NC Department of Public Instruction’s key Leandro strategist to retire

Bev Emory

Bev Emory, the executive director of Leandro Support at the NC Department of Public instruction (NCDPI), will retire Dec. 31.

Emory, the NCDPI staffer responsible for implementing the recommendations in the WestEd report, shared the news Wednesday during the State Board of Education’s (SBE) Bi-Annual Planning and Work Session.

She told State Superintendent Catherine Truitt about her decision to retire a few months ago.

“This has really been a joyful ride,” Emory said during an impromptu speech. “I told Superintendent [Catherine] Truitt when I talked to her a few months ago is that the last thing I want to be is that person everybody is saying, ‘Oh, God she needs to go.’ ”

NCDPI spokeswoman Blair Rhoades said a formal announcement about “transition plans” will be made at the SBE’s December 1-2 meeting.

WestEd is an independent consultant hired by Superior Court Judge David Lee to develop recommendations to improve North Carolina’s public schools. Lee is overseeing the state’s landmark school funding case – Leandro v. State of North Carolina – brought by five school districts in low-wealth counties that argued their districts did not have enough money to provide children a quality education.

In 1997, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling, later reconfirmed in 2004, in which it held that every child has a right to a “sound basic education” that includes competent and well-trained teachers and principals and equitable access to resources.

WestEd’s recommendations include staffing each classroom with a competent, well-trained teacher; staffing each school with a competent, well-trained principal and identifying the resources necessary to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to obtain a sound, basic education, among others.

Emory’s public announcement about her December departure comes just days before Judge Lee is expected to issue a court order to compel lawmakers to comply with the Leandro ruling by funding a plan that calls for $1.7 billion in new school spending over the next two years.  The plan would cost $5.6 billion over the next seven years and would pay for teacher raises, provide additional funding to low-wealth school districts and expand the NC Pre-K program.

SBE Chairman Eric Davis said Emory has touched millions of students during her career.

“There’re families, there’re teachers, there’re educators who have a better life today because they were touched by Bev Emory,” Davis said.

Emory resigned as superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in 2019 to become director of district and regional support at NCDPI. She was hired by former state superintendent Mark Johnson, who had served on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.

Emory also served as superintendent of Pitt County Schools from 2006-13.

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