Gwinnett School Board votes to part ways with long-serving superintendent

The Gwinnett County Board of Education has voted to part ways with its long-serving CEO and superintendent during a meeting on Thursday.

In a 3-2 vote, the board decided to part ways with J. Alvin Wilbanks after 25 years in the role.

His last day with Gwinnett County Public Schools will be July 31.

Everton Blair, Jr. (FOX 5)

In a statement, board chair Everton Blair, Jr. wrote:

"After numerous conversations between Mr. Wilbanks and the Board, we have chosen to take this action at this time in order to begin a superintendent search. As this is a pivotal period in our district’s history, we want to ensure we have the time needed to find a candidate of the highest caliber who is ready to build on the many things established during Mr. Wilbanks’ tenure. The timing of this decision also will allow the new superintendent to be in place for the start of the new school year. As a Board, we are committed to doing what is best for the school district and its students and to conducting a diligent and thorough search… One that we know will attract outstanding candidates from across the country.

"We look forward to working with Mr. Wilbanks to ensure a smooth transition and to the many opportunities that we will have in the coming months to celebrate him and his legacy and to thank him for his service to Gwinnett County Public Schools."

J. Alvin Wilbanks (Gwinnett County Schools)

Wilbanks was gracious in his response. In a statement, he wrote:

"I have had the pleasure and honor to serve as Gwinnett County Public Schools’ superintendent for the past 25 years. Education has been my life’s work for 56 years and my work in this school district has been the highlight of my career. I have had the opportunity to work with the finest leaders, most dedicated educators, and this outstanding community. Together, we have moved this very good school system forward toward our vision of world-class and have served our students well. We have done good work and have successfully overcome challenges that have stymied other districts. I am proud of all that has been accomplished over the years that has benefited our students, our employees, the district, and the greater Gwinnett community.

"In light of the addition of new members to the Board and my decision not to seek another contract, this vote is not surprising. While I was prepared to fulfill my contract through June of 2022, recent discussions with the School Board made it clear that would not be the case.

"I appreciate the support I have received over the years, and, especially most recently, from staff members, parents, and community members. I want you all to know what a pleasure it has been to lead this district, to be a part of the GCPS family, and to be a contributing member of this great community. I know that when the time comes, I will proudly hand back to the Gwinnett County Board of Education and our community a school district that is in better shape today than it was when I became superintendent."

Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson remarked on Wilbanks' tenure at GCPS that spanned decades and in which the school district was repeatedly recognized as one of the best in the U.S.:

"Transition brings opportunity, and I am looking forward to supporting the Board of Education’s plan to conduct a national search for a new superintendent. I believe their plan will deliver a leader that will carry the Gwinnett Standard of excellence even further. I know my colleagues serving on the Board of Education recognize how important it will be to find a superintendent who will continue to embrace our diverse community and maintain collaboration with our County and city governments, our strong non-profit sector, as well as our dynamic business community to build on Gwinnett County’s success. As the Gwinnett community has always done, we will rally to support the leadership that is entrusted to educate our children."

The district will still need to pay the remainder of Wilbanks’ salary, which amounts to no more than a year’s pay.

Wilbanks has been the longest-serving superintendent of a large urban school district.

The board said they will begin a superintendent search immediately.

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