New Stewart County superintendent fires back against complaints - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

New Stewart County superintendent fires back against criticism

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CUTHBERT, GA (WTVM) -

Beginning in July, Stewart County will have a new superintendent of schools.  Dianne Watkins was voted in by the school board to replace Floyd Fort, who is moving to Pelham City. 

There have been mixed reviews on the decision, and News Leader 9 has been investigating the circumstances behind Watkins' departure from Randolph County in January.

News Leader Nine's Dante Renzulli traveled to Cuthbert, Georgia, home of the Randolph County School Board, to find out what happened.

He spoke to parents and board members with opinions on both ends of the spectrum.  When listening to reaction from her supporters and detractors, it's hard to believe they are talking about the same person.

Current school board member, Dymple McDonald, was not one of the people who wanted her to leave.

"She was let go by the board, which I am part of. I voted to keep her and I would have if it had been up to me," said McDonald. "She wasn't afraid to do what she needed to do and I think she was there for the kids and that's what we need.  The best education they can get." 

Elijah Hodge is a member of a parent organization called The Anchor Group. He is one of Watkin's most outspoken opponents.

"We really don't think that she had our children's best interest in mind. She just didn't care. That's all I can say. She just wasn't concerned," said Hodge. "She was supposed to get back to me about issues concerning complaints.  I never received a phone call from her about any issues."

Watkins says in the three years she was in power, she was forced to make personnel cuts to get the district out of debt. She believes most discontented remarks stem from that subject.  She says the complaints against her are politically motivated, as many of the people who lost their jobs are connected to the board members who voted her out.

The official reason provided by the Randolph County school board hiring a replacement for Watkins is because they wanted to change the position from part-time to full-time.

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