DeKalb Students: Your Future Can’t Wait!

by Mpaza S. Kapembwa

DeKalb County students, the adults entrusted to lead the school system have failed you.

All rights reserved @ Brothersoft

All rights reserved @ Brothersoft

The DeKalb County school system is on probation. The biggest reason the system is on probation and might lose accreditation is because Board of Education members are not making decisions that will benefit all students.

They are concerned about decisions that will keep them in office. This comes at the expense of your education. If the system loses its accreditation, you and your parents — mostly you — have the most to lose. Without accreditation, it will be hard for you to get into college or receive scholarships.

Since being put on probation, the DeKalb Board has not taken responsibility for the probation or even apologized for putting you at risk. Board members are, instead, pointing fingers. Board Chair Dr. Eugene Walker just announced that the DeKalb Board has decided to hire lawyers, diverting more money from your education, to challenge the State Board of Education. The State Board will recommend to Governor Deal whether or not to replace DeKalb’s Board members after the February 21st hearing. The DeKalb Board is more concerned about protecting their political careers and reputations than they are about your education.

When the DeKalb Board announced the hiring of Mr. Michael Thurmond as interim Superintendent last week, it seemed there was hope for a fresh start. Mr. Thurmond quickly laid out his priorities and you are not on the list. He said he will do all he can and talk to whomever he can to make sure the Governor does not replace the DeKalb Board. It seems the top priority of the superintendent is to protect those who got you into this mess.

You can no longer afford to be silent. Your future can’t wait. In the 1960s and ’70s, college students mobilized and forced the government to act on issues that were important to them.
DeKalb Student Voice will be a student-led platform that will get school leaders paying attention to what is important to you. Through this platform, you can organize a club at your school that will write, email and call your elected representatives to show that you care about your education and demand accountability from DeKalb public schools leadership.

We’ve been taught that the “pen is mightier than the sword.” It is time for students to draw ink in the battle for their own education. Engage, contribute, and agitate as an student leader of DeKalb Student Voice. To get started, visit DeKalb Student Voice and become a member of the DSV Board, a Chapter leader or blogger. You can also email to get started.

Do it now – your future can’t wait.

Mpaza S. Kapembwa is a 2011 Cross Keys High School graduate who now attends Williams College. He is a Gates Millennium Scholar, Coca Cola Scholar and Dell Scholar.

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, Co-conspirators, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Education in the South, Fraud & Corruption, Friends-and-Family, GA Legislature / Laws / O.C.G.A., Gene Walker, Georgia Education, Georgia State Board of Education, Michael Thurmond, SACS/Accreditation and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to DeKalb Students: Your Future Can’t Wait!

  1. DeKalb County High School and Middle School PTAs and PTSAs: Please find a way to get this editorial into the hands of your students. Publish it in the student newspaper. Publish it in the PTA communications (online and/or paper) to parents. If your school is run by the DCSS admin leaders you will be blocked from disseminating this by the principal. Don’t let that stop you. It is your school supported by your tax dollars. Find a way …

  2. educator90 says:

    Is there something that parents and tax payers can do to stop this??? As a community we need to rise up against these tyrants. I’m not sure who voted for this use of funds, but those people need to go, as they do not have the best interest of the children in mind.

  3. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Nice op-ed Mpaza Kapembwa. I don’t agree with everything you said, but I hope you will continue to contribute to this blog. Thanks, –DIO

  4. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DCSD board voted 7-2 at this meeting to bring in Wilson, Morton & Downs, LLC in connection with the State Board of Education hearing. I’ll give you two guesses as to who voted ‘NO’ to more lawyers, but you’re only going to need one guess.

    I’d also like to add that they are doing the will of a majority of DeKalb County. This is what the majority wants.

  5. educator90 says:

    What majority? The south end of the county?? REALLY???? They still haven’t waken up???? Where do they think the money is coming from to pay for all of these lawyers???? Our homes are going to lose more value, which means less tax income if the crap doesn’t stop. This has become a nationwide issue, with friends living all over knowing about our school system. I know that we are willing to take a hit on our house and credit to get the heck out of DeKalb, at this point if the board isn’t removed and things don’t improve. No use in staying when crime in your area keeps increasing and the schools suck.

  6. Chamblee Dad says:

    Did they have a vote on the chair today? I know that was also on the agenda. If so, how did that vote come out? – not that it really matters, other than Jester/Speaks trying to lay groundwork for possibly being put back on if full board is removed.

  7. This came from one of DSW’s regular readers and commenters:
    “Today’s (2013.2.19) Board agenda listed for approval two new outsiders to help with SACS issues: Thurbert Baker, attorney with McKenna Long (heard of him?) and Dr. Valya S. Lee, from “Educating with Ease”. I have not found a website yet for that organization, but it is described by other business sites as an “Educational support service”.

    “I did find Dr. Lee’s resume from several years ago, when she applied to the Birmingham school system. That resume is attached to this email. Note that her “doctorate” is from Argosy University, the online/mail order diploma mill that is the favorite “higher education” location for DeKalb admins. If you want to talk with her, her home phone number in Mableton may be 770-460-6628. Good luck and enjoy.”

    NOTE: This came to the DSW e-mail. Unless we are given specific permission in the e-mail, we do not publish names of commenters who send their comments to DSW e-mail []

  8. Procopius from Constantinople says:

    I thought Atty Wilson was one of the good guys. I plan to show my student later today a picture of a man that will do his best to see that the current system stays in place, sacrificing the future of my student and others. It’s a shame. There is no honor.

  9. Chamblee Dad says:

    OK. Now I see they have a called meeting tomorrow 10:30 @ the Ga. School Board Assoc. followed by a 5:30 meeting back @ Palace to elect Chair. In a hurry are they?

  10. educator90 says:

    How much are these people costing tax payers? Sorry, but Lee’s degree is BS. We don’t need any more online degreed people telling us how to educate kids. Not one has helped, and has only cost tax payers millions, and kids their future.

  11. Bill says:

    The DBOE hiring more attorneys to challenge the law is outrageous! More money taken away from educating our children.

    Will there be a protest at the 5:30pm ‘Called Meeting’ tomorrow? I’m ‘IN!’ The only way to get the news media’s attention is if there are people there with protest signs.

    Dekalb Inside Out, “what the majority wants”? Was this in sarcasm?

    It occurred to me that most who post here are ready for the DBOE to go. Are there “supporters” of the deadwood board members? Is there a website? Is there a forum? Are there people who think the DBOE is getting treated unfairly? I’d like to hear/read their point of view.

  12. Please do your research and report responsibly. Most universities offer some on-line courses as well as, on site courses. Argosy University is one of those universities, just as Tech and Ga. State are exploring these options. By the way, it is not where one graduates from but what one knows and does well. I wish the DeKalb Schools the best. We have a long way to go and it is going to take working together, which includes ‘Every Board Member” and the taxpayers.

  13. bettyandveronica1 says:

    oh no, they didn’t. Aw hell no. These fools just need to go. Loved the State Board’s reply. WE are having a meeting…

  14. bettyandveronica1 says:

    DIO, you have said this before, “this is what a majority of Dekalb wants”. I do not agree and I really don’t understand why you keep saying it. . First of all, the people who elected Orson, wanted him not his new found alliance with Walker. Second, I know for a fact that McMahon’s district had absolutely no idea we were electing a yes man to Orson. Womack had to go and this was the bargain. But we thought he at least had a spine. Now as to the south, I think there are more parents out there who are coming around to the idea that their elected board rep are not helping, have never helped and will never help their communities or kids. They need a better choice. Just because someone was elected to office does not mean they will do what they promise. That is the nature of politics. The MAJORITY OF DEKALB DOES NOT WANT CORRUPTION, NEPOTISM, CRONYISM and MISMANAGEMENT of our tax dollars. So stop saying it.

  15. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    @DeKalb Inside Out…can you put numbers on this “majority” about which you keep speaking?

  16. DeKalb County school board sues to avoid suspension

    The DeKalb County school board filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a state law that could result in the removal of the nine school board members.

    The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent a hearing by the Georgia Board of Education Thursday.

    The hearing could result in a recommendation to suspend the DeKalb board. Such a recommendation would give Gov. Nathan Deal authority to remove the DeKalb board per a 2011 law. The law requires a hearing — like the one scheduled Thursday — for any school district whose accreditation is on probation. DeKalb was put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in December. The agency threatened to strip accreditation altogether if the school board doesn’t address financial and management concerns.

    The lawsuit, filed by Decatur attorney Robert Wilson on behalf of the DeKalb district, alleges that the 2011 law violates the Georgia constitution because it authorizes removal of local elected officials “without any individualized finding of misconduct.”

    BIG QUESTION: Who is paying these attorneys? It damn well better not be the taxpayers of DeKalb!

    SECONDARY QUESTION: Why file the suit in Fulton?!!

    Oh! UPDATE:
    The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court by an outside attorney charging taxpayers $250 an hour, seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent a hearing by the Georgia Board of Education Thursday. . . .

    Jim McMahan, the new vice chairman of the DeKalb board, said he could not comment about anything that occurred in a closed-door legal discussion. He added this, though: “I believe there’s always alternatives to filing a lawsuit.”

    Parents such as Allegra Johnson believe the school board should have sought some other alternative.

    The Dunwoody mother with three children in the system said the budget cuts have put crushing pressure on teachers. Her kindergartner shares a classroom with 25 other children, and the teacher has no help, other than parent volunteers.

    “What will it take to stop this board of education from spending the money that should be spent on children,” Johnson said. “All the money that should be spent on children is being spent on this board.”

  17. It was pressure from the “Restore DeKalb” meeting in South DeKalb that took place on Saturday that made Walker step down. They were going to start a recall petition if he didn’t. There is major headway being made in the whole “unite the county” effort. Stop assuming it can’t be done and start helping. We’re on a sinking ship here and need all hands on deck!

  18. hopespringseternal says:

    I’m just curious, @Cell. Step down from what? The chairmanship (or else)? Or the board (or else)?

  19. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Concerned DeKalb Mom
    My numbers are 7 – 2
    Last year Womack and McChesney were aligned with Jester. Womack is a buffoon, etc … but at least diametrically opposed to Walker in theory. Districts #2 and #4 didn’t like that, so they voted in candidates who are publicly aligned with Walker and the DeKalb Delegation.

    McMahan and Orson
    * voted YES for lawyers to fight the State BOE
    * voted YES on Edler for chair
    * voted YES to bring in more lawyers regarding the Atkinson messages
    * are involved with Friends of DeKalb
    * voted YES for Michael Thurmond as interim Super
    * Will vote YES for the Walker 2.0 chair on Wed

    This is where DeKalb is trending. This is what a majority of DeKalb wants. I want to be objective. Please tell me if I am wrong. Thanks –DIO

  20. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    @DIO…I’m talking about population numbers. What number voted for each of the candidates? Were the numbers greater on behalf of the 7 than the folks who voted for the 2? As I recall, the voter turnout for some board candidate races was FAR LOWER than for others. And to be clear…I’m asking for the numbers because you are consistently talking about the majority of DEKALB, not the majority of the Board. Those are two very different things.

  21. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    The close ties between Orson and the DCSD Administration over the years was confirmed when DSW released those emails between them. It is no secret that Orson is aligned with Mary Margaret Oliver and the DeKalb Delegation. People are naive or ignorant to think Orson would align with Jester and not Walker.

    I’m not saying District #4 should have voted for McMahan, but I understand. McMahon being a yes man to Orson is a little more grey. My friends and I regularly saw McMahan and Orson together. McMahan is part of the “Friends of DeKalb”. I LOVE many people in District #4 and am very upset with the lack of candidates. If District #4 elects McMahan again next year, then it’s confirmed that District #4 aligns with Walker.

    BettyAndVeronica, Question for you:
    Why do you say “The MAJORITY OF DEKALB DOES NOT WANT CORRUPTION, NEPOTISM, CRONYISM and MISMANAGEMENT” when a majority of the board members it elects embody those sentiments?

  22. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Concerned DeKalb Mom
    I don’t have the precint numbers in front of me. Given that the board districts were just redrawn, I can safely say that each district has the same population +/- 1%. Even if voter turnout is lower in pro Walker districts, Walker’s group represents 7 of 9 board members. Any way you slice it, that duck walks and talks like a majority of citizens who align with Walker and the Democratic Delegation … IMHO. Thanks.

  23. Pyper Green says:

    Please believe that the South Dekalb parents are just as fed up as anyone else. We are emailing & calling the Board just like everyone else. Our reps are NOT representing our wishes. They are doing as they please. We want the best for our children just like any other parent would.

  24. bettyandveronica1 says:

    They, the board, are doing as they wish not as the people They respresent the majority of those who voted. they won the election but this is not the governance we desire. Otherwise why are we paying for $150k to teach them how to govern appropriately. I get your point they were elected but they suck at their jobs. It truly is time for s. dekalb to step up

  25. bettyandveronica1 says:

    sorry, forgot a word from above: They, the board, are doing as they wish not as the people desire.

  26. Kim says:

    I think Mpaza’s call to students in DeKalb is correctly attributing priorities of our leadership as not including the best interest of all the students. Mpaza had a front row seat as a DeKalb student during SPLOST III. The crumbled track at CKHS that WSB-TV interviewed him about in 2010 is still there as it has been crumbling for decades. He has seen the unfolding of DCSD priorities as represented in the SPLOST III & IV plan and the “20 year plan” which hold little to no capital for the 6,500 students of CK attendance area while showing tens of millions of dollars in new facilities and improvements at districts all around CK.

    I have been saying for years that CKHS attendance area is the “canary in the mine shaft” for DeKalb school governance. If they ever truly begin working for all children and not just their horse-trading for “home district” priorities, CK schools would get their due. Since our elongated and gerrymandered attendance area crosses at least four municipalities and is “represented” by at least as many Board members, everyone and no one claims the attendance area as their “home district.”

    If we only lived in a world where we could turn over the decision-making to the students like Mpaza, I hazard high odds they’d perform better than our BoE.

    A couple years ago I asked some CK students how they’d feel if their school closed and was merged into a larger format Chamblee HS. They thought it made the most sense financially and would provide the best long-term opportunities for all the students. I was a bit shocked that they were not clinging to the nostalgia of their beloved school and had such a sober perspective. This was the first epiphany of many that would follow that led me to believe that our young people are better suited to make decisions than our current DCSD leadership.

    Here’s hoping Mpaza’s call for student voices to be heard will find a way to get the ear of our political leadership – after all, they truly are the voice of DeKalb schools. The students and teachers are the two voices we hear the least from in the political process and the ones that are most informed on what matters at the schools.

  27. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    Someone suggested that the citizens should sue the board…..hmmm, great idea.

  28. teacher/taxpayer says:

    I voted for McMahan. I wanted to replace Womack who was clearly part of the problem we are having. I doubt the average voter knows who is aligned with whom on the Board. I think most of us vote based on what we hear the candidates say. I am disappointed that the new members of the Board haven’t aligned with Jester to challenge Walker and his cronies. I wish Jester would write a piece explaining how the new members actually fit into all the latest shenanigans.

  29. Curious says:

    DSW, the reason the suit was filed in Fulton County is that the law requires suits against the state to be filed there.

  30. @Curious – thanks for the info – didn’t know that!

  31. howdy1942 says:

    It’s good to hear from folks in s. Dekalb that they are not happy with their representatives. I’m also glad to hear that the people there were instrumental in Walker’s decision to step down as chair – I wish that you had insisted that he simply resign!

    Got to go to bed now – I’m like a kid on the night before Christmas looking forward to tomorrow!!

  32. Ella says:

    I know it is easy to dog schools like Argosy University because of lack of knowledge. I have attended Eastern Ky. University, The University of North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia State, and the University of South Carolina, Central Michigan University and Argosy University.

    I can assure you the curriculum at Argosy was just as challenging of any of the other universities I attended. The difference was that I spent hours online each night instead of in a classroom. There program is designed partially online and partially week-end classes.

    Most colleges today have online programs. Online classes are adult friendly. The classes are not easier but require a great deal of reading and research and communication with others online in chat rooms. You work through units online and assignments online which are graded by the teacher. If you are not self-motivated it may not be for you.

    The problem with Argosy now is that it is not a research college and this hurts it.

    I speak having attended many colleges and most of them in graduate school. Argosy is not an easy road. It compares with the other colleges I have attended. It is actually one of the colleges I attended that I feel I learned the most as the professions were actually Assistant Superintendents for the most part in the local county systems. They could speak from a practical standpoint from experience in their day to day situations. I admire this professors a great deal.

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