Charter school leader leaving
Principal heading to Buford High

LAWRENCEVILLE - Banks Bitterman's term as the principal of the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology will end along with the school's first academic year, Gwinnett County Public Schools officials said Tuesday.

Bitterman has been chosen to replace Buford High's outgoing principal, Steve Miller, said Geye Hamby, the superintendent of Buford City Schools. Miller, who has led Buford High since 2005, told city school district leaders in January that he would be leaving at the end of the year, Hamby said.

"We're absolutely thrilled about the potential for his leadership," Hamby said of Bitterman. Hamby declined to comment about Miller's resignation.

The news of Bitterman's departure comes less than a month after the Gwinnett County Board of Education promoted Bitterman from dean of academics to principal of the charter school. Bitterman was an assistant principal at Brookwood High School when he was chosen to open the school system's charter school last year.

Bitterman could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday, but in a letter to school officials, he wrote, "I have been offered an opportunity because of the success of GSMST (the charter school) that I cannot turn down."

"This has been the hardest decision that I have had to make in my life," he wrote. "I care deeply for every student and faculty member in my building. They have become my family."

Miller was also unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Gwinnett County Public Schools spokesman Jorge Quintana said the school system will move fairly quickly in interviewing candidates. Although he was not required to do so, Bitterman kept the district informed about his interview with Buford City Schools and his status as a final candidate, Quintana said.

In his letter, Bitterman said he plans to work with the school system "to ensure that the perfect person is hired to replace me."

"I guarantee that GSMST will continue with the vision and mission that I have instilled," he wrote.

The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology recently held a lottery to determine which rising freshmen will attend the school. The school's curriculum includes classes in bioscience, engineering and emerging technologies.

Charter schools, which are funded with private tax dollars, agree to be held to higher accountability in exchange for flexibility in areas such as class size and length of instruction time.