Superintendent Watlington Announces Appointment of New Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services

Posted on July 6, 2023
Categories: News from SDP

July 6, 2023

Today, Superintendent Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D., announced the appointment of the District’s new Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services, Jermaine Dawson, Ed.D. The addition of Dr. Dawson will further support the District’s efforts to implement its new five-year strategic plan, Accelerate Philly, achieve the Board’s Goals and Guardrails, and become the fastest improving large, urban school district in the country.

“Dr. Dawson brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the District, as well as a demonstrated track record of leading significant academic growth and closing achievement gaps,” said Superintendent Watlington. “He is battle-tested and provides collaborative, results-oriented, and data driven leadership that produces improved student outcomes.”

As the Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services, Dr. Dawson will supervise the Office of Elementary Schools, Office of Secondary Schools, Office of Curriculum and Instruction, Office of Special Education and Diverse Learners, and the Office of Student Support Services. Dr. Dawson will be responsible for driving the District’s academic strategy in an effort to accelerate student academic achievement, lead the charge on achieving academic growth, as well as increasing opportunities for students to be college and career ready. He will also be laser-focused on improving three immediate focus areas: student attendance, teacher attendance and dropout rates. His effective start date will be August 1.

Dr. Dawson currently serves as the Chief Academic and Accountability Officer for Birmingham City Schools. Under his leadership, third grade reading data improved by nine percentage points and reading proficiency improved by 12 percentage points between 2019 and 2021. Both reading and math achievements outperformed “pre-pandemic” reading proficiency scores by five percentage points, and math proficiency scores by 10 percentage points respectively. His exemplary work also contributed to:

  • More than 41% of students being ranked in the highest level of growth in one year in reading,
  • More than 37% of students being ranked in the highest level of growth in one year in mathematics,
  • An increase in college and career readiness from 54% in 2020 to 70% in 2022, and
  • An 85 percent graduation rate

“Dr. Dawson is a very focused, hard worker, who has a good mind around academics, and how to move the needle,” said Mark A. Sullivan, Ed.D., Superintendent of Birmingham City Schools. “He is incredibly committed to students–specifically focused on the improvement of underprivileged students.”

Prior to his current position, Dr. Dawson held senior leadership roles at the Houston Independent School District (200,000 students), Duval County Public Schools (135,000 students), Fulton County Schools (90,300 students), and the Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) where academic performance increased and the number of failing schools decreased. He is a former elementary and middle school math teacher and served as an elementary and middle school principal in the Atlanta Public Schools.

“It is imperative to have a strong leader with demonstrated experience in accelerating academic growth, as the District strives to achieve the Board’s Goals and Guardrails, as well as Dr. Watlington’s goal of becoming the fastest improving large, urban school district,” said Board President Reginald Streater, Esq. “On behalf of the Board, we look forward to working in partnership with Dr. Dawson and welcome him to become a part of our village in service of our students.”

These personnel changes are budget neutral due to the elimination or repurposing of a number of vacant positions that Superintendent Watlington froze upon his arrival. The District continues to conduct a national search for the role of Chief of Special Education and Diverse Learners.