Petition to the Governor — Please SIGN

We believe that DeKalb County Schools is so deeply corrupt that it is not fixable. There is a cancer of corruption, theft, fraud, incompetence and assorted ethics offenses. It is a cancer that is inoperable. The body cannot be saved. Therefore, in the next legislative session beginning in January, we support removing that 8-word sentence in the Georgia Constitution that currently prevents creating additional smaller school systems. That will enable creating city-based, smaller, transparent, honest, more responsive, more effective school systems. Even the school system that will be reconstituted to serve unincorporated DeKalb will be better because the cancer will be gone.

However, all that said … for now, it is time to swiftly hold accountable those who brought this school system to its knees. One way to do that is for Governor Deal to remove the board, including the newly elected members. A petition that you may sign that will go to Governor Deal is on the AJC’s Get Schooled blog. For your convenience we have included the link to the petition here.

This next petition is the one that was started by a high school student. Sign this one, too, and forward it to your friends – as well as broadcast both petitions on Facebook:

“Here’s why it’s important that you sign BOTH of these petitions — and ask your friends to sign, too:

“Dekalb County School Board members have apparently strayed from their focus on their fiduciary duty to Dekalb County’s next generation and devolved into political bickering and self-serving power struggles. Strong action by the State School Board and the Governor IS REQUIRED IMMEDIATELY. SACS closing comments: ‘Despite attempts of various experts and organizations to bring about sustained change in the culture and operation of the Board of Education, extensive efforts, costs and resources expended in this endeavor appear to have been wasted…as soon as the monitoring concluded and members were left to self-regulate, their own patterns of behavior re-emerged…if not corrected immediately thousands of Dekalb County students will be negatively impacted for years to come.’”

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This entry was posted in DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, Fraud & Corruption, Friends-and-Family, Gene Walker, Georgia State Board of Education, Ramona Howell Tyson, SACS/Accreditation, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Petition to the Governor — Please SIGN

  1. Signed and posted on all facebook pages- This small action can make a difference.

  2. howdy1942 says:

    I’m not sure what you are saying. Are you asking the Governor to take action to change the amendment banning the formation of additional school districts? Or are you asking the Governor to remove the current School Board?

    For what it is worth, now is not the time to seek change to the amendment in order to create smaller, city-based school districts. That will take time and that will take votes. We don’t have that time – we have one year to fix the problems outlined by SACS. Fixing the problem just in North Dekalb or just in Dunwoody or just in Brookhaven falls far short of what SACS is asking us to do. We must work to fix all of Dekalb. If we don’t, we will lose our accreditation. I shudder to think what that would mean to our children, to our people, to our property values (what’s left), and to our State, for that matter.

    If you are seeking to remove the school board, then I support that strongly and sooner rather than later. We need all the time we can get to turn these problems around to the extent that SACS will be satisfied. We don’t have 30 days to wait for the State School Board to convene and do what it does, nor do we have time for that Board to prepare a recommendation for the Governor, nor do we have a lot of time for the Governor to ponder this matter. SACS has cited clear evidence of wrongdoing. For example, the AJC reports that Chairman Walker sent an email to Superintendent Atkinson strongly “encouraging” her to consider a “brother of a member of the Board” for a vacant position.. That is interference by a member of the Board in the administrative process of the school system. That was done AFTER SACS had specifically warned the Board of such conduct. If true, Chairman Walker’s action is willful, it is flagrant, and it directly violates the SACS warning. Just today, the AJC quoted Walker as saying “I’ve done something wrong. I just don’t know what”. What? I can’t believe that – a man with a PhD from Duke University saying something like that. Read the SACS report and think!

    Dekalb County is the third largest school district in the State. It borders the entire east side of Atlanta, the State’s largest city that is responsible for 50% of the State’s economy. The Atlanta City Public School System has major problems of its own as does Clayton. While I don’t agree with him on every issue, I have to believe that Governor Deal is well aware of the risks he would take if he did not address the situation in Dekalb. I hope that he will take that action.

    Let’s focus on fixing the problems that SACS defined. Time is passing – December 13, 2013, will be here before we know it. Let’s get ready. The School Board must go – now. I have written my State Senator, my State Representative, and the Governor call for just such action.

  3. We believe that the only reasons Dr. Walker ran for the school board seat is to a) have some “walking around money” and b) protect jobs and contracts for his friends and family. He thought he could manipulate the issuance of bonds (his son works in bond sales) on the school board as he did on the DeKalb Development Authority. He even accepted nearly $20,000 from the Sembler Development Company for his campaign as insurance to achieving his goal.

    He advances his agenda by convincing his black constituents that white people are out to get them while simultaneously arranging for quid pro quo with his wealthy white constituents in Druid Hills. When the truth is, under his leadership, the test scores and graduation rates for African-American students has plummeted. He and his block of five, do not understand and perhaps do not care to find out how to protect spending and provide a quality education for all 100,000 students in DeKalb. Gene Walker and the rest of the board should be replaced with a state-appointed, professional board of trustees. The school system should go into receivership ASAP. Perhaps Nancy Jester could serve as their consultant in order to help them uncover and remedy the immense problems she was able to identify in the budget and human resources division. A full, forensic audit should be conducted along with this new leadership. There is no way to fix issues that those in charge are not aware of. Identify them and then set up a new, reliable system of checks and balances. And post it online for taxpayers to review at any given time.

  4. Mark says:

    I signed the petition with the following note:

    As a parent of a toddler who will enter the public school system in the near future, it saddens and angers me that when I began to research the Dekalb County School System, all i could find was neglect, corruption, nepotism and greed. So much so, that we are now trying to decide whether Dekalb is the right place for us to raise a family. We love our neighborhood, our neighbors and the cultural and social opportunities that exist in North Decatur. However, my daughter will spend the vast majority of her childhood in school – a school that is being lead by a board that consistently fails our children and teachers. A board, and administration, that wastes, or can’t account for, millions of our tax dollars, has shown only regression in school performance, and values their own friends and family at the expense of our children. All of this despite more and more revenues being added to the school system’s budget.

    It’s time to start over, to bring real structure, accountability and transparency to our county school system. Please Governor, replace this board and bring real change to the deserving residence and children of Dekalb.

  5. The two Petitions to Governor Deal have been live for more than 20 hours. There are only 154 signatures on one and only 314 signatures on the other as of 8:25 PM. What is the matter with those of you who have not signed? Why are you not signing?

  6. Also, in the SACS report, there is no mention of Ramona Tyson and the board ignoring state law. According to the state:

    HB 1013
    – Local school boards must publish an annual summary of their SPLOST finances showing each project, original estimated costs, current estimated costs, amount expended last year and in the current year.

    Tyson and the board never filed this report for 2010-2011. They have had no repercussion for their flagrant disregard for the laws of the state.

  7. We have to wonder also if SACS is aware of yet another relative of Gene Walkers who was RIF’d as a math teacher at $35,243, then rehired with a job title “school leadership” at $104,359. This person shows up on the fired since 9/15/2011 list and now show up in the 11/30/2012 central office staff report. When presented to the board at the meeting, TekShia Ward-Smith stated that no board members were on the list. Walker did not speak up either.

  8. Other actions you can take: Write the Governor and Fran Millar.

    You can email Governor Nathan Deal your thoughts regarding his appointing a new Board of Education for DeKalb County Schools by clicking on the link below. He now has the power to do this since SACS has put the school system on probation:

    And here is a statement from Fran Millar’s Facebook page:

    I with other members of the DeKalb delegation will be meeting with Governor’s office on this matter after the holidays. I need to review the entire report since ONLY the media was invited to the press conference

    Further to the suspension below, the State Board is required to to conduct a hearing in not less than10 days nor more than 30 days and recommend to the Governor whether to suspend all eligible members of the local board. I will monitor the State Board to make sure the law is followed.

  9. PI says:

    @DSW I have signed the petition and I have put it out there on Facebook, as a result, my family has spread the petition as well. We just need to get more exposure for the petition.

  10. Another very important reason to stop this board has to do with the ever-changing “redistricting” and SPLOST construction plans and the redistricting plans they blindly approve from staff. We are very confused due to the constant updates and serious changes to plans as they are presented to communities over and over again. It’s like a lightning fast shell game and if you can’t keep up, you will find your school has closed and you never saw it coming!

    Below is a DCSS response to the Evansdale communities’ questions on the subject, which appears to say that ‘buildings’ have nothing to do with ‘attendance lines’ and the redistricting plan isn’t really a redistricting plan, according to administration:

    “We thank you for the note of concern. For clarity purposes, the discussion with the BOE is about buildings – not lines – as has been reported in the media.

    “Consequently, we are revising the slide presentation for January to simplify and clarify that a list of schools is all that is needed for state purposes. We will show our current list of schools and update that list with the SPLOST IV new buildings and any decommissioned buildings in the outyears.

    “Approval of that updated list of buildings is all that is needed for us to participate in the state capital outlay program. (And we can make amendments later if needed.) Therefore, you can expect minimal discussion, if any, about boundary lines since the state does not require this information. The proposed school organization is not a redistricting plan as reported in the media.

    “In January, we will clarify the state’s paperwork requirement and present a new slide presentation to share with the public for its understanding and feedback. We will underscore that any discussion about lines and boundaries, if needed, would take place sometime in the future and in a separate, detailed public process as has happened in the past.

    “Thank you for your time and effort to send this note. I trust this response helps to resolve your concerns. Please help by letting others know that we are working to clear up this discussion with a completely revised slide presentation. Be assured that we are listening to you. Please enjoy the holidays.”

  11. Additionally, how many of you are aware that the canine units were quietly disbanded? That’s understandable if we truly can’t afford it, but we don’t recall a public board vote on the issue and further, nothing has been done with these highly trained dogs. We’re told they are living as pets with the officers. There has been no partnership with DeKalb County police to utilize these valuable crime stoppers.

  12. And again, Gene Walker has been questionable since the get-go:

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009
    The Latest Update on the Sembler Proposal for a Tax Abatement

    Reposting – from the old blog –

    Monday, January 5, 2009
    Dr. Eugene Walker – Someone to Watch…

    Did you know…

    Dr. Eugene Walker – our newly elected representative for District 9 on the DeKalb County School Board – has also served on numerous boards for the county – and currently STILL serves as the Chair of the DeKalb Development Authority?

    Did you know that the DeKalb County School Board and the DeKalb Development Authority are not his only responsibilities? Eugene Walker currently serves as the Chairman of The Private Hospital Authority of DeKalb County and The Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly of DeKalb County as well.

    Development Authorities were created by the Georgia General Assembly in for the purpose of promoting trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities for the public good and to promote the general welfare of the State. The Development Authority of DeKalb County was established in 1974 to promote economic development within DeKalb. It assists in financing business facilities and equipment for job creation and expansion. Do these goals align or conflict with the goals of a school system?

    Did you know that the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia deemed the practice of using school taxes to fund developments known as TAD’s unconstitutional?

    Did you know that the Georgia Legislature introduced and voters in November, passed an Amendment to the Georgia Constitution allowing School Boards to take part in funding these private developments using school tax dollars?

    Did you know that one of the private developers with the deepest pockets, the Sembler Company – the people who tried to buy and develop school property at North Druid Hills Road also contributed at least $18,000 to the recent winning School Board campaign of Eugene Walker?

    One more thing – did you also know – Dr. Lewis – Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools – was sponsored into the Commerce Club by Eugene Walker?

    Think about it. Are these connections to developers good or bad for someone elected to serve our schools? We’ll be watching…

  13. How about Jay Cunningham’s criminal record and pizza business inside DeKalb schools?

    DeKalb school official’s record surfaces
    ’82 felony on guilty plea involved $12,500 taken as McDonald’s manager

    Articles on Cunningham’s pizza businesses doing business with DCSS schools:

  14. Or the fact that our board went ballistic over the possibility of a code of ethics from the state:

    The Legislature attempted to pass an ethics bill for school boards. It was voted down.

    Bad politics get in way of good educational policies
    By John Rice
    For the Journal-Constitution
    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    At the request of the State Board of Education, dozens of business and community leaders formed the Commission for School Board Excellence and spent 10 months working on a common-sense bill to reform school board governance in Georgia.

    Our recommendations were straightforward: require ethics and enhanced training for board members; clarify the roles and responsibilities of the board and superintendents; and allow temporary state intervention for failing school systems.

    So many people devoted time, energy and effort to this legislation that in the end, there were no real disagreements. Gov. Sonny Perdue even introduced the bill as his own.

    Unfortunately, this well-written, badly needed bill got caught up in politics..

  15. We finally got the link to the second petition – the one that was started by a high school student. Sign this one too and forward it to your friends – as well as broadcast both petitions on Facebook:

  16. DeKalb BOE for dummies says:

    There needs to be more disclosure about the petition. Also, can others view who signed?

  17. Nikole says:

    I’ve not signed because I actually like my board member.

  18. Tucker Mom says:

    Here’s a new press release from the DCSD web site. It looks like redistricting is off the table.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: DCSD Communications Office 404-486-3710

    DeKalb County to Hold School Organization Community Meetings

    The meetings will brief the community on state-mandated capital outlay planning

    Dec. 19, 2012 – Every five years, school districts across the state submit a list of schools to participate in the state capital outlay program. The DeKalb district is completing an application for funding that requires a list of its schools, and the DeKalb County “Proposed School Organization” meets the state requirements. It is not a redistricting plan.

    In January, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) planning staff will revise its briefing to focus the community’s understanding on DeKalb’s list of schools and minimize any discussion of boundary changes. This list of schools will incorporate the new schools added under the SPLOST IV capital program.

    The staff briefing in January will clarify that a list of schools is all that is needed to begin the state application process. The list of schools does not require any information about boundary lines. Consequently, the proposed school organization is not a redistricting plan but a list of school facilities the district expects to operate in the out years. This list is used to determine the state’s award for capital project funding.

    DCSD staff will update the current list of 2007-12 schools to show SPLOST IV new school buildings and any decommissioned buildings out to the years 2016-17. The briefing will underscore that the Board of Education need only approve a list of schools so that the district meets state processing deadlines in order to qualify for funding. Any discussion about boundaries, if needed, would take place sometime in the future and under a separate, detailed public process per district policy.

    The public information meetings about the 2016-17 list of schools will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. on the following dates: Region 5: January 8, 2013 McNair High Region 3: January 9, 2013 Redan High Region 4: January 10, 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. High Region 2: January 15, 2013 Tucker High
    “Victory in Every Classroom”
    Region 1: January 16, 2013 Dunwoody High District-wide: January 17, 2013 DCSD Administrative and Instructional Complex

    Click to access dekalb-county-to-hold-school-organization-community-meeting.pdf

  19. Weary worker says:

    Nothing so far on the SACS review from ODE. I’m doubt they would support the state stepping in. I would urge other dues paying member to reconsider your support for ODE if they fail to support a state takeover. Maybe they are waiting to see what the GAE/NEA has to say.

  20. Concernedmom30329 says:


    Why do you like your board member? What has he/she done to move the system forward? By the way, you actually have two board members. One who represents a smaller area and another who represents a larger area (either Speaks or Walker). Are you equally pleased with the other one?

  21. A DCSD Mom says:

    I am hesitant to sign a petition to remove board members without a plan in place in terms of what happens next. I don’t disagree that this board is dysfunctional, and I think removal is the best thing…but until we know what happens afterwards, I’m not so excited to speed up the process.

  22. teacherwantingachange says:

    Can someone explain what would happen with our current super if the governor does replace the board? I just can’t understand how any sentient being would spend 90 days visiting Dekalb’s schools and then decide that larger classes, a balanced calendar, and laptops for middle school students would ensure “victory.”

    And if she has known for the last year about this state deadline for SPLOST schools, then why did she wait until December to introduce this?

    And how is paying her own friends (if that is what Taylor, and references Dilligard, and Pughsley are) for audits any more ethical than some of the board members’ actions?

  23. DeKalb BOE for dummies says:

    If the governor cares about the citizens, teachers, and students of this district, he will remove the board.

  24. What kind of disclosure are you requesting?

    There is a checkbox at the bottom of where you “sign” the petitions. Uncheck that box if you do not want your signature to be publicly viewable. We are not sure if all signatures (those who have left the box checked) are publicly viewable or just the most recent. We will see what we can find out. There is also a comment box. Most recent comments are viewable. We assume, but do not know for sure, that if your “signature” is not publicly viewable, your comment will not be, either.

  25. Thanks Tucker Mom. We’ll add this to the Meetings & Events page.

    In addition, below is a letter from Fran Millar printed in yesterday’s Crier:

    It has been stated by DeKalb County Schools that if DeKalb does not redistrict, then the county will lose $40 million.

    Here are the facts directly from the State Department of Education:

    • Every school system must submit a five-year facilities plan to the DOE for capital outlay money

    • The plan must include how the district will be organized regarding grades in schools such as 9-12, 6-12, etc.

    • The plan also has a priority lists for projects

    • The plan is then submitted to the DOE for review and a validation team visit the district to review the plan with the superintendent and staff members, usually a one day process.

    • The plan is then approved by the local board and submitted to the state board for approval

    This process must now be completed by June 2013. DeKalb has actually been given a one-year extension to complete the plan.

    Approval is not contingent on DeKalb redistricting and DeKalb can actually amend an approved plan at a later date.

    The state may be blamed for many things but not for how redistricting is done by a school system.

    Senator Fran Millar


  26. Teacher says:

    In other good news, I just learned that the district has a pretty cool YouTube channel that shows board meeting summaries, school events, and even the inside of the new Chamblee. Check it out:

  27. Denise E. McGill says:

    DSW Question Please?
    What can be done legally in regards to the removal of the superintendent?

  28. @Denise: We have no idea, we aren’t lawyers. But we would wage a guess that since the board hires the super, only the board can let the super go. I think Gene Walker actually made this more difficult by adding a clause in Dr. Atkinson’s contract that it would require a 3/4 vote, rather than just a majority to break the contract. (BTW, what do you suppose he considers 3/4 of 9?)

  29. Achelous says:

    Why would we remove the entire board? The DeKalb citizens in those areas voted them in, and they will vote them (or people just like them) in again!

    Either the entire county needs to be able to vote for the entire board, as the board is responsible for each student, or the system ends to be split. Board removal will solve nothing!

  30. howdy1942 says:

    I have to admit, Achelous is probably right. However, other districts sent Womack and McChesney packing. I really want to keep the Dekalb School System intact and fix the system. However, I absolutely do not want to be part of that system if Walker, Cunningham, and Copelin-Wood remain on the board, particularly if they are re-elected. For the sake of their children, those Districts need to get somebody else with a little common sense, a little brainpower, and some interpersonal skills. If you won’t change, then the rest of us want to let you have them – all by yourselves!

  31. Thanks DSW,

    Of course you know here is so much to absorb here that you are trying to process it and make sense of it all. I posed my question because I was hoping that your understanding was different than mine- ..Bottom line- should the board be removed-yet the super left unscathed, we still have a problem.

    This whole situation stinks to high heaven- and as you well know,, DID NOT have to get to this point- It is one giant conundrum with no real solid Plan B. There has to be a way for it all to be addressed and corrected simultaneously. Otherwise- you have more delay, a new set of chaos, and no resolution.

    Gene Walker- SMH….I just don’t know what to say about him, his methodology or his thought processes? – Nothing he says makes sense to me-

    I am not sure if anyone has publicly thanked you for all of your time and effort that you put into this blog. I for one appreciate it, it’s a one stop shop and a wonderful resource. I would like to Thank you for your due diligence. I see you have a few other options posted- I am going to consolidate all of this information and get it out over the weekend to through our newsletter. Thanks so much.

  32. Princess says:

    I think the superintendent is taking us down a lot faster than the board is. So I dont see the point in removing them but leaving her.

  33. Not just a parent says:

    The problem is that there is no reason in replacing her if this Is the board that replaces her. They Picked her at least six of them did and they won’t do any better if given another opportunity. We need a new board will make a better choice or else we’ll get stuck with same low-quality person.

  34. Please continue to send the link to the petition started by a high school student asking the Gov to remove the school board. Only 74 sigs are needed to get to 500!

  35. We just received this via email — great info:

    Here’s an old article about the last time the Governor had to remove school board members. The sequence of events was this:

    – Miller County was placed on probation by SACS
    – GA state board of education made a recommendation to the Governor to replace the board
    – Governor Deal appointed a committee to name the board’s replacements
    – Replacements are in place until the board member they replace was up for reelection.
    – The new board placed the superintendent on leave immediately and fired the superintendent within a month.

    This is our best-case scenario for DCSD, and with enough firepower from our parents and business leaders, I think we can do it. This is a very good precedent for us. See what you think.

  36. Mildred says:

    @DSW2: I read the report and saw that item. I do not disagree with it. I merely stated my opinion, which is that I do not necessarily believe that a school board member visiting a school is inherently a bad thing. There is a policy on the books governing such visits, and school board members and school board members-elect should follow that policy.

    My comment was more about Denise and her “the walls have eyes” rant. I am so glad that she was not elected, and, if you recall, I predicted as much a number of times on this blog. It is nothing personal against Denise, but based solely on the words she put together to express her sentiments on this blog. She can toss it, but cannot take it.

    And, @Denise, venom? Please. Go back and read some of your many rants on this blog. My statements about you have been completely based on your actual written sentiments, and, I believe, my statements are vindicated by a perusal of your actual written sentiments.

  37. dekalbite2 says:

    ” I am so glad that she was not elected, and, if you recall, I predicted as much a number of times on this blog. ”

    You supported the recently elected Melvin Johnson, a retired DCSS insider, who supports the status quo, and as I understand was the beneficiary of redrawn electoral lines that included his home address in an area that he was not previously included.

    Please name (and provide VERIFIABLE weblinks to) the quantifiable academic achievement Melvin Johnson presided over. Denise ran to improve student achievement in DeKalb Schools. Melvin Johnson had his chance to improve student achievement in DeKalb as a very highly placed position and utterly failed. What makes you think he would be able to improve student achievement in his role as BOE member?

  38. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Folks, you have to write the right people…the state board of ed will hold a hearing within 30 days to review the mess in DeKalb. THEY are the ones that will recommend removal to the the State Sup. who in turn will recommend t the Gov. Here are their emails, cut and paste into an email. Or go to the state board website and go under eboard:,,,,,,,,,,,

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