DeKalb Schools put on probation

Well, so much for not blogging. The school system was just put on probation. Here’s the statement from SACS:

“The AdvancED Accreditation Commission voted to place the DeKalb County School District on Accredited Probation, effective immediately, after an investigative evaluation conducted on October 17-19 by an AdvancED Special Review Team found the DeKalb County School District in violation of the AdvancED Standards for Accreditation.

“Based on a comprehensive investigation by the Special Review Team, there is significant and irrefutable evidence that the DeKalb County School District is in a state of conflict and chaos,” stated Dr. Mark Elgart, President and CEO, AdvancED. “The system over the past decade has struggled with consistent and effective governance. This failure to govern effectively has resulted in a decline in student performance, financial mismanagement, and lack of integrity and ethics in recruiting, appointing and evaluating personnel at all levels of the school system,” said Elgart.”

“As result of findings by the Special Review Team and in accordance with AdvancED policies, the DeKalb County School District, including all of its schools, has been placed in the accreditation status of “Accredited Probation” until December 31, 2013. DeKalb County School District will have until May 31, 2013 to make progress in complying with the Special Review Team’s Required Actions and subsequently must complete those Required Actions by December 31, 2013.”

The Required Actions are as follows:

1. Devise and implement a written, comprehensive plan for unifying the DeKalb County Board of Education so that the focus can become serving the needs of the children of the DeKalb County School District.

2. Ensure that all actions and decisions of the DeKalb County Board of Education are reflective of the collective Board and consistent with approved policies and procedures and all applicable laws, regulations and standards, rather than individual board members acting independently and undermining the authority of the Superintendent to lead and manage day-to-day operations.

3. Establish and implement policies and procedures that ensure segregation of duties of the governing board and that of the administration including the elimination of Board working committees that result in board members assuming administrative functions that should be the responsibility of appropriate staff.

4. Implement and adhere to fiscally responsible policies and practices that ensure the DeKalb County Board of Education will adopt and ensure proper implementation of budgets within the financial means of the school system and that support the delivery of an educational program that meets the needs of the students.

“In addition, the DeKalb County School District also must complete the Required Actions outlined in the March 2012 Quality Assurance Review report as well as the Required Actions outlined in the January 2011 Special Review Team report and subsequently marked In Progress on the Accreditation Progress Report submitted by the school system in October 2011.”

“The DeKalb County School District will be expected to host a Monitoring Team visit by May 31, 2013 to assess the school system’s progress toward meeting the Required Actions. Then by December 31, 2013, the school system must complete the outlined Required Actions and host a second Monitoring Team visit.”

“As indicated in the Special Review Team report, the failure of the Board to effectively govern the system is having severe consequences on the system’s current and future operation. If this pattern of poor governance is not corrected immediately, thousands of DeKalb County students will be negatively impacted for years to come.”

Download SACS’ report below.

Listen to Mark Elgart’s announcement below.

When a school system is placed on probation, the Georgia Board of Education must hold a hearing within 30 days. Findings and recommendations are then sent to the governor. The date for the hearing has not been announced. A new state law gives Gov. Nathan Deal the authority to replace the school board of a district that is placed on probation after receiving the recommendations of the State Board of Education.

If you would like to share information and thoughts with Dr. Elgart, you may email him at You can also email If you would like more information or would like to share your thoughts/observations with the State Board of Education, click here to find the names and contact information for all the State Board of Education members.

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128 Responses to DeKalb Schools put on probation

  1. Refugee from DCSS says:

    Any chance Elgart could have told Walker to cut out the racial politics too?
    The NAACP should be humiliated.

  2. Joanne Smith says:

    Still trying to recover from the shooting, understand mental illness and hope we can rally to help those who are sick and now I have to pull up from that and figure out what to do with my child that will be directly affected by this senseless and reckless crew of highly intelligent individuals claiming to be looking out for the best interest of all children in Dekalb Co. Ok, where is the state, when are they coming to take over……..

  3. From the SACS report:

    The accreditation status of DeKalb County School District and its schools has been Accredited On Advisement since January 2011 following a Special Review by AdvancED/SACS CASI and two subsequent reviews in October 2011 and March 2012. AdvancED/SACS CASI has received numerous additional complaints since March 2012 from a variety of sources alleging that the DeKalb County Board of Education has continued to violate the AdvancED Standards and accreditation policies, state law, and its own policies.

    Can you believe this has been festering for so many years? It’s just ridiculous. Children don’t have this kind of time to waste.

  4. And then the report states:

    The pattern of violations is too extensive to be fully identified herein and this report will provide only a representative sample of the Board’s conduct.


  5. And here’s the proof of the friends and family manipulation:

    Various forms of evidence confirmed that there is Board interference in hiring considerations. One example includes an email dated August 24, 2012 from the board chair to the Superintendent containing the subject line: Candidate for TAPP Program. The email from the board chair to the Superintendent read in part, “This is the individual I referred to the program that I asked you about, with his strong background and personal demeanor I feel that he would be a great candidate to work with our kids in our schools while filling one of our critical needs areas. Please know that I have met this young man and he is the brother of one of our Board… I would appreciate any assistance that you could provide.” This email confirms and supports the common belief of many stakeholders that there exists a problem with nepotism and preferential treatment in the hiring practices of the DeKalb County School District.

  6. In reference to this statement:

    Interviews with staff indicate that there exists a culture of fear. These staff members referenced how they were fearful of retribution by the Board if their statements or comments could be connected to them. During one interview, the person interviewed broke into tears and repeatedly stated that he/she was fearful to say anything. He/she indicated that he/she and his/her staff consistently receive communication and direction from members of the Board who issue directives and require status updates related to work being done in his/her department. Numerous staff members indicated that this culture of fear and Board interference was negatively impacting their work and the effective operation of the school system.

    One has to admit that if this staff person is the one in charge of HR, then the board has a point. The HR reports are woefully antiquated and incomplete. HR is the largest budget item and must provide detailed reports in order for the board to properly evaluate areas to make cuts or improvements and therefore be better stewards of the tax dollars.

    We are currently working diligently to uncover if the cuts approved by the board and proclaimed to have been made by Dr. Atkinson were in fact made, and if made, then were these people reinstated with new job titles or as contracted employees. We are skeptical as to whether our spending will align with the budget for 2013.

  7. Board members individually communicate with various stakeholders as evidenced by their visits to schools and emails to school personnel, district personnel, and members of the community. This steady flow of frequent and largely inappropriate communication limits the time for school and district staff to provide optimal service to students. The Board spends an inordinate amount of time on adult issues and little to no time communicating or voicing support of the educational vision and mission of the system. A review of the board meetings provided little evidence of the Board’s concern for the academic well-being of the district’s students and a constant focus on the adults serving the system.

    As we have already discussed and posted in our FILES tab, our newly elected board member, Marshall Orson is deeply involved in email communication with several staff members. It appears to us that Orson is trying to manipulate the proposed redistricting to ensure that Fernbank will end up with enough students to warrant a brand new (approved for SPLSOT IV) building. According to these emails, Orson does not care what happens to the other neighborhood schools in his district as long as Fernbank is taken care of. This is evident in his proposal to repurpose BriarVista as a Hebrew Academy and his discussions with Atlanta Public Schools to lease Medlock to that system.

  8. Regarding the textbooks that never showed up in the schoolhouses:

    Most stakeholders were unaware that the Board had established a $25 million line of credit for the purchase of new textbooks and had borrowed approximately $12 million from the line to pay for past textbook purchases. This was surprising to nearly every school level staff person and stakeholder interviewed. Furthermore, school level staff commented that they had not received any new textbooks and that school personnel had to supply glue and other materials to repair their own textbooks for students because of a lack of funds for said repairs. The board chair stated that he did not know if the books that were purchased with the borrowed money ever reached the classroom. The team could not find any evidence that new textbooks were ever received.

    That is just a flat out outrage! How is it that no one tracked this spending account? Does the CFO not produce reports showing a check register with assigned funding account numbers to show how monies earmarked for things like textbooks are being used for textbooks? This is so basic. You couldn’t run an ice cream shop without tracking how much you spend on ice cream…

  9. There is purportedly a plan to incorporate the use of e-books. However, reports indicate that the district is not wireless, and only approximately 35 percent of the schools currently have some level of wireless connectivity.

    Oh. My. God.

    What on earth did Ramona Tyson spend her millions upon millions in technology dollars on? !!!

    Oh, it’s answered later in the report.

    From information elicited during interviews, the system has failed to provide a modern, fully functional technology infrastructure, appropriate equipment, and a highly qualified technical support staff to meet the teaching, learning and operational needs of all stakeholders throughout the system.

    Additionally, district software systems are not integrated within the system to ensure that staff can work effectively and efficiently in a collaborative manner for operational effectiveness. Further, the team found no evidence that the system and school personnel have developed and implemented a technology plan to continuously improve technology services, infrastructure, and equipment.

    Get rid of Ramona Tyson right now, today.

  10. And then…

    The excessive amount of resources used to pay legal fees, purported to be approximately $11 million annually, can be better served in the classroom to ensure that the system’s curriculum provides equitable and challenging learning experiences so that all students have sufficient opportunity to develop learning, thinking and life skills that lead to success in their future. For example, interviews revealed that some schools do not have funds to support field trips to provide students with additional methods of learning. It was reported that the cost for field trips is consistently under-budgeted at $1.6 million while the actual cost is $10 million. Additionally, approximately $14 million was budgeted for bussing students to and from school while the actual cost is around $20 million.


  11. One board member states that there is evidence of the board’s fiscal mismanagement over the last 5 years. The evidence includes 1) severe under-budgeting of items with a well documented, stable experience over time and 2) providing no budget for common yearly expenses. The board member points out that one cannot simultaneously believe that their previous budgets were accurate providing for the building of reserves and also acknowledge that there is a deficit. The other board member replies, “…you continue to let your opaque notions, prejudices, and politics cause you to reject truths and facts as negligible.” Later in the email thread, he goes on to say that he has more confidence in the findings of the bond raters, external auditors, bankers, and SACS than he does in the other board member’s “opaque opinions.”

    One guess as to which two board members had this exchange. (Easy answer: only 1 point.)

  12. …Additionally, the district’s current policy and procedure associated with drawing attendance zones as well as closing or opening new schools is poorly constructed and ineffectively administered. The result has been community outrage, confusion, and feelings of abandonment. The current policy and procedure does not provide for community input prior to Board consideration of any plan. Also the current policy gives the Board the ability to modify, revise or ignore any plan recommended by the administration. This allows individual board members the ability to barter with each other for votes to amend the attendance zones to satisfy individual or constituent groups of people in the county rather than establishing a proper infrastructure based on the needs of all students in the county.

    hmmm… yep.

  13. The report ends with this:

    A Process of Continuous Improvement

    The AdvancED Accreditation Process engages the institution in a continuous process of selfevaluation and improvement.

    I don’t know about you, but I am done with “continuous improvement”. I don’t want to see ‘improvement’ from pitiful… I want to see ‘great’ — or at least ‘good’.

  14. ninaross801 says:

    I recommend that everyone email Gov. Deal, senators & local congressmen in regards to removing this school board, ESPECIALLY Mr. Eugene Walker!!! Very easy to do by visiting

  15. Refugee from DCSS says:

    In other words, “For a more complete cross-section of board misconduct instances, please refer to DeKalb School Watch 1 and 2.”

  16. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    Interesting that there is mention of creation of school attendance zones…perhaps they’ll pull that part of the School ReOrganization Plan to be considered January 7?

  17. We received a request from a reporter for someone to interview on camera regarding the SACS announcement of probation. He is doing a report for the 11 PM news and so he has a very tight deadline. Contact him right away. If you are interested, here is his contact information:

    Jon Shirek
    11Alive News
    Atlanta, GA
    404-545-5132 cell
    Twitter @JonShirek

  18. Just another day in Paradise says:

    Purchase orders, invoices, and payment documentation for the textbooks exist. The funding was not available unless invoices were produced, showing that textbooks (they had to be textbooks!!) were purchased. That was a requirement of the funding. The fact that this administration could not produce ANY documentation when prompted by SACS is a whole other issue. Maybe CA thought they were asking for text messages.

    I don’t doubt SACS’ statement that the school level personnel interviewed commented that they had not received any new textbooks, but the funding has been in place for several years and was used (off of the top of my head) in previous years for elementary language arts, math textbooks at all levels, and world language books. I wonder what timeline was given to the principals during the interviews. I know no new books were purchased under this administration.

    No matter what, all of the students deserve books and the administration should be able to account for every book ordered by and distributed from the warehouse. Having to glue and tape old books should not be the responsibility of a teacher.

  19. ursokm16 says:

    Probation means squat. The University of Virginia was put on probation last week because “”We (SACS) saw something in the news about something funny going on up there”–then they covered their ass by guess what asking for information then surprise! saying the response wasn’t enough.

    These people are granted far too much power–time to look for another acrediting agency (for the entire nation). BTW–have you noticed how much SACS has been in the news all over the nation the past few years–what gives? They used to be a completely unknown quantity.

  20. Sounds like rather than just probation, the Board needs to be placed on double secret probation!

  21. Anne Shirley says:

    Is there somewhere to read the complete report?
    This was a cop out by SACS. They did the bare minimum to keep the public hanging on. SACS has had DEKalb on warning long enough to see if the powerful people were going to turn this sinking vessel around. All the while Atkinson rides around in her chaffeur driven deluxe SUV. I am beyond disgusted.

  22. Yes. There is a link to the report at the end of the actual post above. Here is is again:

    Maureen Downey posted it on her blog and we saved it to our files as well. Thanks goes to Maureen!

  23. no name says:

    Anne, the SACS report is posted above, at the end of the DSW2 post.

  24. Kim Gokce says:

    There are many specific examples of mis-governance that all share one root – politics. This excerpt from the conclusion of the report sums it up: “Until such time as the board members begin to place the educational needs of all students in DeKalb County Schools before those of individual students, constituents and other stakeholders in “their” election districts, the system will continue to fail to meet its mission and vision to provide a quality education for all students.”

    This has been my beef for years and it has been a blatant and repeated offense. Perhaps there’s hope for equity and ethics to find their way back into DeKalb Schools governance in 2013 and beyond. I recently was admonished in comments here for being darker than years past … this is because I recognized over the past two years our Cross Keys schools could never overcome the political shenanigans of DCSD. This report is validation of that pessimism. If political self-perseverance and elevation drive all the ills SACS describes and there is no political power/will behind CK schools, then … we have what we have.

    Long overdue, long overdue … the 7th army at Dachau comes to mind as an analog for SACS in DCSD 2013.

  25. Rae Anne Harkness says:

    I pray that the Governor steps in. This has gone on far too long!

  26. Just another day in Paradise says:

    And there were seven items left unfinished from the last visit? What happens next December? Double Secret Probation? SACS won’t take action. They’re terrified of what happened in Clayton (economy, housing market, businesses) and they don’t want that laid on them again. Double Secret Probation it is!!

  27. sam123 says:

    When teachers need additonal textbooks for their students, they are supposed to report it to the assistant principal. They contact the person in charge of textbooks and then the textbooks are supposed to be delivered to the school. I have experienced years when this has worked out very well and books are delivered to schools. Other years, administrators or the textbook people do not do their part as textbooks are not disbursed. Never once have we been told that the warehouse is out of books. Another problem that I have seen is that special education or EIP teachers have to share T.E. and this is very frustrating for these staff members. They have to scrounge around trying to find teaching materials that they can use to work with.

  28. John Ostrich says:

    Thank goodness the top flight investigative reporters in Atlanta media got to the bottom of this so quickly.

  29. Anne Shirley says:

    Who is the Lone Troll? Obviously you have little if any personal stake in this hot mess. Or are you one of the alphabet crew making the six figures riding in the chaffeured driven suv? I am so over this playing with students’ and employees’ lives. Give these hardworking people a raise, a one time bonus as Fulton did, or even a freaking turkey for the holiday… something honorable for once. #thoroughlyupsetindekalb

  30. Nunya says:

    Think about the location of Fernbank. Fulton county is to the south and west. City of Decatur is to the east. The only schools from which the county can steal students is Briar Vista and Laurel Ridge. Briar Vista has long suffered from low attendance (which the county didn’t help by sacking support for Montessori) while Laurel Ridge is at a near perfect 101 percent. The couny’s own projections show the three schools remaining underutilized into 2017 and, with no nearby schools to consolidate into the 900 seat new Fernbank, the schools will all remain underutilized…unless…

    Fernbank took what little sliver of historic Druid Hills was districted to Briar Vista and all families south of North Druid Hills keeping it’s “favorable” demographics intact. Since these home’s property values just jumped no one will complain and those that do won’t have enough of a voice to influence a school system that is shamelessly corrupt. So how do you fill the new school? Redistricting round 3 redraws the Fernbank district down North Druid Hills to LaVista, down LaVista to Briarcliff. All homes south of this line now go to Fernbank. The rest, particularly the apartments in Woosland Hills and The Park at Briarcliff are split between Sagmore Hills and Laurel Ridge. Laurel Ridge,now lopsidedly ESOL and low income, become the elementary Cross Keys. Briar Vista then closes. You are rid of Briar Vista (long a goal), consolidate low performers (statistically, that is) and fill Fernbank with dual parent, economically advantaged desirables. Hey, what registered voters wouldn’t vote for that!

    Don’t put it by DCSS. Remember…you heard it here first!

  31. bu2 says:

    “This is evident in his proposal to repurpose BriarVista as a Hebrew Academy and his discussions with Atlanta Public Schools to lease Medlock to that system.”

    Don’t you get embarrassed by making things up? Medlock is leased to ICS. I imagine the rest is just made up as well.

  32. No. That’s not made up bu2. Orson was long promoting a Hebrew Academy at Briar Vista and discussed leasing Medlock to APS. Medlock has since been leased to the ICS Charter School. It’s discussed in the email discussions Orson had with staff that we received via an ORR.

    Download and read them here:

    Below is a portion of the discussion regarding a Hebrew Academy:

    Message 1/30/2011 9:56 PM
    From: marshallorson
    To: Daniel E. Drake
    Subject: Re: Lots of moving parts–charter school idea
    Attachments: Attach0.html 5K

    On the BV idea, I wrote Ramona this evening to let her know we stand ready to assist with the development of the Hebrew language charter school at BV, We are reaching out to people we know, we have discovered that there is an incubation fund in NY which will fund up to $90000 of start-up costs and we are also tracking down the operators of the Broward County school.

    On a related note, I have a call into Beverly Hall’s chief of staff to see if APS would have interest in temporary use (in part or whole) of the BV facility given their space needs due to Morningside, Mary Lin and Springdale Park growth. They seemed interested in Medlock before they knew the distance from the city line. In the case of BV, it literally is almost in the city and houses a city of Atlanta voting precinct.

    Marshall D. Orson

  33. howdy1942 says:

    This SACS report is very bad, but I hope that we have bottomed out. We all must accept some responsibility because we elected the members of the Board that has failed us. I’m very proud of the 4th District for voting Womack out.

    I was not expecting what I view to be potential criminal activity. It concerns me deeply that SACS found that money was allegedly spent for textbooks that don’t appear to ever have been delivered. What happened to the money? It further appears that members of the Board, including the Chair, intentionally interfered with the hiring process when it had been made clear on multiple repeated warning by SACS not to do so. This is willful violation of accreditation requirements.

    Ramona Tyson is supposed to be head of the information systems department. She is paid a lot of money to do that. The SACS report clearly concludes that this was never done – Dekalb is far behind other school systems in the country. Why was this not done? What did she do while serving as interim superintendent? Over a year ago, the Board and Administration responded to an inquiry by SACS and over a year ago, under Ramona Tyson, DCSS provided an action plan to satisfy the concerns of SACS. Why was this plan not executed? Why, in over a year, has there been no discernible action to improve this situation?

    The Board stated over a year ago that it would clean this mess up, that it would do what was right, that it would meet the expectations of Dekalb residents. It has not done that. Dr. Eugene Walker now says that he will fix it. Right! It is very clear that he cannot, for whatever reason, get this done. He must go and that is a first step.

    We must clean up this mess and it must start at the top. I want to give newly elected Board members an opportunity and I want to allow those who have served only two years the same opportunity. However, I want the remaining members of the Board to be removed – Walker, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, and Speaks. I think that I got them all – please let me know if I missed any. Also, Superintendent Atkinson has failed to improve the situation at all in over a year. It is just an abomination that we are paying her $275,000 per year, that we recently bought her a new car, that we are providing her a lucrative expense account, all this while our children don’t have textbooks in school or, if they do, they are asked to repair them at home. Dr. Atkinson has failed to even start to improve this situation – it even appears to have gotten worse under her leadership. She likewise needs to go and we don’t need to pay her for three years because she has clearly failed.

    I am going to write Governor Deal, my State Senator Steve Henson, and my State Representative, Billy Mitchell, asking them to take steps to immediately remove Board members who have served over two years. I am further asking that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation begin a wide-ranging probe of the Dekalb County School System. The Dekalb County Prosecutor is on record as believing that the School System can police itself so there is no hope here. We need to have an outside and unbiased investigation that is free from any local influence.

    Together, we can demand and get change in our systems. For the sake of our children and our people, let us begin.

  34. Just so you know, while you are writing letters — and Bravo! for doing that! — the GBI cannot enter into an investigation unless asked to do so by local law enforcement. So, you need to write to local law enforcement. Also, you need to write to both the US Attorney and the FBI — because federal funds are involved. All the addresses you need are on the main DSW webpage.

  35. dekalbite2 says:

    You can email Governor Nathan Deal your thoughts regarding his appointing a new Board of Education for DeKalb County Schools by clicking on the link below. He now has the power to do this since SACS has put the school system on probation:

  36. sam123 says:

    For some board members, it is all about my schools, my parents, my teachers, etc, etc,. From board members we need to hear “our” and “we”. For some board members this is how there position were modeled for them from past board members. According to the audit, It is so sad that the board has been instructed on how to be professional board members but they forget too quickly and fall back into their old patterns after instruction. As a classroom teacher, rituals and routines have to be constantly reinforced througout the year. An old dog can’t learn new tricks and I doubt if certain people can really change who they are as a board member. When Dr. Halford was superintendent, he asked for an audit. The main complaint, over 10 years, ago was the same thing…too much interference from board members. I hope that the State Department of Education and Governor Deal decide to just remove ineffective board members ASAP!! They are who they are and they are not going to change.

  37. Just so tired says:

    DeKalb gave a one-time bonus when the stimulus money came in. The recommendation to the Board (on video) from the CFO & superintendent was to pay back that retirement fund that the two media specialists are now suing over. At that meeting the Board overrode the recommendation and decided to give everyone a $300-500 bonus. The staff was shocked but couldn’t do anything. The Board thought it was a grand idea. It has probably cost the district millions. This Board has to go. The SACS press conference said it all. We don’t have any money because of them. Atkinson has also bled the well dry with her consultants and cars and extra staff members. Any reserves we had are gone. The state has to step in and help us out of this mess.

  38. All in all I have to say how truly disappointing it is that after all this time, and all these warnings, Mark Elgart had to choose the Monday after one of the worst school tragedies in our nation to finally announce his decision to put our schools on probation. We are all grieving for the families in Newtown, CT and to have to turn our attention back once again to our own petty, continuous nonsense is somehow very upsetting.

    We can continue to discuss this, but try not to get buried in the details. Keep your focus on the good things in your lives and once again, just go and hug your children and enjoy your holiday break. Have faith that your child’s teacher is doing everything possible to do what’s best for your child. Do whatever you can to support that teacher and your child’s classroom.

  39. momfromhe11 says:

    Tonight the Decatur City Commissioners voted to proceed with annexing two parcels in unincorporated DeKalb . The parcels contain five shopping centers – Suburban Plaza and the four commercial areas on the four corners of Clairmont and N. Decatur Rd. Missing from the annexation proposal is any residential property except that which is needed to connect the commercial areas to the City of Decatur. Altogether, the residential area has only 400 residents, including 55 school-age children. The proposed Decatur line along N. Decatur Rd.looks like a Halloween pumpkin smile. (The proposal has to be approved by the legislature, but it is not subject to referendum because there are too few residential properties. This was intentionally done.)

    If you do not live in that area, it may not seem important, but this annexation would REMOVE those five commercial parcels from the DeKalb County tax rolls and move them to City of Decatur tax rolls – thus reducing the revenue available to DCSS even further.

    It IS important to all of us. It is a grab by Decatur to gain a lot of taxable property, and avoid adding any property (residential) that would impact their schools. Please make the Decatur Commissioners as well as your DeKalb legislators aware of your feelings about this further erosion of the tax base.

  40. educator90 says:

    Momfromhe11, you are correct on the land grab by the city of Decatur from Unincorporated Dekalb effecting all of DeKalb. This lower tax money will effect SPLOST, as well as our property tax amounts, as this money has to be made up. It is something that we need to all be contacting our state legislators and as well as the Decatur Commissioners on and telling them that we are not for this unethical land grab and tax revenue from the unincorporated citizens of DeKalb County.

  41. Interestingly, we received Mary Margaret Oliver’s newsletter today. To our dismay she made no mention whatsoever of the school system being put on probation.

  42. sam123 says:

    Can a new superintendent be appointed by the governor? Appointing new board members will only solve part of the job. Some of the board members are frustrated because they are working with an ineffective superintendent and there is only so much they can say or do to be in compliance with SACS.

  43. ninaross801 says:

    Who in their right mind would actually want their money to go to criminals?? I commend Decatur for keeping their tax funds away from these thieves & Dunwoody needs to create a separate school system & follow suit ASAP!!

  44. howdy1942 says:

    I’m back. Eugene Walker said on the news tonight that “we are not where we want to be”. He further said “that we don’t plan to lose our accreditation”. What?

    I printed the report and read it. It is very clear that we are nowhere near even our minimal expectations. Isn’t Ramona Tyson the head of information systems? What are her qualifications? Why is Dekalb so far behind other counties? What happened to her huge response to SACS inquiry almost two years ago? Has anything been done that this report said we would do? Can the present Superintendent point to a single measurable improvement she has made?

    Our teachers are terrified of the school board? That is about as far away from leadership that you can get.

    This cannot go on. If we have only year to get enough of our house in order to keep our accreditation, then this Board must be removed before 2012 is out! We don’t have 30 days to wait! Further, the Superintendent needs to be removed. Also, Ramona Tyson must go. We should not be required to pay Atkinson for more than 6 months – she had not performed and I hope that her contracted gave the county an option if she didn’t perform. Her selection for this job was cast under a cloud of suspicion and the vote was far from unanimous. I don’t know what we can do with Tyson. She was a very poor choice as interim. She obviously has failed as head of information systems.

    SACS only confirmed what so many of us have known for a long time – this Board has made one bad decision after another! I’ve attended many Board meetings and shook my head in disbelief wondering how these people ever got close to a school board. I was encouraged when Nancy Jester was elected (not from my district). She appears to be knowledgeable and informed. As for the others, I have observed very few signs of any competence whatsoever.

  45. I don’t think the Governor can remove the entire board, only those voted in after the law was put into effect. I think that exempts Walker, Womack, Copelin-Wood, Bowen, Cunningham. Not sure about Speaks. So, he can remove only Jester, McChesney, Edler and the Superintendent. Comorting, isn’t it? I am looking up the actual state law and will post it momentarily.

  46. Senate Bill 79
    By: Senators Carter of the 1st, Ligon, Jr. of the 3rd and Stone of the 23rd
    1 To amend Article 3 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated,
    2 relating to local boards of education, so as to provide that members of local boards of
    3 education shall serve terms of no less than four years in length; to provide for a phase-in
    4 period; to provide for exceptions; to provide for certain requirements as to the composition
    5 and election of county boards of education in counties in which there is a homestead option
    6 sales and use tax and a county sales and use tax for educational purposes; to authorize the
    7 Governor to remove members of a local board of education if the local school system has not
    8 reattained full accreditation status within a certain amount of time; to provide for
    9 applicability; to provide for submission of certain provisions of this Act for preclearance
    10 under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended; to provide for related matters; to
    11 provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

  47. Tucker Mom says:

    Here’s another particularly sickening bit:

    “a. Current policies, processes and practices do not clearly demonstrate how the system hires qualified support staff. The system’s failure to adhere to current policies, processes
    and practices in the hiring of some employees by not performing a thorough background check does not support the system’s purpose and direction for providing services in all schools and educational programs. For example, a new hire had multiple indictments, including abuse of special needs adults, identity fraud, aggravated assault, and exploitation of the elderly (March 2012, Grand Jury Report).”

  48. Anne Shirley says:

    I realize its the holiday season…..but all will not be fine if we sit back and relax. The time is now. We haven’t even mentioned all the excellent teachers we are going to lose in 2013…..

  49. concernedmom30329 says:

    I believe the entire board can be removed. The AJC has a good article about it today.
    I think that the pressure actually needs to be put on the state board rather than the Governor, because they are the first step. They must have some kind of hearing in 30 days.

  50. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Your optimism about new board members is naive. In the last decade, DCSS has had lots of new board members and nothing changes. If you look at the emails from Marshall Orson from Spring 2012, that this blog received from an Open Records Request, you will see that he asked Kathy Howe for her home email address. Why? What was he up to?

  51. politimom says:

    Re: throwing them all out. As much as I’d like to see Deal clean house it would be a shame to lose Nancy Jester. She has been the only one that has showed any common sense, asking the tough questions even when she gets buried by the gang of 5 on every vote.

  52. howdy1942 says:

    I think a number of things are very clear:

    1. As long as Walker is Chair, no improvements will be made – he has been in the exact same position before with SACS – he promised – nothing was done. What makes anyone, including the Governor believe that it could be otherwise this time.

    2. As long as Cunningham, Copelin-Wood, and Speaks remain on the Board, there will be no change – they simply don’t have the intellect to get this job done. Thankfully, Bowen, Womack, and McChesney will be gone.

    3. If we don’t move quickly – it is amazing how fast a year goes by – we will lose our accreditation. Dekalb County forms the entire eastern and a major part of the south boundary of Atlanta. This means no new business, no new jobs, and less taxes. The State simply cannot afford to have the largest county in the metro area in such a condition. I think Gov. Deal is smart enough to know that

    I read this report again. It is terrible. This isn’t the first time we have been here – we were here only two years ago and it is very clear that nothing has been done. We have written a lot of words and made many promises, but none has been kept. What makes anyone think that it will be different this time under the same Board?

  53. DeKalb BOE for dummies says:

    Go to Stone Mountain High School’s website. It has had Dr. Melvin Johnson listed as its board member since the election. Johnson doesn’t take office until January, so why is his name on the site?

  54. A DCSD Mom says:

    Dear Dr. Walker,

    Please show your constituents, the taxpayers, and the students of DCSD that you are responsive to the needs of the community.

    Please resign immediately.

    A DCSD Mom

  55. momfromhe11 says:

    @ninaross801 –

    Decatur is not keeping properties it currently owns out of the hands of DeKalb, it is proposing to TAKE commercial properties that it does not own because “we need a better tax base” that will include as few school children as possible..

  56. DeKalb BOE for dummies says:

    The governor got rid of Miller County’s board for threatening to fire employees and using expletives at each other. Does the DCSS BOE think they have a chance in hell? They need to resign. I, for one, love N.J., but we may have to lose 1 competent to get rid to get rid of 5 incompetents. Marshall and Melvin will need to go as well. Then maybe the central office could get down-sized to what is comparable to other districts this size, and it could get back to the business of the children. I cannot fathom in my mind, after reading the SACS report, how anyone wouldn’t want the board ousted, unless you a member of the F&F. Also, here’s the thing, the SACS report only tipped the iceberg. .there’s so much more. Teachers, hold your applications to other districts….parents hold off on removing your children…lets remove all 9, sorry N.J., and lets fix this culture of mess and greed. First thing, the BOE, next, the bloated Palace, next the incompotent schoolhouse admins, and keep it going..

  57. “During the course of the External Review Team visit, it was widely reported that board
    members-elect, who will take office on January 1, 2013, are already visiting “their”
    schools and thereby perpetuating the culture of interference and ignoring the autonomy
    of the staff in its day to day operation of the system and schools.”

    This just shows the entire school board should be elected on a whole county slate. They should not have any school but have all schools. I get the idea behind the district representation but it leads to this type of situation. me against you for what I can get for me or mine. If Sarah Copelin-Woods is voting on something that effects all the children of Dekalb then she should be elected by the whole county.

    I have written Deal and asked removal of the board. i like Jester, not sure about Edler can’t blame them for working the way they have in the last two years. They were just following the “go along to get along” plan doing what others have done.
    I really feel though because the staff has been so poorly managed by the Sup., the board has been somewhat justified in asking questions. Ideally, the board holds the sup accountable for the information needed to make decisions. There is something to be said for letting the sup do his/her job as intended. PROBLEM WITH SACS THEORY IS THE SUPERINTENDENT HAS TO BE QUALIFIED, EXPERIENCED AND TRUSTWORTHY. NOT HAPPENING IN THE LAST TEN YEARS. Thus the Board feels the need to babysit the minutia.

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