DeKalb County school board sues to avoid suspension

More spin cycle for the legal vortex that is DeKalb County Schools.

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Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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37 Responses to DeKalb County school board sues to avoid suspension

  1. Another DCSD Teacher says:

    I am sick! How dare they spend money on this!

  2. Concerned Citizen says:

    We all knew this was coming. Short of a revolt by taxpayers, I’m afraid we’re in the same position as Sumpter County, and we will go for many years exactly where we have been for the last fifteen-twenty yeas. Total chaos – nobody will take charge.

  3. How can DCSS sue the state for something the state has not done yet… The suit should certainly scare Governor Deal from doing anything rash. It is only the cost of another teacher salary.

  4. Dedicated Dekalb Teacher says:

    Anger, frustration, and I would love to say disbelief, but I can’t, are all the things I am feeling right now! I am so tired of the politics, and yet, as an employee I have to stay silent. We are being walked over by a bunch of self-serving educrats who care nothing for their students, and especially not their teachers. This is the lowest level to which they can sink. If they had nothing to hide, or if they had spent even a fraction of this time working on fixing the issues leveled at them in the SACS report, they could walk into that meeting on Thursday with their heads held high, telling the state that they are ready to proceed…. But no, they are spending NOT just the money that they have swiped from me over the past 6 years, but the taxes that I pay as a DeKalb County resident to sue the state to save their jobs. I AM OUTRAGED!!!

    Parents of DeKalb, PLEASE stand up and fight. Be visible and be heard. Those of us who work with your children every day cannot do so. We cannot abandon your children in the classroom and be visible, but YOU CAN. We are the ones who work so hard for your children, and we do it with pride. I work in an incredible building with wonderful teachers. We take our jobs seriously, and when you look at how our children are achieving.. it shows. Please fight for us. Speak out for us. This has got to stop!

  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    I am proud of you, Dediated DeKalb teacher; I am retired from DeKalb atter thirty years, but I am still “a little bit” afraid of these foolish and not-very-smart board members and other administrators who seek and find ways to punish those of us who tell the truth. Yes, parents and taxpayers, you must stand up for the schools.

  6. At the end of my rope with DCSS BOE says:

    I am dusting off the resume and beginning applications for other area school districts. Morale at my school continues to plummet and with such good reason. I cannot, in good conscience, continue working at this circus any more. I feel sorry for the students and my colleagues who are trapped in this nightmare.

  7. Tim McGaughey says:

    I would like to hear from any of the seven Board members who voted to cause the School System to pay for Mr. Wilson’s services how that expense helps the System avoid loss of accreditation. SACS criticized the System for spending too much on legal fees. Doesn’t this expense move the System away from its primary stated goal of saving accreditation?

    Board Members: If you think I am wrong, please tell me how.

    Tim McGaughey

  8. no name says:

    DCS had an All-Principals meeting today (Tuesday, Feb 19) – every Principal had to attend. The very first item on the printed agenda was remarks from Mr. Thurmond; he did NOT show up.

  9. As they say, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!

    If anyone was wondering what the true motivation was of our new superintendent – his [non] action today speaks volumes! Here was his ENTIRE first line team – his principals! All assembled in ONE PLACE for a regularly scheduled monthly meeting — and their newest fearless leader is a freaking NO SHOW!

    Pitiful. Whatever hope we had has vanished. This man was hired to save the board – not the schools. If he truly wanted to save the schools, he would have pumped up his front line. But he apparently is not the least bit concerned with the leaders of the schoolhouses.

    Count me out on this guy.

  10. I would say that there may be a case for taxpayers to sue the seven. There is NOWHERE where it says that they are entitled to a costly defense of the terrible job they have done. Instead of stepping down – they fire up a lawyer! ?$?$?$? They can pay for their defense themselves.

  11. dekalbite2 says:

    @no name
    So who did show up to run the principal’s meeting?

  12. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Per AJC Get Schooled, Thurmond was meeting with SACs, which I am sure would have waited for him to at least say hello to the principals….

  13. dekalbite2 says:

    From the AJC:
    “Thurmond said he didn’t choose to send his child to the local school because, “It was a failing school in south DeKalb. You could tell that funding was not what it needed to be. The staff was doing their best, but they didn’t have adequate resources. From looking at the resources, the equipment, the maintenance, you could see the school was not up to par.”

    Looking at his daughters bio, she started high school around the same time Lewis was made superintendent. If those failing schools in South DeKalb didn’t have the resources then, imagine what happened as Lewis:
    1. Pulled the Title 1 funding decisions into the Central Office
    2. Embarked on a spending spree for all those non teaching positions and educational programs like America’s Choice (no data showing it improved student achievement in DeKalb and now virtually defunct)
    3. Increase class sizes as he left teaching positions unfilled
    4. Involved DeKalb in a lawsuit that has already cost tens of millions.

    Under Tyson and then Atkinson, the Board deeply cut the funding for these failing schools as they:
    1. Continued to eliminate teaching positions through attrition
    2. Spend on non teaching personnel who are certified to teach,
    3. Purchase expensive, ineffective learning programs
    4. Incur millions more in legal fees
    5. Ensure DeKalb teachers are the lowest compensated in the metro area
    5. Increase the mileage rate to the highest in the metro area

    Thurmond is right in that you can’t leave the classrooms without resources and expect an increase in student achievement.

    EVERY child deserves:
    1. A safe and clean learning environment
    2. A competent and well compensated teacher
    3. Abundant access to cutting edge technology and science equipment

    Fund the above components and then use what is left over for admin and support.

  14. Another one from the AJC:

    Thurston Howell IV

    February 19th, 2013
    3:21 pm

    Herein lies a lesson for all of you young parents out there:

    This guy is as “plugged in” and connected as it gets.He’s not a tool of the establishment,he IS the establishment. He took his kid out of their zip code school and got them a real education at a private school. He exercised the exact thing that he (and the elitists on this board) want to deny you:choice.So when they trot out the same old tired boogerman to scare you away from charters,parent triggers and other reforms,just remember what they do,not what they say.

  15. howdy1942 says:

    This is sad – very sad! It has been slightly over two months since SACS delivered its findings – 11 of them – and put our school system on probation. Why couldn’t this board, on December 20, 2012, one day after receiving those findings, simply have begun to work on them? Why couldn’t each of these nine members look each other in the eye and recognize that unless they could begin to work together to fix these 11 items, that they would ALL lose their jobs? It has been over a month since the Dekalb Board last met with the State Board – why couldn’t this Dekalb Board simply work on these 11 action items and be prepared on Thursday to cite its progress?

    This board has failed miserably!!! It has hired a lawyer as interim superintendent and all he has done is create two more lawsuits. Why couldn’t he take the time to meet with his principals today – especially when he was first on the agenda? That speaks volumes about his priorities!

    I am once again writing the State School Board, my State Senator, and my Representative to express my absolute outrage at what this Board did today and for them to support all efforts to remove this board and this interim superintendent. I urge you to do the same.

  16. Miss Management says:

    Between the secret hiring of Wilson to sue the state DOE and the blatant hiring of Baker and the backdoor hiring of Thurmond–DeKalb has wasted another $500,000 in less than two weeks!

    Unbelievable. Oh, wait.

  17. howdy1942 says:

    The Constitution of the State of Georgia authorizes the General Assembly to “provide by general law for the recall of public officials who hold elective office”. This provision is found in Article II, Section II, Paragraph IV. Georgia law provides for the recall of all elected officials.

    The relevant legislation requires at least one of the following grounds for calling a recall election:

    1. An act of malfeasance or misconduct while in office
    2. Violation of the oath of office
    3. Failure to perform duties prescribed by law, or
    4. Willfully misusing, converting, or misappropriating, without authority, public property or public
    funds entrusted to or associated with the elective office to which the official has been
    elected or appointed.

    As I understand the requirements, we must register this petition with the Secretary of State and must obtain within 90 days the valid signatures of 15% of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of the incumbent being recalled. This would take a petition for each district choosing to seek a recall.

    I think that the grounds already cited by SACS includes at least one of the above grounds for a recall petition.

    I would appreciate your comments and suggestions. For me, I’m ready to go to work and work hard for the 90 days necessary.

  18. dekalbite2 says:

    Thurmond also says Marshall Orson is the BOE member that suggested him for the job. Does everyone realize how powerful the community that first backed Walker and then Orson is?

  19. dekalbite2 says:

    @bettyandveronica1
    “I get your point they were elected but they suck at their jobs. It truly is time for s. dekalb to step up”

    Thurmond says in the AJC that Marshall Orson introduced him for the job. And Let’s see if Orsonis named Chair. So I think maybe Central DeKalb has some stepping up to do.

  20. howdy1942 says:

    I went to Orson’s meeting tonight and appreciate his meeting with the public. He is – you guessed it – another lawyer! To his credit, he opened the meeting up for questions. However, I felt his comments were evasive and he seemed to go on and on in broad, general terms with few specifics. He seems to be wrapped up in “strategic plans”, nebulous responses saying what we all want – good schools for our kids, etc. He defended his recommendation of Thurmond saying that he had met him at some meeting and was impressed with his analysis of a situation and his ability to interact with people – so much for that! He seems to think there is little risk in Dekalb losing its accreditation and thinks that all of SACS concerns would be addressed by May. After listening to Dr. Elgart talk about the Board’s hiring of Thurmond and his background, the failure of the Board to elect a chair with any majority, the District’s continued and expanded propensity to spend money on lawyers, and the manner in which it parted ways with Dr. Atkinson, I beg to disagree. That certainly won’t happen if this Board makes no more progress than it has since December 19, 2013, or even since its meeting with the State Board. It seems to be like things are much worse now than they were on December 19, 2013, and the downward spiral seems to be accelerating.

    Orson also stated that he believes the State Law allowing the State to remove a failed school board to be unconstitutional and further stated that Dekalb risks having a board appointed by the state as well as the board we currently have. From my perspective, this is not an issue – I don’t like, respect, support, or trust our current board and would welcome a State appointed board. I would challenge the current board to bring that matter up for a vote – let the people either voice confidence in you or register its disapproval.

    It also appears to me that the District filed its lawsuit after that infamous meeting this morning that included Burrell Ellis. Ellis commented after the meeting that all parties were committed to retaining Dekalb’s accreditation – business leaders, Dekalb government, and school officials. Again, so much for that.

    I hope, more than ever, that the State Board will unite and courageously recommend to Governor Deal that he remove this Board. And I hope he will do that quickly.

  21. concernedmom30329 says:

    Howdy,

    you forgot to mention that Orson told everyone that Johnson is going to be Board Chair. This is a curious thing, because him knowing this is a clear violation of GA Open Meetings. (Since the meeting isn’t until tonight.)
    Orson was an A** last night. His arrogance was on full display and every question, he blamed the previous board. Orson isn’t stupid or naive. He wants to keep the board the same, so he has a better chance of controlling them. The reality is the Governor would likely reappoint the three newly elected members. What he fears is that Deal might appoint folks that are as intelligent as he.
    Even Mary Margaret Oliver tweeted yesterday that the Board must go after their decision to file suit. That is significant.

  22. Weary worker says:

    I wish the news media would stop saying that the board is trying save their jobs. The pay for their work is little more than an honorarium or walking around money as Walker called it. What they are attempting to hold on to is their control of nearly a billion dollars of tax money. Fighting for that is indicative that corruption is rampant.

  23. hopespringseternal says:

    Why would you say blabbing about the upcoming leadership vote is a clear violation of GA Open Meetings? Dealing with their leadership issue is not even an exemption covered by the open meetings law (legal, personnel or property – and personnel does not include them). Sounds like a bunch of caucusing — then blabbing. Not the first time for this, or the Commission leadership, or a bunch of other municipal blathering. I’ll give you that blabbing at all isn’t wise — and it could backfire.

  24. pjlbrown says:

    Contact the governors office to voice your displeasure:
    http://gov.georgia.gov/contact-us-0

  25. Concernedmom30329 says:

    You are confusing Exec. Session rules with GA Open Meetings rules. GA Open Meetings rules require all votes (except for Exec Session) to be taken in public. So, you aren’t supposed to caucus to the point of knowing the outcome of an issue.
    But it doesn’t matter what the rules are, or what common sense dictates, because after last night it is clear that Orson isn’t in this for the right reasons.

  26. hopespringseternal says:

    Not to pick too much at the outer edges, just want to stay factual. Perhaps you can point me to any rule or statute which forbids caucusing to the point of knowing the outcome. If you think that such things shouldn’t take place, then that is naive. Head-counting on close votes before the vote is an American political sport. Just ask John Boehner. He can tell you all about it.

  27. So according to Orson, A former employee of DCSS will become the Chair. Sweet! The F&F plan will continue unabated….. Nothing to fear here folks All is well…NOT! Thurmond missing the first chance to meet the Principals certainly shows me our new Super is not focused on the schools but only on the Palace. DCSS mired in the muck of mediocrity for over 10 years! Thanks Dr, Walker you must be so proud.

  28. concernedmom30329 says:

    You are right, it is American Sport and the US Congress has its own rules. You can read about GA Open Meetings here:
    http://law.ga.gov/sites/law.ga.gov/files/imported/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/62/49/186393706OMA_M_2012_Act_correctly_formatted.pdf

    So you think I am being picky. We should all be. This BOE has consistently thumbed their noses at rules. So Marshall polled the BOE members. But all votes (unless protected by exec session) are to be taken in public. He is a smart guy. Why does he think it is ok to announce this?

  29. @Weary: Spot on! Walker and crew are in this to continue to control over a Billion dollars of tax money for their jobs program. We wrote about this a while back:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/when-adults-focus-on-adults-the-children-suffer-a-dsw-editorial/

    Well, that and their use of tax dollars to create an intricate web of boutique – more or less private – schools for a certain privileged group of upper crust:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-every-dcss-student-deserves.html

    Looks like there is still NO intention of spending tax dollars evenly and wisely across the system to garner the best education possible for all students… sigh!

    ==

    Also: Are you sure Walker didn’t step down on account of our post?
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/eugene-p-walker-will-you-please-go-now/

    lol… [we are keenly aware he wouldn't give two pence for our thoughts!]

  30. At any rate: Watch the news today. An injunction will be granted. There will be no ‘hearing’ tomorrow. We are in checkmate. Well played, Gene.

  31. concernedmom30329 says:

    Not so sure about that, DSW. Heard that the Judge’s docket is full on the news this morning. Also, the state Attorney General may be opposing a rushing of the hearing. Lots of angry folks downtown.

  32. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Injunction
    I swore up and down this injunction would be granted and the RO (restraining order) signed. I didn’t know the DCSD board was going to wait until the last minute to drop it on the courts.

    If this judge was going to sign the RO before the hearing, she would have done it yesterday. I think she’s slow-walking this so the hearing will happen. Good chance she’ll eventually sign it, but not before the hearing tomorrow.

  33. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Executive Session is a meeting whose proceedings are secret. Only members of the governing body are entitled to attend, but they may invite others to stay at the pleasure of the board. A motion is required to go into executive session, and a majority must approve it. Those present must maintain the confidentiality of the discussion, and anyone who violates that confidentiality is subject to disciplinary action.

  34. BREAKING NEWS! Judge Declines Restraining Order
    Posted on February 20, 2013 by dekalbschoolwatch
    Per Ty Tagami in the AJC:

    “The state hearing that could unseat the nine members of the DeKalb County school board should proceed as scheduled Thursday morning, according to a judge’s order.

    “Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee on Wednesday declined DeKalb’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have halted the proceedings.”

  35. howdy1942 says:

    @concernedmom30329 – Thanks for pointing that out that Orson believes Johnson will become chair. One other thing that didn’t set right with me was the number of times that he talked about his “predecessor” and how he royally made a mess of the District and the School System. I wish that he had not blamed his predecessor nor the previous board and pointed to them as the source of our problems. He, McMahon, and Johnson need to do what Orson said they would do – clean up this mess. I think that’s what they were elected to do.

    However, my take is that the mess has grown infinitely worse just since the last State Board meeting on January 17, 2013. Since then, it has terminated Dr. Atkinson with a generous pay package, it has hired an interim superintendent who is, like Orson, a lawyer and who has no background for the job, it has retained a law firm to provide them “governence” training or to teach them how to be nice to each other, and it has retained a law firm to sue the State of Georgia. Not one thing has been done for our schools and for our children. And Dr. Elgart has stated his concerns about what the Dekalb Board continues to do – spend more money on lawyers, appoint someone without educational credentials to be interim superintendent, and continue to be unable to elect a chair with a majority. Looks like the new guys aren’t having much of a positive impact for the children or for the taxpayers.

  36. @HOWDY: You hit the nail EXACTLY on the head! Only add to it that the new super just hired by the board FAILED to meet/acknowledge his front line leaders (principals) at their monthly meeting – where he was SCHEDULED to speak to them!

    This Board has NO IDEA HOW to ‘clean up this mess’. We need professional intervention. The money being spent on ‘Board Training’ needs to go towards that FULL FORENSIC AUDIT we have all been screaming for for over two years now. No one can clean up anything until they have a full – revealing – picture.

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