2021’s Top Stories: State Board suspends Chamblee

Published 2:34 pm Thursday, December 30, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

From December 4, 2021

RALEIGH – Dr. Pamela Chamblee, who has been Superintendent of Northampton County Schools since April 2019, has been suspended with pay by the State Board of Education per a decision made at their meeting here on Dec. 2.

According to a statement from the State Board of Education, Dr. Del Burns has been appointed as the district’s Interim Superintendent effective immediately.

Citing NC General Statutes 115C-105.39 and 115C-274(b), the board is allowed to take action “if the local superintendent: (1) fails to cooperate with an assigned DPI State Assistance Team; (2) the local superintendent takes actions to hinder the ability of the school system to improve its low-performing status; and/or (3) is a superintendent in a district in which more than half of the schools are identified as low-performing.”

Northampton County’s school district has held the label of “low performing” for several years, a designation which is given when a district has 50 percent or more schools designated as “low-performing.” Five out of the district’s seven schools were considered low performing, according to the last time NC Department of Public Instruction gave out “school report cards” before the pandemic.

Dr. Burns previously served as Superintendent of Wake County Schools as well as Interim at a number of different districts across the state, including Bertie County, Edgecombe County, Nash-Rocky Mount, and New Hanover County Schools.

The Northampton School Board convened in a special called meeting later on Dec. 2. There, Alan Duncan, Vice Chair of the State Board, explained the decision behind Chamblee’s suspension. He also introduced members of the State Board and representatives from the Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) which will help the district move forward.

“We cannot let adult issues get in the way of doing the very best we can for our children,” Duncan said. “We are deeply concerned yet very optimistic about the children of Northampton County, and their educational opportunity.”

Dr. Catherine Edmonds, who currently serves as NCDPI’s Deputy State Superintendent of the Office of Educational Equity, will lead NCDPI’s Assistance Team along with a district leadership coach and several other school leadership coaches.

Dr. Chamblee was first hired by Northampton County’s Board of Education in an interim capacity in April 2019, and later named her the full-time superintendent in August 2019.

In June 2020, the county’s school board voted 5-2 to terminate her contract. Many of those votes came from board members who were concluding their terms after unsuccessful reelection bids.

When the new board was sworn in two weeks later in July 2020, they voted 5-1 to rescind her termination.