Registration for DeKalb schools specialty programs starts this month

With all the hullabaloo in the school administration and with the school board and SACS, you may not have noticed that it’s time to apply for specialty programs in DeKalb – and it’s early this year.

Ty Tagami at the AJC has fortunately reminded us in this post:

It’s a new year and time for parents to consider registering their children in DeKalb County School District specialty programs, such as the International Baccalaureate, Montessori, magnet schools and school transfers.

The district Website has a link to a registration “portal.” The portal contains outdated deadlines from last year, many of them in the spring. But the new document indicates much earlier deadlines, with registration starting Jan. 14 and ending Feb. 1.

So get going on those applications!  Here’s the link to the flyer:

Here’s the link to the online registration:

Pay no attention to the dates on the DCSS website. They have not been updated. The deadline is definitely Feb 1.

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35 Responses to Registration for DeKalb schools specialty programs starts this month

  1. Here is the link to the portal — I think registration is only conducted online at:

    Pay no attention to the old dates. The deadline is definitely Feb 1.

  2. Murphey says:

    Thank you for posting this. I hate to be cynical but I think this early enrollment period, with only LAST YEAR’S information available on-line, may be a deliberate attempt to reduce the number of students applying. Then they can say that stakeholders don’t want the them school or magnet programs, and start efforts to end these programs.

    I know school choice and theme school programs are controversial. I wish ALL schools had challenging programs. However, I think it is WRONG to end these programs while so many of our schools are underperforming.

  3. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    @Murphey…I think it would be interesting to look at the percentage of magnet and theme students that actually come from underperforming schools. I know Kittredge has a lopsided percentage of students who come from Dunwoody and Chamblee cluster schools…and I would not say that any of those schools under-perform.

    Theme schools on the south side of the county serve a very different purpose, I think, than the magnets…and I’d be curious, to, to know of the waiting list lengths for the top performing theme schools.

    I just think this information is all very interesting. In some ways, schools become poorer performing because of the exodus of students from the neighborhood school to the theme/magnet schools. And I certainly don’t begrudge any parent their choices. But I also think we need to look at the broader context.

  4. concernedmom30329 says:

    I am not sure you are right. My child brought home a flier before the end of the semester. I actually think that Atkinson is holding employees accountable and Pat Copeland is being forced to try and be competent in her job.
    It isn’t the programs that are controversial, it is the funding for them. This year, most lost all their extra funding, but the small size of some of those programs makes them too costly. Clearly there is not enough demand for two high achievers elementary magnets based on the low enrollment at Wadsworth. This year, nearly 20 percent of last year’s 6th graders didn’t return for 7th grade at the Chamblee Middle magnet program. A huge percentage of students at DESA don’t really have much artistic talent since it is a lottery admissions program in kindergarten through 4th grade. Evansdale really doesn’t have room for a magnet program, plus there is no funding for the extras that are suppose to be part of the program. All these issues deserve discussing and making long term plans.
    The spending on magnet transportation is outrageous given all the needs in our schools and it must be ended.
    You can have all the choice you want — if just has to be cost neutral.

  5. MarySF says:

    Why make this announcement so late? I’ve been looking for this information for a couple months. And also, does ANYONE know that the School Choice Expo is supposed to be held Saturday, January 12? That is a week from tomorrow and still no information on their website or anywhere else about it. I only found out by calling the Gifted Office and inquiring about it. This is going to be my first year involved with Dekalb Schools. I am already tied up in knots about getting my kids into a good program and these folks seem to want to hide information. smh.

  6. walk to school says:

    Does anyone know if the magnet and theme schools will lose their accreditation along with all the other Dekalb County schools should Dekalb Co. not meet SACS requirements by the end of probation?

    I am specifically interested in The Dekalb School of the Arts (8-12).

    Thanks for any info available.

    Worried Parent

  7. The school system is accredited as a system, so if we lose accreditation, we all lose accreditation.

  8. thedeal2 says:

    I have the feeling that the county is in the process of dismantling these programs. All of their points have been cut, which have impacted the quality of the programs. Transportation is next. The longtime principal at Kittredge left just before Christmas, supposedly retiring but didn’t retire with the hundreds of others who wanted to meet that end of November deadline for the best benefits. I would recommend that anyone whose child is currently at a school through a special transfer or any other sort of special arrangement, you be careful before you apply for IB or DESA or any of the others because if these programs are eliminated, your child will not be able to go back to the old school. Any end to these programs would be done in a shady way because they know the uproar it would cause with parents. I do not trust this administration at all. Administrators and central office employees children don’t use these programs as much as they just attend Lakeside or other non-choice schools, so there’s not a big incentive from within to keep them.

  9. Choicemom says:

    I think that if specialty, “choice” programs were eliminated , the students would return to their feeder school. They would be entitled to this return. Seems that the system has bigger issues to face right now than figuring out a way to eliminate these small and successful programs.

  10. dekalbmom says:

    @thedeal2, I do not understand your comment that if your child applies for a school choice program “your child cannot go back to the old school.” A student may always return to their home school. It is the reverse that is true. If your child decides to leave a school choice program it is highly unlikely that they can return, especially to any that have a lottery or waitlist.

    Perhaps your concern is with the IB program at the high school level because it is difficult to sustain with the low numbers. But many students who start the IB program do not complete the IB degree yet they receive full credit for their IB courses and have no problems graduating.

    And many send their children to Arabia Mountain. I really can’t see the Administration shutting the school choice portion down. Although I think DCSS should have pulled the plug permanently on all school choice and magnet transportation once and for all. I agreed with Atkinson on that decision but the gang of 5 on the BOE opposed her.

  11. bettyandveronica1 says:

    What Deal referred to as “the old school” was the school child attended under the arrangement or HB251, if the new choice program they attend is to be eliminated. You are right mom, they would be sent back to their home school. A school the parent, for whatever reason, didn’t want them to attend in the first place.

    I happen to disagree with Deal that they will pull away from the programs but i agree they will eliminate trans. Other school systems have these programs ya know. A good use of the magnet office’s time in the off season should be spent peaking in on other school systems from around the country and researching what works and formulating a long term plan to deal with these issues. They are going to have to do something as academies are going to start popping up specializing in these types of progrms. But like all things DCSD, miss an opportunity to be proactive, only react if not over react, then screw something up. Their incompetence is legendary now.

  12. concernedmom30329 says:

    A few years ago, Dr. Lewis spent tens of thousands of dollars on researching choice schools. He sent teams of DCSS folks across the country and came back with lots of ideas. The McNair learning academy is one. By the end of that school year, the economy had begun to sink and DCSS was facing a huge budget crisis. With the exception of the McNair learning academy, nothing else came of that expensive tour.
    This is because Dr. Lewis and his top people never really believed in offering choice unless they could spend lots extra on each school. Keep in mind that a huge percentage of the systems they visited spent virtually nothing extra on the magnet schools while DCSS was spending 1 thousand to 3 thousand more a magnet student at the time. Dr. Lewis never could grasp that he could do this for less.

    Certainly Central Office bureacrats some end up at Lakeside High, but for k-8, they are enrolled in theme schools across the system ]]and DESA. The CO folks care very much about choice.

    Transportation most likely will stay just as it is, as cuts are made other places. The vote will be 6-3 or 7-2 if Atkinson even proposes to cut it. And this is wrong.

  13. Hr88 says:

    The high school IB programme is one of the very few examples of academic excellence left in the DCSD. School systems across the country are adding IB , and city of Decatur has moved to the IB curriculum at their high school. Top college and universities, including UGA, seek out IB applicants,, and studies of IB graduates have shown they are more likely to do well in college and to graduate.

  14. thedeal2 says:

    I still maintain that this administration would rather cut the choice programs than administer them properly. They are getting a lot of heat on the imbalance of class sizes, transportation, the huge waitlist, and other complaints. Rather than resolve these responsibly, I foresee them cutting them. Then again, we are on the verge of potentially big administrative changes, so who knows.

    Yes, BettyandVeronica, you interpreted my point correctly. There are many people who transfer their kids around through special request and the HB one you referred to. If someone goes to a choice program and then it is eliminated or cut to the point where the student doesn’t like it anymore, they do not go back to their transfer school, they go back to the zoned school where they presumably didn’t want to be. This is how it works now. I just wanted to make the point because I think these programs, in their current state, are more vulnerable than they have been in the past.

  15. Bye bye says:

    Actually earning an IB diploma is very difficult, therefore those studies are wuestionable as IB diploma earners would probably do well regardless. Very few DCSS students are earning the diploma. Even older public school IB programs have a low completion rate.
    If the program can be done for the same dollars then so be it. But until we are offering the basics at every high school, we need to be judicious with our resources. Neither Tucker nor Druid Hills have room for choice students so it is kind of a jokes anyway.

  16. Via email from Center for an Educated Georgia

    Please join us on Thursday, January 31, 2013! As a part of National School Choice Week, you’re invited to celebrate Georgia’s school choice options and rally in support of a quality education for ALL Georgia students! All school choice options available will be celebrated — traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools (including Special Needs and Tax Credit Scholarship participants), home schools, online schools, and hybrid schools.

    After the rally, you’ll have an opportunity to thank your legislator for school choice and to tell them how it impacts your life. And if you do not currently have quality options to educate your child, you can ask your lawmaker to provide better educational options.

    Parking and transportation will be provided as needed. Register today!

  17. Another comment says:

    Most kids don’t end up with high enough grades out of IB to get into top high schools. All they end up with is piled on Homework, that prevents them from being in varsity sports, and working. my advice is take AP or Honors. Then the best thing is have a 3.0 and get into dual enrollment at GPC. Earn real college credits, then you can be a junior by the time your peers are freshman. You can still participate in Varsity sports or work.

  18. ann greer says:

    Cointa Moody, a former assistant to Pat Pope (now Pat Reid), and a key witness in the case against Crawford Lewis and Pope/Reid, passed away this past week. Condolences to her family. And as crass as it seems, condolences to the taxpayers of Dekalb as presumably a lot of insider knowledge passed with her.

    Yet another delay in the now scheduled April trial start date?

  19. EAV Mom says:

    Well it looks like DCSS has already changed up the school choice schedule AGAIN. I just found this posted on their site…..

    Click to access school-choice-open-enrollment-dates-(2013-2014).pdf

    It shows “tentative” open enrollment starting on Feb 11th with a March 1st deadline. This is the 2nd flyer in as many weeks and they can’t do better than “tentative”? Not too mention when you check the eportal website it shows old info from March 2012. How hard is it to update a website? I know this question has been asked time and time again, but WTH are these people doing? Ughhhh!

  20. Thanks for sharing the latest flyer on the choice schools. It’s amazing – they say there’s now a ‘tentative’ deadline!

    Tentative Open Enrollment Date February 11, 2013.
    Tentative Open Enrollment Deadline March 1, 2013 at

  21. educator90 says:

    Can anyone explain to me why IB schools that are overcrowded are part of the open enrollment program? This makes no sense to add more kids to an already over populated school building.

  22. dekalbite2 says:

    “Can anyone explain to me why IB schools that are overcrowded are part of the open enrollment program?”

    Most of DeKalb’s IB programs in high schools are under enrolled. IB classes are very rigorous, so the majority of students are not able to complete the IB program.

    Look at the IB page for Druid Hills.
    “At Druid Hills, the IB serves approximately 70 students in the Diploma program (11th and 12th grade)”

    That’s around 35 students in the 11th grade and 35 students in the 12th grade. Since they are not all grouped lockstep together for every class, they must be split (an IB student only takes classes with other IB students) which leaves around 18 to 20 per class for many of their classes. So there are “seats” available in the classes even if the school is overcrowded.

    Look at the requirements for the IB program.

  23. dekalbite2 says:


    Regular education teachers must take on additional students in order to accommodate small IB classes and thus regular education students have larger class sizes.

  24. educator90 says:

    Thanks for this info. Seems to me that IB may be a waste of tax payer dollars. A nice program to have, but it hurts more children than it helps. Needs to go!

  25. Marsha T. says:

    As the parent of a child in a magnet school (DeKalb School of the Arts), I want to clear up some misconceptions.
    A good many of our students come from low-performing schools, and not all our students are academically gifted. Nevertheless, once admitted, they are expected to maintain a B average and progress in their art, as well as earn a minimum of 2 production credits per year. While we do have a significant portion of our students who come from areas such as Lakeside, Chamblee, and Dunwoody, I think that fact underscores that those schools, although excellent, are not suitable for everyone. The racial mix between black and white students at DSA is about even, and the students work well together and love each other. In a county so divided by class and race, this is a wonderful thing. Is it more expensive to run a school like DSA? Yes, mainly because we get no funding from the state due to our small size. If we grew to a 6-12 model, and increased our staffing and faculty to meet those needs, we could grow to a school that qualified for state funding. As to Wadsworth magnet, I don’t understand why it doesn’t have more students. It has practically the same CRCT scores as Kittredge, so you would think more folks would send their children there. I think some of the problem is marketing; not enough folks know about the school. Another is location. That’s unfortunate, but true. The magnets, as a whole, were created as a response to the desegregation order DeKalb was under for several decades. If we ended the programs, I fear we would wind up in another desegregation lawsuit, or worse yet, the county would become more and more divided by race and class. Frankly, with the exception of a few good neighborhood schools (and we all know who they are), magnet schools are the best educational values in DeKalb county. Without them, we’d have a mass exodus of folks to private schools, home schooling, or in a further blow to our property values, neighboring counties such as Gwinnett.

  26. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Other systems operate magnets without spending extra. Most other systems, that have magnets, also offer a full range of courses at their traditional schools. Historically, DeKalb has not done that. Every high school ought to have a full range of arts courses.

    Historically there has been resistance from the parents/supporters of DSA to expanding the program. I know cuts were made this year and that some of that resistance appears to be softening. DeKalb cannot afford to offer these boutique programs, no matter how great a value you think they offer. And there is zero risk of a successful desegregation lawsuit in a county that has 90 percent minority students.

    Middle school is funded differently. The real solution is either a large expansion of high school arts students or combining it with another program or two to get the numbers up. Frankly, the programs in Cobb and Fulton, that are housed within other high schools, are stronger and much more economically feasible. Have you visited N. Springs high school?

  27. @Marsha – DSA absolutely gets state funding. The state withholds partial construction funding for small schools, but not per pupil funding. Also, we can never have another federal desegregation mandate, as the whole reason the case was dropped was due to the fact that the system had become ‘unified’ and a majority black. When the original suit was filed, DeKalb county schools were only 5% black and they all attended the same schools together. Now, the system is nearly 80% black. Only about 10% white and 10% hispanic with about 2% Asian, etc. The magnets were just one of many, many attempts at integration. Another was busing. Another – M to M… etc. Also, since the magnet schools serve relatively few students – say around 1000 out of 100,000 (at a far greater cost per student), a ‘mass exodus’ would not do a lot of harm to anyone’s property values.

  28. One of many says:

    I consider myself and my children blessed to be in the magnet programs, but as a parent, it feels like the programs are being phased out. KMS lost its foreign language program, a couple of teachers and the principal. At DSA we had a 9th grade parents meeting last night to fill out all of our kids’ paperwork through graduation to make sure their folders are complete because we are losing our counselor and two minors and a major in addition to the other cuts taken at the beginning of the year. We were told “it will not get better.” Personally our home schools are fine, but they do not have the same quality education as the magnet program. If all of our schools could operate at the high standard of the magnets, then we would not need a magnet program, and this cannot be achieved until the Dekalb County School System is honest with itself, the parents, teachers and the children in its system.

  29. Marsha T. says:

    To One of Many: You are absolutely right. My daughter is a senior at DSA and I despair for the future of our school. Somehow certain board members and central office personnel have decided that magnet programs are the enemy and have acted accordingly. Last night at the redistricting meeting at Tucker High Donna Edler told me that Avondale Middle had been purposely decommissioned in order for DSA to move there, and that she believed “neighborhood school buildings should serve neighborhood programs.. I told her “that was never our idea. We knew nothing about it, and no-one consulted us about our needs. We don’t want it. We want to stay where we are and grow the program.” With the uncertainty about accreditation, I fear that we will lose students especially sophmores and juniors who will be the most adversely effected, that teh program will simply lose tooo many kids to remain viable. The magnet programs bring most of the academic and artistic glory to DCSS, and instead of support we get spat upon. I’m so sick of it. The school board and central office think redsitricting and simply shifting good students into substandard schools will disguise the fact that so many schools throughout the county are not educating our children.

  30. Disgusted in Dekalb says:

    One of Many & Marsha T., I was very conflicted about the magnet program when my children were in high school in DCSS. I felt that one of my children in particular missed out on the academic advantage of having a strong contingent of high-achieving students in the regular high school because so many in our area had fled the school to private schools or magnet programs. Even in honors classes, the teachers sometimes spent weeks at the beginning of a semester bringing many of the kids up to speed before they could tackle new material. Sometimes an honors class wasn’t available because there wasn’t enough demand. Yet I hated to be one of the people who was fleeing the non-magnet schools. After a couple of years, I reluctantly moved this student to a magnet school because I didn’t want him/her to suffer because I was clinging to my values. If Dekalb were a better run system, I believe that achievement and outcomes would be higher. Perhaps then the magnet program could be phased out. But to phase it out when it provides the only life raft for so many students in underperforming schools is crazy.

    Dekalb has enough money to give every one of its students a gold-plated education. But the money needs to be managed well. Teachers need to be paid well and their retirement needs to be properly funded. Manage the money well and improve teacher morale and over time, the system will do its job—educating all students, struggling students, average students, and high achievers—effectively. If that can be accomplished, the demand for magnet programs will diminish. Targeting magnet programs as though they are part of the problem is backward thinking.

  31. momfromhe11 says:

    Dekalbite2 and educator90: have you ever spoken with a student or teacher in an IB program? You have repeated three misconceptions about IB in DeKalb –

    A) The program has very high entry requirements.
    In reality, the student needs to have a 3.2 average at the end of 10th grade,” IB is not a gifted program. DCSS recommends that prospective IB DP students take the most Advanced/Accelerated/Honors/High Achiever courses for which the student qualifies in preparation for the IB DP courses of the 11th and 12th grades.” (direct quote from the IB recommended sequence of courses on the DHHS website) I read this as saying the program is open to any student who wishes to apply as long as they meet these criteria. The student needs only to be serious enough to have worked hard at his/her courses in 7th through 10th grades. Taking the most challenging courses is a requirement for admission to any college.

    B) If the student does not get the IB Diploma, it is a waste of time when it comes to college admission.
    While the Diploma is certainly a great achievement, the student is judged by colleges on the IB courses he/she took. Each course is evaluated for rigor on its own, and the score for the IB test for that course is looked at. IB courses are given credit for college exemption just as AP and dual-enrollment courses are. In addition, because IB courses are taught similarly to the way college courses are taught (lots of discussion. long-term assignments and emphasis of self-motivation, teachers available for consultation at almost any time), students are not shocked when they get to college.

    C) The students drown in homework.
    As far as I have seen, there is no larger homework burden on IB students than there is on AP or dual-enrollment students. There is time for sports, clubs, extracurriculars, a social life and Facebooking.

    The program is not a waste of time, and there is no limit on class size other than the county-mandated ones for high school classes. A lot of students are discouraged by these erroneous beliefs, and thus don’t even try.

  32. Marsha T. says:

    To Disgusted in DeKalb. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I understand your initial reluctance to leave your neighborhood school. In a functioning system, each school in the county would offer at least a modicum of what our children need to excell. Gifted and talented students need to be with other gifted and talented students, because their brains work in a different way. For many of the students at DSA, being able to more fully explore their art in ways that aren’t available at their neighborhood school, motivates them to excell in other areas, such as academics. We would love to expand into a K-12 program, but we want to do so in a way that maintains the integrity of the program. We have more students than we ever have, yet we have lost half our arts teachers. For us, that’s the equivalent of losing half the coaching staff at a traditional school. You can only imagine the outcry if that were to happen…

  33. educator90 says:

    Momfromhe11: This is how I feel about all of the special programs in DeKalb: They cost too much money and too many kids are not receiving even a mediocre education in the county that tax payers shouldn’t foot the bill for a few and leave many more behind. I understand what IB is and know that it can be a wonderful program. I also understand that having the children in their neighborhood schools will make their neighborhood schools better and improve the education for all of the children.

    If parents want their children in an IB program, magnet program, or any other special program that costs more that what is being spent per child at their neighborhood school, than the parents should be paying the bill, not taxpayers. Tax payers should not pay for some to get a BMW education, while others are getting a used Yugo.

    The neighborhood schools are being asked to do more with less, so it is not just DSA and other special schools/programs that have been hit. These programs may be feeling it the most as they have not been touched the way neighborhood schools have. Neighborhood schools have also lost teachers and have much larger class sizes than any of the special schools/programs.

    I understand that gifted kids like to be together, but they don’t need special schools and programs to get a quality education. They will be just fine in accelerated classes in their neighborhood school, which would cost tax payers less. If parents don’t like this, than move or pay for a private education. You see public schools were not meant to be everything to every family and student and can’t be. We already spend way too much money on our public schools with little to show for it.

    You see, DeKalb is BROKE. We can’t keep doing things they way they have always been done. We cannot have a school system where a few kids or people benefit financially and educationally, while the majority of kids and adults (kids in neighborhood schools and teachers) keep getting the shaft. The DeKalb school system needs a complete overhaul. We need a plan that better utilizes funds and provides the best education to ALL of it’s children, not just the selected handful. We can’t keep reinventing the wheel every few years adding additions on to schools and then wanting to knock them down for a larger school a few years later. We need people who are prudent with each penny the district receives, so that our children get the most benefit.

    Many changes need to happen in DeKalb, and parents need to understand that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done, because look where it’s gotten us. You may not like the outcome, but you have choices and you can move, send your child to private school, homeschool, if you don’t like the choices that are offered in the public school system. I look forward to having a New DeKalb, where there are NO EXCUSES! and where EVERY child is expected to reach high standards. Too many children in DeKalb have gotten the shaft and continue to get it, and this needs to stop immediately. ALL kids deserve to get the education that your child is getting in his/her special program/school.

  34. dekalbite2 says:

    “Dekalbite2 and educator90: have you ever spoken with a student or teacher in an IB program? You have repeated three misconceptions about IB in DeKalb –
    A) The program has very high entry requirements.”

    Have you spoken to the teachers that have to take on larger class sizes so the IB classes can be accommodated? How is this fair for the students sitting in larger classes in the regular education and AP classes?

    I did not comment on the value of an IB diploma or the homework required, but I did comment on the difficulty of getting into an IB program. Here are the criteria. Readers can decide for themselves if the IB program has very high entry requirements:
    “Rising 11th Grade Students IB DP Entry Requirement
    • Minimum core 3.2 average at end of the first semester of 10th grade
    • Completion of advanced/accelerated core curriculum in the 9th and 10th grades
    • Completion of three years of French or Spanish by the end of 10th grade
    • Two favorable teacher recommendations from ninth and/or tenth grade core subjects
    • Completion of the IB DP application student packet with parent/guardian approval
    • A hand-written, 250-word essay on interest in IB
    • Interview with the IB Committee of the school
    Students interested in pursuing the IB Diploma Programme must take the most Advanced/Accelerated/Honors/High Achiever courses for which the student qualifies in preparation for the 11th and 12th grade IB DP courses. ”

    My main concern is the burden that small IB classes place upon the other students as they sit in larger classes. This seems yet again a program that allocates additional resources to the lucky few while taking those resources from the many.

  35. momfromhe11 says:


    You say that there are too few students in IB classes, overcrowding the other classes. Then you call them “the lucky few”, implying some sort of lottery or selection process. I see no lottery mentioned in the requirements you posted above. IB is not a magnet program – it is open to anybody with a 3.2 average.

    If there are fewer students in the IB classes than in other classes, even though there is no class size limit for these classes, how are the students in them “the lucky few”?

    Do you have any numbers on how many students in the three IB high school programs are not districted to that school? My understanding is that there are IB programs at Druid Hills, Tucker and MLK specifically so students do not have to transfer far away to attend IB classes.

    I know IB funds were reduced this year – is the per-pupil cost still higher than other classes? Do we know if AP classes are also costlier? If they are, then we need to consider dropping them…

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