The superintendent of Durham’s public schools, Carl Harris, is leaving Durham to take a job with the U.S. Department of Education, DPS announced this morning.

Harris, who has been Superintendent since July 2006, will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for Policy and Strategic Initiatives.

“Durham’s loss is definitely our nation’s gain,” said school board Chair Minnie Forte-Brown in a prepared statement. “We wish him well as he takes his wisdom and his experience to Washington to improve schools across our country.”

The school system highlighted several of Harris’s accomplishments, including a decrease in the district’s dropout rate, increased participation in Advanced Placement courses and increased outreach to parents and the private sector. Harris also presided over the opening of six new schools.

The beginning of Harris’s tenure also marked the start of a more harmonious school board. In 2005 and early 2006, the board was infamous for infighting and meetings that sometimes got so out of hand, disruptiveparticipants were arrested.

This year, Harris was named Central Carolina Regional Superintendent of the Year, and also was appointed to a steering committee of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to develop advanced certification for school administration, the release said.

Harris is expected to stay through the end of the calendar year, said schools spokesman Michael Yarbrough, and no acting superintendent has been named in his place just yet. The school board will soon decide who will fill in for Harris while a new superintendent is being sought, as well as how to tackle that process, he said. The board’s next regular meeting is Nov. 19.