A former Superintendent of the Year in Tennessee will likely be tapped the next superintendent for the Fulton County School System pending the Board of Education’s final vote later this month.
Michael “Mike” Looney, Ed.D., 56, current superintendent for the Williamson (Brentwood, Tenn.) County School System, was named the sole finalist for Fulton Schools Superintendent. The decision was made on April 15 after a three-month national search. Under state law, the school board must wait 14 days before a final vote.
In announcing the selection, district leaders cited Looney’s record of rising test scores and participation rates in high level courses during his tenure. Over the past 10 years, a record number of students in the Williamson District have been named National Merit Scholars, earning over $1 billion on college scholarships.
“Dr. Looney has a very impressive background and track record of success during the 10 years as superintendent in his current district,” said Fulton School Board President Linda Bryant. “We are excited for Dr. Looney to visit our schools and engage with the community over the next few days and weeks.”
Looney visited several schools around the district last week, including two high schools in Roswell, to meet teachers and parents.
“Fulton County schools have been doing some amazing things, and I look forward to meeting many of [its constituents] and hearing questions and concerns,” Looney said. “It would be an honor to serve this community and work with so many dedicated educators in the schools and district office.”
Looney will replace Jeff Rose who resigned from the district in December in the midst of contract negotiations, citing personal reasons. Since then, the district has been led by interim Superintendent Cindy Loe.
Looney will be the ninth superintendent for Fulton Schools in the past 20 years. He has been with Williamson County Schools since 2009, after a four-year stint as superintendent in Greenville, Ala., where he was named the Citizen of the Year by the city.
A Marine veteran and recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Looney worked his way up the educational leadership ladder from substitute teacher, to teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and finally superintendent. He has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Alabama.
In Fulton County, Looney will lead a district more than twice the enrollment size of his current locale, and demographically much different. The Williamson County School System covers the Brentwood area of Tennessee — one of the wealthiest areas of the state — and has low diversity compared to Fulton’s wide range of students.
Looney has weathered controversial events over the past few years, including a 2018 charge of assault against a parent and teacher following an altercation at a high school. A judge cleared Looney, and an internal investigation found no basis for an arrest.
He also found himself in the national spotlight in February apologizing after a middle school teacher assigned racially insensitive homework. In light of that issue, Looney ordered sensitivity training for all employees, including cultural competency and privilege awareness, which drew some criticism from political groups.
Terms of Looney’s contract with Fulton Schools will not be made public until the board’s final vote. He is, however, expected to be among the higher paid superintendents in Georgia, based on previous salaries and benefits for Fulton Schools. Rose’s salary at his hiring was $295,000 annually, not including benefits.