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. whoshelpingthekids says:

    Is Wadsworth a Success For All school?

  2. Another Dekalb Teacher says:

    @JohnHope.

    Actually, pre-k teachers are earning $22,000 this year. They earned more in the last few years because DeKalb was paying the difference. Look it up on PATS, there are many schools with pre-k positions available. There are also many positions for pre-k paras, their salary is posted at $12,000.

  3. concernedmom30329 says:

    On PATS, the pre-k teachers jobs are listed at 31000 dollars, which is the state reimbursement rate. The pre-k paras are indeed. 12,000. There are lots of pre-k teaching jobs available if you know certified teachers looking.

  4. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    If the parents of 100 kids want to drive 1hr plus every day, that’s Wadsworth problem. Let’s be sure not to take it out on those kids or Kittredge.

  5. The problem is, the parents do not drive past Wadsworth, they insist on special ($$) cross county transportation to and from Kittredge, and other magnets and specialty programs. On top of that, as we discussed earlier, when combined with the administrative costs for maintaining these programs as well as other transfers is literally millions of dollars – before a student even gets inside the door of a Kittredge, DSA, Arabia, Fernbank SST, etc.

    Click to access budget-detail-school-operations.pdf

  6. PublicSchoolDad says:

    @ “If the parents of 100 kids want to drive 1hr plus every day, that’s Wadsworth problem. Let’s be sure not to take it out on those kids or Kittredge.”

    It’s not “Wadsworth’s problem” this is a DCSS problem and a great example of what is fundamentally wrong with our school system. Wadsworth and Kitterdge are both lottery based magnet schools that draw only from children who are high achievers and have parents who are committed to supporting the school. Yet 100+ kids travel past an expensive and underutilized Wadsworth program that (theoretically) offers the same advantages of Kittredge and displace 100 spots in Kittredge that would be attended by children who are zoned to schools that would naturally feed into Kittredge. Why? What is it about the kids and teachers at Wadsworth that makes the program less desirable than Kittredge?

  7. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Hey DSW,
    The transportation $$ to parents is a free money program for sure. That link you gave points to the 2010-2011 budget. Given the budget challenges this year, I thought they cut most if not all of that out.

    PublicSchoolDad
    If those 100+ high achievers didn’t go to Kittredge, I don’t think those spots would be filled by kids zoned for that school. Seems like those spots would go to other high achievers wherever they might be.

    The whole idea of a lottery dilutes the magnet program anyway. The “high achievers” should be ranked and those with the highest scores should get entrance.

  8. PublicSchoolDad says:

    Hey DeKalb Inside Out Re your comment… “I don’t think those spots would be filled by kids zoned for that school.”

    To be clear, there aren’t any kids zoned for Kitteredge, I suggested these seats should go to “…children who are zoned to schools that would naturally feed into Kittredge.” It seems reasonable to suggest that there should be some regional limitations to determine if a kid attended Wadsworth or Kitteredge. Regardless of the method for acceptance (lottery or test score ranking) this would free-up 100+ seats at Kittredge, ensure that Wadsworth was fully utilized, and significantly decrease the related transportation cost.

  9. DeKalb Inside Out: Do you know that for certain? We haven’t seen cuts to the administration of these programs, only to the programs themselves (teachers and staff). Who would know? The HR reports have yet to be complete. We simply cannot tell if cuts have really been made – or if those cuts were made, but people were rehired under another job title.

    Totally agree with you on the admissions issue!

  10. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DSW:
    I was hoping you would know about the transportation. Seems really stupid to pay these people, so my fingers are crossed we aren’t doing that any more.

    PublicSchoolDad,
    Ah … I’m following you. Kittredge is all magnet while Chamblee HS had the combo. Assuming the county doesn’t pay the transportation costs (big assumption), then it shouldn’t matter where the kids in the county come from. If the kids don’t want to go to Wadsworth and got into Kittredge, then we shouldn’t force them into Wadsworth. Wadsworth needs to do whatever to become more appealing to the kids and parents.

  11. PublicSchoolDad says:

    @ DSI ” If the kids don’t want to go to Wadsworth and got into Kittredge, then we shouldn’t force them into Wadsworth. Wadsworth needs to do whatever to become more appealing to the kids and parents.”

    Or… we could acknowledge that the Magent Program is no longer serving its original intended purpose, shut down these schools, and (based on your reasoning) make sure that each local school is doing what is necessary “to become more appealing to the kids and parents.”

  12. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Based on my reasoning, we should shut down all the schools that aren’t doing what is necessary to serve the children and parents. Kittredge appears to be doing what is necessary.

    As far as the original intended purpose of magnets, we’ll save for another thread.

  13. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Nancy Jester (http://whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com) is going public with everything regarding the SACS letter. She has released Dr Atkinson’s response to SACS along with her comments and the other board member’s input.

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