This article is being written with the expectation that DSW risks retaliation by Atkinson, Marsh, Ramsey and their minions. They have already given us a taste of their arrogant determination to withhold information from public view by demanding a total upfront payment of $10,888 and telling us it will take a total of 223 business days for them to make the information available. Of that, $10,500 is to provide information on the cars DCSS owns and who they are assigned to, as well as a list of 1099 Forms since 2005, if possible. So now we know what they particularly do NOT want us to know.
DCSS files must be mostly manual and a mess! Regular readers of DSW may recall that a request for an electronic copy of the Ernst and Young 2004 Study ultimately led to 4 bank boxes of mostly undated photocopies, many of which were duplicates and triplicates. (That’s approximately 40 reams of paper – 20,000 sheets – a couple of trees’ worth.) This is unacceptable considering the number of highly paid secretaries and other similar functionaries on the payroll. More than 11% of the employees on the attached org chart are classified as “Secretary.” And that does not include other similar jobs such as “Office Specialist,” “Administrative Assistant,” “Executive Assistant,” “Executive Administrative Assistant” and “Receptionist.”
DSW’s Open Records Requests and DCSS’s very late responses are available on the blog website under DSW Files.
Under the auspices of Georgia’s Open Records law, DSW requested the current DeKalb County Schools organization chart, with employee names and titles. After several weeks with no response in any manner to a request (dated August 29, 2012) sent directly to Atkinson’s e-mail – DCSS claimed they never received the e-mail, although ReadNotify told us that Atkinson simply doesn’t bother to open her e-mail – we finally received a response, after some prodding, (dated September 27, 2012) containing a 16-page org chart without names, dated August 28, 2012, and an undated (typical for DCSS) Excel-based roster (16 spreadsheets) of Palace employees by division.
Score one for Atkinson, her Palace Guard and her flying monkeys (per The Wizard of Oz).
After investing untold hours matching up employee names and stated job titles with the job titles on the massive org chart we have reached an inescapable, critical conclusion:
Atkinson, et al, have no idea who is working for DeKalb County Schools, what they are doing (including their correct job titles) and their pay grades.
And that begs the question: Why wouldn’t a superintendent worth his or her salt know exactly how the org chart is made up – who, where, what and how much? How could decisions be made regarding who to keep and who to cut if you don’t know who, where, what and how much? Unless, of course, personnel decisions have nothing to do with reality and everything to do with friends-and-family connections.
How’s that been working out for ya?
DeKalb County Schools is a billion-dollar business – a billion dollar tax-supported non-profit – that pays way over market rate for its friends-and-family employees in the Palace.
The organization chart and employee roster was sloppily done and incomplete. Excellence is not on anyone’s radar at the Palace.
Here are examples of the blatant spelling errors that jumped out from these documents (we weren’t proofreading): supeonas instead of subpoenas; assistaint instead of assistant; communittee instead of community; adimisrative instead of administrative; rounting instead of routing. <SIGH>
We are attaching the documents that we worked with. These are the same documents sent by Atkinson on September 27, 2012 in response to our Open Records Request (which are still available, un-annotated, in DSW Files). We did not change the documents in any way except:
(1) we used a color-coding system to try to make sense of what we were given;
(2) we alphabetized the job titles to make it somewhat easier to find them on the org chart pages;
(3) we totaled the salaries in each division/department; and
(4) we changed the salary column to the accounting format because that also lines up decimal points and makes salaries easier to read – although, most certainly, not easier to swallow.
The color code we used is as follows:
- Bright Yellow on the roster means we cannot find a match between the roster and the org chart. Please note that we were looking for exact job titles – i.e., Coordinator II instead of just Coordinator because Coordinator II implies different responsibilities and a different pay grade. So, if we could not match up a person’s exact job title with the exact same title on the org chart, it is probably highlighted in bright yellow. There were a few minor exceptions.
- Light Blue on the roster means a match.
- Light Pink on the roster with a red oval around the job title on the org chart is also a match. It simply means there was not enough space on the chart to insert names.
Here, in no particular order, are things we noted because we find them questionable:
- There is a huge discrepancy between the various division heads in the span of control they are expected to manage, yet all division heads are paid exactly the same, regardless of responsibility and education. Howe and Wilkins seem to have the most responsibility and apparently are the work horses.
- All Kendra March, FF (Friends-and-Family), is in charge of, on paper, is the “Leadership” Division. Interestingly, in her division she pays Linda D. Frazier (another FF?) $84,000 for a part-time position – yes, that’s right, a part-time job – for the highly questionable Aspiring Leaders program.
- Gary Brantley, FF, is in charge of the huge and hugely ineffective Information Technology Division built by Ramona Howell Tyson, who is still on the payroll, doing nothing much and being paid 85% of the superintendent’s salary. An informal review of board meetings shows near constant requests (and approvals) for funds to purchase computers and to pay for IT service contracts – all approved with little-or-no question by the board. Yet, DCSS does not have enough computers for students to use for state mandated testing.
- We know there have been many thefts of computers (and other valuable items), none of which have been replaced because DCSS is “self-insured.” Maybe it is time to do a cost analysis and think about getting “real” insurance? You know – insurance that comes from a for-profit company who will investigate these repeated “losses” and consider fraud and insider thefts.
- Many columns on the spreadsheets were “hidden.” When we “unhid” them we found lots of missing department numbers and EID (employee identification) numbers. The interesting thing to know about the EIDs is that the first 4 digits are the year the employee was hired. With complete and correct EIDs it is possible to determine whether the board’s directive concerning hiring was followed or not. There should be very few – i.e., fewer than a dozen – EIDs beginning with 2010, 2011 or 2012.
- Based on the critical missing information and some of the questionable names used, we wonder if the DCSS employee roster consists of “ghost employees”? Ghost employees don’t really exist, but nevertheless manage to cash their paychecks. We also believe that nepotism is far more rampant than anyone knows.
At the least, the information we mined from the DCSS Central Office employee roster (526 employees at a cost of more than $40 million per year and growing) and the “related” org chart should make a very strong case for 3 smaller, very transparent, less expensive, more effective and more manageable school systems in DeKalb County, Georgia.