So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye …

The official videotape of yesterday’s (2013.1.17) DeKalb County Board of Education hearing before the State Board of Education will not be available in the GaDOE archives until around the middle of next week because it has to be edited. But, we do have a 2-Part video made by a contributor to DeKalb School Watch.  (The contributor is unnamed until we receive permission to include his/her name.)  

“Suspension Hearing of the Board Members
of DeKalb Board of Education”

unhappy taxpayer and voter logo “On January 17th, the State Board of Education held a suspension hearing concerning the Board Members of the DeKalb County Board of Education. DeKalb County School District was placed on probation by SACS – December 2012.

“The contributing editor asks that you view both videos and answer the questions below:

“1. Should the DeKalb County Board of Education be removed by Governor Deal?

or

“2. Should DeKalb County maintain local control through the use of “recall” and elect new representation?”

Also, make sure you download the “DCSS Consent Order: (Consent Order as published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Suspension Hearing /DeKalb County Board of Education: Part I

“Suspension Hearing/ DeKalb County Board of Education: Part II

“Taped by: Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter – http://www.unhappytaxpayerandvoter.com

“Email: UnhappyTaxpayers@gmail.com

“Issue Future Website: RestoreDeKalb.org

“YouTube – Videos from this email”

And, under the category, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, subcategory, You Snooze, You Lose, are some photos sent by another contributor who attended yesterday’s very critical hearing:

Gene Walker just can't stay fully awake at the state hearing

Gene Walker just can’t stay fully awake at the state hearing

Sarah Copelin Wood takes an all out snooze during the state hearing

Sarah Copelin Wood takes an all out snooze during the state hearing (circled)

About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
This entry was posted in Board of Education Meetings, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Education in the South, GA Legislature / Laws / O.C.G.A., Georgia State Board of Education, SACS/Accreditation, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye …

  1. I don’t see it either Concerned… in fact, our very first blog post was about how this school system is CAUSING blight and depressed property values by delivering such a poor education to its residents that many choose to either move away or send their children to a theme, charter or magnet school – away from their own neighborhood school. They also used the Title 1 support to beef up the Central Office staff under Audria Berry rather than direct support in reading and math for students. The school system likes to blame the plummeting property values on the bad economy, however, the school system is a self-fulfilling prophesy. It has ruined itself – and its communities. Especially in parts of the south end of the county.

    DCSS vacant properties causing blight countywide

    Also read a post from the old blog about the mass exodus from neighborhood schools in the south end to magnet, theme and charter schools — abandoning the neighborhood schools, forcing closures and consolidation.

    North vs Central vs South – what’s the deal?

    It’s a twisted version of the old starfish story — ‘well, it made a difference for that one’… but in making a difference for some, we have thrown the rest to the wind.

  2. thedeal2 says:

    AMEN, DSW. This district is not the victim of the economic downturn and housing crash. In fact, this school board and administration are the cause of the continuation and further decline of DeKalb County’s economic stability and property values. And the ruined communities are all over. I’m in central DeKalb, and there aren’t 2 families that attend the same school in my neighborhood. These are families who have steadily dropped one-by-one out of the neighborhood school to pursue whatever option their family can handle. These were not families destined for private school or homeschool from the beginning. Pitiful.

  3. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    In-house staff are afraid, but we want change. In fact, we are waiting for change. We are afraid for our livelihoods and that’s why we won’t speak out.

  4. hopespringseternal says:

    @Concerned:

    I’d work up the energy to tell you how wrong you are if I thought you’d believe me. Don’t think you will. I live right in the midst of the area you write so blithely about with what you “don’t see”. There are basically three groups of people where I live. Those who own their homes, those who are renting from owners, and incoming buyers. And the incoming buyers are not black. They’re happy to buy low, fix up and attend the homeowners meetings. They’re great neighbors, have great pets and get involved. Why? Because they’re 13 minutes from downtown and have unfettered access to major thoroughfares — and they know they’re sitting on itty bitty gold mines. As for the ones who already own who are not of the older generation, many of them are not black either. They rent out, and they wait. Some of them never sold from as far back as the white flight days. Only thing we need now is yet another low property tax assessment and a couple more white kids in the schools. And when that happens, the poorer folk won’t know what hit them. They’ll be even more marginalized than they are now. And their kids will go underground. And then to prison. And the culpability for that? It lies with everyone, not just the school system. If you want to have an intelligent conversation about what you “see” in S. DeKalb, some people IN S. DeKalb would be happy to tell you about it. And since we’re not as monolithic as people would have you believe, you might want to listen to a cross-section of people.

  5. Embarrassed Employee says:

    @DCSD for dummies
    I completely understand. However, I always tell people, Dr. MLK was probably afraid too. There are things you can do that wont “out” you.
    1. Stay informed.
    2. Share this website with others. Dig deep here there is a wealth of knowledge.
    3. If you are a resident of DeKalb, get involved.
    4. Attend a board meeting. The more stakeholders we have there, makes it appear that we care and we are watching.
    The mere fact that we are afraid is a red flag. My coworkers make comments like, we are going to be another Clayton CO. I say we have surpassed Clayton. Clayton didn’t have the money and resources we have flushed down the toilet. The pressure was put on Clayton to make corrections. There is no pressure on Atkinson and her team. They are wealthy, arrogant, and confident that they have SACS in their back pocket.

    When a thief steals from an adult we know its wrong and want justice. But when a thief steals from a CHILD you look at the thief with disgust. It’s a different feeling. They are stealing from our children’s futures. Unfortunately the home team lost last night, but we can use a part of that spirit that swept over the city. It’s time for stakeholders of DeKalb to Rise Up, show up and show out.

    It’s frustrating to want and wait for change. We have many challenges. One challenge is trust. We don’t trust each other enough to band together. Another challenge is we all want different outcomes. Some are hoping to split the county up, others want a Brookhaven,Chamblee, and Dunwoody school system. No matter what your ultimate dream of an outcome is, no one will get what they think is right until we clean house. That’s the common thread for all of us. We have to build the cash reserves back up. The most effective way to do that is to cut central office staffing and salaries. If this is done,we can accomplish two big things. We can stop furlough days and build the cash reserves.
    No matter what, choose to do something.

  6. teacherwantingandworkingforachange says:

    DCDSforDummies,

    If the only thing we possess is a “want” for change, nothing will change. Unless the Dekalb School Board, the State Board of Education, the Governor, and the DA hear from enough of us, nothing will change. In what other financial enterprise would you continue to have such a gross mismanagement of funds and so little to show?

    I think the Governor will leave our Board in place and our Board won’t behave much differently unless there are more signatures on petitions, more citizens crying out, and more teachers and administrators writing to the Governor.

    Like DCDS parent, I think the superintendent thinks she doesn’t have to change anything. Why would she? She’s been able to sustain a bloated central office while cutting classes and shouting “Victory,” apply RTT funds to a less than innovative “Leadership Academy,” push through an unpopular calendar that could cost Dekalb even more, acquire new wheels in the midst of a finacial crisis, spend consultant money questionably (please note that our county’s wesbsite explains that the super and administrators “read thorougly” Ralph Taylor’s sophomoric audit) and select new law firms to add to our already excessive legal fees.

  7. This has nothing to do with a Board that’s asleep at the wheel, but it is interesting, and controversial:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/education/georgia-backed-scholarships-benefit-schools-barring-gays.html?hpw

  8. Ella says:

    House prices have plummetted across the metro area, state and US.

    A black female mom who I work with was buying a house. I encouraged her to look in DeKalb. I told her where the top schools in DeKalb were located.

    She said there is no way she would buy a house in DeKalb because of the school system. She bought a house in Gwinnett and is driving to Sandy Springs to work.

    This is an issue with many individuals who are buying homes in the metro area. School quality is a key to where most buy homes even if they do not have children as they are thinking about their investment being a true investment.

    This is a major issue for our elected officials in DeKalb.

  9. Weary worker says:

    When referencing the population of south county note that there is a great difference between the east and the west. Most of the eastern portion was not developed until 20 years ago. there was not a population shift there as much of the land was rural, aside from the actual town of Lithonia. The western portion shifted from rural to suburban 40 to 50 years ago. That initial suburban dwellers were mostly white but there area shifted racially about 20 to 30 years ago. There was moves towards gentrification in the southwest in the final years of the housing bubble. But most of this was by single or childless young whites.

  10. Embarrassed Employee says:

    @ Ella &DSW2
    It seems that we are becoming more concerned with color instead of the justice we want. Ella was there a point to be made that your coworker was African American? Would your point had a different meaning if the coworker was Caucasian?
    Ultimately, I think we are “shooting ourselves in the foot”.

  11. @Embarrassed: If you read all the way back to the beginning of this part of the conversation, you will see that Waitaminute said, “Here’s a forinstance on AJC coverage. The subject of DeKalb’s image being reflected by some guy who wants a zilion dollar house (white guy no doubt) not choosing to live in DeKalb.”

    We are just responding that that is not a viable assumption – lots of non-white people buy expensive homes – and many do so outside of DeKalb.

  12. waitaminit 1 says:

    dissonancetheory–I’d be interested in the derivation of your tag name here. Seems like you might be willing to share some examples of the fallacies of “conventional wisdom”. Where does is our cognitive dissonance with the current direction of education and schools–and what is the source–what are we missing under the radar that our politicized think tanks feeding monopoly mainstream newspapers establish?
    Keep it coming–maybe we’ll start questioning the news we get.

  13. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Thanks for the reference point. Thank you for the MLK post too. So many of our babies don’t know who he was or the impact he had on all of our lives. Thank you DSW2 for allowing us to have this safe haven to share,vent, and plan for a better DeKalb.

  14. Ella says:

    I was indicated that not moving to DeKalb County when buying a house has absolutely nothing to do with race.

    I actually lived in Lithonia for a couple of years when I was single and I liked it. The North/South situation is sicking to me as it does nothing to help the students of DeKalb.

    I am willing to talk about the racial issues as they are present and not talking about them does not help the students fo DeKalb.

    However, race appears to be a factor on the DeKalb County School Board still which concerns me. I see this as a white/black issue. I see it running both ways.

    I can see the superintendent’s staff seeing the Coralwood busing issue as being offensive as they saw it as a racial issue and that this small group of individuals in the Lakeside area as possible feeling like they could push and get what they wanted.

    However, living in the area there is no way I would want to drive to Henderson Middle School to pick up and drop off my child every day. In reality the hubs should not be decided on what is good for a few but what is best for the whole school system. The problem is in this situaiton was the timing of the decison to move the hub.

    However, I am of the opinion that we can no longer afford the busing. I am of the opinion that DeKalb School System should no longer be paying to transport our students around the county. Many counties have already cut the afterschool transportation for athletes back to their home schools. They also have stopped transporting students all over the county when it is a choice of the parents to send the students to another school in the county. With this decision there also should be a obligation to pay to have your child transported. This should not be at the expense of all the taxpayers in DeKalb County.

    Fulton County did this a couple of years ago and have given their teacher’s bonuses at the end of the year while DeKalb is still furloughing their teachers. The school board should do a better job of taking care of their teachers and their employees.

  15. DCSD for Dummies —

    Did you know that Al Capone (America’s best known gangster and the single greatest symbol of the collapse of law and order in the United States during the 1920s Prohibition era) was eventually arrested and imprisoned on tax evasion charges? In spite of his many heinous crimes, what brought Al Capone down — and to justice — was a simple case of tax evasion.

    We are writing this because we believe something similar will happen to bring down the crooks and thugs who now have DeKalb County Schools in their grip. Not necessarily tax evasion — although, interestingly, taxes are owed on all “income” whether obtained illegally or honestly. It is unlikely that they have paid taxes on what they have stolen. Palace employees like you are most likely to know of something small — maybe just one piece of the puzzle — that will bring these people down and to justice.

    DSW can act as the clearinghouse for these pieces of information — assembling the puzzle — and we will protect your identity to the best of our ability.

  16. On the Coralwood issue: Just to clarify: Donna Edler made a fuss and made it look as if a new bus was being added for the magnet students in the Lakeside cluster, when in fact, there are so many students in the cluster who attend magnet schools that TWO buses had already been in use to take them from Henderson. All the staff proposed was MOVING one of those buses to a Coralwood pick up (have you ever seen the horrible traffic around Henderson in the am?) The staff should have made this simple change, however, board members led by Edler, brought it to the fore as ‘unfair’ and made a fuss. Therefore, Atkinson placed it on the agenda as a board decision – abdicating her authority on the issue and tossing a bone for friction to the board. (She must have enjoyed watching the fireworks she caused!)

    FWiW – Nancy and Don BOTH voted NO to ANY kind of magnet transportation. Ironically, it was Edler, Walker and crew who insisted on spending millions upon millions for this special door-to-door transportation for special programs — even though our general operating budget was short by at least $20 million… so other cuts were made instead. In essence, people in the schoolhouses lost their jobs so that we could keep this special transportation program.

    Read Don’s posts on the subject:
    http://blog.donfordekalb.com/2012/08/27/understanding-board-policy-versus-administrative-practice-notes-about-transportation/

    http://blog.donfordekalb.com/2013/01/13/sacs-advanced-part-two/

  17. Ella says:

    dekalbcountyschoolboardwatch;

    I could not agree more. However, every superintendent we have had has been frustrated at some point with the parents in actually the area of the county I live as they have a tendency to be extremely demanding, just like the Fernbank group. They are advocating for their children which is an excellent thing. However, the school superintendent has to make decisions made on what is right and fair for the whole county.

    I totally understand why the parents who had a hub at Coralwood would not want to drive to Coralwood. However, I am not aware of the decision the change may have been made.

    I believe all these type of transportation should be done away with. We do have Marta thoughout the county for older students in high school. Car pools are another source of transportations which are used by private school parents or either buses the parents pay for.

  18. Isn’t it “odd” that the school cluster often touted as so desirable (Henderson, Lakeside) has a need for two buses to send their kids off to other schools in other parts of the county, just like everyone else is doing. Doesn’t that show us that it does not matter where you live – there really is no particular area that is happy with what their neighborhood school has to offer? We are all seeking something “better” and hoping to “win” a lottery or convince someone to “pull some strings” to get us something that others may not ordinarily be able to get for themselves? Instead of speaking up about the problems, which can lead to bringing on more problems, parents are looking for solutions to their immediate situation and are willing to remain quiet once they feel like they have been given a viable alternative. To speak up in an effort to end the corruption could mean your own special favor could be rescinded. It’s a vicious cycle that starts all over again every 5 years since that is the longest amount of time that one child would possibly remain at a single school. No one is going around warning the incoming families. No one wants to talk about the sensitive issues that might have caused them to leave (low test scores, bullies, unclean conditions, not agreeing with teacher about cause of a problem, etc.) because they are still involved in the system in some way. When you have to worry about how your child might be treated as the result of your own actions, your fear is multiplied considerably and that causes you to keep quiet. We cannot be at the schools to watch over our children all day and we cannot perform at work if we are in constant fear that our child may be in an unsafe or mentally harmful environment while we are not there to see what is happening. There are always different versions of the same story and parents just want their children to be okay and to learn. We don’t want to be seen as part of the problem, but there isn’t a way for us to be part of the solution either. The PTAs, parent councils, etc. are all part of the ‘system’ and often report directly back to the principal about everything going on, who is complaining about what, etc. OR, they are supposed to just hear the complaints and keep things quiet while behaving like everything is fine when it isn’t. If you volunteer in a classroom, which I highly recommend, you will see first hand how bad things are. If you are gaining something by working with these people, your gain always comes at some other child’s loss. It is so unfair, but that is the system. We do not deserve accreditation. These kids did nothing to deserve this. We owe them so much more. I hope the whole thing collapses and I’m sorry about the jobs that will be lost, but even teachers are just being forced to use canned curriculum. That’s not teaching. They know it and it isn’t their fault, but they haven’t banded together any better than the parents have been able to. Everyone is either afraid, or hoping to use their connections to benefit themselves. If we would look at the children as being ALL our children, we would be able to figure out solutions. Right now, we are just being robbed and letting the thieves get away with it.

  19. StunnedParent says:

    Sleeping while on the job? I suppose this meeting was on work time too? Let’s let them have all the time in the world to sleep, as a newly unemployed person!

  20. Ella says:

    However, the students who are leaving the Lakeside-Henderson area are normally traveling to the Gifted Program at Chamblee High and the gifted programs throughout the county.

    The Lakeside-Henderson area schools suffer from many of the brighest traveling to other areas of the county for the gifted magnet prgrams.

    Chamblee gets the brighest from many areas of the county.

  21. That makes sense, Ella, thanks. Do you happen to understand how Corralwood works, btw? I’ve seen it listed as an elementary school, preschool and a diagnostic center. It’s getting a huge rebuild in SPLOST IV and now was a part of the controversial bus route issue. I also know it is close to Oak Grove where a certain former board member’s grandchildren attend school. It sound like the SPLOST dollars are really flowing to a small area with little oversight from the oversight committee.

  22. Ella says:

    Yes, Coralwood is a special needs school that accepts regular education students. The classes are very small and the regular education and special education students get a great deal of support. The parents in the community who send their children to Coralwood are very active and the it was my understanding that the school raises a great deal of money through grants awarded.

    It is a unique place and due to parents strong involvement I feel it is extremely successful.

    I live extremely close to Coralwood. My children went to Oak Grove as it was not an option when my children started school. My last one just graduated.

  23. Sir Quagmire says:

    @Kiko Jewel. I agree with your comments on the suspicious hires from North Carolina. There is one hearing officer working in Studeny Relations who is from North Carolina. Funny thing is is that he still lives in North Carilina and we foot the bill for him to live in an extended stay hotel during the week and pay his gas to travel to and from DCSD each weekend. Surely we could have saved this money and found someone local and qualified. The other hearing officer is from South Carolina and can’t follow a script for an evidentiary hearing to save his life. Be sure and pay attention if he comes to your school.

  24. dekalbite2 says:

    Why are no names attached to the DeKalb Organizational Chart?

    Click to access organizational-chart.pdf

    Why are NO Titles or Salary Schedules for non teaching staff (the majority of employees and the majority of taxpayer expense) not published on the DCSS website? EVERY other metro area school system publishes this information. Why does DeKalb refuse to publish the Titles and Salary Schedules of 8,000+ non teaching staff? Taxpayers have spent hundreds of thousands in Compensation audits (most recent was 2012) in order to consolidate Titles and Salary Schedules of non teaching employees.

  25. H.A. Hurley says:

    I have never seen so many layers of expensive positions on a system organizational chart. Super and DCS BOE are playing a shell game with DC citizens and school employees. What happened to public knowledge? Should this not be available to us?
    What gives, what are the real reasons why DCS is allowed to limp along for years and waste millions of $$? Who is afraid to truly take on the DCS? What do they know that we don’t? Something is rotten in Denmark, beyond the obvious outlined in every comment made in this blog.
    Who is afraid that there may be even dirtier linens, that some people were paid off to keep quiet? What is it? Things are so grossly out of wack that the lack of urgency and continuously giving permission to allow the super and BOE to do whatever the hell they want to do.
    Any ideas? Let’s get the names and payscales for all the positions on the admin. organiz. chart.
    Shine the light on the DCS underbelly!

  26. @H.A. & dekalbite2 – we actually asked for the org chart with the names filled in last August, via an Open Records Request — to no avail. See all of our requests here:
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/dcss-files/open-records-requests/

  27. H.A. Hurley says:

    DSW: You requested info under the Open Record law, but no results? Any reason why? Or, DCS doesn’t have to provide anything they don’t want to release. They call all the other shots. Although, there are some decent BOE members who tried very hard to work inspite of this corruption, the rest need to go. Including the superintendent. I have this sinking feeling that nothing will ever change, except get worse. The thieves will squeeze the last DCS dime out of the system, and it will take several generations to make positive improvement, if possible.
    Feel very hopeless!

  28. We have made approximately 38 Open Records requests to DeKalb County Schools. Of those requests, only about 10 provided any usable information. For 3 others, DCSS asked us to pay nearly $11,000 for information they already have and should be able to easily provide.

    We also sent 4 Open Records requests to Mark Elgart at AdvancED/SACS. According to the current Open Records law, AdvancED/SACS is required to provide information in response to these requests if they make more than 1/3 of their income from tax dollars (i.e., all the money they collect from public schools who want to maintain their accreditation). AdvancED/SACS says they don’t make even 1/3 of their income from tax dollars and they have refused our requests.

    So, we have a cash-gobbling entity (AdvancED/SACS)
    whose accreditation means NOTHING about the quality of education our children are receiving (they said so themselves; Nancy Jester has them on audio tape),
    who is not responsible in any way to the public who actually funds them (AdvancED/SACS) with tax dollars,
    putting DCSS on probation,
    enabling an un-elected group of political appointees who have few ties to public education and even less understanding of public education,
    to recommend to a governor who is so uninterested in public education that his first appointee to represent the 4th district sends his child to private school,
    and when that appointee leaves, the governor cannot be bothered to appoint someone else to that position,
    to replace the admittedly horrible, inept DCSS Board of Education with more political appointees,
    thereby disenfranchising all voters in DeKalb County, GA.

    Oh, and by the way, if you were thinking that we might get some advice from the Georgia First Amendment Foundation regarding AdvancED/SACS’s obligation under Georgia’s Open Records Act, don’t hold your breath. We wrote them about 2 weeks ago. No answer. They moved a whole lot faster, though, when we made a donation to them a few months ago. But, that was then; this is now.

  29. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    I am not a palace insider. I am simply a schoolhouse employee who has had enough. I have experienced administrative bullying firsthand. They will make your life a living h—- by micro-managing you and sending the entire administrative team at you. The employees who have goals to obtain a job in The Golden Palace will stab you in the back for a chance at a promotion. Even attempts at a transfer is hindered as they call other principals and tell them ugly things about you, while Ms. Such and Such receives her promotion based upon her relationship with the principal…and not based upon her classroom performance.

    My colleagues are very aware of the current state of this district. I mentioned earlier that many people are afraid to speak out because that’s the only explanation as to why people are quiet. I have never been afraid to speak the truth. I have never been a sellout!

    On another note, I really believe that all of the board members have the district’s interest at heart, but some of them are incompetent….the real problem….. those who work in the Golden Palace….

  30. Embarrassed Employee says:

    The palace is a problem. I am afraid if we clean house in the palace who will be promoted. Everyone in the palace is connected. If those there are promoted to more power then the wheel will keep turning. It’s difficult to make my point without names as examples. There are several departments that are built on strictly family and friends.

  31. waitaminit 1 says:

    Thanks for pursuing the oppen records issue, particularly with regard to SACS. What you would find out (and you can surmise that you are from the resistance you get) is that the entire review/replace/control process is only there to further a state political agenda. That isn’t to say that it is solely Republican either, it’s just easier to sell to Repub Delegates (and dovetails with the charter schools movement) in total than it would have been under Progressive Dem gold dome control.
    The problem with quwestioning and reviewing the legality and use of the “tool” SACS in urban counties around Atlanta at this point is that people either say you’re interested in keeping the status quo (say, in DeKalb)–or you risk not getting meaningful action if you make SACS an issue.

    At some point it needs to be made clear (it eventually will become clear) that having our state elected officials allow SACS to do their work (and the AJC) for them will only lead to trouble down the line. They obviously already have been granted far too much power–for absolutely no reason (referring to Jester’s and your points about the nonsense of their reviews and lack of real academic results mandated.)

    BTW–given the almost weekly headlines we are getting about SACS sanctions in either the state or the South, it will become clear to First Amendment activists that the unelected for-profit is actually an arm of government and must open up….and it would be great headlines for Manheimer to initiate an inquiry.

  32. WhatAShame!!! says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous on so many levels!!!! SMH : (

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