Atlanta's Harris Rebuked; Assistant Fired

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The Atlanta board of education has officially reprimanded Superintendent J. Jerome Harris and fired one of his top aides after it learned that both men lacked state certification required to hold their posts.

Mr. Harris averted the board's threat to fire him at the end of this month by completing the paperwork necessary to obtain his certification.

Mr. Harris, who had allowed his temporary certification to lapse five months ago, needed one course to receive full certification. He taught a similar course for 14 years at Brooklyn College in New York City, and state officials accepted that experience as fulfilling the requirement.

Ronald H. Lewis, an associate su4perintendent hired by Mr. Harris when he took over the superintendency more than a year ago, unsuccessfully sought to have a state judge block his own dismissal.

The Atlanta board voted to fire Mr. Lewis last month after it learned that he, too, had not earned state certification.

Charges that Mr. Lewis had plagiarized his 1973 doctoral dissertation, which the Atlanta board first learned of last month, also "threw cold water" on the situation, Robert Waymer, a board member, said last week.

Mr. Lewis has denied the plagiarism charges--which first surfaced in 1982, when he was nominated to be commissioner of education in New8Jersey. He subsequently withdrew his name from consideration and resigned his post as commissioner of basic education in Pennsylvania.

The board reprimanded Mr. Harris for failing to disclose the plagiarism allegations before recommending Lewis for the Atlanta position.

The board also took Mr. Harris to task for "not communicating openly and effectively with the board," Mr. Waymer said.

"The board is trying to deal with who is going to be president, and I got caught in the middle," Mr. Harris said last week. "They keep telling me I would catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but I'm not in the fly-catching business."--ws

Vol. 09, Issue 16

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