Back to school reporting

So it’s back to school today! Please let us know how things went at your school.  Did your building experience cuts to staff? Who was missing? Were remaining staff able to carry the load? How about the students? Did they have a great first day?  Transportation? Were buses on time?  And teachers – please know that we are very aware of the extra burdens you are all carrying this year due to so many cuts to support in your classrooms.  We all appreciate your extra effort for the children of DeKalb!

About dekalbschoolwatch

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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254 Responses to Back to school reporting

  1. Dr. DeKalb says:

    And please volunteer to help in the classroom this year if you have the time!

  2. vandy mom says:

    EIP seems to be gone at vanderlyn. Not sure how they plan to handle the kids who need the extra help in reading or math. Guess they will fall even further behind in the classroom. Way to help those test scores dekalb! Definitely putting students first. What a fail.

  3. Austin Mom says:

    Austin 4th grade classes so packed they cannot fit all the kids inside the classroom. 34 kids each – parents and kids in tears this am as they try to fit them all in.

  4. concernforthekids says:

    The school board authorized a +2 additional students per class.
    The real result is less classes which results in additional students in each class.
    Please let everyone know how many students are in your child’s class.
    My daughter’s class went from 3 classes to 2 classes for 70 -75 students.
    They previously had 23 – 25 students in each class, now they have 34 – 35. +9 or +10?
    I spoke to the teacher’s last week at Open House and they feel comfortable with the class size.
    I will report back after this first week when theory becomes reality.

    How many members of the BOE actually have a clue of what is happening inside our classrooms?
    2? Edler at Chamblee magnet and Jester at a Dunwoody ES? We need change on the board!!!!

    Also send information to your school council to present to the newly formed Cluster Council which will hopefully bring accountability to the CO.

  5. justwatch says:

    I think EIP is simply gone. I posted this on another blog but this year is going to be “Death by a thousand cuts.”

  6. Teachkidsfirst says:

    The first day of school for teachers and children should be calm, predictable and full of promise. 34 students in a classroom with not enough materials, furniture, space, will not create the atmosphere necessary a smooth transition. Instead teachers will be frustated and kids will not get what they deserve. C’mon admin. has had plenty of time to take care of this issue. Not fair to kids or teachers.

  7. Dad of Two says:

    The Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Clairmont Rd. in Atlanta has opened an elementary school and it is offering excellent instruction, low teacher-student ratios and great success. The name of the school is The Annuciation Day School.

    There are still open slots for 2nd and 3rd grade, and maybe one spot open for 1st grade. Tuition is about half the cost of other private schools in the area – around $6,500 / year, payable monthly. After school clubs are available for next to nothing. Great P.E. class and playground. Cultural diversity and well-behaved, high performing children.

    The Greeks invented the concept of higher learning, so it is no doubt they are still the ones doing it best! If you are interested in making a switch, now is the time to do it!! Contact Michelle Wright at

  8. Tucker Guy says:

    Anyone who thinks the buses will be on time, every student will know where to go, there will be enough desks or chairs in the rooms they need to be and anything will be “calm, predictable, and full of promise” today has unrealistic expectations.

    The staff and teachers will do the best they can and they have been and will be working very hard to get everything in place, but please give them a couple days. Every school is dealing with families who show up on the first day of school and expect to register. This changes class numbers, causes shifting and creates not calm, and not predictable days.

  9. Former Dekalb Parent says:

    Didn’t Jester threaten to kill staff at Clarkston years ago? Why is he around children?

  10. @ Former DeKalb Parent

    The person named “Jester” that concernforthekids referred to is NANCY Jester, excellent, hard-working and well-informed School Board member for District 1, which includes Dunwoody and Chamblee schools.

    The only other Jester we know of is Sonny Jester, former school council chair for Dunwoody High School and former candidate (about 4 years ago) for the School Board. Sonny Jester is NO relation to Nancy Jester.

    Neither Nancy Jester nor Sonny Jester — BOTH upstanding community members — would threaten anyone.

    If, Former DeKalb Parent, you want to continue to post on this blog, you MUST follow our rules. It would have been extremely easy for you to have Googled your comment FIRST, before posting it, to determine its accuracy. Instead you made a false, uninformed comment that may have been intentionally damaging to the reputations of Nancy Jester and Sonny Jester.

  11. Terry says:

    There was also a COACH Jester at Clarkston High…. don’t know what connections any of these have… but that was at LEAST 10 years ago.

  12. peterpaul says:

    Earlier today my 5 year old daughter started kindergarten at Ashford Park Elementary School. She attended last year in Mrs. Callabro’s Pre-K class. While I thought her pre-K class was crammed with material and too crowded for the number of the students, I was thoroughly impressed with Mrs. C’s dedication to the students and teaching style. She really had a knack for it.

    However, earlier today my wee-un started in Ms. H’s kindergarten class. Let me say I was in the class for approximately 20 minutes -five to drop off and 15 minutes while I filled out forms in the corner after the bell had rung. The classroom was slightly larger, more organized, and actually had open space, i.e. wasn’t cluttered. However, I cannot say I was impressed with the teacher. She seemed vacant in her presentation – no real emotion in the language nor pleasant interaction with the kids. She seemed to be going by rote through what she was supposed to do, and nothing more. The worst, though, was she completely ignored a sobbing, scared girl for the ENTIRE time I was there. There was no leaning in and whispering it would be ok, no soft caresses to reassure you (if you don’t know the importance of touch to calming children after two years of teaching you should consider a new line of work), and she generally looked past her.

    Can we request for a more experienced teacher this late in the game? If not, I may be at the Annunciation school on Clairemont -or out of the county. I have resisted it for years, especially now that Brookhaven is a city, but extreme NW DeKalb is sounding more attractive…

  13. Thank you!

    Here’s what we were able to find out:

    From March 2003

    Teachers and staff at a DeKalb County high school are concerned that their principal remains on the job four weeks after district officials ordered him to undergo a psychological evaluation because of allegations he threatened to shoot employees.

    Cynthia Kendrick, who was Clarkston High School Principal Larry Jester’s secretary until she lodged complaints against him last month, said Jester repeatedly spoke of death, suicide and wanting to kill other staff members.

    “We have not been able to understand why it’s been taken so lightly,” said Kendrick, who said she is on medical leave for “extreme anxiety.”

    District officials are investigating the complaint, but have determined Jester does not present a threat to anyone at the school. They met with employees Tuesday morning.

    “We’ve reassured the staff that we’ve listened to their concerns and will follow up on every one of them,” Associate Superintendent Jim Williams said.

    Jester declined to comment on the allegations Wednesday.

    Representatives of two teachers unions said they fielded numerous complaints about Jester from Clarkston High staff members. On Tuesday, about two dozen employees met with union reps about what they say is his intimidation and bizarre behavior.

    Employees say Jester has blared gospel music and sermons from his office and speaks frequently of needing to rid the school of demons. Williams said district officials were concentrating on the alleged physical threats and had not investigated other complaints.

    Kendrick said she heard Jester threaten to kill people.

    “He said, ‘I’m just going to get my gun, shoot the whole staff and shoot myself,’ ” Kendrick said. “I said, ‘Mr. Jester, do you know how much trouble you could be in just for saying that?’ He looked up at me with this bizarre look and said, ‘Mrs. Kendrick, I’m going to shoot you first.’ ”

    District spokesman Spencer Ragsdale said her claims could not be corroborated.

    District officials directed Jester to get a psychological evaluation Jan. 31.

    About 20 to 30 staff members met for more than two hours Tuesday night with officials of the Organization of DeKalb Educators to express their concerns.

    “Many people feel as if they’ve been intimidated, demeaned, harassed, bullied. Those are the recurring words we’ve heard,” said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators. “We feel like this problem needs to be addressed immediately by the administrators.”

    Superintendent Johnny Brown declined to comment Wednesday, saying through a spokesman he might have to make a decision on the case.

    David Hirsch, who teaches English as a second language at Clarkston High, said Jester, a former corrections officer, had bragged to him while still an assistant principal at the school about having a cache of weapons.

    “When I first started working there I had hall duty and he would [come out and] talk about his guns and riding his Harley and that some of his best friends were police officers,” said Hirsch.

    Jester became principal at Clarkston in October. He returned to the school after spending two months at Stephenson High School.

    MORE: (Larry Jester was the Clarkston coach in 1997)!search/profile/person?personId=298904318&targetid=profile

  14. Just. Breathe says:

    EIP is not gone at Vanderlyn. Check with the administration, there is a plan in place.

  15. dekalbteach says:

    EIP is not gone from the county also, believe me.

  16. justwatch says:

    But is the plan for EIP to use pull out teachers, as in a dedicated staff, or is it to use classroom teachers (or other teachers, ie art, music, etc).

    DeKalb Teach, what about at non-Title 1 schools?

  17. Mom says:

    EIP is gone from Chesnut too. This is the result of all the cuts made over the summer. Folks wanted to spend the district’s money on things like transportation for magnet students and STT for 90 ninth graders per semester. So things like EIP and special Olympics are gone instead.

  18. DunwoodyIEPmom says:

    EIP is gone at our Dunwoody school also. Raising class sizes and loosing help for struggling students seems to be a rising trend. This is a losing strategy for all students. My Special Education student who is on the autism spectrum has the most inexperienced team in all his nine years in the Dekalb County system. He had an incident today and I’m afraid this behavior with escalate. A stressful year will not only affect him, but the students around him. I find the inexperience that greeted him to be unacceptable. Because of his autism, he is already behind other students in his grade. These special children do not have time to waste. His speech teacher’s contract was only signed today. Way to go Dekalb. Let’s string out the talented teachers we do have. I have observed the loss amazing professionals each year to other counties or private schools.

  19. This is my 5th year of volunteering on the first day of school. This morning I worked the front desk of Stephenson High School with Ms. Carroll. Students were directed to the gym to locate their homeroom teachers. Schedules and new registration was set up in the auditorium. There was confusion as to who would be handing IEP students- Parents were initially being sent to the counseling office until we found out who the actual coordinator was. All withdrawals were being handled in the counseling office.

    Not every STT student was given transportation information and directions. We had a Freshman who thought she was to catch the bus from the school- after speaking with Ms. Savage at the Science Center to get clarity. As we worked to help those who came to the front desk A paid photographer came in, and said Superintendent Atkinson was suppose to come out for the first day of school but decided not too- Apparently she hired him to take pictures to capture the first day of school

    Parents of students with Special education needs came to the front desk to find out who their child’s homeroom teacher would be. Ms. Carroll had to look each student up one by one to locate this data. All of our students who were suppose to go to vocational didn’t go- there was
    no bus to take them to classes- so they were held in the gym as they tried to figure that out.
    We also had a lot of students who had come to register previously to be found they were not in the system.

    I had to leave by 10:30 due to a previous commitment. I feel that given the circumstances the staff did an awesome job in trying to accommodate everyone.Congratulations SHS Staff (and many others) who were able to stay focused and still give this your best shot despite all the odds…

    I still feel in my heart that the students and staff would have been best served if the opening of school had BEEN DELAYED. Using a quote from Star Trek- sometimes” the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one…”

    …and that was only the first three hours of the day……


  20. You are wrong about this. The BIG money is going to fund friends-and-family jobs at the Palace. Yes, magnet transportation should have been cut. But, you are allowing Atkinson, Howe, March and the Gang of Five on the school board to direct your attention away from their refusal to scale back the Palace bloat. That is where the shell game is being played.

  21. Which Dunwoody school are you referencing? We heard that Austin Elementary School was a nightmare today.

  22. Dad of Two says:

    Ms. McGill, I think you were right all along. I hope you win your district as we need people who care in these seats or the children really will suffer even more than they already have, in my opinion.

  23. formerdekalbmom says:

    would you like to attend a school with 12 -14 kids per class at the most and an excellent public school curriculum? Smoke rise Prep is located in Smoke Rise (between tucker and lilburn) and is amazing. This is our 2nd year there and we love it. The students use the excellent Georgia Cyber Academy/K12 international curriculum. The school was started by dedicated parents who felt frusterated by the state of our school system but wanted a quality public education for their children in a smaller environment. All classrooms have certified and caring teachers! We have never been happier. Tuition is low at only $3,500 a year. Please contact me for more information.

  24. LastYear says:

    First day will always be chaotic as long as faculty only have 2-3 days to prepare. Several counties bring back administrators and counselors 1-2 weeks prior to the opening of school to handle balancing classes, correcting schedules, etc. I’m looking forward to one day having administrators who KNOW the product, WORK as part of the team and actually VALUE staff morale…

  25. dekalbteacher says:

    We don’t have enough desks to seat 39 kids per class! Not that I could fit 39 desks in my room if we did have them; the rooms were designed for 32 desks.

  26. Mom says:

    @dekalbschoolwatch: nope. Not wrong. The $$ being spent on the STT program and magnet transportation could have been used to provide EIP at smaller schools that didn’t “earn” enough points to have it. Yes, central office staff should have been cut more, but you are allowing the Fernbank and magnet communities to direct your attention away from the inordinate amount of money being spent at Fernbank and magnet transportation.

  27. Leo says:

    I have a K student at Ashford Park too. Our teacher was awesome, as always, and appeared to have it handled with the high number of students. I am pretty sure that I counted 28 students, which would be 1 over the limit and because of the county’s delay, there are no para-pros yet for the larger K classes. This I find to be a BIG fail! Who knows how long it will take them to get the parapros in place for classes that must have them due to size. My heart goes out to these kids and the teachers who are dealing with such chaos and uncertainty.

  28. formerdekalbmom says:

    Smoke rise prep currently has only a few spots left in 2nd and 5th grades. contact me

  29. tired of them all says:

    School went well today. 27 students per kindergarten is three students over the limit without a para, but there won’t be any regular education paras anymore (kindergarten). All remaining paras will fill special education openings.

  30. RealWorldEducation says:

    A good day but classrooms were crammed to the gills, with classes in every available room, trailer and open space. Rumor is the cafeteria will be used during non lunch/breakfast hours for classes if enrollment increases.

  31. Dekalb Teacher says:

    Our first day back went great! Even with several positions left vacant, the teachers all took on extra duties willingly and with smiles on their faces. The kids were happy and excited to be back, in general. Transportation was a bit of a nightmare, but we’ll get there. Hoping the word on the street is true, that there won’t be any additional layoffs!

  32. Which school are you referring to, please? We are trying to assemble information for each school that can be posted on a spreadsheet.

  33. DH Parent says:

    Druid Hills HS. Several of the best and brightest received ISS for dress code infractions. Boys wearing “wife beater t shirts” and girls wearing skirts so short…..well they were just too short for school. Where are the parents? It’s the first day of school and your kid has ISS already?

  34. cigi says:

    I think the new Region Superintendent for Region 2 may be gone. Today a parent called and asked about the name of the new person for the Lakeside District. She said that she went on the DCSD website to find her name and it was not there. I checked. She was right. It was missing. . She also asked the name of the new principal for Briarlake. I looked it up for her. We have not gotten any kind of information on new staff people. She just wanted to send a welcome note. We do not know the new principals, the new HR people, who is in charge of what program or department. If someone either at school or in the community wants some information, we just have to search around to find it.
    Does anyone know what happened?????
    IS the org chart at least a little complete.

  35. MomofGifted says:

    My child started at Kittredge Magnet this year. They cut the German language program there.
    How can we expect our children to be competitive in a global economy only speaking English!?

  36. Rae says:

    My kids started school on July 30th at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood (charter school). This is their second year attending and I am very pleased with our teachers this year. If you don’t know about Ivy Prep, their mission is simple but necessary: to prepare scholars for college. The schools are single gender and they are public schools (no tuition, strict uniform policy).

  37. concernedmom30329 says:

    momofgifted, How many students are in your child’s class? i think i heard 26. Most 4th-6th graders in DeKalb are sitting in classes of 32+, many in classes of 34. And I am sorry you are disappointed about German, but what about foreign language for the other 40,000 plus elementary students?

  38. Just a Mom says:

    MomofGifted – almost none of the elementary schools have had foreign language for at least the last two years; Kittredge is finally feeling what the rest of us have been lamenting. I agree with you re: global economy but if the majority of children can’t have it, those who are in a seat simply because their name was pulled in a lottery should not have it either.

  39. dekalbite2 says:

    “My child started at Kittredge Magnet this year. They cut the German language program there.”

    The webpage still has German teachers listed and they are still active on FirstClass:

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