All those stunned need to hold your horses

The AJC is reporting that the DeKalb School Board met at a called meeting yesterday and voted to form a committee to discuss the recent letter to Dr. Atkinson from SACS in what many are wrongly interpreting as a closed door Executive Session of the board.

Parents stunned as DeKalb school board bars public

To clarify, at the called meeting yesterday, when a board member asked if this could be discussed in Executive Session, Sutherlin Attorney Bill Wildman responded that this topic absolutely cannot be discussed in Executive Session. Therefore, no Executive Session was held. The board simply voted 8-0 (Bowen was absent) to approve Dr. Atkinson’s plan to address the letter from SACS. Her plan is outlined below:

  • Establish a Special Review Team (SRT) composed of the Board Chair, Board Vice-Chair, Superintendent, legal representatives, 2 senior staff, and communications representative
  • Convene the SRT to review the SACS/CASI letter
  • Prepare recommendations to address SACS/CASE concerns
  • Submit draft response to individual Board Members for review and comment
  • Submit the formal response to the SACS/CASI

That SRT will soon convene, with the Board’s approval to draft a plan of action to present to the Board and then send to SACS within 30 days of the letter.  It’s important to note that the original SACS letter dated August 28, 2012 was written to Dr. Atkinson, and it is her responsibility to respond.  She is the only employee of the Board’s and therefore it is prudent for the Board to approve her actions before she sends off her response, especially in light of the fact that many of SACS’ concerns relate to board behavior.  This entire process puts Dr. Atkinson in a fairly precarious position.

As far as the assumption that the Board met in Executive Session to discuss the response to SACS, Nancy Jester offered this promise, “If somebody tries to meet in Executive Session to discuss this, I will let you know. And I will be outside that door protesting with you.”

In truth, if DeKalb Schools’ financial wheels are coming off, it will look like SACS wasn’t paying attention – that they weren’t doing their job. They were warned by dozens of concerned citizens and employees over a period of years – and took little action. We believe this ‘letter’ is simply an action by SACS to cover their you-know-what.

When Atkinson and the Special Review Team draft the response letter, it will be made available to the public and we will all see the plan of action.  In fact, it would be a wise idea to include AJC reporter Ty Tagami in those meetings so that he can report as they move along. The process should and hopefully will be open, but these detailed discussions would definitely be hindered if done with the full board hashing it out in public—history tells us that never goes well in DeKalb.

The ‘System’ is what needs to change. It is worth noting that most everything in DeKalb schools has changed over the last 5-6 years. Almost the entire staff has been replaced: Crawford Lewis, Pat Pope, Marcus Turk, Jamey Wilson, David Guillory and most top tier administrators as well as the entire board except for Sarah, and yet, the issues of corruption, incompetence and poor outcomes for students remain.  If SACS refuses to take a detailed look into the mechanisms that run the system and help to reset the structure, then we will continue to see very little real change.  And the change we seek is for the benefit of our students, not for the benefit of adults who enjoy employment at the pleasure of the Board.

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93 Responses to All those stunned need to hold your horses

  1. Murphey says:

    I attended the meeting yesterday and differ a bit from the interpretation posted above. I understood that because the Board doesn’t want the discussions regarding Dr. Atkinson’s draft to become public, they will each receive her proposed response and then submit individual comments back to her. They will not have a public meeting or an Executive Session to discuss this matter. Dr. Atkinson will have to synthesize the comments from each individual Board member and prepare the response.

    At the beginning of yesterday’s meeting, the Board took a formal vote to affirm that they had received a copy of the SACS letter. A Board member, either Ms. Copelin-Wood or Ms. Edler, suggested that the Board get back together right before the response is sent to take a similar vote to affirm that they had received a copy of Dr. Atkinson’s reply. Paul Womack noted that if this was done then the response would immediately become a public document, perhaps even before SACS received it. The lawyer backed him up.

    Therefore, I don’t think even Board members will see the response until Dr. Atkinson sends it. Unless Board members or staff leak info, the public won’t see it until then either.

    I do understand the reluctance to discuss this in public. However, I think Dr. Atkinson could have earned MAJOR points if she had included a step 6 in her plan, which would be to release her reply to the public no later than the day after SACS receives her response. Just acknowledging that the public has a right to know would take some of the “secrecy” sting off of the whole process.

  2. Everyone who believes that the Gang of Five won’t be getting together, before sending a response to Atkinson, so they can get their story straight — like they always do — raise your hands.

    Atkinson should have volunteered to release her response to the public the same day that SACS receives her response. Let’s hope she hears the public outcry and chooses to be as open and transparent as possible in the release of her response.

  3. Terry says:

    Leaks??? And no one leaked anything about the hiring process for the superintendant job?? Now why ever would THAT happen?

  4. howdy1942 says:

    I am just so ready to put this saga with SACS behind us. It seems to just drag on and on. This letter writing is a drain. Why doesn’t Dr. Atkinson and the School Board simply sit down with SACS and understand the issues? Why can’t SACS state what its specific questions are and let the School Board respond? There is nothing like a sit-down and good, honest discussion to resolve issues. There should be a joint public news conference to talk about the issues and the solutions without dragging it out. This would be the best news we could have. If your want to continue to argue just to make your point – please move on!! We need cool heads that want to solve the problems on board.

    This cloud will remain while letters are exchanged. This is the year 2012 – we wrote letters in 1912! Let get on with this process. SACS needs to put up or shut up. The School Board needs to be open and honest. In this day and time, you cannot hide condemning material – it will be discovered. The Dekalb County School Board has become a favorite topic with the AJC and all of the television stations. They are just searching and, if it is there, they will find it one way or the other. It would be far better for the School Board, Dr. Atkinson, our students, and our residents if we could simply put all personal and/or selfish interests aside and get to the heart of this thing. As long as this cloud remains, our tax base will continue to erode and all services provided by the County will deteriorate.

    Let’s get the Crawford Long/Pat Pope trial underway and resolved. Let’s get that Heery case resolved. Let’s get the SACS issues resolved. Let’s let the public know who leaked that confidential information about the other superintendent candidates so the public can deal with it. I’m tired and frustrated with all parties involved in the way they are addressing the issues.

    For the sake of our children and our people, let’s get on with it.

  5. Molly says:

    Actually, the board made it very clear that the SRT meetings would be kept private, and that all communication with the board would be via email so as to avoid any public meetings. They made it very clear that the public would not be able know what the response would be until after it was submitted to AdvancED. It seemed that the purpose of yesterday’s meeting was to publicly declare that they would not let the public know how they intended to respond.

  6. Steve Smith says:

    Everyone needs to read and re-read the most important part of the article, which clarifies how the school board, superintendent and spokesperson operate:

    ——————————————————————————–

    “Board members said they were merely acting out of respect for AdvancEd and its subsidiary, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    “I don’t think SACS wants this in the newspaper before it goes to SACS,” board member Paul Womack said.

    But Mark Elgart, president and chief executive officer of AdvancEd, said in a telephone interview after the hastily called DeKalb meeting that “no such courtesy is necessary or required.” He said the process for responding was up to DeKalb.

    System spokesman Jeff Dickerson defended the process, which was recommended by Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson. He said the school system effectively opened the process by holding Wednesday’s meeting in public. The board could have met in a private executive session or merely passed around drafts of their response among themselves, he said.

    Georgia law allows few exceptions to the state Open Meetings Act. Officials can meet in executive session to discuss legal matters, land acquisitions and personnel matters. It’s unclear whether a letter containing allegations about mismanagement would fit any of those exclusions.”

    ————————————————————————————-

    So Paul Womack creates a fictional excuse to disguise his own need for being as secretive as possible.

    Jeff Dickerson alleges the board could have violated the Open Meetings Act if they wanted to.

    Behind the scenes, Cheryl Atkinson is pushing to be as non-transparent as possible about a process that could lead to the system losing its accreditation.

  7. The letter from SACS was written to Dr. Atkinson. She alone is charged with responding to it. Now, think about that. What if the President of Coke was asked by the SEC to reply to them regarding the behavior of the Board of Coke?? This is bizarre. We don’t see a way for her to deal with this gracefully. In fact, we don’t think she was required to call a meeting at all regarding this letter. However, she did, possibly in order to proceed very carefully with the board’s blessing as she tries to respond to charges of their bad behavior and decisions. Which leads us to this question: Why is SACS doing this? Who encouraged them to place Atkinson in this position? Why now? After all, the complaints from citizens referenced in the letter came to Elgart at SACS going back several years. Yet no action was taken to ever put Ramona Tyson in this position. What’s up now? Think about it. Things are never as they appear in this drama. This SACS letter is bizarre. It’s vague yet broad in its wording and offers no specifics as to what kind of response is expected. On the charges that the board ‘interferes’ in the day-to-day operations, what is Dr. Atkinson to say? How about the charge that they have failed to be good stewards of the school system’s financial resources for the past five years? How about the charge that they have continually adopted budgets that fall short of actual expenses? (You may note here that she already fired CFO Marcus Turk and head of HR Jamey Wilson.) What is SACS true motivation here? Time will tell, of that we are certain. For now, we may all want to lower the temperature of our torches.

  8. justwatch says:

    The system probably won’t loses its accreditation, probation is more likely. But what should have us all worried is our finances, the fact that we have zero dollars for a rainy day and that we are self insured up to a million dollars. (Not that the system covers loses on computers, etc.)

  9. dekalbmom says:

    This is much ado about the same ole stuff. SACs sent a vague letter and they will receive a vague response full of assurances that policies have been revised, that legal counsel have trained the BOE about their responsibilities and that there is a new CFO in town who is going to follow appropriate accounting practices, yada, yada, yada. It is not a personal letter to the Superintendent but a business letter to her in her official capacity. She could answer it or the school system attorneys could reply. It really doesn’t matter.

    It would not be good for the Board to publiclly discuss a proposed response or the vague allegations of misconduct by individual BOE members. It would disintegrate into finger pointing and accusations. We have had enough of that. Walker needs to become a leader, admit that mistakes were made in the past and 1) allow the new CFO to have a workable and balanced budget without constant interference to protect pet projects, and 2) Atkinson and her curriculum head need to be leaders and put all the resources in the classroom and allow the teachers to teach our students. I do have a sinking feeling that we have a net INCREASE in the number of non-teaching staff (whether they are in the central office or conveniently “moved” to the schoolhouse) along with a large increase in the budget for those non-teaching staff.

  10. Dekalbite2 says:

    “i do have a sinking feeling that we have a net INCREASE in the number of non-teaching staff (whether they are in the central office or conveniently “moved” to the schoolhouse) along with a large increase in the budget for those non-teaching staff.”

    Would you be talking about all those non teaching data coaches and their secretaries?

  11. Just another day in Paradise says:

    “Would you be talking about all those non teaching data coaches and their secretaries?”

    Nope, how about the three Success for All staff members in each one of those schools (Data Coach, Literacy Coach, Tutor) that displaced Title I classroom teachers and used up classroom funds? Some of the schools are so small and have such limited Title I budgets that they lost ALL of their classroom positions for these coaches. Oh, and don’t forget about the Success for All contract and material fees. That should take care of any leftover money that the principals planned to use…since they haven’t been able to plan anything so far. Wouldn’t that be interesting news for the GA Department of Education to know?

  12. dekalbmom says:

    @Dekalbite2 Yes, and many more folks who were transferred from the Central office budget to the school’s budgets. There are still a lot of managment layers and fuzzy titles on the org charts.

  13. As we all know now, it’s not Executive Session. It’s a committee or a panel of sorts. It’s a group of people who will work together to formulate a response. Hopefully, one of those will be the new CFO, since so many of the issues have to do with money. Hopefully, the panel will release the response to the public at the same time as submitting it to SACS. You all don’t really want to watch the entire board debate a response to this letter do you? Oh my. That would be entertaining, but futile. There are board members who probably can’t understand what is written in that letter. Actually, neither can we when it comes down to it. And further, we have to wonder why a meeting was called at all. Did the board need to vote on receiving the letter? That seems strange. It all seems strange. We are left wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.

  14. Actually dekalbmom and Dekalbite2, we ‘think’ there are many people hired who aren’t covered under any budget at all! We are walking a fine financial line. And if the teachers win their retirement lawsuit, we sure don’t have the $50+ million they will be awarded. Much less if anything else happens…..

  15. Ned says:

    “Without justice what is the state but organized crime?” –St. Augustine (loosely translated)

  16. To read our post about the history of SACS and DCSS, click this link:
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/dcss-files/sacs/

    There, you will find the story about the first warning letter sent by SACS back when Ramona Tyson was acting as super. Back then, there was no public discussion about how to respond. No one said Tyson was trying to hide anything. In fact, you may recall that Tyson requested and received more time to respond due to school starting soon after the receipt of the letter.

    Download that original letter here: https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/sacs-inquiry-letter.pdf

    11 Alive News had a report at the time:
    http://www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=149335

    Here is the school system’s announcement about outcome of their response to that first warning letter:

    On November 29, 2011, the Superintendent received notice from Dr. Mark Elgart announcing the DeKalb County School District’s accreditation status with AdvancED.

    SACS recommended that DeKalb Schools remain in the accreditation status of “accredited on advisement” as it completes two of eight actions to improve School System effectiveness that AdvancED recommended in January. AdvancED recommended that the school system continue working to establish a clear role and line of authority for its internal auditor and complete a strategic plan to guide the future direction of the school system.

    The school system will submit a report to AdvancED by February 15, documenting additional steps it has taken to address the remaining actions. AdvancED will assess those steps during an on-site review of the school system’s five-year accreditation status, scheduled to take place in March.

    The school system did not post the original letter, however they posted this reponse:
    In response to the October, 2012 [sic] monitoring team visit by AdvancED and the subsequent notice of remaining “accredited on advisement”, DeKalb County School District has submitted a progress report update to AdvancED on February 15, 2012.

    The reports documented the additional steps the District has taken to address the remaining two of the original eight actions to improve the school district: establish a clear role and line of authority for its internal auditor and complete a strategic plan to guide the future direction of the school district.

    AdvancED will assess those steps during an on-site review of the District’s five-year accreditation status, scheduled to take place in March, 2012.

    For more, visit the DCSS link: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/sacs-casi-accreditation

  17. FWIW, this has been a long road with SACS and DCSS. To date, SACS has only written warning letters and asked for ‘reports’ on ‘progress’. It’s been a several-years long drama that seems to be at a stalemate. We really see this letter as nothing more than a SACS CYA move. It seems they are very concerned about our finances, as they should be. But both Tyson and Atkinson should have proposed much more serious cuts to expensive programs, transportation and central office and other jobs outside the schoolhouse. And the board should have at least approved the cuts that were presented. The board continues to spend untold millions on programs, attorneys, security, buildings, transportation and other non-essentials that we simply can’t afford. No one seems able to adhere to budgets that are set, and the budgets that are set are unrealistic. We are broke, but no one wants to give up their little dish of ice cream.

    This is an old story with a lot of history. All we’re saying is don’t get distracted by the minutia in front of you – pay attention to the big picture. We still need to make deep, serious cuts but many on our board will not let go of friends and family jobs or expensive specialty programs their constituents treasure. But the gravy train has left the station and we are standing on the platform with empty pockets.

  18. Dekalbite2 says:

    @just another day in paradise

    So the Title 1 money is still going to non teaching personnel and not reaching the students in the classroom.

  19. Ella says:

    There are so many issues. One issue I see is the inability to cut programs (like all the busing) that other school systems have cut. Fulton County Schools no longer pays for students to be transported to schools of choice. The current board will not make hard decisions like this even in times of financial hardship.

    Just the comments about board members seeing color when making decisions is an issue. However, I believe the racial issue run on all sides which is so sad for all our great students in DeKalb County. Decisions should be made on what is best for all the students in DeKalb County. Our board is not currently able to do this (IMO)

    The cell towers is a perfect example of decisions being made with a group of individuals which really does very little (if anything) to improve the education of our students in DeKalb. The citizens of DeKalb are ultimately opposed but the deal was made.

    The money being spend on a lawsuit that should have been settled years ago to save the taxpayers money. (However, DeKalb Schools love giving money to their attorneys) Setting a budget and then spending more than their budget is also a big issue. Who is making the final decision here? Is it the board or the administrators of the school?

    Dr. Walker always indicates that school board members have done nothing wrong. However, several of them repeatily do interfere with day to day operations. They do not understand that it is the School Superintendent who runs the day to day operations of the school. Several of them think they are the School Superintendent and this is their job as school board members.

  20. bettyandveronica1 says:

    can you give us Ella, one instance where the board has interfered in a day to day operations of the school system? I am sure it happens, I just can’t think of one right now. I need a refresher.

  21. How about Paul Womack (who openly admitted to many people) as he worked a ‘deal’ with Dr Lewis to hand pick the new principal at Lakeside – Mr Reed – a retired principal from nearby Sagamore Elementary school! What do you suppose Womack had to promise in trade? hmmmmm. Lewis got a raise not too long after…

    Or how about who gets hired as Parent Coordinators (many are relatives of board reps) or security officers (many are relatives of board reps) or how about the hiring and/or firing of certain coaches, principals, secretaries, etc (many are relatives of board reps).

  22. This is a good exercise – why not add your comment citing what you think the superintendent should propose as a way to comply with SACS demands and balance the budget in a way that will add to the reserves?

    Here are some:

    Shut down DeKalb School of the Arts as a separate school. Merge it into a regular high school like Chamblee magnet is merged into Chamblee’s regular high school.

    Cut out the special transportation once and for all to all magnets, etc.

    Return Arabia to a neighborhood school with an attendance zone and neighborhood bus service.

    Fire the Alexander law firm and allow Sutherlin to cover all inside legal issues – and make legal fees a single line item monthly budget report.

    RIF Ramona Tyson and do not replace her. Whatever she is now doing in completely unnecessary. Spend that money on teachers.

    Cut back ALL SROs to 10 month employees. They have NO need to work in the summer.

    Go ahead — add to the list! We’ll compile it and send it on!

  23. Ella says:

    I understand from the community that the comment about Lakeside is true.

    It is my understanding that a group of parents did not want a black principal at Lakeside so this was one of their pushes to put a candidate in office.

    Board members go in and out of the school to supervise the first day of school being opened and also they go in and tell the principals what they want to happen for that school.

    They are know to get their family and friends jobs with the school system.

    I have heard board members indicating that they have read letters from teachers. Unless this is a discipline issue that does in front of the board there is no reason for a board member to be reading a letter from a teacher at the county office or at a school.

    How many 1 to 1 meetings do you think the individual board members have with the Super to get things done in there district. Individually they have no power. However, you would not know this by the local meetings they call to try to answer questions about decisions about the cell phone towers. These questions should be answered by the administrative staff.

    We could go on and on. Some of the school board members think they are the superintendent instead of an individual board member which has no power unless voting as a group.

  24. Name One says:

    You mention all of the top level personnel changes at the Central Office, yet the problems remain: incompetence, millions in overspending, nepotism, bloated numbers of non-teaching staff, etc.

    Somehow, Ron Ramsey and Robert Tucker are still employed by DCSS. Ramon Tyson too.

  25. Very true, Name One. The only people left from the old guard who have much power in the system are Ramsey, Robert Tucker, Ramona Tyson and Sarah-Copelin Wood. We also have old-timers on the board like Paul Womack and Gene Walker along with old-timer and retired high-ranking DCSS administrator Melvin Johnson who will take his board seat in January and who is now a high-ranking New Birth official responsible for the start up charter DeKalb Leadership Academy. Atkinson has replaced Marcus Turk with a quality professional from a national search, however, HR is still a big, hot mess. After firing Jamie Wilson, she placed Tekshia Ward-Smith in the job. Apparently, now Tekshia has taken long-term family medical leave. And we still don’t have HR reports showing the supposed hundreds of central office staff who were RIFd along with teachers, librarians, parapros, etc.

    This is critical – we don’t have a complete HR report of who was hired into new positions over the last year or so. We continue to wonder if we aren’t netting more human resources than before the RIFs, but we have absolutely no way of finding out. Ask any board member – they cannot tell you. They have not had a reliable, detailed HR report in several months – during one of the biggest reductions in force in the history of the school system. Why? One would think that the RIFs and new hires would be handled extremely carefully, however, instead we have had the worst, most haphazard HR department in the history of DCSS. We tried desperately to research this, to no avail. Read our post here: https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/the-hr-report/ Not only are the HR reports seriously incomplete, they do not even use cell formulas in their Excel documents! They simply use Excel as a glorified type in the box program! They are either extraordinarily incompetent, or they are trying to hide the fact that the system hired or rehired more human resources than were reduced netting a higher cost, rather than a reduction to the budget as ‘approved’ by the board.

  26. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    The only way to get anything done is to Open Records Request the info … even if it takes a month to get the data together. A real HR report would be a good place to start:
    * Every DCSD employee
    * Salary
    * Position Title
    * Associated pay scale
    * Office location (admin or school house)

    The DCSD pay scales for all positions, Org chart for all DCSD, etc … I would, but that would be frowned upon in my position.

  27. Good idea for an ORR. We have sent so many recently, and salaries was certainly one. However, we have heard NO response on any of our requests to date.

    As far as the cuts that should be showing in HR reports – these are the cuts approved by the board:

    The board approved budget was supposed to have cut the following for the 2011-12 school year:

    150 Central Office Staff
    Reduction magnet points by 20 (teachers)
    Eliminated 200 para pros (actual vote only approved cutting 100 paras)
    Reduce paras an additional 61 through attrition
    Cut 59 media clerks**
    Cut 18 CTSS**
    Reduce Asst Principals by 10 through attrition
    Reduce counselors by 10 through attrition
    Increase class size by 2 (and reduce associated number of teachers)
    High school summer school was to be provided through DOLA only
    Cut Montessori by $96,000 (by blending programs)
    Cut $4,000,000 from transportation via efficiency plan (satellite hubs for magnets/choice)
    Eliminate 8 points from DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts
    Eliminate 8 points from the single gender program (? didn’t know we actually had this)
    Collapse Alternative programs (Truancy, Night and Transition) to save $637,790
    Eliminate $2.2 million payment to Academy of Lithonia Charter (but was it just given to another charter instead? Net – 0 savings?)
    Reduce JV athletics by 25% – $313,420 savings
    Eliminate summer interns (save $277,000)
    Eliminate Targeted Assistance points ($3,965,000)
    Eliminate Corp Health & Wellness program ($159,520)
    Restructure textbook payment (save $500,000)
    Reduce small schools points, reduce specials, consolidate/itinerant (save $3,200,000)

    PLUS

    The board approved budget was supposed to have cut the following for the 2012-13 school year:

    The property taxes in DeKalb county were raised by one full millage point.
    All employees are subject to 2 more furlough days on top of the already scheduled furlough days.
    70 more people in the central office will lose their job
    Pre-k programs will be reduced to only what the state funds provide
    52 magnet teachers will lose their magnet job
    28 Montessori teachers will lose their magnet job
    Transportation to special programs: DECA, magnet, themes AMS and STT remains unchanged
    Transportation for field trips will be cut by $1.6 million
    Additional transportation (efficiency plan) will be cut $700,000
    200 general ed parapros will lose their jobs
    25 media specialists will lose their jobs
    29 (all remaining) media clerks will lose their jobs
    10 SROs will lose their jobs
    Overtime pay for extra activities will be reduced by $5 million
    Fernbank will have to cut $1.9 million from its programs budget
    10 Asst Principals lost through attrition will not be replaced
    10 counselors lost through attrition will not be replaced
    20 interpreters will lose their jobs
    The summer work schedule is reduced to 4 – 10 hour days
    Employees will have to subsidize health insurance by an additional $35.57/month
    Employees will have to subsidize dental insurance by an additional $16.02/month
    Regular Ed Class sizes will increase by 2
    Special Ed Class sizes will increase by 2

  28. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    At some point in time, as you well know, not complying with an Open Records Request (ORR) is against the law. What’s the next step in enforcing the law? Attourneys? BOE Support? D.A.?

    What compels DCSD to comply with ORRs?

  29. concernedmom30329 says:

    You complain to the Attorney general’s office of GA.
    http://law.ga.gov/00/channel_modifieddate/0,2096,87670814_87670967,00.html

    Sam Olens takes this stuff very seriously. The law changed in the most recent legislative session and Olens’ office has already fined several governments.

  30. Mildred says:

    Shut down DECA and DOLA.

  31. Ijustworkhere says:

    So where are the suggestions going?

    Every school does not need their own bookkeeper. This job can be shared between elementary schools. Stop wasting money on studies that no one does what is suggested. Tyson can go….total overpayment for services rendered, said in my most polite southern voice.
    Right size current salaries….only in education can a clerical job command more money than a degreed job. Paraeducators (require at least 2 years college of or complete a state test and continuing ed classes) who are now working in SE departments should earn more than any clerical position. There shouldnt be any clerical position that earns more than a classroom teacher. Transportation to magnet and other special schools need to be cut, sorry Jay. There is still lots of fat sitting in the palace….

  32. We will compile these and send them to Atkinson, the board and Mark Elgart at SACS. Keep them coming. We need ideas to streamline the budget as well as information to share with SACS regarding their questions on the letter. They are seeking answers to:
    Complaints that the board is not a good steward of the public’s money (waste, fraud and/or abuse)
    Budgets that do not consider the real costs of line items like utilities and legal fees (how to either save, or properly budget)
    Board interference in the day to day operations of the school system by working to minimize and neutralize the administration
    Board stepping in and functioning as administrative leaders of the school system
    Board members knowingly breaking board policy (ie: releasing confidential info, making direct requests from staff, excessive requests for information)

    If you don’t want to post here, feel free to email us at dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com
    or contact SACS directly if you have the information they seek —

    Dr. Mark Elgart
    President/CEO
    AdvancED (SACS/Casi)
    9115 Westside Parkway
    Alpharetta, GA 30009

    email
    melgart@advanc-ed.org

    Or Call –
    888.41ED NOW (888.413.3669)

  33. Whoshelpingthekids says:

    Insiders left: Ralph Simpson, Don Roberts, Audria Berry, Philandria and David guillory, Ramsey, Dr. Beasly, Ron Ramsey, Horace Dunson, Angela Pringle, Dr. Walker’s family….are Vonzia Phillips, Stacy Stepney still around? and who knows who else without HR report and org chart with names!

  34. Ijustworkhere says:

    Can someone please answer this question:
    Why is the “State of the System” address only presented to parents and businesses? This could be delivered to everyone at the same time in the evening (yes, I would go after work) or on Saturday morning. Thats just blantant disregard for the employees….because believe you me…we have no idea what the state of the system is….other than a hot darn mess!

  35. The “State of the System” address could be — and should be — videotaped, broadcast live and streamed live, as well as on-demand.

  36. another comment says:

    In another district that I know of, a women that I know of was a part-time para to a boy with downs syndrome. She was also the school’s part-time book-keeper. She did all the school’s book keeping plus the afterschool ASP bookkeeping. She was able to get this done within the time frame her own children were in school or a short time after. It allowed her to earn a better income. During this whole time she still took a course of two at Kennestone at night on her Education Degree and is now a teacher.

    Para’s and Bookkeepers all of these positions should not be terminal positions. They should be filled by people who are going to school to better themselves and finish the degree requirements to become a teacher or an Accountant. Not someones relative, that should not even work at McDonalds.

  37. Beth Connor says:

    The Success for All Reading Program in DeKalb is a hot, unorganized mess! The program has yet to get off the ground and in the meantime, students are not receiving reading instruction;.There is a lack of materials for all of those responsible for teaching it. Special Area Teachers and Special Education Teachers do not have the necessary instructional materials and technology to deliver the program to their students. This program is only in DeKalb schools where there are predominately African American students attending This type of unorganized mess would not happen in schools on the North end of the county. What a shame!

  38. Teachingmom says:

    I know of at least one school in the north end of the county that has SFA. It is a hot mess there just as you say…

  39. teacher/taxpayer says:

    The testing of students for SFA has taken longer than expected, causing it to appear that it is a mess. It may prove to work; let’s get through the growing pains and then judge it.
    Meanwhile, know that it is also in some schools in the north end of the county, and that the populations are not necessarily predominately African American. My school has a bigger Hispanic population than AA. I do think it is at schools with economically disadvantaged children because selection was influenced by AYP status, but I haven’t studied the list closely.

  40. howdy1942 says:

    Regarding issues that should be considered by SACS:

    1. The School Board promised to investigate the leaks of confidential information of
    candidates for the Superintendent of Dekalb County Schools. That promise was made well
    over a year ago, before Dr. Atkinson came on board. Leaking confidential information
    is very serious anywhere. WHAT PROGRESS HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD MADE
    IN KEEPING THIS COMMITMENT?

    2. In most companies, employees in key positions are required to make any disclosure about
    about prospective new hires. IS THERE ANY LISTING ANYWHERE THE LISTS CLOSE
    RELATIVES TO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS (DAUGHTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES, SONS
    AND THEIR FAMILIES, BROTHERS/SISTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES, ETC.?)

    3. Why did it take a phone call from a State Legislator to expose the Crawford Long/Pat Pope
    matter? WHY DIDN’T THE SCHOOL BOARD, THAT DIRECTLY SUPERVISES THE
    SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT, NOT EVEN HAD A CLUE?

    4. HOW DID ATTORNEYS’ FEES RISE TO $19 MILLION IN THE HEERY CASE WITHOUT
    EVEN ANY COURT ACTION? WHERE DOES IT END? HOW?

    5. WHY DOES DEKALB COUNTY HAVE DOUBLE THE RATIO OF ADMINISTRATIVE WORKERS
    TO TEACHERS AS COMPARED TO NEIGHBORING COUNTIES?

    6. WHY DOES THE DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM HAVE MORE LEGAL FEES THAN ALL
    ITS NEIGHBORING COUNTIES COMBINED?

    7. PAUL WOMACK TOLD ME OVER A YEAR AGO THAT THE WORST OF THE FINANCIAL
    CRISES WAS YET TO COME. WHY DIDN’T THE SCHOOL BOARD TAKE ACTION THEN?

    8. WHY DOES’T THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAVE A PERFORMANCE PLAN THAT CAN BE USED
    IN FACING ANY DOWNSIZING DECISION BY INSURING THE GOOD PERFORMERS ARE
    RETAINED AND PROTECTED WHILE POORER PERFORMERS ARE THE FIRST TO BE
    CONSIDERED FOR SEPARATION?

    Finally, when is SACS going to stop this letter-writing craze, wait at least 30 days, threaten to investigate, and just drop the matter? Before the Governor can act, SACS must act. This is like death by a thousand drops of water. Let’s get on with it.

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