DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) — After months of searching, the Dothan School Board Monday selected Dr. Phyllis Edwards as superintendent becoming the first woman to hold the position.
The vote was five-to-two in favor Edwards. Board members Brenda Guilford and Franklin Jones supported Dr. Ray Hill for the job.
If a contract is finalized, she will fill the position vacated when Doctor Chuck Ledbetter resigned in May to become superintendent in Pike Road, Alabama.
Edwards, 66, retired as superintendent in Decatur, Georgia in 2015 after serving 12 years and retired to Florida where she previously was employed as teacher and administrator.
When she began work in Decatur enrollment was around 2500, nearly an all-time low, with 25 percent of all fourth graders leaving the system in favor of private schools. Edwards closed two schools and spearheaded a controversial re-organization of the system, according to media reports.
Ledbetter attempted to reorganize Dothan schools including consolidating the city’s two high schools and offering parents of younger students an opportunity to choose schools based upon specialized curriculum. His efforts were unsuccessful, in part, because of public opposition.
About the time Ledbetter resigned, Edwards removed herself from consideration as superintendent in Flagler County, Florida. “I saw there was a discrepancy with the board. You can never be successful if a board is split. My gut feeling was to remove my name and let them work it out,” she told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
If the deal is finalized, Edwards would become Dothan’s third superintendent in as many years. Before Ledbetter, Tim Wilder was terminated in November, 2014 after he was accused of sexually harassing a school system employee.
Other finalists for the Dothan job were Dr. Larry Collier, supervisor of federal programs for the Decatur City Schools, Martha Compton, director of a Florida technical college, Dr. Ray Hill, an education consultant in Georgia, and Dr. Alan Miller, assistant professor of educational leadership at Auburn University’s Montgomery campus.