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US educator Heatley named as new Education Commissioner

Controversial US educator Edmond Heatley has been taken on as Bermuda's new Education Commissioner.

The former US Marine most recently served as superintendent and chief executive officer for Clayton County Public Schools in Georgia.

Recruited to that position in 2009, Dr Heatley was in charge of the district's 67 schools.

Dr Heatley drew headlines last year after making a bid for the job of Berkeley Schools District Superintendent in California.

Although he was reportedly to be the top candidate for the role, he was forced to withdraw after parents complained about his management style.

Dr Heatley was further accused of supporting California's Proposition Eight, which sought to ban same-sex marriage.

One activist alleged that his link with the Broad Superintendents' Academy would result in Dr Heatley moving to privatise education in the district.

Acknowledging the furore yesterday, he said: “I am sure that some of you have done a Google search on my name, and know that there are some controversial comments about me out there.

“I, too, know what's on the internet and in the blogs and I want to note that none of it is based on accurate information and fact. The reality of the matter is that anyone in a leadership position will have people who agree with their direction and leadership, as well as, those who disagree with the decisions that are made.”

Dr Heatley said he saw his top priority in his new role as building “open communication and transparency”.

“We must take an active role in regaining the confidence of the community,” he said, also noting the increased say of parents in Bermuda's educational reforms.

He will take over from Commissioner Wendy McDonell, who retires at the end of this month.

Board of Education Chairman Curtis Dickinson said Dr Heatley been selected for his record of “managing and leading change”.

Mr Dickinson said Dr Heatley was selected through a rigorous process that saw two prospective candidates brought to Bermuda for vetting.

The post was advertised locally and overseas, he said. Dr Heatley was selected out of roughly 70 applicants.

Candidates had to set out their vision for taking Bermuda's public education system forward.

Shadow Education Minister Walton Brown said he wasn't deterred by the selection of an Commissioner from overseas.

“I know the board conducted a long, diligent search for a suitably qualified candidate and I believe their preference was to place a Bermudian in that position immediately,” he said.

“Because I have confidence in the integrity of the selection committee, I am comfortable with their recommendation but I fully expect a credible plan to be put in place to ensure Bermudians are fully qualified to take over on the expiration of Dr Heatley's contract.”

The Progressive Labour Party MP said he looked forward to “steady, measured improvement in student abilities, teacher commitment and leadership among our principals”.

He added: “A lacuna in the current education system is a satisfactory leadership growth and development structure and it is my hope this too will be addressed by Dr Heatley.”

Edmond Heatley (left) was today named Bermuda's new Education Commissioner. He is pictured at a press conference announcing his appointment with Education Board chairman Curtis Dickerson and Education Minister Grant Gibbons (Photo by Department of Communication and Information)

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Published August 27, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 27, 2013 at 9:21 am)

US educator Heatley named as new Education Commissioner

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