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Kevin Wilkinson

On the heels of several high level departures in recent months from the NC Department of Public Instruction, NC State Superintendent Mark Johnson is now losing two key members of his inner circle–his general counsel and legislative director.

Kevin Wilkinson, who came to DPI with Johnson shortly after his 2016 election, will leave his position as Legislative Director on July 19, according to DPI spokesman and interim director for Communication and Information Services Graham Wilson. Wilkinson leaves the position to become the Executive Director for External Affairs for UNC Pembroke.

Jonathan Sink will also depart DPI on July 19, according to Wilson. Sink joined NC DPI as its general counsel in February 2019, after serving as Deputy General Counsel for Speaker Tim Moore’s office since 2017.

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Jonathan Sink

The departures are the latest in a string of high level staffers to leave DPI.

Deputy Superintendent for District Support Maria Pitre-Martin left DPI in June to take a position as superintendent of Peterson City Schools in Virginia. Deputy Superintendent for Early Education Pamela Shue also left DPI in June to take a position at Appalachian State University. And in the same month, Director of Communications Drew Elliot left to become a lobbyist for ElectriCities of NC.

Earlier this week The News & Observer reported that the superintendent for the Innovative School District (ISD), LaTeesa Allen, was also out, along with Bruce Major, the principal of the only school in the ISD, Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County. Allen served as superintendent for less than a year, and Major served as Southside-Ashpole’s new principal for less than one year as well. 

The ISD’s first superintendent, Eric Hall, was promoted in 2018 to become DPI’s Deputy Superintendent for Innovation, but left that role after just 9 months to take a similar position in Florida.

On Thursday, DPI issued a press release announcing that Dr. James Ellerbe has been hired to be the new superintendent for the Innovative School District.

Last month, interim director for Human Relations Melissa Werner reported to the State Board of Education on the number of vacancies at DPI.

At that time, Werner said there were approximately 176 vacancies, roughly 30 of which were in the state’s residential schools, which technically fall under DPI. The agency has roughly 1,000 positions funded overall, estimated Werner, 300 of which comprise positions in the residential schools. 

While a portion of those vacancies were in active recruitment stages, 61 didn’t have any active recruitment activity, Werner said–and more than 50 percent of those positions were filled by temps.

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