N.C . Department of Public Instruction to lose Leandro strategist to verdant greens of N.C. Central University

Catherine Edmonds

After less than 18 months on the job, Catherine Edmonds, the state’s deputy superintendent of the Office of Equity, is leaving the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) to become chief of staff at N.C. Central University (NCCU) in Durham.

NCCU announced the hire last week. Edmonds will begin her new job on May 1.

With Edmonds’ departure, NCDPI loses its second chief Leandro strategist in less than four months. Edmonds absorbed the duties of the executive director of Leandro Implementation after Beverly Emory retired on Dec. 31.

Edmonds is preparing to leave NCDPI as the state’s landmark school-funding lawsuit, Leandro v. State of North Carolina, is winding its way through the courts again. The State Supreme Court has asked the judge overseeing the case to determine how much of the first two years of a $1.7 billion comprehensive remedial plan is covered in the state budget. Special Superior Court Judge Michael Robinson is expected to submit his findings this week.

Emory’s position was created to enact the recommendations of the WestEd report. WestEd is an independent consultant hired by the state to develop recommendations to improve North Carolina’s public schools. The report stems from the Leandro case brought by five school districts in low-wealth counties that argued their districts did not have enough money to provide children with sound basic education as mandated in the state Constitution.

NCDPI spokeswoman Blair Rhoades said Edmonds’ replacement has not been named.

Edmonds currently leads an office created by State Superintendent Catherine Truitt to ensure that the state’s education systems approach all decisions through an equity lens.  At NCCU, she will direct change management initiatives and oversee project management and program development on behalf of NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye. NCCU is a historically Black college with a little more than 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Edmonds has nearly 30 years of experience in public education in North Carolina at both the K-12 and higher education levels. Before joining the Truitt administration, she served as superintendent for Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools.

She has also served as the director of educational leadership and development and director of the NC Principal Fellows Program at the University of North Carolina System. Edmonds holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics education from NC A&T University, a master of administration and supervision from N.C. State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from NCSU.

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