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School Board Reaches Settlement With Superintendent Demond Means

An eight-month negotiation ended Thursday when the Clarke County Board of Education reached a separation agreement with controversial former superintendent Demond Means.

The vote was 5–4, with Greg Davis, Patricia Yager, Kara Dyckman, John Knox and Tawana Mattox in favor, and Antwon Stephens, Linda Davis, Charles Worthy and LaKeisha Gantt opposed. Linda Davis, Worthy and Gantt also voted against placing Means on leave in December, before Stephens joined the board.

The settlement calls for Means to be paid $409,000 in wages and $136,500 in damages. His attorneys at the Atlanta law firm of Buckley Beal LLC will receive $92,000, for a total of $637,500.

As part of the settlement, Means waived his right to sue the district and agreed to withdraw an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.

Means was hired away from a suburban Milwaukee school district in 2017 to address racial disparities in Clarke County schools.

While he made progress at some schools, he also faced pushback from teachers who viewed him as dismissive and parents who criticized moves like shutting down a farmers market on school property, hiring contractors from his hometown and shuffling ESPLOST money to prioritize an administration office over school renovations.

And he often feuded with several board members, going so far as to file a complaint with accreditation agency AdvancED (now Cognia) alleging that Greg Davis, Knox and Mattox tried to micromanage him.

The last straw came during a November meeting, when, while drafting a letter urging the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to dismiss an ethics complaint against Means, board members added a sentence saying they would hold the superintendent accountable.

“By virtue of that vote, you don’t want me as superintendent, and we need to have a discussion about how I leave,” Means said.

Later, he walked back the statement and said he wanted to stay, and to this day he still has a group of staunch supporters who’ve been demanding that the board bring him back. But a majority of board members felt the relationship was irreparable.