One of the Palm Beach County public school system’s top officials has resigned, less than eight months after being recruited to the position by Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa.
Since joining the school district in May, Sherri Davis had served in a newly created position as chief officer of administration, where her responsibilities included finding ways to evaluate school district operations and make them more efficient.
In a Dec. 14 email to school board members, Davis announced that she was resigning effective Dec. 21 to return to the Atlanta area, where she had previously lived and worked as a member of Avossa’s administration in Fulton County’s public schools.
“Please know that I did not come to this decision easily,” she wrote. “I have been deliberating my transition for several months. If I could do this work near my family, I would stay. However, for family reasons I will be returning to Atlanta where I will be taking a sabbatical to better support my family before returning to work in public education.”
Davis was one of several Fulton County school officials that Avossa brought with him to Palm Beach County as he remade the school district’s top echelons. Three of his six top aides were former Fulton County administrators.
Davis describes herself as a “non-traditional educator,” and her path to one of the school district’s top positions had been an unconventional one. Before becoming a school district administrator in Fulton County, she had worked as a management consultant, including a stint for Deloitte, the world’s largest consulting firm.
During her time in Palm Beach County, one of her main projects had been her efforts to reform the school district’s notoriously slow Office of Professional Standards, which investigates complaints against employees and has been known to takes more than a year to complete a case.
At 31, Davis was the youngest member of Avossa’s cabinet and one of the school district’s highest-paid employees. Her $145,000 annual salary meant she out-earned all the county’s regional superintendents and school principals.
It was not clear what Avossa’s plans are for the newly created position. In a brief email to school board members this month, he was coy about whether the post would be filled.
“I will be contacting each board member about next steps,” he wrote. “I have appreciated Sherri and her intellect regarding process and project management.”
In an interview, Davis said she recognized that her tenure was unusually short but said that she had enjoyed her seven months in Palm Beach County, where she said the district has “some really strong leaders in place.” She was moving to Atlanta to be near her brother, she said.
“It was 100 percent to be closer to family,” she said. “I loved working for the school district.”
Here is Davis’ full email to school board members:
I have made the decision to leave the district. My last day in the office will be one week from today, Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity work with you all to dramatically increase opportunities for all students in Palm Beach County. We have launched a strategic plan, tackled challenging conversations on race as well as equity, while putting the infrastructure in place to support the continued success of your hard work. I am proud and thankful to have had these opportunities.
Please know that I did not come to this decision easily. I have been deliberating my transition for several months. If I could do this work near my family, I would stay. However, for family reasons I will be returning to Atlanta where I will be taking a sabbatical to better support my family before returning to work in public education.
Over the next week, I will be working directly with my team to transition and plan next steps to ensure a smooth transition.
I leave SDPBC knowing I have had the rare chance to work alongside giants in education reform.
Sherri S. Davis
Chief Officer of Administration
School District of Palm Beach County
3300 Forest Hill Blvd. Suite C-316
West Palm Beach, FL 33406