Lapping at the Public Trough …

Here’s what a Million $,$$$,$$$ of [_______________]  looks like. You fill in the blank.                       

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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"
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26 Responses to Lapping at the Public Trough …

  1. Hazel says:

    How can you post that title and speak of respectful? And people wonder why they can’t have a conversation? It’s just ugly and bitter.

  2. Stunned Parent says:

    Hazel, it’s very hard not to be bitter when your kids are sitting at warped picnic tables in the classroom because there’s no room for having 33 individual desks and your neighborhood kids knock on your door trying to raise money for their school for which they’ve just run 5 miles to do so while guys like Eugene Walker swindle what’s left for their own personal agenda. Sorry, but many of them earned that “fill in the blank” title all by themselves.

  3. PI says:

    What these people are doing to the county is every bit as base and disrespectful as you imagine the title to be. Additionally, this group of people expects everyone to be stupid enough to believe their constant stream of lies and incompetence (passed off as concern). Had any other human beings try to pull the same scam, this title and their photo could and should still be shown. Shame on them. I hope karma catches up with them.

  4. Concerned Citizen says:

    This is the best post of all, next to the poem about Eugene Walker’s exit from DeKalb. The photo really shows who we have, and it is not a pretty picture.

  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    Hazel, are you following what these people have done to the school system and the county overall? I am stunned that anyone could or would defend these common thieves.

  6. Barbara says:

    If Thurmond was REALLY concerned about the children, he wouldn’t have taken that big salary! Money is all they care about….

  7. Tired Mom says:

    Looks like Ms. March is still around…

  8. Eugene P Walker, Will You Please Go Now?
    was the best post EVER!

  9. murphey says:

    @ Tired Mom, Ms. March sat in for Mr. Thurmond at Monday’s BOE meeting, where they approved the Deficit Elimination Plan.

  10. howdy1942 says:

    @murphey – I guess Michael Thurmond was meeting with the Governor – Hope that he wasn’t still trying to persuade Governor Deal to spare this board and give them a second chance.

    As I’ve posted before, I think that the Governor should have removed the entire board – he should have followed the letter of the law so the courts would not have that “out”. I also think that Michael Thurmond needs to go. From my perspective, he has spent far too much time defending this board, using his “connections” to keep them from being removed, and has not spent much time in the schools to personally lift up and encourage our teachers. We need to start with a new board and a new superintendent. I know that this means that we would have three superintendents, but I would be much more comfortable and supportive of a superintendent appointed by our new board.

    The very best advertisement that Dunwoody/Brookhaven has for forming their own school districts is for Eugene Walker to continue with his antics. The very best incentive that the Lakeside City Alliance has for forming its own city Eugene Walker to keep talking – and being seen! Go ahead, we need you to post a few more articles for Maureen Downey, perhaps even better would be to publish one on the editorial page of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, or even better keep on talking to the television stations so that can share with all of us in prime time what you are doing.

  11. howdy1942 says:

    Oh, by the way, I would complete your sentence as follows: Here’s what a Million $$$$$$$$ looks like – Bovine Fecal Matter!

  12. Hazel says:

    “I am stunned that anyone could or would defend these common thieves.”

    OK. Not defending anyone. I just don’t think it is productive. Name-calling is not improving any school.

  13. Hazel – you should see the comments we deleted! The people are pretty dadburn upset. Rightfully so. And truly, when you add up the salaries and benefits of the people in the picture, it’s a million dollars… and that’s not counting the lawyers rubbing their hands in the background!

  14. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Who are the two women to the left behind Thurmond?

  15. The one wearing the red jacket is Ramona Howell Tyson — former MIS/IT director, former COO (one of only 4 direct reports to Lewis who, herself, probably should have been indicted), former interim superintendent and now, chief strategy officer (whatever that is) and leader-for-life, we very much fear. Tyson makes a ridiculous $235,041 per year. Next to Tyson is Kendra March, deputy superintendent for school leadership and operational support (whatever that is), who makes an equally ridiculous $158,547 per year.

  16. Tyson is smiling all the way to the bank with OUR money, for LIFE! She is calling all the shots right now, as Thurmond runs around talking to everyone but Teachers and Students.

    DCSS mired in the muck of mediocrity for over 10 years of crisis after crisis! Dr. Gene certainly knows how to take advantage of a crisis, he calls an executive session and hires a friend!

  17. howdy1942 says:

    DSW – I just love this picture because it captures in such a brief space all that is wrong with the Dekalb School System. I read today where Thurmond says that he has been “negotiating” with Governor Deal to reach a solution to end the litigation. I wish the Governor would tell Mr. Thurmond very bluntly that you have a school system to run – GO DO IT AND DON’T COME BACK – I’M TIRED OF YOUR MOUTH AND I THINK THAT THE CITIZENS OF DEKALB WANT YOU TO LEAD AND MANAGE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND STOP BEING ANOTHER LAWYER WATCHING OUT FOR THIS BOARD! IF YOU DON’T DO THAT, THEN I’M GOING TO KICK THE OTHER THREE OUT AND REPLACE THEM! NOW GO, GET OUT OF HERE – NOW!

    By the way, does anyone have any idea if the new board will elect a new chairman of if we are stuck with Melvin Johnson? I had so hoped that the Governor would accept the recommendation of the State Board of Education AND remove the remaining three! And I hope that the new board will get a new interim superintendent – perhaps Brad Bryant! I would happily support paying Thurmond off – he was a bad decision by the Walker-led board. All vestiges of the Walker-led board need to go – every one of them. Let’s get it right in Dekalb this time.

    As for Nancy Jester, I know that she has consistently voted against tax increases, against additional lawyers, against superintendent severance packages. She has been very vocal and straightforward in expressing strong concerns about the budget. She did not vote for Walker and she did not vote for Johnson. My understanding is that SACS was deluged with complaints about the Dekalb School Board – enough so that they came to look! This “he said, she said” is unimportant and distractive right now – the issue is the Dekalb County School Board! I don’t know about the internals of SACS, but the reality is they provide accreditation to 30,000 institutions in over 30 countries. They accredit the colleges from which I graduated. They are widely recognized and the Dekalb System is the only one in the nation currently on probation – thanks to those standing in the picture that DSW has provided. We now have just under 10 months to satisfy SACS. If we don’t get it right within those 10 months, they will withdraw their accreditation. I would slay that giant first by satisfying SACS, Once that is done, then we can decide if we need a separate accrediting agency.

    Finally, Thurmond – please join Walker and just go away. You should have concluded from your meeting at Oak Grove last week that you have become a nuisance and are frustrating our efforts to resolve the issues we face in Dekalb County. Thank you!

  18. concerned citizen says:

    Excellent remarks, Howdy 1942. Very helpful in understanding the whole picture; I really hope tons of people read it and are guided. Are you available for the Supt or Board? because you’re smart and courageous. Thank you.

  19. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I have nothing positive to say about these people, their outrageous salaries and overwhelming lack of return on our investment.

  20. howdy1942 says:

    @concerned citizen – Thank you for your comments! I’ve lived in Tucker for 38 years at the same address and had two daughters to spend 7 years at Brockett Elementary and graduate from Tucker High School. Both are now college professors. I do have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, but they are in electrical engineering – from institutions accredited by SACS, I might add.

    I’ve thought about the School Board enough that I’m keeping a record of Jim McMahon’s votes – I have so far made four entries: They are:
    1. He voted to hire that legal firm to provide “governance training”. They could have gotten this training from a law firm which we already have retained or from the State and saved at least $170,000. I would have strongly opposed this.
    2. He voted for this litigation to sue the State of Georgia. I would have worked strenuously to oppose this. No telling how much this is costing. I’ll bet that we are close to $1 Million thus far. Words cannot express my opposition to this. More than anything I have seen in a long time, this legislation has divided our community and enraged our citizens.
    3. He voted for Melvin Walker as Chairman. I would have opposed him and supported either Dr. Pamela Speaks or Nancy Jester. Dr. Johnson is from the old school – his background is identical to that of Crawford Lewis. We need someone from outside the Dekalb School System to come in and lead. We need someone who knows how to set MEASURABLE goals, define expectations, measure accomplishments, and reward those who perform and either develop or fire those who don’t.
    4. He voted to hire Michael Thurmond – a lawyer with no educational experience. Thurmond has since become another lawyer representing the existing board. We have two teachers who live on our street and they have yet to hear or see Michael Thurmond. That’s expected – I don’t think that he has done much except to lobby for this school board. Moreover, I don’t think that Thurmond would impress SACS very much – they look for experience in running a school system or certainly credentials that would qualify to lead and manage a district the size of Dekalb.

    I am very, very surprised and really shocked that Jim McMahon has voted this way. Unless he becomes more independent of Melvin Johnson and Marshal Orson and makes some changes, I’ll assure you that he will be opposed in 2014. He has voted to greatly increase the size of our deficit and that really, really troubles me. He has fought to keep the status quo rather than working for change. It is beyond belief that he has supported the same people and the same ideology that has led to our being placed on probation. I thought that he would bring in a breath of fresh air and support change in a big way, but it seems that he has inhaled the stale air from the old board.

    Would you vote for me?

  21. Barbara says:

    McMahon has changed his tune big time since his campaign for election. He has added to the problems.
    My heart goes out to Jester for she has tried so hard and she has brought it to the public’s attention. That took guts with those bullies on the board. I think SAC is feeling guilty for allowing this to drag on and not take steps to correct it. Hang tough, Nancy!

  22. Concerned Citizen says:

    To 1942, the year I was born. I, too, am a former resident of Tucker (35) years and have lived in Atlanta for ten more. I am a retired teacher and principal and still work for DeKalb as a retiree. What strikes me so much is that there are thousands of people in DeKalb just like us who have trusted and respected the school system. We didn’t have any children, but my husband owned a business in Decatur and paid enormous taxes for 25 years. I just don’t know what to do to help, and I’ve never been so outraged at the gross behavior of so many people on the board and in the school system. Watching Ramona and Howe for instance was unbearable for me, not to mention Bob Wilson and the supt.! Thank you for your insightful remarks, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was helped to see your writing. Run for anything! You will get elected! Let me say, MJ HAS to go – the stories I could tell….

  23. Thanks, Concerned Citizen! We completely agree about Melvin Johnson. MJ MUST go! Here’s why:

    A 30-year+ veteran of DeKalb County School System (DCSS), Melvin Johnson is tightly connected to Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (New Birth MBC). A member of New Birth’s Elder Council, Johnson is the CEO, Registered Agent and former CFO for Leadership Preparatory Academy (LPA), a DCSS charter school, located at New Birth MBC, 6400 Woodrow Rd, Lithonia, GA. The Secretary of LPA is Dee Taylor, Gene Walker’s daughter-in-law, who also is employed full-time by DCSS as secretary to the DCSS BOE. This public charter school, with 240 students, is co-located with a similar Christian private school operated by New Birth. There is no assurance that the students and finances are not co-mingled.

    DCSS has a number of usable vacant facilities (DeKalb School Watch, January 25, 2012), yet Johnson signed a five-year, ironclad lease before the state ever approved Leadership Prep – for $122,050 per year with a 3% annual increase. Maintenance, repairs, gas, electric, telephone, security and insurance are paid separately to New Birth. Total Leadership Preparatory Academy facilities cost for 2011-2012: $169,464 (60% of total budget).

    Johnson collects a pension from the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) based on significant salary overpayment identified by Ernst & Young but hidden by Crawford Lewis and Ramona Howell Tyson. Johnson is part of the “old guard” in DCSS, in the same “class” with Crawford Lewis. Ed Bouie, another “old guard” member, was Johnson’s campaign manager when he ran for BOE in 2012. With Johnson as chairperson of the BOE, the basic culture of DCSS – a jobs program for friends-and-family – will not change.

  24. howdy1942 says:

    @concerned citizen – Thanks for your comments – you and I are the same age! We’ve got a long time to go! DSW – thanks for the information about Johnson. The more I read this blog, the more concerned I become. The people of Dekalb County have really had it stuck to us for a long, long time. Lies, deception, dysfunction, incompetence, insider dealing, etc. This behavior is not only unethical – clearly – it borders on the illegal! @Barbara – Jester was hung out there. Most of the people I talk to around Tucker completely agree with her – yet Jim McMahon left her out there all alone and sided with Walker and Company. I did not know Jim McMahon before this last election, but I voted for him because I thought that he represented the values of our community and would represent us well on the School Board. So far, I am very, very disappointed and would not vote for him today. He had the chance to make a difference and he let us all down. He supported Johnson, He voted for that severance package that Dr. Atkinson got. He voted to hire Thurmond. He voted for the School Board to sue the State. He voted to spend $175,000 to hire that “governance training” crew. Do you really believe that “governance training” will do anything – a single thing – to change Sarah Copelin-Wood”s behavior? Or Walker? Or Cunningham? Or Johnson?

    We are going to turn this thing around. @concerned citizen – we are going to make the Dekalb County School System great again! To do so, we need a completely new school board and a new superintendent. Besides, I read the SACS report – several times – I didn’t see the superintendent referred to once as an issue that risks our credibility. While I did not always agree with Dr. Atkinson, her separation from Dekalb County would have never been my top priority as given to it by this Board. Can anybody explain to me why it was such a top priority?

  25. dekalbite2 says:

    “Tyson makes a ridiculous $235,041 per year. Next to Tyson is Kendra March, deputy superintendent for school leadership and operational support (whatever that is), who makes an equally ridiculous $158,547 per year.”

    With benefits that’s close to $500,000 for just these two employees. How many teachers would that buy for students? Thurmond and the BOE needs to choose – teachers and students or administrators.

  26. ss says:

    All I can do is hang my head in disgust and think what a sad world this has become. Shame on the Dekalb County School Board! We should demand that justice is done for our children!

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