More mounting legal fees in DeKalb schools

After stating publicly at the Emory Lavista Parent Council meeting that she gave Ron Ramsey a promotion and a raise to run an internal legal division in order to save money on outside law firms, we now learn that Dr. Atkinson told the Grand Jury that we are actually on track to spend at least $6 million over budget on outside legal fees for FY2013.

This is from today’s Champion News:

DeKalb Schools Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson told a DeKalb County grand jury that the school district, due to pending litigation, will be spending $6 million more than anticipated this year.

Last year, Atkinson told the grand jury that the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) accrued legal fees in excess of $3 million over its budget. She told jurors that the budget for the 2012-13 school year will need to be adjusted.

Currently, the district employs two legal teams and is involved in a lawsuit with construction firm Heery International, which has cost the district more than $30 million to date. The trial is expected to begin in February.

Click to read more…

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53 Responses to More mounting legal fees in DeKalb schools

  1. educator90 says:

    Yes, but it’s a welfare Christmas, and DeKalb Tax Payers are on the hook for the gifts, while the people who truly deserve something (the teachers) keep getting the shaft.

    The four that didn’t show up for this vote disappoint me. The position of school board is a paid position, yes, I know they don’t get paid enough, but welcome to the world of the teachers, and they should have been there regardless of other obligations once they knew the agenda. This was an important vote and their presence could have made the difference in voting this raise down.

    The more Atkinson pulls, the more I see with clearer and clearer vision, that she has not a clue at what she is doing. Doesn’t understand budgeting or finances or the economic conditions of the county or school system. She needs to go and not fast enough.

    I keep praying that SACS will step in and put a stop to this madness. But I have a feeling that they could be in on this corruption as well.

  2. Ijustworkhere says:

    We all need to do what Samuel L. Jackson promotes in his Atlanta Falcons advertisements and
    ” Rise Up!”
    No one should be getting a rasie. No one. Doctorate degrees…..invest in yourself….and stop taking advantange of a corrupt system. The doctorate doesn’t make anyone respect you anymore. The board is a joke. The Super is a joke…..It’s all a really bad joke.

  3. mojo says:

    This was a power play by the superintendent. Why do you think she did this? Voting against her will get you tagged by SACS for not being a team player. Voting for this will make you look out of touch. The board already voted this down. It is interesting that they added this item at the last minute when some board members wouldn’t be there. This had to be planned. SACS protects superintendents. They protect the pecking order of the superintendent keeping the board in line. Unless voters wake up and take the power back from unelected superintendents they will always be able to do this kind of thing. Serious. Power. Play.

  4. PublicSchoolDad says:

    FYI Re the SPLOST oversight committee

    I received a letter from the Executive Director of (Facilities?) informing me that I was not selected to interview for the SPLOST oversight committee as there were many more experience candidates the pool of (60) applicants. Now a little background from a msg that I posted here a couple months ago….

    ( I have) “…a masters degree in accounting and finance, >16 years of financial and operational due diligence involving institutions in almost every imaginable industry, complex commercial development experience, experience developing budgets and financial statements for large commercial and industrial developments, ample time advising C-level clients, and more… If I don’t get a call for at least a brief interview, the selection wasn’t likely based on qualifications.”

    I will be interested to see who was selected for these positions and I hope and pray that they truly are more qualified.

  5. concernforthekids says:

    I want to see the resume’s of the SPLOST oversight committee also.
    This is a HUGE accountability issue that requires transparency.
    If DCSD wants to change their corrupt ways, especially with the billion $$$ construction fund, then transparency and accountability are required to gain public trust.
    I guarantee you that we can see a drastic decline in student achievement when the SPLOST funds starting to roll into DCSD 15 years ago.
    The administration chuck full of teachers found $100,000,000 to spend on friends and family and they lost their focus on the one mission why they are here.
    As newly elected board member McMahan says, instruction before Construction!!!!

  6. concernedmom30329 says:

    You do realize the funds aren’t interchangeable, right?
    In fact, I would argue that the issue isn’t SPLOST itself, but rather the mismanagement of it. We had a desperate need for renovations and new classrooms and SPLOST isn’t a bad vehicle to fund it. It is just that a pool of money so large can lead to both corruption and bad decisions.

    PS — If McMahan is a friend of yours, tell him to file his Personal Financial Disclosure form as required by the state ethics board. It doesn’t look good that he hasn’t done it.

  7. We will follow up on this. What is the due date for the Personal Financial Disclosure Form?

  8. concernedmom30329 says:

    To search all records by candidate or elected official:

    To specifically search for late filers, search here:

    Many DeKalb Board members have outstanding reports due and fines associated with missing deadlines. The GA Commission emails candidates and reminds them of deadlines. I called to ask.

  9. momintheknow says:

    The GA Commission has had lots of problems with their reporting. This includes their website not working and incorrectly generating late filings. I am sure they do the best they can but they aren’t funded properly by the state so it is hard for them to keep track. If someone has not filed at all, that would be an issue.

  10. concernedmom30329 says:

    Right. And if you double check, you will find that Marshall is reported as not filing in one case, but shows up as having filed in the other. (Postmarked on the due date.) Thus, I didn’t mention him.
    It has been months since the deadline — and yet no report from McMahan. There are a variety of reports that are required. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that there was more than one. This one, the Personal Financial Disclosure Form, is a one time a year report . It was due June 7th. It is different from the campaign contribution reports that he did file.

  11. whoshelpingthekids says:

    @PublicSchoolDad: did they say when the committee would be announced?? The deadline to apply was early June, right?

  12. PublicSchoolDad says:

    WHTK.. @ “did they say when the committee would be announced?”

    No. The letter did not indicated how many were selected to “interview” or when the committee members would be announced.

    Honestly, I get more offended every day as I think about this pay raise that Atkinson pushed through for her newly minted Executive Directors. Our teachers have been forced to take on additional responsibility, teach classrooms of 30+ kids, forced to take pay cuts, forced to pay more for health benefits, and do more with less. I haven’t heard of anyone in the central office that had to take a pay cut and I’m not sure that more than a few administrative positions were let go during the layoffs (without a new org chart we will never really know). Yet this “leader” is detached enough to suggest that these four people deserve a raise because of their increased responsibility? I think that this is a telling example of how completely clueless Dr. Atkinson is. Under Dr. A’s administration, there is no balanced budget, we don’t have an updated org chart or final list of the people and positions cut, our legal cost and utilities have for exceeded projections (once again), our kids are being neglected for 2+ weeks so teachers can conduct baseline testing as a requirement of receiving “race to the top funds” that disappear into friend and family pockets and never benefit the classroom, SACS has finally been forced to conduct a “formal review” of DCSS, the state has put the system on a “State Remedial Budget Plan”… it goes on.

    What are Dr. Atkinsons achievements to date? She has successfully petitioned for a new car, added several new executive level positions, requested and received raises for her new executives, increased her personal discretionary office budget to several million $, and increased to her discretionary spend amount for “consultants” ($100k per consultant with no cap on total spend).

    I think her actions have made it pretty clear that Dr. A is focused more on her personal scorecard than she is on student achievement and learning environment. She needs to go and the state needs to set-up an independent board to oversee the selection of person to fill her position.


    The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a work session & meeting at 6:00pm, Monday, October 1, 2012, in the J. David Williamson Board Room in the Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center at the DeKalb County School System’s Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain.

    Meeting information can be accessed online by going to:, click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting agenda\information.

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