Is DeKalb Following Georgia Law Regarding RIFs?

What is happening with the DeKalb County School System reductions in force (RIFs)? More to the point, why is DeKalb County School System blatantly breaking the law?

Maybe school system leaders are acting too quickly due to incredible pressure to make serious budget cuts coupled with their equally incredible refusal to make the cuts in the bloated Palace staff instead of in the classroom. The Palace is where most of the friends-and-family employees are clustered — and that is protected territory.

Or maybe school system leaders are not getting proper legal advice. Or maybe our human resources department is in such disarray that they have become completely incompetent.

Whatever the reason, Atkinson and her minions need to take a breath, step back and assess their actions. Children’s futures, as well as people’s jobs and lives are at stake. Extreme caution should be heeded when making reductions in force.

At the August 2012 meeting, when the board refused to approve Dr. Atkinson’s request to further reduce teachers and staff due to fewer retirees than predicted, Nancy Jester made the point — again! — that she did not think staff was following the law[1] when compiling the list of personnel to be laid off. Georgia law says personnel cannot be laid off based on seniority alone. Georgia law says performance must be a factor in an evaluation process determining who goes and who stays.

DCSS does not have a decent evaluation system in place. In fact, pretty much everyone gets the same evaluation: “satisfactory,” resulting in reliance on the “second factor”: seniority.  In DCSS, a list of teachers and staff based on seniority would be essentially identical to a list based on performance and seniority. This is not legal.  DCSS’s highly paid attorney, Josie Alexander, should have insisted long ago that HR develop a detailed system of performance evaluation to be used not only for layoffs, but for promotions as well.

Enter the library media specialists.  The latest round of budget cuts approved by the Gang of Five on the board (5-4) included reducing library media specialists by 25 and eliminating all library media clerks.  In order to reduce media specialists (who are teachers) and who are vitally important to students, DCSS needed a waiver from the state (just like they needed a waiver to increase class size).  DCSS did not secure this waiver before they RIF’d the media specialists, so they applied for the waiver after the fact. This request was on the agenda for last week’s State of Georgia Board of Education meeting and the Georgia Board staff was recommending a denial.  Before the meeting took place, the item was dropped from the agenda per a request from DCSS.  Assuming that the dismissal of the library media specialists and the library media clerks was illegal, DSW went looking for information to confirm.

That’s when we found this blogpost (below).  The post we found has excerpts from Tekshia Ward-Smith’s testimony, under oath.  Ward-Smith was recently named head of HR since the so-called family leave invoked by Jamie Wilson.  More recently, we’re told Ward-Smith has also taken so-called family leave.

August 19, 2012
Good Georgia Lawyer Wins Reduction In Force Hearing, Successfully Argues DeKalb County School District Illegally Implementing RIF Plan and Violating Georgia Law (Part One):

The following are two brief excerpts of the cross examination of TekshiaWard-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer during the tribunal hearing and Ms. Oinonen’s closing argument.  Read the excerpts to understand how very little thought and effort went into the decision as to who to dismiss.

Excerpt of the Cross Examination of TekshiaWard-Smith:

Q. Okay. Now, reminding you that you’re under oath, Dr. Ward-Smith, I’d like to ask you would you admit to me that there are some media specialists currently still employed with DeKalb County that have actually been on a PDP at one point in their career?

A. Yes, one point in their career. That is the key phrase. 

Q. And would you agree with me that there are some media specialists currently employed with DeKalb County School District that have been on a PDP while as employees of the School District, DeKalb County?

A. I just answered it. Yes.

Q. Well, let me clarify just for the point of the record. I earlier asked would you agree with me that there are currently some media specialists that are still employed with your School District who have been over the course of their entire career in the United States of America have been on a PDP. And I believe you answered yes, correct?

A. Yes. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Q. And now, my second question, just to clarify: Would you also agree with me that there are still media specialists that are going to go back to work this fall who have also been on a PDP while under the auspices of employment within the DeKalb County School District?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you agree with me that Mr. Lynch has never been on a PDP at DeKalb County School District?

A. I cannot confirm, but I would say I don’t have information in front of me.

Q. Okay. You don’t have the information — you’re saying today under oath that you have no idea whether Mr. Lynch has ever been on a PDP?

A. I’m saying I did not have a PDP for Mr. Lynch. 

Q. Okay. And you are also saying, and, again, I’m not trying to be difficult, I just want to understand for the purpose of advocating for my client that you are stating under oath today that you have no knowledge whether he’s ever been on a PDP before in his life?

A. I am saying I did not have a PDP for Mr. Lynch.

Q. You don’t have one today or you don’t —

A. I do not have one —

Q. — have knowledge?

A. I don’t have knowledge of a PDP for Mr. Lynch.

Q. Okay. Thank you. Would you admit, Dr. Ward-Smith, that there are some media specialists that are currently still employed with your School District who have received an NI, needs improvement, on their annual performance evaluations at one point during their career over the past year at DeKalb County School District?

A. Yes, ma’am.

Q. Okay. So there are actually media specialists going back to work this fall who have an NI on their annual performance evaluations?

A. I would say yes, there are.

Q. Okay. And you know that Mr. Lynch has never gotten an NI at DeKalb County School District? 

A. Over the last three years, the annual evaluation overall ratings that we reviewed — and like I say, I can’t answer that. But at that particular point, I have no knowledge of Mr. Lynch having an NI.

Q. Okay.

A. Over the last three years.

Q. Do you have any knowledge of Mr. Lynch’s annual performance evaluation, period?

A. Yes, ma’am. I have knowledge that it was overall satisfactory.

Q. Okay. Now, let’s go back to this RIF evaluation that’s now required by Georgia law since May of 2012, regarding considering the primary factor the performance of the educator. So I’d like to talk about this. Now, I think you’ve already admitted that media specialists — there’s media specialists that are still employed at DeKalb who don’t have dual certifications like Mr. Lynch and who have been on Needs Improvement, unlike Mr. Lynch, and who have been on PDPs, unlike Mr. Lynch. So I want to ask you how many media specialists, to your know- — media specialists, it’s like a librarian, right?

A. Library media specialist. Yes, ma’am.

Q. Okay. Okay. So how many library media specialists, to your knowledge, have a 4.0 masters degree in Library Information Sciences?

A. I’m not aware.

Q. Okay. Would you agree that certainly there’s probably just a small percentage of them out of the whole 130 folks that you evaluated?

A. I’m not aware of an exact number.

Q. So you don’t have that data today that you can show us whether —

A. I do not.

Short Excerpt of Ms. Oinonen’s Closing Argument:

Then read the attorney’s closing statement (below), which, in part, says:

This stinks to high Heaven. Something is going on. And it’s up to you all to address this issue and to let them know that we understand we’re in deficit. We understand we have to RIF people, and it’s difficult and it’s hard decisions. But when we’re going to make these hard decisions, my God, at least let’s make them right so they don’t end up getting reversed and we end up being in a deeper hole. Let’s at least follow our own policy, and let’s do it as educators.

We’re educators. My God. We’ve trained on how to do these things. I mean, isn’t that what we taught constantly as educators, about learning assessments and evaluations, and we can’t even evaluate our own properly? There’s something that’s going on here. And I’m asking you today to address it and nip this in the bud, because if they’re doing this to media specialists, then what are they going to do with the teachers?

Think about that when that comes down the pipe, when 250 teachers get passed, and the Board recommends that they’re laid off. Is this how they’re going to evaluate? If you don’t say something now, they’re going to do it to all the teachers in the DeKalb County School District. They’re going to RIF the people with satisfactory evaluations, and they’re going to keep the people on PDP and with NI’s in their record. And what outcome for results is that going to be to the children of DeKalb County? Think about that.

It’s worth your time to go to the blog and read all of Ms. Oinonen’s closing statement.  The burden of proof was on DCSS to show that they were following a legal RIF policy and they did not even do that.  Did they show a database?  No.  Did they bring even one personnel file to show for the people who were RIF’d?  No.  Did they present any kind of statistical analysis?  Did they show percentages or any type of formula based on the number of “satisfactory” evaluations compared to “unsatisfactory”?  No and No.

What, exactly, does Josie Alexander do for the big bucks she gets paid?

BTW — we have said this before, but it bears repeating:  if you conspire to break the law on behalf of DeKalb County Schools, you are most likely on your own — even if you did it at the direction of your boss or the board or Atkinson.  They are experts at covering their tracks.  You probably will be thrown under the bus so fast, you won’t even see the tires that leave their tracks down your back.

Williams Oinonen, the law firm who won this case[2] and is positioned to win others, is an example of the top drawer representation you will receive if you are a member of GAE.  Think about it.  And take a look at the Williams Oinonen website.

+++

[1] OCGA 20-2-948 PART 7. TERMINATION, SUSPENSION, NONRENEWAL, DEMOTION, OR REPRIMAND says:

(a) A local board of education shall not adopt or implement a policy that allows length of service to be the primary or sole determining factor when implementing a reduction in force. The local board shall consider as the primary factor the performance of the educator, one measure of which may be student academic performance.

(b) Any policy that does not comply with subsection (a) of this Code section shall be considered invalid and the State Board of Education shall be authorized to take action to withhold all or any portion of state funds in accordance with Code Section 20-2-243.

(c) This Code section shall not apply if a local board of education eliminates an entire program.

[2] “Williams Oinonen LLC was very gratified with the courage the Tribunal showed in making the right decision to reject Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s recommendation to terminate the contract of an educator in DeKalb County School District through a reduction in force.”

“While the educator ended up accepting a very attractive offer at a nearby school district so the Tribunal’s decision did not end up having to be ruled on by the Board, Ms. Oinonen hopes that the DeKalb County Board of Education will take note as to how the Reduction in Force is being applied, ask the right questions and demand accountability from the Superintendent in the future.”

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89 Responses to Is DeKalb Following Georgia Law Regarding RIFs?

  1. An aside: The superintendent has posted a new org chart. It’s available at the DCSS home page under the Leadership tab. The entire Communications division has been technically eliminated, however, we know that there are people being paid very well to serve as the PR/Communications consultants (Jeff Dickerson is one). We suspect there are a lot more people on contracts that no longer show up on the org chart since the board approved a new policy allowing the super to hire up to $99,000 on a contract without seeking their approval. Even so, this new CO org chart shows a total of 764 full time employees.

  2. Teachingmom says:

    Also off topic, A friend who works there told me that Jaimie Wilson is a substitute principal at Pleasantdale while the regular principal is out on maternity leave.

  3. sosad says:

    Question to DSW: I know a handful of people who were let go due to the reduction in force. I know for fact that all of them has excellent evaluations and they never were placed on a PDP. They all have worked for DeKalb Schools for at least 7-15 years. Their positions were cut only for their same positions to be replaced back on the web to hire new employees or to be replaced with the family and friend network. Many of the positions were retitled but they held the same duties.
    My question to DSW is, should these former employers seek legal counsel as well if they can provide their evaluations and show proof and letters of the RIF process? We all thought this process was unfair and illegal but I also understand GA is an at will state.

  4. Concerned Teacher says:

    Wow the new organizational chart has a LOT of interesting information. I can’t remember, but didn’t the old org chart include the name of the person in each role? That information is vital! Then we could really identify how much each of these departments cost. On first glance it looks like there is still an incredible amount of bloat in the central office. Just a few things I noticed:

    -Ramona Tyson is still around as “Special Assistant to the Superintendent” with her own admin assistant. What do they both do all day?
    -What is an “Office Specialist”? How are they different from an admin assistant or secretary?
    -What is the “Chief Strategy Officer”?
    -HR still seems way over staffed: 5 records clerks? 2 secretaries just for leave requests when the local school secretaries handle this for all the schools? And 4 “onboarding secretaries”- what is that?
    -The curriculum and instruction dept has far too many coordinators (probably at $100,000+ salaries)
    -The maintenance dept is HUGE for the poor level of service we receive. When are we going to seriously look at outsourcing?? Some examples: 7 plumbers, 20 HVAC techs, 12 electricians, 2 locksmiths, etc, etc.

    Meanwhile 27 little 6 year olds are sitting in most 1st grade classes…

  5. justwatch says:

    Not DSW, but are they classroom teachers? If not, the GA law doesn’t apply. If so, they may want to consider it, if the time hasn’t passed. I have no knowledge of the law firm above, but it certainly seems as if they have had some success for at least a few former DCSS employees. I will add that they might want to inquire how many, if any, similar cases they lost.

  6. booksrkool says:

    What about the bus drivers?

  7. Concerned Teacher says:

    DSW- I think my comments are getting caught in the filter. They used to show up right away and now they are very delayed or never show up. Thanks for your help!

  8. September says:

    @sosad. The best way to find out if you have a legal case is to talk with a lawyer. A good lawyer will talk with you about your situation and your legal rights. If they don’t think they can win in court, they will tell you. People who are members of ODE and PAGE have access to lawyers through their professional organizations.

  9. Also employees who are members of GAE have paid-for access to lawyers. The lawyer who won the RIF case for a library media specialist, Julie Oinonen of Williams Oinonen law firm, was paid by GAE.

  10. Oops! Sorry! We don’t know why that happened, but you are good to go now.

  11. RIF'd Dekalb Teacher says:

    When I called PAGE when I was RIF’d, they told me that I basically had no case because they can non-renew me for any reason until I’ve taught for 3 years. They also couldn’t seem to grasp that the RIF was non-school specific– that they were cutting my job from the county level, not because I was the last teacher hired at my school.

    I’m thrilled for this news. So happy for him and his students.
    But I have to wonder, why did I get such different information? Why was I told by PAGE lawyers that it *was* due to seniority and there was nothing I could do about it?

  12. cpatterson22 says:

    why was Dayna Sanders named Principal of Freedom Middle School and left, than Corey Davidson was Principal of Freedom Middle School, before the start of the school year?

  13. Undercover Reformer says:

    Ramona Tyson is the “Chief Strategy Officer.” She has been moved out of the Superintendent’s suite to the faaaaar end of the building. I think she’s on her way out the door.

  14. Mildred says:

    So now DSW2 has become a shill of David Schutten and ODE?

  15. Bamay says:

    I have never seen anything like this in my life where they rif’d people and then they employ new people who have to be trained. They did not rif”d their friends who got big pay raises, when others have to settle for less pay.

  16. Mildred – these lawyers work for GAE (Georgia Association of Educators) to represent members of GAE — http://gae2.org/ We found this story very fascinating as it could explode into an enormous set of lawsuits if the new laws were not followed in every case.

    We are not shilling for anyone. But, we know quality when we see it. And, frankly, Julie Oinonen’s bio (found on her website), as well as her commitment to teachers, are exemplary.

    BTW – the reason many of you may have been told differently is that this law stating that performance must be used as an evaluation tool over seniority is a brand new law — May, 2012. However, the attorneys you consulted, provided by a membership organization of professional educators to which you pay annual dues, should have been up-to-date on the law, as it affects the organization’s dues-paying members..

  17. Concerned Teacher says:

    Undercover:
    If Tyson is the Chief Strategy Officer, do you know who the Special Assistant to the Superintendent is?
    (These titles are just ridiculous!!)

  18. Just another day in Paradise says:

    Please understand that even Human Resources doesn’t have the final say on who gets RIF’ed…

    And no, I don’t work in HR and haven’t worked in HR and am not related to anyone who works in HR. I just know that good, solid recommendations have been given to Atkinson and she has ignored them – both from HR and from Legal. Decisions are being made to leave people look like they are incompetent. It is her M.O. She becomes paranoid that they are going to reveal information, so she starts to set them up. It’s been happening all year long – to the detriment of the students and the employees. I have watched it happen since last September. She keeps her two closest advisers nearby (Brantley & March) and they make sure that e-mails disappear and people are too afraid to speak up.

    She is continually telling the board and the public that she has not received information that has been given to her – repeatedly AND in writing. Maybe she’s not reading her e-mails. Maybe she’s ignoring the people because she thinks they’re “old guard”. Maybe she just doesn’t get it. In the meantime, some people’s careers are being destroyed – people who have served the district and the children faithfully for decades, some people have been able to escape, and all children are suffering because deadlines are being missed. Excellent employees are fleeing DCSD (and being snatched up by other districts quickly). DeKalb literally has no one left who can answer anyone’s questions…but that’s okay because Kendra March has “got it” – if she thinks you’re worthy to talk to.

    It makes me so sad.

  19. justwatch says:

    DSW is correct. The problem may be ignorance about the law. Scary, but true, that an education and/or labor attorney may have missed its passage.

  20. dekalbmom says:

    DSW, I think you should include a disclaimer that you did not research, draft or endorse the posting (if that is the case). As a 32 year veteran trial attorney in the metro area, It is my personal opinion that this firm might not be considered to be a “top drawer” law firm. I am not endorsing any law firm but it would be very hard to comment on the merits of the underlying action without reading the entire transcript. I also notice that the posting did not include the closing argument of the school system attorney. I would also add that the casual style of the closing argument is generally not appropriate in the administrative tribunals where I practice. It would be nice to be a bit more balanced…..

  21. Seems we pay quite enough already for ‘top drawer’ law firms (ie: King & Spalding to the tune of over $38 million on the Heery lawsuit so far… https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/extra-extra-read-all-about-it/ ) No matter — the fact remains, the reason our ears perked up on this was that the issue was posted on the agenda for the Georgia State Board of Education meeting last week, with their staff recommendation to deny DeKalb’s request to reduce media specialists. Then, DeKalb asked that the item be removed from the agenda, yet they had already RIF’d the media specialists… so where does that leave them? When we went ‘looking’ for more on the subject, we found this blog post by attorney Julie Oinonen who was hired by GAE for this case and she won a hearing in front of a tribunal (here’s the link in case you missed it in our repost http://www.goodgeorgialawyer.com/2012/08/good-georgia-education-employm-1.html ). The tribunal agreed, and Nancy Jester was correct in her concern that DeKalb was not properly evaluating employees for these reductions. But before the DeKalb Co School Board could vote on the tribunal’s recommendation to reject Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s recommendation to terminate the contract of this media specialist, the media specialist was offered a great job elsewhere. So who really loses here? Why, DeKalb’s children of course!

  22. dekalb observer says:

    Special Assistant to the Superintendent? Why, that would be a close relative of Ron Ramsey’s.

  23. Dairy Queen says:

    Actually, DSW, the waiver was not a request to reduce media specialists. It was to waive the requirement for “adult supervision throughout the day” allowing staffing levels to drop to minimum state mandated levels (1/2 time for below base-sized schools) and NOT have a full time adult assigned to the library when the media specialist is not there. The reason the state decided not to grant the waiver is because the district didn’t really need to ask for it. All they need to do is assign a person to the library for the other half of the day. Of course, where they’re going to dig up a body to put there is a whole ‘nuther matter, since paras are gone, clerks are gone, etc. So, now the system is not in compliance with state laws requiring supervision throughout the day. We have 1/2 time media specialists with no coverage for the other half of the time.

  24. It is unfortunate that PAGE and its attorneys were not on top of the law when you spoke to them. They should be closely following everything in the Georgia General Assembly that is education-related. And that includes having a point person at the Capitol when the Georgia General Assembly is in session.

  25. September says:

    Dairy Queen is correct. The waiver was about media center hours. This is something that parents should be concerned about. High quality school library programs positively affect student achievement. There are many library impact studies that support this statement. Things to look for: media centers that are open throughout the school day; a flexible library schedule; staffed by a full-time certified library media specialist and library clerk; large up-to-date collections; current technology; and provision for collaborative planning and teaching between classroom teachers and the media specialist.

  26. You are quite correct, September. And any qualified educator should know that.

  27. howdy1942 says:

    As of January 2012, Bowen is gone. With Jester, Speaks, and McMahon on board then, we will be moving in the right direction.

    It is simply incredible to me that there is no performance rating system at the DCSS. We could at least have some sort of a forced ranking – such as the top 20%, the middle 40%, the next 20%, and the bottom 10%. Outstanding performers need to be recognized and retained. Those in the “next 20%” need to have shortcomings defined and addressed through training programs or mentor supervision. The bottom 10% need to be placed in a warning status with specific criteria defined for their retention, their success monitored closely, and a timely decision made as to whether they have demonstrate sufficient improvement to continue. The “skip-level” manager should be involved. Not having such a performance system causes the outstanding performers to eventually leave for better opportunities and performance levels to remain mediocre, at best.

    I have said repeatedly, it doesn’t take a “doctor” to be a good manager, leader, or teacher. We need to also consider business leaders or military leaders with proven experience in setting goals, motivating people, measuring performance, and rewarding people accordingly for leadership roles.

    The people of Dekalb County are to be commended for their use of the ballot box to change our Board. Only time will tell whether those changes will be good, but one thing is for certain, change was needed. I can only hope those residents in South Dekalb will look very seriously at Walker, Cunningham, and Copellin-Wood in 2016. Our schools will be only as good as “We the People” vote them to be.

  28. To clarify, we do have a performance evaluation in place. The problem is, it is far too simple and it was strongly encouraged to rate everyone ‘satisfactory’, with virtually no one doing better and very few people rating below that for a smattering of reasons. Therefore, we can only go to the second indicator, which is seniority, which to simply use seniority is against the new GA law. ‘Technically’, DCSS is not simply using seniority, but their performance eval is so useless that we are de facto Riffing by seniority.

  29. A few more comments …

    Re the board: Jester, Speaks and McMahan are still the same three voices of reason and intelligence we have always had. Yes, Paul Womack, aka “God” is gone, replaced by McMahan. But, Don McChesney was unseated by Marshall Orson and we have already gotten a taste of what kind of board member Orson will be — forget reason and intelligence. BIG mistake by the voters in District 2! And Bowen was replaced by Melvin Johnson, superintendent wannabe and longtime DCSS hack where, as a former senior member of the administration, he must accept responsibility for many of the problems in DCSS today. We are pretty sure he is not coming on the board to rectify those problems. BIG mistake by the voters in District 6 — the very few who bothered to turn out and take 5 m inutes to vote. So, we still have the Gang of Five (Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Edler, Johnson and Walker). The ballot box has changed nothing. And, the “good people” of South DeKalb have once again voted against their best interests. In so doing, they have also voted against the children of DeKalb.

    Re performance rating system: What criteria would you use and how would you measure performance against those criteria?

    Re higher degrees: A doctorate, alone, is not sufficient to predict quality. Very few of DCSS’s administrators and teachers have a Ph.D. The requirements to be admitted to a Ph.D. program and to obtain a Ph.D. are, for the most part, far more stringent that what is required for an Ed.D. (Atkinson’s degree). There are exceptions, of course, and if you have been paying attention, you know who they are. As for the “mail order” doctorates, in our opinion, they are simply a tool to get a raise.

  30. This is from the Race To The Top Georgia newsletter:

    When Georgia began its Race to the Top (RT3) efforts, the state initially partnered with twenty-six school districts. After collaborating with the state to create and pilot a new teacher and leader keys evaluation, the partner districts will evaluate all district teachers and leaders during the 2012-13 school year. These original twenty-six RT3 partner school districts include: Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrollton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Dade, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Meriwether, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Treutlen, Valdosta and White.

    One of the exciting developments around the new evaluation systems is that a number of additional school districts and individual schools have agreed to participate. Currently, there are twenty-four additional school districts that have elected to pilot or study the systems during 2012-13. In addition, twenty middle and high schools will be fully implementing TKES (Teacher Keys Evaluation System) and LKES (Leader Keys Evaluation System) during 2012-13. These numbers may change based upon addition of more districts and schools.

    For more click:
    http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Race-to-the-Top/Pages/default.aspx

  31. frustrated teacher says:

    Our library is such a mess since the previous librarian was let go. Equipment had not been picked up until a couple of days ago. For weeks there were piles of books piled up from last year. They had not been put back on shelves. Another wrong move by the county by transferring an incompetent librarian to our school.

  32. RIFF_Winner says:

    I am the media specialist who won the RIFF case. I found the whole process appalling and degrading. My thoughts about DeKalb are not charitable. Ironically, they did hold my contract due to a “supposed overage,” only issuing it on the last day – then I was told I would be transferred. Which never happened. Then they failed to get my charge letter on me, because filing my new address with my school was not enough for them. It was actually hand delivered to me. The only good thing I can say is that I escaped DeKalb County for Fulton County, which pays better and has no furloughs, and I am glad to be gone from this wretched scene. Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed working in DeKalb and many fine people remain, so I cannot lie and say I am completely thrilled to be gone. I made great progress during my year at MLK, and it was all cast away in a slip shod fashion. More ironically, after the RIFF, they decided to hire more media specialists. Many of those RIFF’d are being rehired. One, though, spent 7000 dollars to move back to Texas for a job after DeKalb axed her.

    After my hearing, so far as I know, those who had a hearing scheduled never had to go and are presently working in DeKalb. Thus, I believe my case saved their jobs. And if they do RIFF in the near future, I hope every attorney subpoenas my transcripts…

    I could comment at length, but I am hoping to close that chapter on my life. It was one of those unpleasant character building exercises people talk about so fondly in theory, but seldom enjoy in practice.

  33. Terry says:

    Talk about NOT properly evaluating employees just before they are RIF’d!!! Try the 50 or so CTSSs that got the boot….THEY were evaluated by the staff at the Bryant center, so there again, friends and family came out squeaky clean! RIF is just another way of Administrators keeping their bloated pay (TYSON) while HR slashes people and Finance slashes paychecks (ask what’s left of the CTSSs how much they were cut a few weeks ago!! Makes you sick!!

  34. Princess says:

    @ Just another day in Paradise says:
    August 29, 2012 at 9:29 PM
    Decisions are being made to leave people look like they are incompetent. It is her M.O. She becomes paranoid that they are going to reveal information, so she starts to set them up. It’s been happening all year long – to the detriment of the students and the employees. I have watched it happen since last September.

    This is absolutely true. That is her M.O. and it is going to shock this blog the number of lawsuits that are about to hit DCSS because they ARE breaking laws and policies to reduce force. She is either getting really bad legal advice or is incompetent herself. Whats really sad is in the end the kids are going to suffer because DCSS is going to have to pay out so much in legal fees and loss lawsuit settlements. Many people are just lying low until they get all of their information together.

  35. howdy1942 says:

    While there may be some sort of performance plan in place, it is really useless if it encourages the same rating. I would expect that there would be a wide range of performances ranging from unsatisfactory to outstanding.

    I have been an officer in the military and there is the Officer Efficiency Rating. It is used to separate under-performing officers in the military. I have also been in three other companies during my career. Each of them had a performance plan that had four or more categories/classifications of performance. It was used in each case to award outstanding performance, to recognize satisfactory performance, and to separate under-performers.

    We measure performance in the classroom and select a valedictorian based on that performance. We test for knowledge expected in each grade level. We need to do the same for all administrative and classroom personnel. The Board needs to very firmly convey this message to the Superintendent and hold her accountable that it is accomplished within a reasonable time, such as a year. There is simply no excuse not to do so.

    For a long time, it has appeared to me that Dekalb County has a lot of words on paper to say that we have a particular plan, but those words are just that – words! They have no meaning, no power, no impact. That is one symptom of how we got in the mess that we are in today. When we have replaced this lethargic, anemic School Board with the likes of Jester, McMahon, and Speaks, then this situation will be fixed.

  36. no name says:

    Teachingmom @August 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM: My understanding is that Pleasantdale’s substitute principal used to be a Principal before he was promoted up in the Palace by Crawford Lewis. People I respect say that the temporary Principal earned his earlier promotions to Principal — I think he actually became a Principal before Lewis was even Superintendent. I also have not heard anything negative about his current performance as a temporary Principal.

  37. no name says:

    I do not agree that “never were placed on a PDP” is a good indicator of quality.

    In my career, I’ve seen several excellent employees end up on PDPs, due to turmoil in their personal life. One went through a nasty divorce, another was depressed over the loss of a loved one, and a third had a teenage child with substance abuse problems.

  38. booksrkool says:

    …and now SACS has come knocking with some concerns such as financial responsibility, the boards meddling in school system operations. The hits just keep on coming….

  39. We always heard that Jamie Wilson was a very good principal. Why anyone would move him into a position as head of HR is beyond me – we really, REALLY need great principals. Our principals should be the highest paid people in the system – aside from the superintendent. They are critical.

  40. Thanks for sharing your story RIFF-Winner. We truly wish you the best.

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