After surprise departure, who will lead Durham Public Schools?

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Bert L'Homme will step down in August.

Durham Public Schools will be meeting soon to discuss who will lead 33,000 public school students in the district. This comes after Superintendent Dr. Bert L'Homme announced Monday to the board he is retiring this summer.

Board Chairman Michael Lee said he will be scheduling an emergency meeting soon to discuss how the board will move forward. Lee said L'Homme's abrupt departure was a surprise.

"It was a complete and total shock," Lee said.

Lee also said L'Homme decided it was time to be more available to his family.

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L'Homme spent three years as Durham's top education leader, beginning in 2014. Part of his exit, L'Homme said is because of the changing landscape in the public education system at the federal and state level. He said Monday that he felt he didn't have the energy to continue on.

His decision disappointed Eric Guckian, a father of two Durham public school children.

"I think Dr. L'Homme has done an excellent job as superintendent," Guckian said. "I feel we have really made progress, and I am sad to see him go."

ORIGINAL STORY: DURHAM PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT TO RETIRE IN AUGUST

Durham Public Schools credited L'Homme for turning students' math, reading, and science scores in the up direction. L'Homme is praised for cultivating relationships with the community, parents and students, and revamping the school's code of conduct to alleviate inequities in the punishment of minority students.

"He's been a strong proponent for the things that we at the Durham Educator's Association have been fighting for," said Bryan Proffitt, president of the association.

School board leaders said one option in seeking L'Homme's replacement is through naming an interim superintendent, as it starts a nationwide search.

Lee said it will be a search that will involve the community.

"Durham is very passionate about its education, about Durham Public Schools and I want the community to know that the school board is going to be working very hard to figure out a process of how do we move forward," Lee said.

No interim leader has been discussed. An initial meeting to discuss next steps is forthcoming. That meeting will be open to the public.

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