Thurmond treads into Ramona Tyson’s “Land of Empty Promises”

road_to_nowhereThe latest article in the AJC is very hard to read. Well, it’s not ‘hard’ to read as the content is shallow, but it’s depressing. It’s a one-on-one interview with Michael Thurmond. Granted, he’s new on the job, but his responses show his lack of understanding and no clear direction.

Key points:

We cannot understand the conversation he describes with Mark Elgart of SACS:

“I asked [Elgart] if he is confident I can get the job done. He told me, ‘No.’ He followed up with: ‘Confidence is based on experience, and I don’t have any experience with you.’ But he said, ‘I do have faith you can get the job done.’ I told him ‘I couldn’t ask for any more than that.’ The truth is I couldn’t ask for any more. It was fair and honest.”

Elgart has no confidence but complete faith? Interesting.

And then Thurmond goes on to totally throw Atkinson under the bus:

Q: Do you know why no action was taken on the SACS to-do list from December until when you were hired?

A: “I hesitate because I don’t want to violate any legal confidences. Yes, I know why. I know what I’ve been told. Senior staff was directed not to contact SACS.”

Q: By whom? The former superintendent?

A: (Silent for a moment.) “Senior staff was told not to respond to SACS. I think that’s one of the more compelling unanswered questions from the state hearing. It was brought up over and over again by state board members: Why did DeKalb School District not move forthrightly to respond to the [SACS] letter on Dec. 18? Dr. Elgart said he heard nothing until we [Thurmond] reached out to him.”

I guess we’ll all have to hope that it really was due to Atkinson and Thurmond can make a turnaround happen. But it could take a while, as he is only in the ‘listening’ stage right now.

“I believe in three principals of leadership .. It’s the LLL, listening, learning and leading. I’m in the listening stage right now.”

Yes, we’ve been in that ‘stage’ three times now with three superintendents in under three years. We tell the same stories and give the same suggestions over and over and over again… And certainly, we will do it again soon, as Thurmond is only a temp.

Most importantly, he says this,

“Q: Have you or do you plan to request a forensic audit?

A: “On March 15, I have to present my 90 day-plan to the board. I would be surprised if that would not be one of my recommendations.”

Is he kidding? He darn well better do a forensic audit! We have been screaming for forensic audit since Lewis threw out the results of the one done by Ernst & Young in 2004!

In fact, this blog hounded Ramona Tyson who insisted that no audit existed, until she finally admitted that documents actually did exist after all and then produced four file boxes of paper from the audit. We posted the results of our dig through that paperwork here:

Then, Ramona Tyson stood before God and the public and promised a new forensic audit! She included a very specific timeline too – culminating in awarding a contract in October of 2011. Of course, she did mention that it could ‘change’ with the new superintendent, so we’re pretty sure they will throw Atkinson under the bus for that one as well…

Read here for our report of Tyson’s very empty promises:

We want to be positive. We really do. But we just keep going around and around and around and things just never get resolved. We have heard the same empty promises time and time again – to no avail.

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18 Responses to Thurmond treads into Ramona Tyson’s “Land of Empty Promises”

  1. I am certainally not a fan of DCSD, and understood completely why one would be skeptical of the decision to hire Atkinson, ranging from several board members who put out letters questioning her ability and experience, her resume lies, the press leaks that chased off those who came before her, and her record for failure. But, Thurmond is actually offering a glimmer of hope as he has an excellent reputation from those whom he has worked with in the past, is well-respected for his ability to bridge traditional gaps in politics, race and economics and has a stellar track record for reform in Government programs. He is mainly credited with creating ways for people to stop looking for handouts and stat looking for ways to help themselves. While we clearly question his reasons for supporting the board members, he clearly would not have been hired had he agreed to anything other than that. So, why is DSW so certain he will fail? He is offering something different. He does not come from the rotating overpaid Superintendent’s circuit. That’s a good thing. Any good leader knows that you have to listen first before you can start making any changes, otherwise you will never have support from the very staff you are hoping to change. I guess what I’m saying is that we are still holding out hope…

  2. concerned citizen says:

    I am still somewhat hopeful about the fed judge’s decision. If we ever do get anything going, let’s get rid of Thurmond and Ramona. Nobody can tolerate their empty lies and cheating, cold hearts. I’d also like to get rid of Howe because of all that lying and dancing around, and never saying anything of truth. What was that little home-made notebook she was trying to show? And she is a “professional” and her instructional staff are “professional”?

  3. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Change the culture of Friends and Family and get rid of the entire Clew Crew and Atkinson’s hires. Most are still in the system reeking havoc wherever they are, with hopes of returning to the status quo. How Tyson has survived her losing of 49 million, after being told by her bosses to cut, is unconscionable. She has already confirmed her pension for life, so why doesn’t she say so long………

  4. Chamblee Dad says:

    @AMG I am amazed & baffled – but not really surprised, that Tyson is still even allowed in the building. Lewis & Atkinson – damaging beyond decription, but Tyson’s time as interim, what was it, about 18 months? It did damage on a scale far beyong her previous positions. And that she is still there drives me crazy.

  5. dsw2contributor says:

    From the AJC article: (Thurmond laughs.) “I called the state retirement system today. My first retirement check from the state (for his work at the Labor Department, Department of Family and Children Services and the University of Georgia) was scheduled to arrive March 1. I said: ‘Cancel that check.’ We’ll retire another day.”

    A question: How much *higher* will his pension be, after having his final average salary bumped up by the $235,000 he is being paid for 52-weeks at DCS?

    The AJC transcript said “Thurmond laughs” — he is laughing all the way to the bank!

  6. Barbara says:

    Thurmond speaks as a politician…not really saying anything. He should be in the ” leading” step by now, but he really has no idea what should be done. IF the super from Gwinnett is mentoring, I don’t see any progress. I was so in hopes Brad Bryant would step up and assist but guess he has wiped his hands of the mess. The Palace should be swept clean with top quality professional hired.

  7. @Cell: Please, read our postings for content. We did not say Thurmond would fail – we said he darn well better order an audit! How could he possibly make ANY decision about where to cut the fat if he has NO DATA? Ramona stood up and flat out lied. She lied that the Ernst & Young audit did not exist, and then after much prodding, produced 4 boxes of audit results. She lied then and promised all of DeKalb – to big applause – that she was ordering a fresh new audit! Imagine the information we would now have – and Thurmond would have – to use to make the decisions that need made. Now – instead – he will have to make them using his own ‘observations’ from ‘listening’… to whom? See – we’re gonna be exactly where we are for a very long time. It’s by design.

  8. Concerned Citizen says:

    We are going nowhere. Thank you, DeKalb School Watch for the lastest post. When will the Judge give us his decision? It is kind of important!

  9. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Judge Story says Governor Deal CAN remove BOE! Search and Selection for new BOE begins NOW!

  10. dsw2contributor says:


    Federal judge approves removal of DeKalb School Board members:

  11. Disgusted in Dekalb says:

    This just in: The ajc is reporting that the judge ruled against the Dekalb Board.

  12. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    How much time do we have? We know old Eugene isn’t going to back down. New board members quick….reduce the central office staff. Send them their walking papers. Even if old Gene gets back in, those people will be gone. Those central office staff with teaching certificates should be sent back to the class for the 2013-2014 school. If they refuse, they should be RIF’d…..just like they did sooooooo many teachers since Clew was in office.

  13. See, without a forensic salary audit Thurmond has no idea who and where to cut. He can’t possibly. He certainly has no idea how to trim the budget and drive spending to the classroom – I’m not even sure that’s a goal of his. He just keeps saying he wants to save accreditation – but never says one thing about a plan as to how.

  14. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Whomever said Thurmond is laughing all the way to the bank is so right. This is a joke to him. He is committing to meetings and not showing up. He has yet to be seen in one school, which is the heart of the school system. Another joker making out like a bandit all courtesy of DeKalb.

  15. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    What worries me now is that Thurmond is listening to Ramona Tyson, the one who is most culpable in this entire mess! She led DCSS right into the muck of mediocrity, after Clew chose her to be interim and Turk could not balance OUR schools checkbook.. What is wrong with that, indicted leader chooses successor after being fired! Everyone must go… It will be a tough transition, but we could end up deja vu all over again, unless everyone hooked into Clew Crew is shown the door, Atkinson’s too. Total cleansing or it will never change!

  16. howdy1942 says:

    @GETtheCELLoutofATLANTA – I could not disagree with you more regarding Michael Thurmond.

    First, he is not qualified to be school superintendent. He has no background or experience in education. He is a lawyer and, for over three weeks, he has conducted himself as a lawyer representing the interests of this board that has now been suspended at the expense of focusing on the children of this County. I think his credentials for superintendent will, at best, not harm Dekalb’s case to maintain its accreditation and, at worst, will present us as a district that doesn’t know how to select a qualified superintendent. Would you hire a superintendent as your lawyer? Of course not.

    Second, he has not been focused on the needs of our schools. He’s been spending and inordinate amount of time advising members of the board, meeting with the governor, and working his “connections”. He has pleaded the case for this suspended board before the State Board of Education – even Dr. Atkinson made no such attempt.

    Third, I think that he has lost the support of a lot of parents by his misguided focus of the past three weeks. I liked Thurmond – enough to vote for him in 2008 when he ran for the Senate. I had hoped to vote for him again in 2014. Not now. He has focused on the wrong things at the expense of what should have been his most important focus – our students and our teachers.

    Fourth, he has failed to meet on at least two occasions with his key stakeholders. He did not show for a called meeting of principals – he was on the agenda. And he did not show up at that Dunwoody meeting last night. He had an opportunity to make some points there – and he didn’t show. Some say that he had been called into a meeting at SACS and that is why he did not meet with the principals. I’m sure that Dr. Elgart would have happily made accommodations. Maybe he was ill last night and couldn’t attend – he had an obligation to explain.

    Fifth, he has continued the long tradition of wasting taxpayer dollars at the DCSS. He advised them to hire the law firm of his old buddy to provide governance training at a cost of $170,000 – training which could have been obtained from a law firm already retained by the DCSS – at no expense. Alternatively, this board could have obtained this training from the State. Of course, I really don’t think any amount of training by anyone could effectively address the problems that this board has.

    Michael Thurmond is too closely associated with the interests and behavior of this failed board. He has proven himself to be a mistake made by this board, as has been the case on so many other occasions. I don’t support him and sincerely hope that he leaves this position and allows someone to come in that doesn’t have the “baggage” and history that he carries in this position. The Dekalb County School System needs a fresh start, one that is not encumbered by the failed leadership of this board and those who have supported it.

  17. Quagmire says:

    Ok Mr Thurmond. It didn’t take long for Ronald Ramsey to be moved quickly back to Director of Internal Affairs! Yes, you took care of your buddy!

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