Suit pursues DeKalb superintendent’s text messages

Oh, the twists and turns…

[From the AJC, Posted: 6:14 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, 2012]

Last summer’s budget cuts continue to haunt the DeKalb County school system, with a lawsuit alleging the system violated state law in the way it conducted layoffs and also raising concerns about the superintendent’s text messages.

The suit, filed Monday in DeKalb Superior Court by a former graduation coach, accuses the school system of violating the state open records law in failing to release Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s text messages in connection with the case.

Plaintiff Cynthia Gipson’s attorney, Julie Oinonen, wrote that she filed an open records request for Atkinson’s text messages three months ago based upon tips that their contents were relevant to the case. The system still hasn’t produced them, the suit says.

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23 Responses to Suit pursues DeKalb superintendent’s text messages

  1. DCSS is well-known for ignoring open record requests.

  2. “‘She’s told me that she didn’t, and I believe her,’ Bowers said.”

    Yep. Bowers was paid a lot of money to say that. What lawyer’s gonna say that he doesn’t believe his client? Just like the judge who was paid a lot of money to find that the County was not at fault in the bully-provoked suicide of the young middle school student a few years ago.

    Ramsey, the Honorable State Senator from the 43rd District of Georgia, is as culpable as Atkinson in this matter. He should be joined as a defendant. What a disgrace to the state senate (if it can handle more disgrace) and to the Dekalb County School District (ditto).

  3. another comment says:

    What is amazing is that they offered to settle to avoid the open records request of the texts. Then dumb dumb Atkinson thought that she had the problem solved by breaking her phone. She tells Ramsey she won’t approve the deals.

    Obviously, somebody hasn’t been watching the Andrea Sniederman cross examination in the Hemy Nuemann trial. How the FBI expert pulled the records over a year later of every number along with every time and cell phone that they were texed to and from showed up from Andrea’s cell phone. Along with Hemy’s. Now poor dumb Cheryl, thought she could break her phone. Their needs to be a request of all the numbers called and texted from the phones. The cell phone providers have them. Then a FOI just need to be done to what ever employees the other phone numbers belongs to. ( When cell phones first came out, and were very expensive, the Federal agency I worked for had one lady in Finance calling all the numbers on the cell phones that weren’t work numbers. She then called you up and drilled you on why you called that number. I had called upper management when a retired employee, came by to visit and drove his car through one of the buildings leaving a huge hole in it.).

    I am sure that if some of the people who are at the other end of the texts get FOI’s or eventually supenoa’s for RICO. they will give it up.

    Has the lawyer asked for the texts of the HR director who keeps having the break downs?

  4. Weary worker says:

    I think there may be more going on here. Bowers may have been hired because Atkinson does not trust or had some information that she did not want in the inner circle lawyers and Ramsey to see. This could unravel and be the undoing of several individuals. Or it could be nothing. But this could be the beginning of the end for Atkinson.

  5. another comment says:

    Which Supt. and Board Chair is going to make themself look like the bigger idiot this week. Dekalb, Atlanta, or Clayton? Or will it be all 3?

  6. no name says:

    Dissonancetheory’s sentence should say “Yep. Bowers was paid a lot of YOUR TAX money to say that.” Consider these two other AJC articles:

    November 12 – School board approves hiring lawyer to read superintendent’s text messages:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/school-board-hunts-for-new-lawyer-after-firm-resig/nS48Q/

    November 14 – Law firm [Sutherland Asbill & Brennan] drops DeKalb School Board as client:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/law-firm-drops-dekalb-school-board-as-client/nS6cd/

    Maybe Sutherland decided to walk away before Atkinson becomes the next Kwame Kilpatrick?

  7. no name says:

    Two paragraphs from the WSB-Television report: Lawsuit raises concerns about DeKalb Schools corruption

    “Gipson’s attorney, Julie Oinonen, sent a statement to Channel 2 Action News saying, “Our law firm was informed that the Superintendent did not want the text messages to go public and that as a result she was willing to offer Ms. Gipson and up to 11 of our clients their jobs back, not just for this year but also a guaranteed contract for next year as well in exchange for us withdrawing the open records demand for her text messages. We accepted in writing the offer that had been sent to us by the Chief Legal Officer of DeKalb County School District Senator Ronald Ramsey on the Superintendent’s behalf.”

    “For the Superintendent’s high priced law firm paid by the taxpayers to claim no text messages is absolutely preposterous. For the school district to have backtracked out of this agreement violates our RIF’d clients rights. We received a tip in August that relevant evidence was located in those text messages and over the past several months our law firm, Senator Emmanuel Jones and the news media have demanded these text messages. We call upon our leadership to stop this cover up and comply with Georgia law,” the statement concluded.”

    The full article is at this link:
    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/lawsuit-raises-concerns-about-dekalb-schools-corru/nTMt3/

  8. thedeal2 says:

    There is definitely something shifty going on here. Too many coincidences. How do we keep hiring criminals to be our superintendent?

  9. plusone says:

    If I did not have children in this county….i would be able to enjoy this soap opera as it unravels….cheryl thought she was untouchable because she was coming in to “save” us….thought we wouldnt ask questions…o my how this will play out…

  10. plusone says:

    So lets summarize…..the board authorized funding for a former general attorney to represent Atkinson…..and the board has secured Sutherlin law firm to investigate if Atkinson has some text messages….so we are double paying for the countys refusal to comply with Open Records Act…….lordy lordy

  11. another comment says:

    Amazing! Tonight WSB had the PTA complaining that MLK High School was on it’s Third Principal of the School Year. Atkinson refused to comment and referred them to her paid communication consultant. He replied, that the first Principal was more suited to be an Elementary School Principal ( say what, real deflamation), the next principal was temporary ( they seem not to have told anyone this). Now the third one of the year will start on Monday, two weeks before break what an odd start date.

  12. Concernedmom30329 says:

    MLK had some discipline issues at the beginning of the year and it ended up on TV, if I recall correctly. (Someone correct me if I am wrong.)
    Dr. Atkinson and her top crony, Ms. March, hate publicity of any kind and react swiftly if a school ends up in the news. I think the first principal was suppose to be a good guy (again correct me if I am wrong.)
    But to summarize, Dr. Atkinson wants schools to stay out of the news. Or else…. Great leadership strategy, eh?

  13. Redan a long time ago says:

    Is this the best the Atlanta media can do? Those of us that read DSW and have children in the system know that this is a bonfire waiting for a match. AJC, WSB, somebody get off your duff and get to the bottom of this. “News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising. The power is to set the agenda. What we print and what we don’t print matter a lot.”
    – Katharine Graham

  14. plusone says:

    Atkinson wants all the publicity for herself….I really hope outraged parents and employees show up tomorrow…lets show them we care and will hold them all accountable. Do we have eta for the sacs report?

  15. no name says:

    Concernedmom30329 @ December 5, 2012 at 7:41 PP – check out the DSW2 gallery “Do We Have a Principal Problem in Dekalb?” from October 4:
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/do-we-have-a-principal-problem-in-dekalb/
    (Can somebody point out that discussion to MLK’s PTA President?)

    Everett Patrick was the Principal at MLK at the beginning of the school year. Atkinson and March removed him after a teacher left some students alone and a consensual oral sex act happened. Mr. Patrick had been in limbo until this Monday, which was when he was assigned to be Principal of a south Dekalb elementary school.

    MLK’s second Principal left because of the pending cut in benefits from the Georgia Teachers Retirement System; Maureen described this cut in her November 30 Get Schooled blog entry “Nearly 2,000 school employees retire tomorrow to avoid benefit loss”:
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/11/30/nearly-2000-school-employees-retire-tomorrow-to-avoid-benefit-loss/

  16. Prisscei says:

    @Plusone Dec. 8 th. I too watch the news and think “this is so juicy” and then my memory is jogged…wait a minute. I got a kid in this county. Then I get mad.

  17. Isn’t MLK’s PTA president Jay Cunningham’s wife?

  18. Undercover reformer says:

    Yes – PTA pres = mrs Cunningham. And not the one from Happy Days.

  19. Blindsided says:

    SACS report, according to Nov. 20 article citing Elgart, would be released in two weeks. Hmmmm….today is two weeks and two days. (But who expected anything announced regarding this issue to be the truth, or on time?)

  20. insider says:

    Patrick is a successful principal who inherited a mess from the previous two and has worked hard to turn things around. His entire career has been at the high-school level and his management style is well suited there. He was thrown to the wolves by Atkinson and then further insulted in the media by implying that he can’t hack it at the HS level. This a typical MO for Atkinson and March. I am comforted by the thought that this wrong and all the others perpetrated by this administration will be drawing to a close soon. Karma is already in the works for Ramsey. HR and Federal Programs can’t be far behind.

  21. insider says:

    She can fire them all for doing her bidding and/or being incompetent (after she put them in place) but it wont be enough to deflect attention away from her dirty ways. She’s going down.

  22. DeKalb Observer says:

    Watch your bank account, MLK PTA. And why not place a call to J. Tom Morgan re: the Tucker Tucks gymnastics budget? Ms. Cunningham, handled the club’s money in 2008, and her irregular accounting practices should be of grave concern to any non-profit. And yes, please read between the lines.

  23. no name says:

    I still think MLK’s PTA President needs to see the DSW2 gallery “Do We Have a Principal Problem in Dekalb?” from October 4:
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/do-we-have-a-principal-problem-in-dekalb/

    Being the spouse of a board member, she is in the perfect position to ask questions. For example, as DSW2 blog was notifying the community that DCS had a Principal Problem, shouldn’t the board’s sole employee (Atkinson) have been telling the board about the problem as well? Think of where that conversation could lead – “Honey, what else is being reported on DSW2 that you are not being told about”?

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