Edwards plans to resign as Dothan superintendent

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 7:44 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Dr. Phyllis Edwards' reign as Dothan City Schools superintendent appears to be ending. She submitted a letter to school board members Thursday informing them she plans to resign, multiple sources told WTVY. They spoke only on the promise of anonymity.

Those sources said her resignation could be accepted on Monday and could be effective immediately.

Edwards began work in 2018 and, amid high expectations, overhauled Dothan public schools. She ditched popular magnet schools, combined two high schools into one, packed another campus with 1800 7th and 8th graders and created neighborhood schools for younger students. She also closed several other schools, citing dwindling enrollment and high maintenance costs.

Perhaps unpopular among some, Edwards' decisions also came at a time when some believed the city’s public school system could not continue the status quo as enrollment declined. She appeared to be a fit, having turned around ailing schools in Georgia. In Dothan, though, things did not go as well.

Her plans convinced more parents to get out of the city’s public school system.

All the blame, though, can’t be placed on Edwards. Her pleas for additional tax dollars fell on deaf ears of politicians and a number of parents were leery of her plans before giving them a fair shot. Perhaps what irked parents most is she shut down popular magnet schools.

Edwards hoped the city would embrace her and her ambitious plans. Reaction, at best, has been mixed.

Then came COVID.

In March, coronavirus stopped the first year of revised classes in their tracks. The disease also sent Dr. Edwards, who is 69, scurrying to her Florida home where she worked remotely. The longer she stayed gone, the more board members became disgruntled. Sources say the situation has become so dysfunctional that the superintendent and some of those members barely speak to each other.

She is at odds with more than board members.

Last month, a group of parents became upset that Edwards canceled honors classes at Dothan Preparatory Academy. Amid public outcry, she relented. A notice placed on the DPA website advised parents there would be honors classes. However, nobody told DPA’s principal, who was embarrassed when he learned of plans from the media.

Relationships have deteriorated so badly that Edwards recently attempted to have band boosters arrested. A police report filed by the Dothan High School principal accused them of stealing $92,000 in equipment from that school’s campus. That report failed to mention that equipment belonged to boosters, not the school. When police dismissed the allegations, Edwards threatened to sue boosters.

Edwards has two and a half years remaining on her five-year contract.

Copyright 2020 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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