Hide the children, the politicians are at work

Below is a new post at Don McChesney’s blog. Don is the former District 3 board member who  lost his BOE seat to Marshall Orson in the recent summer elections.

MY, MY, things are moving rapidly over at the ol’ school board. Walker is resigning from the chair. That is a good move. Now who will take over. There are only two people with any credibility on the board, Pam and Nancy. Of course that is like having the proverbial snow ball pass through hell. I do not believe it will happen. That leaves probably Melvin. I do not think any new BOE member should be chair or vice chair, but so many of the rest are unable. Of course what will change if Mr. Johnson becomes chair? He and Dr. Walker go way back.

What about the hiring of Thurbert Baker from McKenna, Long, and Aldridge? Let’s look at the connection here. Mr. Baker a former legislator; Mr. Thurmond former legislator and state labor commissioner. He worked closely with Dr. Walker, a former state legislator. The “DeKalb Friends Network” is intact and they are all on the payroll.

We are going to pay Baker $150,000 for governance training. This is incredible. As far back as two years ago I kept pointing out to my colleagues we could get this training from Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan, who were the BOE’s attorneys, at no additional cost. That was not considered. Ask them why? We also could have had the GSBA do it at a much lower fee, or for nothing, depending on our arrangement with the GSBA. Why does the board need a high-priced legal firm with contacts to the “DeKalb Friends Network” for “governance” help when there are other closer and cheaper options?

It reminds me of when we were interviewing our legal firms about three years ago. Brock and Clay did a very capable presentation by a delightful Indian attorney. One of our board members asked if there was any “diversity” in her firm? When Sutherland made their presentation the same board member asked if there was anyone in their firm that had experience with African-Americans? The presenter was African-American. Some on our BOE clearly do not understand diversity.

I hope you are getting the picture.

It is good to see that three members of the BOE voted against hiring Mr. Baker. Thank you Pam, Donna, and Nancy for seeing the issue clearly.

Even Senator Millar has stated it is a waste of taxpayer money. Thank you for stating the obvious. Too bad Senator Millar did not step in sooner to try to help the voiceless on the DeKalb school board. He was chair of the education committee. Imagine the good he could have done in DeKalb and the state if he had authored legislation that reformed school district spending and actually held administrations and boards responsible for low student achievement scores. He could have proposed caps on central office expenditures at a percentage of total budget. I always got outvoted when trying to push more money to the classroom. I sure could have used state laws to help me force the district to change its spending ways. Instead, Sen. Millar was a supporter of the bill for getting rid of the BOE. I don’t like the board either but the law is seriously flawed. First, I know it’s unpopular to say, but it’s most likely unconstitutional. Call me sentimental but I like the constitution and believe it applies to the legislature. Let’s ask the Attorney General or the State Supreme Court to quickly hear this case so your time and money isn’t wasted. The law also doesn’t prevent anything. It’s only triggered with a SACS probation. Can’t our legislators come up with a system that prevents situations from getting to this point? They do this in other states. What’s wrong here?

Sen. Millar(R) and Rep. Oliver(D) were part of the downsizing movement of the board from 9 to 7. Many of us told them their plan would not work. Remember, both Millar and Oliver said the board would be reduced to seven at the last election? How did that work out? I and others often asked these legislators and others how it would work. We got blown off with official sounding commentary. In the case of MMO, I watched her literally run away from Pam Speaks at a luncheon at Warren Tech, when she tried to ask her how the downsizing of the board would work.

The DeKalb delegation was instrumental in redrawing the school districts for the last election. I personally appealed to one to see that a map be drawn that aligned neighborhoods that had like issues in common. The current map still keeps the Briarcliff corridor marginalized. This was all done to protect one particular area of the county. Tucker/Stone Mountain should have its rep as well. There really is a logical and legal way to draw these maps to align people. Instead we drew them to assure political autonomy. At a meeting at the capitol I heard one Rep. in the delegation say to Nancy Jester to fix the map so MMO would accept it. Do you see who is driving the bus?

There are two people on this BOE that continually fight for children and reason. They are never heard. It is a shame that they be asked to sacrifice their jobs when they are consistently outvoted on almost every issue.

Remember in 2009 when I challenged the hiring of a particular law firm because they were a duplication of services? That is when Dr. Walker replied to me with his famous “I see color” speech. In it he said he was not race neutral.

Remember this: Dr. Walker, Thurbert Baker, Michael Thurmond, MMO and her protector Speaker Ralston go back a long way.

The sad part about our BOE and county delegation is that maneuvering wins and principles lose.

Flash. This just in. The BOE is asking for an injunction on Thursday’s meeting with the state board. They are challenging the law on constitutional grounds. I think they will win this because the law is most certainly unconstitutional. Same legislators involved in this one. I believe the BOE would benefit with some change, but the law is poorly written. If the injunction fails they will play the race card. That is their only defense.


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This entry was posted in DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Don McChesney, Gene Walker, Georgia State Board of Education, Michael Thurmond, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Hide the children, the politicians are at work

  1. Don, Thanks so much for your candor. So many folks in DeKalb do not have a voice. I was afraid that the old DeKalb Network was in play. Especially when Orson said he came up with the idea of Thurmond as an interim. Deflection anyone…. Mr. Orson owes Dr. Walker a whole lot and the cards played continue to prove that.

    DeKalb taxpayers are being scammed and it is obvious the so called leaders have no plans to make it stop. SACS probation gave these guys a crisis that they could take advantage of. It has never been about the students or Atkinson would have changed the culture immediately. She was another pawn in a nasty political game engineered by a few. So far the losers are the students, taxpayers and DeKalb property owners. Those values continue to plummet as does the values of OUR leaders. Another former BOE member told a group of parents years ago to follow the money. Well…….Ms. Ramona -where did that 49 million go- Tyson is still in place at the Palace sitting right next to the new guy that stiffed our principals yesterday.

    Nothing is changing folks, another crisis has been created and we must let the lawsuits fly… It is what makes DeKalb work….NOT!

  2. plusone says:

    TeAchers and school house employees are the second biggest losers.

  3. dekalbite2 says:

    Who ran the principal’s meeting yesterday?

  4. Indeed plusone teachers and schoolhouse employees are also huge losers. Contracts for teachers go out soon, how many will be signed or could that be the next crisis…..

  5. BREAKING NEWS! Judge Declines Restraining Order
    Posted on February 20, 2013 by dekalbschoolwatch
    Per Ty Tagami in the AJC:

    “The state hearing that could unseat the nine members of the DeKalb County school board should proceed as scheduled Thursday morning, according to a judge’s order.

    “Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee on Wednesday declined DeKalb’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have halted the proceedings.”

  6. I’m floored. I stand corrected.

  7. Way to go Judge Kelly Amanda Lee! Can not wait until tomorrow, time for the Friends and Family way of DCSS to end. If Mr. Thurmond is totally honest about his close friend Dr. Walker and the inept BOE, then we should have nothing to worry about. I know wishful thinking………

  8. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Walker’s incompetence finally got the best of him. They filed for the RO too late.

    Can you collect the related documents as you come across them:
    * Injunctive reliefe and RO request
    * Court’s response to the emergency motion for RO
    * DOE and DCSD exhibits for tomorrow’s hearing
    etc ….

    Thanks!! You’re the best!!

  9. howdy1942 says:

    Don, I appreciate your candor – I think that you can be glad that you’re not on this board now. I”m not a lawyer, but it just seems to me that the Governor of Georgia should have some latitude to fix a situation in which the hopes and dreams of 100,000 school children who live in one of the most populous cities in the State have been placed in jeopardy by the repeated failures of the Dekalb County School Board. What is he supposed to do – whistle or nothing while the situation destructs?

    I don’t think that the State Board has any alternative but to recommend to the Governor that he suspend the Dekalb County School Board. And I don’t think that he has any alternative but to do that. Otherwise, he becomes part owner of the mess that is the Dekalb County School Board. At least if he does that and is overruled by the courts, we cannot say he didn’t try. This Board has been warned repeatedly by SACS over many years and this board has repeatedly failed to meet even the minimal requirements set by SACS. And given the record just since December 19, 2013, when SACS put the County on probation, I don’t think this board has done much toward addressing the 11 action items and I don’t think that it can do so before December. Some on this board don’t believe that Dekalb can or will lose its accreditation. I disagree. I think that SACS has about had it with this Board and I believe that it will take action.

    The action taken tonight to elect Melvin Johnson, a veteran of the administration at the Palace, states very strongly that this Board will maintain the status quo and protect the central office and its bloat. SACS has very clearly warned about this bloat. It has warned about excessive legal expenses. It has warned about intimidation by board members of employees. An on and on. I don’t think any of that will change with Johnson at the helm. Walker is still calling the shots – Johnson will do what Walker tells him to do. And in December, we will lose our accreditation. Surely, the Governor should be able to stop that. If the courts step in, that will further alienate this board and increase the outrage in this County. If this Board is to lead, it must have someone to follow. There are not many following.

    I had so hoped that Dr. Pamela Speaks would have been elected chair. I appreciated her humility and candor when she appeared before the State Board on January 17, 2013. Her background is the classroom – a teacher. She is quiet, but courageous and strong. Moreover, I think that she is honest, cares about students, and is a person of high integrity. She looks the role – she is neat and personable. Sadly, those are not the traits that this Board is looking for.

  10. Grumpy Dad says:

    The more I read this blog the more I am convinced that it is maintained by Don McChesney, Nancy Jester or Paul Womack. (I think it is Don). What kind of rationale person would actually go and find a blog posting from Don McChesney? He was voted out of office by a pretty substantial margin . He is certainly not an expert on leadership and the article that appeared prior to the election excluding women from high profile meetings shows his real character.

    The board members that served prior to 2013 are about to be voted out of office not for political reasons, but for being incompetent leaders (according to today’s AJC). The electorate spoke in the last election and got rid of Womack and McChesney, Time will tell if the newly elected members will be any better.

    So please save the bandwith and don’t post blog postings from the incompetent board members that got us into this mess.

    Don, we don’t need to hear how you challenged the decisions. You lost the election. Move on. Be glad that you are not having to go through all this meetings now.

  11. @GrumpY: Very funny. But no. We posted Don’s posts because they are news. We found them really revealing. Actually, we post anything a board member or ex-board member writes or posts publicly. We’ve posted letters from Paul Womack, Gene Walker, Nancy Jester, Jim Redovian, and many other blog posts and opinion pieces related to DeKalb schools.

  12. Ella says:

    Grumpy dad you are wrong. Both Don and Paul are good guys and care a great deal what happens to our school system. I heard Paul speak today and he takes full responsibility for anything that went wrong while he was a member of the board. However, he also indicated that the school board were not provided correct information regarding the financial situation they are in now. I believe him.

    I know both of these guys really tried to do what they thought was best for the school system. Poltically both of them made an era of judgement when they supported the cell towers on school property. Neither of them expected the backlash from this.

    They are not in charge of this blog. In fact both of them were very opposed to this blog when it first got started several years ago. At that time they thought it was started by someone who did not start it. I had coffee with the person who started this blog during that time many times and we laughed as to who they thought was behind this blog. They were very wrong.

    This blog used to have many writters and I am sure it probable still does. Anyone can summit a blog to be reviewed to be posted. Years ago they even allowed me to post and I am not a written. I just wanted change so bad. I have wanted change for 12-16 years. These issues are not new to the school board.

    Looking back now I am thankful I was not elected to the school board. It was have been very frustrated to me. The current and past boards have been disfunctional for sometime.

    Don and Paul have a great deal to saw and have been on the inside and still have strong connections on the board. They know what is happening. Now I suspect both of them respect what this blog actually does. I assure you they hated the original blog. Both of them were be excellent writters on this blog. I would encourage both of them to write articles for this blog. I do care what they have to saw.

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