WJTV News Channel 12 - Merrill named new Wake Co. superintendent

Merrill named new Wake Co. superintendent

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James Merrill James Merrill
Jim Merrill addresses the media after being named superintendent of the Wake County Public School System. Jim Merrill addresses the media after being named superintendent of the Wake County Public School System.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

James Merrill, superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, was named the new superintendent of North Carolina's largest school system Tuesday night.

"I am both excited and honored to be chosen as the next superintendent of the Wake County Public School System. This system has a legacy of high student achievement, a community that supports its schools, and is viewed as a leader in the state and the nation," Merrill said. "We shall continue to herald our student successes and push each child to his or her next level of accomplishment."

Seven members of the Wake County School Board voted in favor of hiring Merrill, two opposed the hire. Republicans Deborah Prickett and John Tedesco voted in favor of Ann Clark. "I really felt like it was time hire our first female superintendent," Prickett said.

"I do feel there is a sense of nostalgia and return to a belief of what we perceive Wake County was as opposed to what we believe Wake County can be," Tedesco added.

Merrill has been superintendent at the Virginia Beach City Public Schools since 2006 and was named Virginia's "Superintendent of the Year" in 2012. Merrill served six years as superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System before being hired in Virginia Beach.

The county expected to announce a decision June 4. But the board announced it was delaying its decision and announced Deputy Superintendent for School Performance Cathy Moore would serve as interim superintendent.

Merrill was chosen out of three finalists, Dana Beden of Irving Texas and Ann Clark, deputy superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Board Chairman Keith Sutton said, "Dr. Merrill outlined an impressive program of growth for Wake County schools, and brings with him the skill set and institutional knowledge to lead the state's largest public school district into a new era."

Merrill is a 39-year veteran educator, according to the Virginia Beach City Public Schools website. Merrill is no stranger to Wake County where he worked his way up to assistant superintendent of finance before leaving in 2000.

He was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he majored in education. Merrill earned his master's degree in educational administration from Appalachian State University and his doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

He and his wife Elizabeth have one son, Barrett, according to the website.

Merrill's frontrunner status was leaded to the media by an unnamed source last week. Sutton said board members responsible for confidential leaks could face public censure or fines.  

 "And I would be the first to support anything that would allow us to penalize to the fullest extent possible," Sutton said.

Wake County Schools hasn't released details of Merrill's contract.  His first day is August 1. 

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