UPDATE: An Open Letter to the Georgia State Board of Education

DSW editorial staff met to discuss the concerns of our readers regarding our call for 4th district representation on the State Board of Education before a decision is made about recommending removal of the DeKalb Board of Education.  Having listened to and evaluated your comments, pro and con, we now believe that 4th District representation won’t make any difference and, in fact, may create an unacceptable delay.  Accordingly, we have taken that out of our Open Letter to the State Board.  We have made a few other editorial changes, as well.  (In case you are wondering, that Open Letter had not yet been sent to the individual members of the State Board until we could reach a consensus with our editorial staff.)  Thanks for your input!  

January 21, 2013

DeKalb School Watch Two (DSW) has been monitoring DeKalb County School System (DCSS) for the past 3 years, maintaining and publishing an open-access archive of documentable information. DSW provides a safe platform for critical information dissemination and discussion without the threat of retribution from DCSS. It has taken a while, but teachers and others on the front lines and/or being abused by the DCSS superintendent, senior administrators, school principals and school board finally trust us. We are an all-volunteer staff with extensive experience in DeKalb County Schools (15 years or more per person) who also have full-time jobs, families and community commitments – in addition to our work on DeKalb School Watch blog. A year of publishing as a WordPress blog and DSW has passed the benchmark of 1 million unique views.

After live-blogging during the January 17, 2013 hearing for DeKalb County Schools Board of Education before the Georgia Board of Education, the DSW editorial staff met to compare notes. Quite a lot of misinformation and half-truths were tendered on January 17. Our concern was and is:

  • A reluctance on the part of most DeKalb School Board members to speak plainly, bluntly and directly, thereby giving you what we know to be misinformation.

Truthiness vs Truthfulness. Below are some of the more egregious examples of DeKalb School Board members’ displays of truthiness [“the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary] at the January 17, 2013 hearing:

●Disappearance of Textbook Funds
DCSS Board chair Gene Walker defended the apparent disappearance of millions of dollars from a line of credit – and the mis-spending of hundreds of thousands more – intended for textbooks, labeling concerns as “rumors” and saying that there were invoices and receipts for the spent funds. He said “certainly someone” has the job of tracking the books. Who? He did not know. He is just sure that all the books must be “somewhere in the system.”

Walker did not mention what the KPMG audit (NOT a forensic audit as touted by Superintendent Atkinson) of the supposed textbook transactions actually said about them:

Textbook Line of Credit
“KPMG was asked to gain an understanding of disbursements made from the $23,460,000 Bank of America line of credit. There were six disbursements, totaling $10,567,743.03, from the line of credit between December 28, 2009 and March 7, 2012.

Analysis
“KPMG requested support for the 6 disbursements. Upon our review we noted that four of the six were for textbooks, and the other two disbursements were related to professional fees.  KPMG received and analyzed invoices for only three of the four disbursements for textbook purchases. The District was not able to provide invoices for the remaining disbursement. KPMG obtained the Purchase Order numbers associated with this disbursement and obtained the invoice information from the Purchase Order file we had previously created.”

Type of Purchase Vendor Date Amount Support Provided
Non-Textbook Merchant Capital

12.28.2009

$164,220.00

Yes
Non-Textbook King & Spalding

2.19.2010

$71,700.00

Yes
Textbook Multiple

8.10.2010

$1,276,513.81

No
Textbook Multiple

12.20.2010

$7,221,328.52

Yes
Textbook Multiple

10.5.2011

$1,218,102.47

Yes
Textbook Multiple

3.7.2012

$615,878.23

Yes
Total:

$10,567,743.03

The line of credit for textbooks went to pay the underwriter (Merchant Capital) $164,220.00 and the law firm (King & Spalding) $71,700. Further, they located only 3 of the 4 supposed textbooks invoices. There was NO documentation for an August 10, 2010 disbursement of $1,276,513.81 (made under Tyson’s watch). And no one has located any of the textbooks.

●Tracking Expenses
We were also surprised that Gene Walker did not explain that the DCSS Board changed its policy regarding money the superintendent could spend without prior Board approval to satisfy an earlier request from AdvancED/SACS. Per DCSS Board policy, the change was read, publicly discussed in a DCSS Board work session, and left for 30 days for comments before voting on it. At no time did Atkinson or anyone on staff at DCSS indicate that the reporting requirements of the updated policy were not do-able with present personnel, software and equipment.

However, when Walker requested information, as specified in the policy, from Atkinson, she refused saying that she would need 5 or 6 additional employees and about $500,000 to accommodate his policy-based request. Using human discretion, Walker then asked Atkinson if she could provide the information for all expenditures between $75,000 and $100,000 (a smaller universe of expenditures) as a way to show AdvancED that DCSS was making an attempt to comply. Again Atkinson refused and complained to AdvancED/SACS that Walker was micromanaging and overstepping the bounds of his authority.

●More on Money Management
To be or not to be aggressive in tracking and managing DCSS funds … that is the question. In their most recent Special Team Report, AdvancED/SACS accuses the DCSS Board of being too aggressive and “interrogating” staff members when asking questions at Board meetings. We observe every Board meeting and we never saw anything that came even close to “interrogation.” In fact, something is going so badly wrong that we wanted Board members to ask even tougher questions. Invariably, staff members would come to the meetings unprepared to answer the most basic questions. They would promise to have the answer(s) by the next Board meeting, but they never did.

Subsequently, we discovered that Susan Hurst, the former Budget Manager for DCSS and now CFO for Decatur City Public Schools was, possibly acting with the knowledge of Larry Kimmel, Director of Finance, independently re-doing DCSS’s cash budget as a modified accrual budget to present for audit by the State. In doing this, Hurst also had to “cross walk” the DCSS chart of accounts to the State chart of accounts because DCSS’s records are not kept congruent with the State’s chart of accounts. (Nancy Jester’s blog and her statement to the State Board on Wednesday, January 17, 2013 noted that AdvancED failed to cite DCSS for non-compliance with financial reporting pursuant to their manual.)

Inexplicably, however, Hurst did NOT inform the DCSS Board about her independently created modified accrual budget.  Knowing the DCSS Board was using incorrect information, but that the State auditors would be none the wiser, Hurst allowed the Board to review DCSS financials and make budgeting decisions without providing the more accurate accrual reports, nor did she correct Board members’ public statements suggesting DCSS was flush with cash. We ask that you summon or subpoena Susan Hurst to publicly address this issue before the State Board.

On January 17, 2013, you (as a Board) criticized the DCSS Board for not being aggressive enough in tracking the money, in direct opposition to AdvancED/SACS’ position. So, which is it to be – more aggressive or not so much?

●E-mail Communication
Below is an example of the e-mails from DCSS Board member Sarah Copelin-Wood (Leadership DeKalb drop-out) to a constituent, Faye Andresen (Leadership DeKalb, Class of 2001; SPLOST III Oversight Committee; active and respected community volunteer).

“January 7, 2007
Hello Faye,
It is evident from your e-mail that you are continuing to weave your web of deceitfulness.
It is also apparent that you are most definitely ‘Confused.’
Therefore, let me help you – The Election Is Over – Get Over It.
HAVE A GREAT ONE!!
Sarah Copelin-Wood”

This was not an isolated incident.

Read the full e-mail exchange at: http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/08/faye-andresen-writes.html Andresen said nothing at all about an election. She was firmly, but politely, seeking clarity on spending, specifically SPLOST vs. other spending.

For the most part, DCSS Board members, with the exception of Nancy Jester, do not open, read or respond to their e-mails. We send our DSW e-mails via readnotify.com which tells us if, when and where e-mail was opened, how long it was read and if it was forwarded. We have a communications record.

Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson’s Competence and “Capacity”
We were shocked that DCSS Board member Pam Speaks, after dancing around whether or not Superintendent Atkinson has the “capacity” to work with the DCSS Board, in response to your questions, finally said that, yes, Atkinson does have the capacity.

We do not think Atkinson has the capacity to be a school system superintendent. She has two bankruptcies on her record, about which she “neglected” to inform the DCSS board, for items that a reasonable person would label as frivolous. Atkinson made repeated errors in the application documents she submitted to DCSS. (DSW covered the bankruptcies and sloppy application work on the blog and sent information to DCSS Board members prior to their vote on Atkinson making her the new school system superintendent.)

Atkinson’s staff submits, with her approval, incomplete and poorly done reports. Her staff, with her approval, comes to board meetings unable to answer the most basic questions and regularly misleads board members. Perhaps the most damning issue concerning Atkinson’s character and “capacity” to be a school system superintendent is her cool acceptance of plagiarism by a former consultant, Ralph Taylor, now a highly paid (6 figures) central office employee who blatantly plagiarized work that he submitted to DCSS for payment.

Superintendent Atkinson did not show up to the January 17, 2013 hearing, allegedly due to her father’s illness, nor did she send a representative. However, Atkinson kept Ramona Howell Tyson on the payroll – committing DCSS to pay for 2 superintendents during a time of financial crisis – and Tyson bears significant responsibility for the current financial straits of DCSS. Why did Atkinson not send Tyson? Prior to Tyson becoming the Interim Superintendent, a choice made by the indicted Crawford Lewis and approved by the DCSS Board, Tyson had been the COO – and in that capacity, likely approved payment to Lewis for the very things that figured heavily into his indictment on RICO charges. Tyson was one of 4 direct reports to Lewis.

●Legal Expenses
Legal fees are out of control and this DCSS Board has allowed that to continue, unabated, instead of decisively nipping it in the bud. In fact, this Board has approved spending additional money for legal counsel for former Board members, additional legal representation for Lewis and additional legal representation for Superintendent Atkinson (this is to DEFEND her refusal to release her text messages in yet another DeKalb County School System lawsuit!) This Board also is being sued by the teachers and staff in a class-action suit for the Board’s approval of halting their matching retirement contributions. If the teachers win this lawsuit – and we think they will — it will cost DeKalb over $50 million!

Here’s what we could find regarding spending on lawyers from the 2012 public access documents at the state:

Legal Counsel Firms

2012 Expenditures

Alexander & Associates [General Counsel]

   $1,465,097.74

Alston & Bird, LLP  [Everson v. DCSS]

  $9,085.00

Drew Eckl & Farnham, LLP  [Workers Comp]

   $9,082.62

Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson [Heery case*, former board members]

 $555,247.07

Foltz Martin, LLC [Heery case*, Simone Moon]

  $32,178.12

Goodman McGuffey Lindsey & Johnson, LLP  [Heery case*; Lewis]

   $57,743.34

King & Spalding   [Heery case*]

   $713,715.96

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, LLP  [General Counsel]

     $2,530,905.55

TOTAL: 

$5,357,055.40

 *The ill-advised Heery case, was entered into by Crawford Lewis, with board approval, at the insistence of Pat Pope (Reid), after Lewis, also with board approval, spent $3 million on a “study” that claimed to show DCSS would win this case concerning $100,000 and receive multiple millions of $$$ in “damages.”

The fees in the table above are only for 2012 and do not include excessive monies spent in the immediately preceding years, projected legal fees for 2013, nor legal fees owed to the prosecution when DCSS loses case after case after case.

●New DCSS Board Members?
What about the newest members of the DeKalb School Board? Elected in July 2012, but not sworn in until January 2013 – five months! – none of them – not one! – took the initiative to ask about new board member training. Contrast that with Nancy Jester. When elected to the board, Nancy Jester asked about and obtained new member training during the less-than-2-months between her election and when she was sworn in. We don’t need Board members who don’t know enough to ask about training, but apparently are willing to spend their time throwing their weight around.

That said, tossing out the DCSS Board will in no way solve DeKalb School System’s problems. For insight, read part of an article written by former school board member, Jim Redovian, for the Dunwoody Crier: Go here to read more.

“Call me a dreamer, but if we want to move our children to the next level to compete in the future, we must look at ways outside of the box.

“Another area we must look to improve is how the systems are governed. The school board has, by law, only the authority to hire and fire the superintendent, approve and oversee the budget, which, by the way, is developed and proposed by the superintendent and to set policy, which also is written by the superintendent.

“The board has no authority over the day-to-day operation of the system, which includes the hiring and firing of employees. The superintendent is responsible for all administration, curriculum and day-to-day business.”

●Thank You
If you have read this far, we thank you for doing so. Perhaps what we have said here has brought up some other questions. We will be glad to provide you with any information we have. You may contact DeKalb School Watch at dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com.

DeKalb County taxpayers and voters have been kicked around enough.  Our children are suffering and their prospects for the future are permanently damaged. Our teachers are being treated like 2nd class citizens instead of the educated, caring professionals they are.  Our property values — for many of us our major investment — are in a freefall.  One of the most diverse — and formerly, fastest growing — counties in the Southeast, an economic engine for Metro Atlanta, DeKalb County’s prospects for prosperity and continuing growth are dimming.  That’s bad news  — very bad! — for State tax collection. 

This quote from above-the-fold on the front page of the January 20, 2013 AJC says it all:
“The Wisconsin man relocating to Georgia hasn’t yet stepped foot in the state, but he already knows one thing: Stay away from DeKalb County.”

Thank you,

DeKalb School Watch Editors

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91 Responses to UPDATE: An Open Letter to the Georgia State Board of Education

  1. A testament to Sarah’s bad behavior (which she denied when questioned by the state board) appears at the link to a petition asking the state to remove the DeKalb board. It is quoted here:

    Thank you for your support and I wish we could stop after we petitioned the GABOE but the fight for our schools is not over. Thankfully, the GABOE did refuse to approve the consent order the GADOE had created with the DeKalb’s VERY expensive legal team. Instead, the GABOE will hold another hearing next month. It was difficult to watch our school board members. Chairman Walker and Sarah Woods actually fell asleep. Please check out the photos and watch Viola Davis’ video. I would have never believed it if I had not seen it with my own two eyes. My friend took the Sleeping Sarah photo! https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/so-long-farewell-auf-wiedersehen-goodbye/

    On a personal note, I sat behind the GABOE lawyers. Sarah Copeland-Woods was sitting in the opposite section behind the DeKlab lawyers. She sat near Chairman Walker, Jay Cunningham and Ms. Elder. Ms.. Copeland-Woods perhaps recognized me from the petition I began, rudely elbowed fellow board members who were sitting around her and pointed towards me. I was so uncomfortable. The women who were sitting around me felt uncomfortable for me too. They could not believe she was pointing and staring at me like “that” but I just smiled uncomfortably thinking they could not hurt my children as they were safely at Saint Pius X.

    Somehow, I ended up in the hallway at the same time as Ms. Copeland-Woods during the hearing. Shocked, I did not say a word. Then, unprovoked in the hallways of GABOE she yelled at me! She yelled, I was childish and immature. I briefly told her I had done nothing wrong and walked toward the restroom. An officer had heard her yelling and he watched us go into the restroom where thankfully she was silent. To my surprise, Dr. Pam Speaks was in the restroom as well. As I washed my hands, I asked my friend not to leave me alone. Dr. Speaks thought I was asking my friend not to leave because of her as I had said a board member was in the restroom with us and she had yelled at me. I assured Dr. Speaks that I was not talking about her. I thanked her for her service to the citizens of Dekalb. Ms. Copeland-Woods walked out from the stall and Dr. Speaks, I think put it all together and realized I had been yelled at and was avoiding a confrontation with Copeland-Wood. Dr. Speaks apologized for her fellow board member and told us just to ignore her.

    I sit here today and just can’t believe its all real. I believe most DKBOE members can not and have not changed after probation. Lashing out at a stakeholder in the hallways is unacceptable. This is just one little example and but it so, so, so WRONG and also very real to me that unless this board is replaced nothing is going to change.

    DeKlb has BOE members who can do the right thing but they do not see their role or believe it is their responsibility to be their brother’s keeper.
    Lashing out at a stakeholder in the hallways is unacceptable and reflective of a much bigger problem that DKBOE can not solve.

  2. WL says:

    Regarding the statement about lack of representation for the 4th Congressional District, it’s important to note that because of redistricting, DeKalb County is divided into three Congressional Districts–the 4th, 5th and 6th. A little more than half the residents of DeKalb County are in the 4th. So yes, the missing representative from the 4th is a problem, but maybe not so much so that the proceedings should be delayed..

  3. concernedmom30329 says:

    And there is no guarantee that the appointee will be particularly familiar with DeKalb County. In fact, Israel was appointed because of his support of Technical Colleges. Most likely the appointee will be a political one, someone who has given money to Deal. (Based on his appointments to other state positions, no telling who will get this seat.)

    Please don’t delay this process. It won’t help.

  4. DeKalb Observer says:

    When Sarah (and Zepora, for that matter) reamed Faye Andreson, who was serving on an oversight committee to review SPLOST funding, I wished at the time that the exchange had gone viral. Faye had too much class to push it: she simply recognized she was dealing with absolute morons and withdrew her service. And she was exactly the caliber of person we needed to keep a watchful eye on SPLOST spending. The oversight committee, as I recall was later disbanded. The indictments of Lewis and Pope-Reid soon followed.

    That said, this little interaction needs to be reported to the State School Board and the State School Board Association. Perhaps witnesses to this exchange can get three minutes before the next BoE work session and call Sarah out. I’m sorry she’s ill. But that’s no excuse.

  5. sam123 says:

    I read that there are no invoices for a textbook purchase during August 2010. The county had adopted and purchased a new reading series that month for each elementary school. It is being used in all of the schools. I am retired but I think that it is called “Storytown”. I can’t remember the publisher. We were told that the textbooks were being leased. In addition, each classroom teacher has a couple of resource kits to support the textbooks. If they want to find the books…they are in every elementary classroom.

  6. Thanks Sam – we’ll pass this on…

  7. howdy1942 says:

    All of this is just so incredible – so unbelievable. I would like for the Georgia BOE to vote on removing the Dekalb County School Board. It is very, very clear that this School Board with Walker as its Chairman is not capable to successfully address the SACS issues. Based on your record of Atkinson, I would hope that this new Board’s first action would be to terminate Atkinson – for cause. Given that the situation with SACS are grown worse during her 18 months as superintendent and so many of the other actions you sight, that shouldn’t be too difficult.

    We need a new Board and we need a new superintendent. I urge the State Board not to delay any further.

  8. You are correct about the division of DeKalb County into 3 Congressional districts, of course. As you also said, a little more than half the residents of DeKalb County live in the 4th district — without representation on the State Board of Education. We do not want to delay the proceedings. However, we also do not want to see the DeKalb BOE weasel out by claiming a lack of representation. Governor Deal, who, unfortunately, will NEVER be known as the Education Governor, needs to fulfill his responsibility and appoint someone to represent the 4th District on the Board of Education.

  9. A little more than half the residents of DeKalb County live in the 4th district — without representation on the State Board of Education. We do not want to delay the proceedings. However, we also do not want to see the DeKalb BOE weasel out by claiming a lack of representation. Governor Deal, who, unfortunately, will NEVER be known as the Education Governor, needs to fulfill his responsibility and appoint someone to represent the 4th District on the Board of Education.

  10. Bye bye says:

    I find the argument about no state board member from DeKalb silly. In some ways, we are better off without a board member who is trying to protect their property values.
    Brad Bryant was on the State Board for many many years he also is a real estate developer in our county. You think his first priority would have been the health of the school system or his property values.
    From what I can tell Israel is a private school parent. Not sure his priorities would be our priorities.

  11. sam123 says:

    This is concerning the reading series bought for the school year 2010-2011. The publisher is Harcourt and the name of the reading series is “Storytown”. Invoices in the boxes were issued per grade level for each school.

  12. waitaminit 1 says:

    This resolution will help with your open records requests. The best part about it is that it spells out DSW’s credentials. It moves you from a blog to a full-out watch dog agency–most importantly that has the ear of the public. I have seen spokespersons with far less community support be granted the bully pulpit.
    Please include a copy of this resolution with any open records requests you make in the future.

  13. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    concernedmom
    Where are we going to be in 5 years? – We can replace the board, Superintendent and administration this year but to what end? Those ends might be more easily obtained with existing Super and BOE. The “powers that be” currently have leverage to do something. All leverage is lost with a new BOE and administration.

    Bye Bye
    No state board member from DeKalb – DSW is right to be cautious. You and I don’t care, but this will be one more thing the lawyers can throw into the fray. 90% white state board, white state super and white governor removing a bunch of elected black leaders. This won’t go over well.

  14. Northlake Mom says:

    DSW, did you actually email this “Open Letter” to the GADOE Board members? Do we have any confidence that any of those Board members are following this blog, or reading the emails we’ve sent them? I don’t want to send so many emails that they think I’m a pest, but I also don’t want them to think we’re appeased by the action they took at the Jan 17 hearing. They definitely need to know about the snoozing at the hearing — actions speak louder than words, and the fact that Board members were asleep shows just how unconcerned they are about this mess. No amount of training can teach these Board members ethics or financial common sense. I was already aghast that the Board did such a lousy job negotiating Crawford Lewis’ contract that we were obligated to pay for his legal defense, even though the charges were for malfeasance, and not for actions that were within the scope of his DCSD duties. But then when the Board recently voted to voluntarily continue to pay for Crawford Lewis’ legal fees, above and beyond what we were required to pay under his contract, astonishes me! There is no reason to pay a single cent more for this ex-employee! (Does he have the “goods” on our Board members? Is that why he’s still on the DCSD dole? Is the Board buying his silence?) Do we need to send more emails to the GADOE?

  15. Silly? We are afraid you missed the point. We want a board member appointed for the 4th District in order to eliminate an obvious reason for current board members to sue, thereby dragging this ad infinitum. We want closure.

    Actually, you are part of the ongoing problem. You obviously don’t care enough to know that small parts of DeKalb County are also in the 5th District and the 6th District (easy enough to google). The issue with leaving the largest part of DeKalb County (4th District) unrepresented on the State School Board is that it provides an obvious reason for current board members to sue, thereby dragging this ad infinitum. We want the Governor to do his job properly so we can have closure and move forward in the only way currently allowed by Georgia law.

  16. educator90 says:

    All i’s need to be dotted and t’s crossed, as I see a big fight if the board is let go. These adults do not care about the children of DeKalb and are fearful that the truth will come out. They will do anything to not lose their job.

  17. We will email the Open Letter later today. Do the State Board of Education members read their emails? We don’t know. Do the DeKalb County Board of Education members read their emails? We know the answer to that. No, they don’t — with the exception of Nancy Jester. And we have documented proof of that. To be fair, DeKalb School Watch has not emailed any of the three new members of the Board.

  18. DSW, what are you doing?? You want to delay this embarrassment of a public spectacle even longer than necessary?

    You may be missing the point the state board was trying to impress upon the DeKalb board… when you are a part of a “board” of education, you have an obligation to serve the best interest of all the children.

    Make haste, not waste!

  19. btw, the election was in July, not June. Either way, it was supposed to take place in November. I got the feeling they were hoping that subject wouldn’t come up, either.

  20. We have had responses in the past from Dr. Speaks, Ms. Jester, Mr. McChesney and a generic reply from Ms. Edler. Nothing from anyone else. And we have tried them all.

  21. Israel was drawn out of his district when the new apportionments (districts) were drawn after the Census. The Governor was supposed to appoint someone to the post in a timely manner. He has not. In order for everything to be in order, he needs to do this ASAP in our opinion. (AKA:CYA)

  22. July 31 was the election, so technically that’s 5 months the new board members had before they officially took office.

    More disturbing to us is that the board was supposed to vote on a new chair and vice chair and has not done so. That means that we currently have Walker running our board when he really should no longer be doing so AND they have not elected a vice chair to replace Bowen who is no longer in office.

    So, we have a chairman who stated, for the record, who only believes he represents the interests of half the county. And, a superintendent who is MIA. And, no vice chair.

    Talk about taxation without representation – we truly have no one looking out for half the county! Rise Up, DeKalb County! This is unfair, unethical and intolerable!

  23. DSW, no offense intended by this next comment because you know we appreciate all that you have done and are doing to call out the problems in this school system, but …. if you are planning to send your letter, you might want to try to better represent the opinions of the group, if that is something that is important to “you” (collectively, individually, etc.).

    After reading the comments, I don’t think you have a consensus among your readers that we agree with your request to give the board more time until the Governor can appoint someone. That sounds too much like a stalling tactic and I’m not so sure that is in the best interest of the children here. Your “name” carries weight, so please consider your words carefully or you might lose that credibility you were talking about in your letter that took years to build.

    Again, no offense intended, but hear us out…

    If the state board votes unanimously to suspend the board (as we suspect they will), the extra vote wouldn’t have made a difference. If it is a close margin, let the burden of complaint rest upon the board members to bring up during their individual hearings in front of the Governor. He will be making the final determination anyway.

    In fact, if you think about it, we may be better off not having a newly appointed state BOE member chiming in, anyway. Who knows who that person might consider to be his/her master. With our luck, that rep. would end up trying to pay off the others or change the score cards or some other devious method for stacking the deck. And, don’t you think our own DeKalb board members did a fine job representing the entire district? The whole big, nasty, ugly mess of dysfunctional, irresponsible individuals who showed such a lack of respect for the process, the findings, the citizens and each other that we should all be ashamed for them.

    There is enough evidence in the report that any reasonable person can see there have been plenty of opportunities for this board to change and they have not even remotely attempted to do so in good faith. There have been plenty of warnings that the consequences would be more severe the longer they ignored their own rules and continued to operate in an ineffective, wasteful manner. They even admitted themselves that this Probation status was the first real “wake up call” they had to the serious nature of the problems. Really?

    Change may feel uncomfortable and make us anxious, but it has gotten to the point that those feelings would be welcome relief from the anger, pain and heartache so many parents, educators and children have been suffering under this reign of terror.

    Remember, they will be suspended – not overthrown. And, the Governor still has time to decide after he hears their recommendation. If he thinks he needs to hear from another board member, he can appoint someone at that time.

    We have all been crying out for help. Let’s not be the ones to say, “Oh, when I yelled for help, I didn’t mean RIGHT NOW.”

    DSW and Nancy Jester advocated for an appointed board for the charter schools under Amendment 1 and did not have a problem with it. So if it is good enough for the goose, it’s good enough for the gander.

  24. momfromhe11 says:

    I also received replies from Jester, Speaks and McChesney that addressed questions I asked (of the entire BOE). The only other reply was from Edler, who sent out boilerplate acknowledgement that she received my email.

  25. Thanks for your thoughts, Get The Cell Out. We considered and discussed all of that before we wrote the Open Letter to the State Board of Education. Frankly, as we have said several times before, we are concerned only with closing a loophole that, left open, will enable the current DeKalb Schools Board of Education to sue the State Board and drag this whole thing out ad infinitum, resulting in more expense and more time lost.

  26. waitaminit 1 says:

    So many questions have been raised here that it may require a sit down of some sort. You challenge then get the power of the media–any media (Creative Loafing, whatever) to report that the state is hedging. I’d be willing to help, but my guess is you have more diplomatic reps.

  27. waitaminit 1 says:

    my view is the state map is already laid out. Negotiations with board members will result in retaining them but firing the Super. Then an interim named as forced by govs office in those negotiations. You might consider supporting such a tactic somehow.

  28. dunwoody minute says:

    Some local coverage from the Dunwoody Crier . .. public education needs to be localized. I like what I read about the portfolio model Nancy Jester is discussing.

    http://www.thecrier.net/news/article_610c22a2-64ad-11e2-b798-001a4bcf887a.html

  29. Let’s look for the rule book on this one, but truth be told… I doubt any letter is going to change much in this scenario anyway. The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round … if you know what I mean.

  30. Actually, we will take whatever help you can provide! Thanks!

  31. We agree with you, ncsu*1980.

    We must ask you, though, to post under only one name.

  32. waitaminit 1 says:

    This campaign has been tactically orchestrated to appear as if organic in nature. We have new city of Republicans (if not solely leaders) first, we have SACS come in, we have a charter vote and we have the AJC fan flames throughout. In actuality, the city movement in DeKalb was actually leveraged by the hope of a new school system in the first place. It was couched as a legitimate way to further bolster the cluster process–a charter cluster that didnt require individual charter schools, nor additional county funds. Such a cluster was viewed as a “first step” toward separation, first by innovation under new state rules, then by marginalizing the school board.

    Any city or neighborhood will tell you that schools are the primary determinant of an areas well being particularly economic–even more than forming a new city. If you have good schools, a city is rendered only one of any number of governing alternatives: city, township, business organization or groups of civic associations to enhance representation at a county level. The priority is schools, but you simply have to get the pins in place politically. The realization was there that the city must come first. The school aystem has been the top interest from the beginning.

    You might say “so what” about the tactics involved–it is needed. As I pointed out, it isn’t, given the ease which individual charter schools can now be created and/or a similar effort to city school legislation being placed on a new charter cluster law. Secondly, lets not simply accept the spin coming out of the new cities and understand how things really work and what the agendas really are. Such an understanding might help people when the Maestros propose something that you aren’t in favor of and is simply a creation of political momentum and media creation.

  33. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    GETtheCELLoutATL
    I don’t think kick everybody out and hope for the best is a good plan. That’s not change, just another cycle of what we have done over and over for the last 10 years. Your analogy to the Charter School board is flawed in that the Charter School board is permanently appointed. If the Governor permanently appoint the DeKalb BOE reps (now that would be a change), kicking everybody out might work. We are going to be right back where we are now in 5 years without some major changes in the way DCSD operates.

  34. educator90 says:

    DeKalb Inside Out, what do you see as another idea? I know that we are seriously thinking of dumping our underwater house here in DeKalb and getting out of dodge before the value goes down even more. I don’t see anything turning around until the board, superintendent, and palace workers (anyone involved in the current way of doing things in DCSS) are gone. Until that happens the kids of DeKalb don’t have a chance. We can’t afford to keep giving to the few in the magnet programs and keeping them the bright stars. We’ve almost reached the top millage rate that can be charged to people and something has to give soon.

  35. thedeal2 says:

    DIO, how long have you been in this system? All I’ve seen since I’ve been here are various forms of kicking the can down the road – replace a couple of board members, give them time to settle in, get some kind of warning or bad news, wait to see if they correct themselves, wait for an interim superintendent to be appointed, wait 18 months for a new hire, wait for the state legislation, wait for another election, wait to see if they implement what they said they would, wait to see who is the new board chair, wait to see how those new members do, wait, wait, wait. NO MORE WAITING.

  36. concernedmom30329 says:

    waitaminute

    Nope. N. DeKalb, particularly the areas with the new cities have consistently turned over their board members for the last decade. What has most of S. DeKalb done?

    The school system is destroying S. DeKalb — slowly and surely. Not just the property values but also the future as students aren’t being educated.

    But I am guessing you are actually a central DeKalb resident, one who is a solid Democrat and one who is affluent and elitist rather than someone who is really impacted by the train wreck that is DeKalb.

  37. AnonDeKalbResident says:

    The current rumor down at the Gold Dome is that the Gov may not do anything with this, give the board another chance. The reason is his reelection is coming up. He needs to understand that if he does nothing to help us here, we will actively work against him for letting us down.

  38. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Educator and TheDeal

    Keep the board and administration
    The state currently has leverage and can force real change in DCSD. We MUST have local control in the form of a Portfolio District, district wide independent charter schools, or independent school districts. The administration and board can be strong armed like they did at APS. If these changes are written into the consent agreement, then the state will continue to have the leverage to affect real change.

    Kick OUT the board and administration
    The BOE will sue the state. If the state wins, a bunch of white people will kick a bunch of black people out of office. That won’t go over well. If the DeKalb Delegation gets their hands in the appointments, the board will be as bad if not worse than it is now. If we get good appointees, they will have 12-18 months to make permanent changes. At the end of that time, the state will have lost all its leverage and South DeKalb will be looking for some payback. DCSD will become worse than it is now.

    What are your thoughts about beating the drums for local control now?

    –DIO

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