SACS team on site investigating DeKalb Schools

DeKalb County Schools are coming under fresh scrutiny, as a SACS accrediting team just arrived to investigate how the district operates.

Click here to watch the 11Alive video report. In it, Mark Elgart says, “The problem is this board isn’t a board anymore. It’s nine political figures with their own interests.”

11Alive’s Donna Lowery also reports that the district has completed a “complete forensic audit of the district by an outside agency”.

We’d like to see the results of that audit.

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15 Responses to SACS team on site investigating DeKalb Schools

  1. The video says a “complete” forensic audit, not completed.

    I asked Dr. Atkinson about the forensic audit Tuesday night at the Tucker High School parent meeting. She said the auditors told her they planned to be done at the end of this month. She then hemmed and hawed and talked about maybe it won’t be done. It sounded to me as though she isn’t expecting it at the end of the month. I then asked it the results/findings will be made public. I specifically asked if they will be posted on the DCSD web site and Dr. Atkinson said they would.

    For anyone planning to attend one of the upcoming “parent round tables” please know that Dr. Atkinson is not answering any of the questions that were submitted through email. She only speaks for about 3 minutes then introduces her deputies who each speak for 1 minute. Then all the principals in the region are introduced so parents will be able to put a face to their school. After that they break the parents into small groups and have them discuss questions about parent involvement and communication. These groups are led by principals. None of the higher ups talk to parents or answer questions.

    Nobody takes questions from the parents and none of the submitted questions are discussed. The only time Dr. Atkinson answers questions is after she closes the meeting and steps away from the podium.

    Unless you want to discuss parental involvement and communication don’t waste your time.

  2. thedeal2 says:

    Mr. Lunde, thank you for your update. I was thinking about going to the one at Dunwoody, but I don’t think I will now. I remember going to a similar type of thing for the redistricting, and I didn’t feel like my voice was heard. It sounds like this is the same type of thing.

  3. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    They (Central Office) do not and will never care about the students or parents! This outrages me, Atkinson can not face the stakeholders and honestly say anything is better at DCSS. She will leave that task to her other six figure employees… Dr. Atkinson I can talk to my principal and my Board Member any weekday and via email at other times. I do not get a chance to ask you questions face to face. Why won’t you stand before the parents and students to answer our questions……

  4. howdy1942 says:

    I hope that this SACS visit will bring some resolution to the issues regarding the Dekalb County School System management, its governance and, most of all, to the beleaguered residents of this County. Our people have suffered too much and for too long with this school board. Although we have replaced Mr. Womack in the 4th District and elected Nancy Jester, the “five” remain in control and that doesn’t appear likely to change.

    I very reluctantly decided to vote for Amendment 1 for charter schools. Three big factors in my decision have names – Walker, Cunningham, Copelin-Wood. If SACS cannot help us to bring an end to this pitiful example of a school board, then I hope that charter schools will.

    Given that most of the issues with the Dekalb County School System reside with the Board and with the Superintendent, it is disconcerting to see the Superintendent stand in front of the people for such a brief time. In this instance, this is not effective delegation of authority – Dr. Atkinson needs to answer questions. Principals are concerned with specific schools – these issues are system wide. Perhaps the major issue is that the people do not have any confidence in this Superintendent nor do they have any confidence in the Board.

    I’m just amazed that Walker is so tone-deaf to the issues, that he knows of no mismanagement at the School Board, and that he has no interest in listening to the people. Perhaps the biggest lie that I have heard lately is that Walker “welcomes” SACS. I just hope that SACS brought a big two-by four.

  5. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    I feel SACS is going to go after Jester and the ones who are actually trying to make a difference. Why else would Dr. i see color Walker welcome SACS. Atkinson’s staff claims Jester asks for too many documents and bothers them too often. Well, if Atkinson and her staff would do their job, maybe Jester would not have ask for so many documents to prove the staff is actually doing their jobs!

    SACS is sent a nice check quarterly from our fine DCSS CFOs office. Why would SACS come after the folks who actually write the checks to them… This is just one of the nefarious actions by SACS that drives me crazy! A FOR profit corporation advancED holds schools hostage with accreditation until they buy their products… Sounds like a mafia to me……..

  6. We agree! If DCSS would just be transparent with documents that we have every right to see … And, if they weren’t corrupt and perpetrating fraud, they wouldn’t mind the transparency.

    May we also say that AdvancED holds schools hostage with WORTHLESS accreditation until schools fork over ridiculous amounts of cash. The Georgia Accrediting Commission, located at UGA, actually has much more effective standards and requirements than SACS. SACS standards are filled with BS. The Georgia Accrediting Commission is so much cheaper and so much more effective than SACS.

  7. thedeal2 says:

    I bet the Georgia Accrediting Commission wouldn’t touch DCSD with a ten foot pole. When the Titanic was 90% underwater, was there any point in saving it or just start over with a new boat?

  8. We completely agree. Eventually the fabric of the organization is so damaged that patch, patch, patch is not enough. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Because of its pear shape, DeKalb County lends itself to being re-arranged into 3 school districts: north, southeast and southwest. This does not necessarily mean that Atkinson and her crew are out of a job. The part of south DeKalb County that supported hiring Atkinson (through the school board members they continue to vote into office) can have a ready-made superintendent and staff experienced at handling a smaller school system. This means that nothing much has to change for them. So many others in south DeKalb still lament the loss of Johnny Brown. Maybe they could tempt him to come back and work with his nephew. Everything changes, though, for north DeKalb — and they are up to the task.

  9. howdy1942 says:

    Nancy Jester is one of the few who bring some intelligence and diligence to the School Board. Had the board in place at the time asked more questions of Crawford Lewis, that mess may well have been nipped in the bud. Remember that the Board did not discover this mess – it was a state legislator!

    I am encouraged that SACS finds the issues at the School Board and that will be the focus of any action they may take. Nancy Jester is not the problem – she’s only been there for two years. The issues with the School Board predate her arrival. They have been compounded with a very flawed Superintendent search and a much less-than-unanimous vote for Dr. Atkinson.

    I agree with DSW that we need a housecleaning and that needs to start at the top. One thing that I believe that all residents of this County want is better management and better decisions from the school system that educates our children. We are not getting that from this Board nor from this Superintendent.

  10. I realize that the Charter amendment is important, and that it is a state-wide issue. I really hope that, after the election, or maybe before, DSW can zoom is public laser back to the horrific administration of Dekalb schools, county-wide and local-school.

    Teachers and other schoolhouse employees feel somewhat neglected by this focus on a state-wide issue. I know it will affect us locally, in each of our schools, but there’s so much in Dekalb that new charter schools will not fix. Think of the people who choose to remain employed here, despite the woeful treatment we receive, because we can’t abandoned these kids. Especially, since Mr. Dickerson has said that Dekalb plans to balance its budget by staff attrition–meaning teachers who leave probably won’t be replaced and our classe-sized numbers will continue to creep up.

    We can’t abandoned kids who have no option but to attend Dekalb schools to the monster Lewis, Tyson, Atkinson with the acquiescence of the various Boards that have been elected during this long downward spiral.

    Dekalb is benefitting from the negative publicity provoked by APS, so the beam ain’t aimed at them. Nothing substantive in the AJC as a major SACS investigation is taking place and a mother says her son brought a gun into a Dekalb school because he was being bullied. And Mr. Dickinson’s deflecting what’s flying from the fan with all the professional aplomb and utter ignorance of what goes on in a classroom in Dekalb County.

  11. Geez…all the mistakes above. Oh well, it was hot from the pen.

  12. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Funny, I hear a lot of questions being asked by Jester, Edler, Speaks but I never get to hear the resolution or the answer. I advocate for an agenda item be added to the meeting for the staff to answer the questions asked by the board to be answered publicly from the previous meeting. Yes this would lead to other discussions but we don’t get to hear the answers and usually these folks are asking the questions that their constituents are asking the board member. What I hear is a lot of “We’ll get that to you” but I never hear the actual answer. Why shouldn’t they keep asking, If staff did their job there wouldn’t be a problem.

  13. psdad says:

    @ “I advocate for an agenda item be added to the meeting for the staff to answer the questions asked by the board to be answered publicly from the previous meeting. ”

    What kind of nitwit actually gives a comment like this a “thumbs down”?


  14. psdad says:

    DSW @ “the accomplishments listed include reference to “a complete forensic audit of the district’s financial records by an outside agency.”

    Would you consider submitting a FOI request related to this? If so, it would probably be best to address the request as 4 Seperate FOI requests. 1) A full copy of the final signed contract with the firm that was selected to perform the forensic audit; 2) a copy of the the most recent draft report(s) prepared by the firm conducting the audit and/or 3) any written correspondence (directed to Atkinson or the CFO) summarizing results of the draft audit; 4) any email/elctronic correspondence directed to or originating from Dr. Atkinson over the past 45-days that references the audit results, audit process, or any other aspect of the audit.

  15. Yes, we will submit an Open Records Request for this information.

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