Georgia Government 101: What does the State School Superintendent do?


If you have a child who attends public school in Georgia, you should care about the views and actions of the state school superintendent. If you are an educator in Georgia, this is also an important position that you are likely aware of.

In short, the state school superintendent enforces the policies of Georgia’s education department.

What is the role of the State School Superintendent?: By law, the state school superintendent must carry out and enforce all of the rules and regulations of the state board of education and of any schools receiving state aid. The law also requires him to make recommendations to the board on the “welfare and efficiency” of the public school system.

This is essentially an executive position that heads up the Department of Education, which is officially governed by the state board of education.

How is the State School Superintendent Chosen?: This is an elected position. Georgians vote on the superintendent every four years. This is in contrast to how most local school systems select their superintendent. On the local level, the superintendent is usually appointed by the board of education.

Term Length: 4 years; no term limits.

Qualifications: The State School Superintendent is one of the few positions with some sort of professional requirement attached. The state’s education chief doesn’t have to have any experience in education, but they do have to be educated. A four-year degree from an accredited college or university is a requirement to run for this office.

In addition, the superintendent must have a clean criminal record. Anyone who has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude is not eligible to hold this office.

Also, sitting members of the state board of education can’t run for superintendent.

Who is the current State School Superintendent?: Richard Woods has held the post since 2014. He was elected after former state school superintendent John Barge resigned the post to run for governor.

How influential is the State School Superintendent?: While his primary job is to execute the rules and regulations set by the state school board, he is the state’s education chief and makes suggestions to the board about anything relating to the welfare and efficiency of the public schools. Welfare and efficiency could cover almost any issue relating to public education in Georgia.

If the state superintendent has a good relationship with the board of education, the board will be more likely to move the superintendent’s agenda forward. So, while the superintendent’s influence is balanced by the board of education, it is still an influential position that can have an important impact on your child’s education.

Note: This is part of our Georgia Government 101 series. Throughout this series, we will explain the role of each statewide office that you, the voter, will be voting for in November.

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