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Acting superintendent Whitson announces retirement

With Roberson still on medical leave, district could be without chief

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Acting Superintendent James Whitson, who has been the head of the Richmond County school system since Frank Roberson fell ill last year, announced his retirement Tuesday, leaving unclear who will lead the district next year.

Because Roberson is still working no more than six hours a week until further instructions from his doctors, the school system will be without a superintendent unless action is taken.

School board President Alex Howard said that the system’s attorney will meet with Roberson’s physicians in the next seven to 10 days and that a decision on how to proceed regarding Roberson’s status will be made.

Roberson has been absent for about 14 months after having emergency brain surgery Feb. 24, 2011, for an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal clustering of blood vessels on the brain.

Whitson, who turns 63 in May, said his decision to retire was unrelated to the issues with Roberson. He said he is interested in returning to a job as a college professor and spending more time with family, including a second grandchild who is on the way.

“Any time you say you’re stepping away from something I’ve done for 41 years of my life is difficult,” Whitson said. “But this isn’t something that’s new.”

Whitson joined Richmond County in 2009 after almost 40 years working in administrative and teaching positions in Georgia and South Carolina. He was hired as acting superintendent under then-Superintendent Dana Bedden and never expressed interest in being the face of the district before he had to take over for Roberson, who was hired in August 2010.

In his 14 months as acting superintendent, Whitson had to balance a budget facing a $17 million revenue shortfall, deal with state changes to the Georgia pre-kindergarden program and address a transportation system that began the year with serious glitches – while also continuing the duties of deputy superintendent.

“We asked a lot of him,” Howard said. “I think he did a great job. It takes a special person to do what he did, and he did it because he loves education and loves children. That speaks a lot to what kind of man he is.”

Howard said leadership decisions will be made after the board knows more about Roberson’s medical condition next week.


• The Richmond County Board of Education voted to join a lawsuit with the August Commission in seeking a federal judge to redraw commission and school district lines.

• Board members voted down a petition from Clifford Lee Moss Art and Technology Academy to launch as a charter school in Richmond County. The board had authority to do so because the state is still acting under a law that gives local districts power to approve or deny charter schools in a school system.

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scoopdedoop64 04/17/12 - 11:58 pm
This whole situation is

This whole situation is completely amazing. I have serious doubts that Mr. Robertson will ever be able to do the job he was hired for.

avidreader 04/18/12 - 05:38 am
Dr. Roberson is a good man,

Dr. Roberson is a good man, but maybe it is time to retire for good. Dr. Whitson did his best, considering the pressures he dealt with on a day-to-day basis.

southern2 04/18/12 - 06:21 am
Good luck to Acting

Good luck to Acting Superintendent James Whitson, his service to our county is appreciated and he will be missed.

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 04/18/12 - 07:36 am
Is the RCBOE primarily

Is the RCBOE primarily concerned with students and learning or money and power?

Riverman1 04/18/12 - 08:54 am
Love Dr. Robertson, but it's

Love Dr. Robertson, but it's been 14 months. He will draw a handsome medical retirement if he steps down, I'm guessing.

allhans 04/18/12 - 09:59 am
The BPOE doesn't seem to have

The BPOE doesn't seem to have a good record with it's hiring.
Time for some changes?

Sweet son
Sweet son 04/18/12 - 01:11 pm
I am with most of the rest of

I am with most of the rest of the comments. Start a search committee now and help Dr. Roberson apply for long term disability. Nothing personal against Roberson but look at the number of children the lack of a leader is affecting. Good Luck Mr. Whitson don't know how you have stood it this long and that is sad!

raul 04/18/12 - 06:27 pm
Does anyone know if Mr.

Does anyone know if Mr. Whitson was given a temporary promotion and paid for assuming the duties of the Superintendent for over a year? If not, that is a travesty.

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