Reapportionment High-Jinks — or Highjacking? Pay Attention!

Latest DCSS Board of Education District Map proposed by Mosby and the DeKalb Delegation

Taken from a Message from DeKalb County Board of Education Member Nancy Jester

(received via e-mail; edited for publication)

This is advance notice about an issue that is surfacing now in the Georgia General Assembly that will affect your area, your schools and your taxes. Current work concerns reapportionment and “shrinking” the DeKalb School System Board of Education (BOE) pursuant to legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly last year. That legislation calls for the DeKalb County BOE to be resized from 9 members to not more than 7 nor fewer than 5.

You may recall that Nancy Jester opposed this legislation because she did not agree with the assumption that a smaller board will be more effective and produce better student achievement results in DeKalb. She was also quite concerned about gerrymandered districts by the DeKalb legislative delegation. The DeKalb delegation is controlled by factions that are connected more with the “friends and family” modality than with educational achievement results. Unfortunately, Nancy Jester’s fears are being realized.

On Tuesday (yesterday), a new map (the Mosby Map) for the DeKalb Board of Education (BOE) was approved by the DeKalb legislative delegation sub-committee. This map has 5 single member districts, instead of the 7 districts most voters were expecting. You can view what the Mosby Map looks like by clicking the photo above.  The X’s show where the  5 board members whose terms will continue live.  As you can see, the reps will be heavily concentrated in south DeKalb.

The moment this map is approved, you will hear a loud sucking sound as property taxes will be raised to the maximum amount by the BOE (thanks to gerrymandering, 4 of the 5 members live in South DeKalb).  North DeKalb property owners who pay the highest taxes that support DeKalb County School System and DeKalb County will be victims of taxation without duly elected representation.  Meanwhile, South DeKalb property values continue to decline as a direct result of the greed and ignorance of those who make up the majority of the BOE.

The 5 members who will represent the Mosby Map areas include Nancy Jester, Sarah Copelin-Woods, Donna Edler, Jay Cunningham and Gene Walker. The remaining 4 board members, who would otherwise have been up for reelection this year, will see their terms sunset. There will be NO election in 2012.

Mosby 5 population count

Population Count: Census Data by proposed district

The Mosby Map has Lakeside and its Oak Grove, Briarlake, Henderson Mill Elementary and Henderson Middle feeders, placed in a district represented by Gene Walker. This district snakes all the way down to Snapfinger Road, including Miller Grove Middle School. It turns right and goes to Redan Elementary and Rock Chapel Road. This does not represent a community of interest in our opinion.  In fact, this gerrymandered “district” on the Mosby Map was designed so that both Gene Walker and Jay Cunningham (whose sister dates Howard Mosby) can stay on the BOE, even though they are neighbors.

Also, Sarah Copelin-Woods will be the representative for Sagamore Hills Elementary, Druid Hills HS and much of its feeder pattern.

On Thursday, February 9, 2012, the entire DeKalb legislative delegation will meet and see the Mosby Map. We do not have a time yet, but we wanted to alert you as soon as possible. We will follow-up once we know a time.

If you care about education in DeKalb County … if you are concerned about the constant rise in property taxes with no improvement in education … if you are ready to ferret out corruption in DeKalb County School System, here is what you must do NOW:

1. Attend the DeKalb delegation meeting if at all possible.

2. Alert your networks, parent groups, PTAs, etc.

3. Contact the media to voice your concerns.

4. E-mail your legislative representatives — indeed, e-mail the entire DeKalb delegation — if you are concerned about these developments. DeKalb delegation email addresses are at the bottom of this email.  (Copy Governor Deal and the media on your e-mails.)

If you have any questions for Nancy Jester, please contact her directly. She will be sending an email through her “Constant Contact” distribution list later but wanted you to be alerted as soon as possible.                  

Nancy Jester (

Legislative Email List:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Proposed map with 7 districts

Nancy Jester has posted a new map offering seven districts for the delegation to consider. Download a full sized pdf here or click on the map to the left to view as a jpg.

Also, the DeKalb Delegation meeting will be held today, Thursday, February 9th at Noon; 605 Coverdell Building (across from the Capitol). Please note that the meeting may be delayed depending on the time that the Session ends.

Parking for the meeting: You can park for $5 in the deck on Jesse Hill.

About dekalbschoolwatch

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108 Responses to Reapportionment High-Jinks — or Highjacking? Pay Attention!

  1. Gee, what's behind this? says:

    Doesn’t the Voting Rights Act prohibit drawing of districts on racial grounds? Or is that just federal districts?

  2. Susan Curtis says:

    I’m not positive (who’s a lawyer out there?!), but I think the Voting Rights Act applies to redistricting for State and Federal races. I don’t know about local races…

  3. Miss Management says:

    I say leave it! They are not really ready for their own unintended consequences. These districts may currently be represented by the people who live on the Xs, but in two years, GUAR – OWN -TEE – they will not win! When they scooped up so many voters in the north, they scooped up people who routinely vote, and who will never, ever vote to send them for another term. New blood will arise from the northern parts of these new districts and they will replace those currently holding those seats. No problem!

  4. Susan Curtis says:

    You may have a point! Anyone willing to help me do the calculations of number of voters in the northern part of these districts?

  5. momfromhe11 says:

    Thanks, Susan for finding the Voting Rights Act info. What I found here (page 4) implies to me that it applies to school board districts
    Who does the redistricting?
    After the release of census data, political bodies such as state
    legislatures, county commissions, city councils and school
    boards begin the process of redistricting. Usually, each political
    body redistricts itself. For example, the state legislature is
    generally responsible for redrawing the lines for congressional
    districts as well as state house and state senate districts. Likewise,
    local governments at the county and city level redraw their own
    district lines.

    It also discusses “communities of interest”. This is a little trickier – it defines “communities of interest” as A community of interest can be defined in various ways. It can
    be a neighborhood or community that would benefit from being maintained in a single district because of shared interests, views or characteristics. During redistricting, a community of interest
    should be kept together within the same district to the extent possible.
    On page 7, there is this: In seeking to preserve communities of interest, district line drawers should be careful not to divide populations or communities that have common “needs and interests.” Communities of interest can be identified by referring to the census, demographic studies, surveys, or political information to assess what social and economic characteristics community members share. You can also talk to community activists, civic leaders, and review local reports and studies. Some examples of relevant social and economic characteristics are:
    • Income levels
    • Educational backgrounds
    • Housing patterns and living conditions (urban, suburban, rural)
    • Cultural and language characteristics
    • Employment and economic patterns (How are community residents employed? What is the economic base of the community?)
    • Health and environmental conditions
    • Policy issues raised with local representatives (concerns about crime, education, etc.)

    It continues: Once a sufficient amount of data is collected, maps showing how the socioeconomic data impacts a geographic area can be produced. The resulting maps may demonstrate particular similarities among individuals. For example, a map showing poverty-level residents, non-high school graduates, or households that predominantly speak a language other than English can be used as an indication of a “community of interest” within a particular geographic area.

    And finally (page 8)
    3) Protection of Incumbents and Achieving Political Goals
    The term “political gerrymander” has been defined as the “practice of dividing a geographical area into electoral districts, often of highly irregular shape, to give one political party an
    unfair advantage by diluting the opposition’s voting strength.” However, courts have had difficulty determining when officials illegally use partisanship in the redistricting process. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled, in a fractured opinion, that it was unable to adjudicate a political gerrymandering claim that arose in Indiana. The Court did not, however, foreclose the possibility that it would intervene when sufficient facts and a manageable standard were available. It remains to be seen whether we will see more of these kinds of challenges during the upcoming redistricting cycle What remains clear, however, is that jurisdictions cannot divide
    cohesive groups of minority voters who are able to elect a candidate of choice in order to protect an incumbent or political party

    I think it is quite legitimate to ask if census and/or GIS information was used in drawing these districts, and, if so, how was it used.

  6. momfromhe11 says:

    Not sure I can agree, MM. While you are correct that they may not win in two years, that’s two years that may have some consequences.

  7. momfromhe11 says:

    The Devil is making me say this: How many folks from the Fernbank district know that Walker will not be their rep, but rather Copeland-Wood?

  8. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    The Census data was used. It is in the corner of the map. We’ve added a photo of the chart showing strictly the number per district. As you can see, District 1 is 13.6% black, District 2 is 40.49% black, District 3 is 70.88% black, District 4 is 61.15% black and District 5 is 92.84% black.

    There are numbers for Hispanic/Latino populations as well. No numbers for whites.

    The Voting Rights Act is primarily concerned with minority voting rights. Even though DeKalb is majority minority, they are still considered minorities when drawing lines. Whites are not considered minorities. Therefore, we don’t think the Voting Rights Act applies. DeKalb is fairly unique in this way. Nationally, Black Americans make up about 12.6% of the population. Whites are over 72%.

  9. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    So I asked this a couple of years ago. When does the majority become the minority? Well it’s happened in DeKalb, there is a problem however, the “new” minority still pays for the majority. Gee, now I know why we’re in such debt! One day the money is going to run out and we can’t print money like the Feds can.

    Now we know why Gene has been acting smug lately. He knew what was in the works. The same reason for Steen Miles rant. Nothing like a threat to the new Super that it’s either business as usual or you’ll be out. De Ja feakin’ Vu!

  10. Ned says:

    I’m missing something here–two things actually:
    1. There’s 5 districts on that map. We’re supposed to have 7 reps. Are the other 2 representing “super-districts”–if so, how are those districts drawn?
    2. If we are continuing super-districts, how does Gene Walker move from being a super-district rep, as he is now, to being a rep for a “regular” district in legislation that is meant to draw district lines, not install individual board members in seats?

  11. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    No. You’re not missing anything. They are proposing five districts. The law says “no more than” seven… So the five that are not up for reelection can stay and no one else will be added. Therefore, no election in November. You’ll have to wait until Nov. 2014 to vote. The odd thing here is, will we then only vote every four years – for all five seats? Looks like that would be the case.

    Gene stays because his term goes until 2014. He was elected in 2010. By law, we don’t think you can’t shorten anyone’s term. Anyone know? Lawyers?

  12. Viola Davis says:

    I will be one of the first to challenge this map by filing a complaint with the Justice Department!

  13. The Deal says:

    Where does it say which board member is representing which district?

  14. Anonmom says:

    Latinos would be considered a protected minority under the Act… someone could file on their behalf…they are perpetually misrepresented and ignored in good ‘ole DCSS. Asians might be as well.

  15. Nancy Jester says:

    Please read my latest email update about redistricting. Please let your opinion be heard and come to the meeting tomorrow if you are available.

  16. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is a nationwide prohibition against voting practices and procedures, including redistricting plans and at-large election systems, poll worker hiring, and voter registration procedures, that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group. It prohibits not only election-related practices and procedures that are intended to be racially discriminatory, but also those that are shown to have a racially discriminatory impact. The Attorney General, as well as affected private citizens, may bring lawsuits under Section 2 to obtain court-ordered remedies for violations of Section 2.

    We [Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, U. S. Department of Justice] encourage anyone with a complaint about voting discrimination to let us know what the problem is, where it is, and how it affects minority voters. There are no special forms to use or procedures to follow–just call toll-free at (800) 253-3931, or write to:
    Chief, Voting Section
    Civil Rights Division
    Room 7254 – NWB
    Department of Justice
    950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530

  17. MyohMy says:

    SCW and the Fernbank parents…she will have to watch her comments carefully.

  18. Kim says:

    Is it just me or does the proposed map not only perpetuate but actually exacerbate the lack of representation for Cross Keys attendance area schools??? Oh wait, that is how we’ve made the political formula work for years.

    Our area schools suffer from having many members with a tiny slice of our zone – this map seems to just make an untenable political situation, well, … hopeless. You can even detect that there is a Cross Keys attendance area based on this map … foreboding if I ever knew foreboding.

    Also, is it just me or does this map also set the stage for the Centralized Plan and the move of High Achievers to … Avondale HS.

  19. Kim says:

    That should have been: “You can’t even detect that there is a Cross Keys attendance …”

  20. bettyandveronica says:

    The map on this blog is not the new proposed map and approved map by the subcomittee. The newest one came out around 5pm. It took SCW out of District 2, the new one has fernbank, oakgrove, sagamore, dhills lakeside, etc all in the same region. Jeff Rader sent it out.

    2/3 way down page is the download for the map.

    This is good, I think. No SCW for central, she goes to the south west. This means Womack would stay? and McChesney would be out? Then based on the current locations of Board members, Walker, Bowen, Cunningham and Edler all have a big problem? Check it out. It’s late maybe I am reading it wrong.

  21. I sent my email.
    Dear DeKalb Delegation, I support the proposed seven seat map for the DeKalb County School Board.

  22. Just Watch says:

    The commission maps are different from the Board of Ed maps. Rader is speaking strictly about commission maps.

    You have misunderstood.

  23. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Too many maps. Once again our DeKalb leadership is trying to muck up the process with confusing maps and no one seems to know which map is right. Nancy Jester can you straighten this out. I’ve now seen 4 different maps, one looks to be the same while others do not make sense. No surprise. Once we know which map is correct can we please have a new thread identifying the right map?

  24. The Deal says:

    When and where is the meeting today?

  25. DeKalb’s delegation meets today at noon in Room 605 of the Georgia Legislative Office Building.

  26. The “final” reapportionment map that we are aware of from the DeKalb delegation subcommittee was published yesterday on this blog. That map, which shows only 5 districts, also includes the population statistics for each proposed district.

  27. Based on the Mosby Map* shown yesterday on this blog, the BOE members who will hold office, unchallenged — and for many in DeKalb County, unelected — are:

    District 1: Nancy Jester (the only BOE member whose district remains essentially unchanged which means she was duly elected to represent the people in that district)

    District 2: Sara Copelin-Woods

    District 3: Gene Walker

    District 4: Donna Edler

    District 5: Jay Cunningham
    *Howard Mosby is Jay Cunningham’s sister’s boyfriend.

  28. BTW — the ONLY BOE member that we know of who has communicated with constituents regarding the gerrymandered Mosby Map is Nancy Jester, District 1. Nancy has communicated both directly (through her constituent mailing lists) and indirectly (through DeKalb School Watch) to enable all DeKalb citizens to be informed.

    The silence from the 8 other BOE members is very telling. It is both COWARDLY (McChesney, Speaks, Womack) and CONNIVING (Bowen, Copelin-Woods, Cunningham, Edler, Walker).

  29. Anonymous says:

    I know this is off topic, but please be aware that there is an upcoming meeting asking for public input into the three-year “2012 DeKalb Technology Plan”. Tens of millions of eSPLOST dollars and tens of millions more in general operations dollars will be spent in the next three years based on this plan.
    From “On Common Ground News”:
    “DeKalb Schools to host community technology plan forum
    The DeKalb County School System will host a public forum on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
    The purpose of the forum is to gain community input concerning the School System’s updated plan to implement technology in DeKalb Schools.
    The meeting, open to the public, is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.,at the DeKalb County School System Administrative and Instructional Complex (AIC) auditorium, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain.
    Every three years, the School System is charged by the state of Georgia with updating the school district’s overall Technology Plan.
    The purpose of the plan is to look across the district, find where the technology needs are, and determine in very general terms what can be done to fulfill these needs…..”

    Look at this DeKalb Watch article on how critical these technology decisions are for every student and every taxpayer.
    “SPLOSTIV: Let’s Talk about Technology”

    And please don’t forget the $11,000,000 eSis/SchoolNet system came from a past DeKalb Technology Plan. Would teacher and parent input have ever sanctioned the purchase of this extremely expensive system that never delivered as promised? This is the first Technology Plan meeting that has asked for public input (thank you Dr. Atkinson!). I hope some interested parents/taxpayesrs can attend.

  30. The Deal says:

    Nancy Jester is at the meeting and says the rumors are not good – Twitter.

  31. Trackboy1O&T says:

    Everyoone must demand that Mosby recuse himself from any vote due to his conflict of interest (dating Jay Cunningham’s sister)!!!

  32. waterman says:

    follow @nancy_jester on twitter. She’s at the meeting.

  33. bullet says:

    Nancy’s map isn’t a whole lot better than Mosby’s mess except that it has 7 districts. It has Woods district significantly gerrymandered. I wonder what Nancy is trying to accomplish.

    There are better maps out there. Oliver has one that makes a lot more sense. It may be necessary to contact the Dekalb Senate delegation to stop the nonsense.

  34. Anonymous says:

    The districts should be drawn to reflect population and communities of interest. They should never be drawn to ensure that certain Board members can stay. I’d have no issue with even allowing those Board members who cannot be up for re-election this year have a “grace” period to move into a new district or face a new election but in the long-run, the districts shouldn’t be drawn to keep these adults. There are ways to maintain the status quo for these folks for a few years without subjecting everyone to districts that don’t make sense for a 10-year period of time.

  35. @ The Deal and Waterman: Thanks for your reports. As more information comes in from Nancy Jester, would you please add it to the comments? Or, if there is a way we can assist you with posting Nancy’s tweets, e-mail DeKalb School Watch blog at Your identity will be protected.

  36. The Deal says:

    According to Nancy’s tweets, they adjourned without voting on a map.

  37. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    I’m glad there were a lot of people there! Seems to me Benefield and MMO are trying their best to talk sense into the others who are for 5. There should have been at least a weeks notice and the County Commissioners districts and the DCSS District meetings should have been held separately. All these maps for two different reasons have everyone scratching their heads. The only people not scratching are the ones who were trying to sneak this 5 member DCSS debacle without much notice. Mr. Mosby your tactics didn’t quite work today.. All the PEOPLE want is total transparency. We’ve been lacking a lot of that, when it comes to county and school expenditures. Stop the pettiness and bickering and get to work.

    If the meeting adjourned, I bet they didn’t have the 10 signatures to move it forward. Keep up the pressure! Today is only the first stop! We can’t let our guard down. We need to show Mr. Walker that he works for US and not just for his cronies and family!

    Nancy Jester’s Tweets from the Reapportionment Meeting — Start to Finish:

    • At the DeKalb Delegation meeting. About to start. Rumors aren’t good. We’ll see.
    • Rep. Bell is presenting the Board of Commissioners’ reapportionment. The public present is not permitted to view the maps.
    • Rep. Williams has kindly taped up one map on the wall for the overcrowded room to view.
    • It’s a shame that the DeKalb delegation is holding this meeting without much notice and in a small room at the Capitol.
    • Confusion abounds regarding the Board of Commissioners’ new district map. Is this anyway to run government?!
    • Rep. Henson asked for the Commissioners in the room to speak but this was denied.
    • The School Board is up now. Rep. Bell is presenting maps to the “delegation only.”
    • Rep. Bell has openned he floor to discuss. Mary Margaret Oliver (MMO) says she hasn’t heard from school board.
    • MMO believes the 5-person map was secretively backed by some school board members. Interesting.
    • The 5-member map is being defended by Rep. Dawkins (?). Says we’ll be like Gwinnett! That’s a good one!
    • Rep. Taylor has noted that several delegations are missing.
    • Rep. Mitchell believes there is no racial intent to this map. Proceed.
    • Rep. Benefield does not support the 5-member map. Wants more overlay with feeder patterns.
    • DeKalb Delegation needs 10 signatures to pass it to the next process. Rep. Holcomb wants to know what happens if this doesn’t get the signatures.
    • Rep. Oliver doesn’t want to address SB 79. She wants to substitute a 7-member map.
    • FYI…I reminded the delegation at their last mtg that the DK BOE sent them a letter last yr and asked them to tell us how to comply w/ SB79
    • I don’t defend the BOE but it is not accurate that the school board didn’t communicate. Further I and 3 other members endorsed a map.
    • Some are still discussing the past. Still defending 5-member board.
    • Rep. Oliver offers a substitute motion. Wants her map to be considered.
    • Rep. Stevenson doesn’t want to entertain Rep. Oliver’s motion.
    • Rep. Bell and Rep. Stevenson want to go with the 5-person map.
    • So far the 5-person map only has 3 signatures. It needs 10.
    • It’s interesting that the delegation doesn’t want to consider a map that has been endorsed by 3 Board members.
    • Rep. Oliver requests adjournment. Wants to ask the BOE for a map. They have one from 3 of us. Why no acknowledgement of that?
    • DeKalb delegation adjourns without a map. Stay tuned…
    Thanks, Nancy!

  39. bullet says:

    You would think adults could put together a reasonable map. Partisanship isn’t an issue. Instead you have a totally ridiculous Cunningham/Walker/Bowen map and a still bad Jester/Speaks/McChesney map. I can’t imagine Copelin-Woods likes either of those, so I doubt she’s involved.

    Nancy doesn’t seem to understand they don’t need another bad map from a subset of the BOE.

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