Lynn case.
As of press time Friday, no summary minutes regarding any action taken after the executive session nor any recording of the meeting and results of the executive session had been posted on the School Board’s meeting website or on YouTube. CCPS sent The Clayton Crescent videos of the open portion of the meeting. The second video showed that the board had voted on a three-month contract to hire SMJ Communications with the Clayton County Board of Education. The vote was 8-0, according to Goree, who added, “I believe that Ms. [Dee] Haney had to step away.”
Clayton County resident Orlando Gooden recently took to task District 1 Commissioner and former School Board member Alieka Anderson, as well as District 2 Commissioner Gail Hambrick, for backing a salary increase for Beasley.
“You supported [CCPS Superintendent Morcease] Beasley getting a $380,000 salary, a $1500 a month housing stipend, unlimited gas allowance, and an administration filled with cronyism,” Gooden stated during public comment on June 21. “Commissioner Hambrick even told Beasley, ‘Thank you for doing your job and earning your money.’ That for a grade D. And ranking 174th on the Georgia schools district list.”
Relations between Beasley and School Board Chair Jessie Goree have been frosty for some time. In April, after about 100 weapons had been confiscated from students districtwide, including a gun that went off at Jonesboro High, Goree e-mailed Beasley, “Two years ago, you were the model administrator when we dealt with COVID; what happened?” The following month, Beasley and other community leaders headed a series of community forums about weapons in the schools.
The district also recently approved money for HVAC upgrades. In August, CBS46’s Adam Murphy reported that dozens of schools in Clayton County had serious HVAC issues, including condensation on desks and 97-degree classroom temperatures.
Beasley has held periodic “critical conversations” about school system issues.
According to his bio on CCPS’ website, Beasley holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Montevallo, as well as an M.S. in Mathematics Education, an Ed.S., and an Ed.D. in Education with an emphasis on educational leadership from Samford University. Beasley also completed Harvard University’s Public Educational Leadership Program.
Beasley told The Clayton Crescent that teachers should continue giving their all.
Listen to The Clayton Crescent’s podcast interview with Beasley at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic: