Ding-Dong! All Is Well. The Hated BOE Is Gone. Or Is It?

01shoesWe have been waiting for Don McChesney’s thoughtful, reasoned commentary regarding the most recent actions concerning the DeKalb County Schools Board of Education.  We are going to print it in full here, with permission.  However, we encourage you to leave your comments on both the DSW blog and on DonforDeKalb, Don McChesney’s blog.  We have different readerships, so by posting your comments in both places you expand the impact.

We have some thoughts to share, but we will post those separately.  Here, now, is Don McChesney’s latest blog:

“Judge Story’s ruling seems to have many in DeKalb rather giddy. Many think prosperity is just around the corner. It is my hope that this will come to pass, but I doubt it. Let’s look at where we are right now.

“You have three board members that have no experience, but large egos. You have a superintendent that probably means well, but sounds more like an evangelist to me. Did I mention that he had no experience in professional education? Of course that could turn out to be an asset. Unfortunately, someone up there charting a course must know something about education on more than a theoretical level. You have legislators who are charting your course for you. They too have large egos but little expertise in education. I know some senators and a few representatives that feel like those that yell the loudest are the winners in any debate. That was just like one of our former board members that always felt like if you got the last word you “won”.

“Now who will the new people be? Will the Republicans stack the deck in the appointments or will they really try to find reasonable people that are not owned by a community, study and be willing to chart a course that will be lasting? Being a good board member is hard work. It takes study and preparation on a continuing basis. You can’t just be involved in your personal political gems. You must buy dust mops and replace grease traps. Will you study the bid sheets on these less than appealing items?

“How will you replace the two highest functioning board members? Nancy Jester and Dr. Pam Speaks helped expose much of what they apparently have been jettisoned for. It is hard to imagine finding two more dedicated servants than these two. Did I mention that they had experience and have had all the tricks played on them? Without these two there, I am worried about what the budget will look like.

“Ladies and gentlemen we are looking at a process that will not be quick. The public wants progress yesterday. This will probably be a slow journey to fruition. Do we have the patience?

“We have many things to fix. The hated BOE is gone. What about leadership in the system? The Palace is full of dead weight and highly competent people. Who decides who goes and stays? What will be the criteria? Our building leaders have the same issues. We have many poor principals as well as many good ones. How do we fix that? Our classrooms suffer from the same issues. We have many weak teachers right along side of the outstanding ones. With tenure laws how do you clean house quickly? With all their armchair quarterbacking, why hasn’t the legislature passed useful laws that protect children rather than jobs?

“Also you still have the constitutional question left. I am only a high school history teacher that tried to teach some of the basics of the constitution. Judge Story has totally mystified me. I agree the educational needs of the district’s children are the priority, but where in the Constitution does it reconcile that with due process? Don’t get me wrong, there were people on the board who had no business being there from a qualifications standpoint. But their district elected them and it should be difficult to thwart the will of the electorate without documented proof of their specific wrongdoing. I still believe the Georgia Supreme Court may strike down the removal law now that Judge Story has punted to them. I liken the Board’s situation to that of a coworker going to your boss and telling them that you are an evil person and should be replaced. On that basis your boss fires you. You think that is unfair so you want to question that person and see what “facts” they have submitted that would cause you to lose your job. You are told that you cannot question your accuser, the boss doesn’t have any documentation of your misdeeds and the matter is closed. How would you feel about that? That is what SACS did. That is what the GBOE and Governor did.They even admitted that they did not have corroborating evidence. Under oath, Dr. Elgart stated that his company does not keep any records regarding the review. In fact, during the hearing the whole textbook charge was completely blown out of the water by facts presented in testimony. It was a major piece of SACS allegations. Remember the Constitution exists for the just and the unjust. I would like to keep it around. We all might need it someday, including those due process rights. I do not want Big Brother to replace that document.

“While we’re on the subject of Big Brother, did you catch who has been appointed as a co-liaison between the Governor’s Office and the DeKalb Board? R.L. Brown. You’re probably asking yourself, “Where have I heard that name before?” Most recently, you’ve heard it in the AJC in connection with the investigation into the DeKalb CEO. You may also remember him as the Chair of the Grady Hospital Board before it almost went bankrupt. Here’s a sampling of articles on that matter:

“So, who’s advising the Governor on the selection of liaisons? Are they these the people we want picking a new board? Are things likely to get better or simply quiet under their care?



Stay Tuned … The Drama Will Continue

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43 Responses to Ding-Dong! All Is Well. The Hated BOE Is Gone. Or Is It?

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    I understand that we haven’t got long to wait to hear about the new board. Final interviews are probably complete, so WSB said we may hear something tomorrow.

  2. Concerned Citizen says:

    I want to get clarificaton on this, Supt Thurmond! Last night in Dunwoody you said that job freezes were “just rumor,” but why is it that of this minute all teaching positions are listed as for subs? Please, tell us you are not a liar… which is it? There is a hiring freeze that can be filled by subs or there is no hiring freeze. If you are already lying, WOW….

  3. Mom of 3 says:

    I do not agree with Don that SACS is like a co-worker going to your boss. I know many people have issues with SACS. But they are the minimum bar that was chosen to be used for our county (and state). I believe that the state BOE and Judge Story are putting a lot of weight in the report. There is so much he said/she said going on, that they have to try to see the forest through the trees. Like it or not, the forest is the SACS report. The way I see it, SACS is more like the CEO of you biggest customer going to your boss and telling him their is a problem.

  4. Concerned Citizen: You must have misunderstood what he said at the Dunwoody meeting. I have it on audio if you want me to find it and transcribe it for you, but basically Thurmond stated that the hiring freeze was for any position except in the classroom. He said that was how it was communicated in the memo so he is not sure why any rumors may have started that any classrooms were being affected. It is on an administrative or non-teaching level only.

  5. dekalbite2 says:

    @Get the Cell outATL
    “You must have misunderstood what he said at the Dunwoody meeting. ”

    What Concerned Citizen is saying is that the teaching positions listed on PATS are for substitute teachers. HIring substitute teachers for students is not the same as hiring teachers. Thurmond may be correct when he says they are hiring classroom positions, but the positions are for subs, not teachers. This is a very cheap and dirty way to fill the classroom with a warm body. What math or science teacher or any in-demand content area teacher would pick DeKalb to work in when they are only being offered substitute pay – less than $15 an hour for a 40 hour work week which actually stretches into many more hours – when they can go to for example Gwinnett and make the pay of a regular teacher?

    Thurmond’s response to parents was very misleading, and he knew exactly how to phrase it. He did not want to say that the DeKalb School administrators are trying to get by as cheaply as possible to staff the classrooms. He is not looking at the quality of teachers when he is trying to place subs in the classrooms, and he seems not to care if DeKalb students are getting teachers that can’t get employed anywhere else.

    If Mr. Thurmond wants to save money, he should staff the classroom with some of the non teaching personnel who have teaching certificates and are on the payroll already. Looking on the state Salary and Travel audit for 2012, we are paying almost 140 non teaching Coaches (listed as Instructional Specialists) $10,000,000 in salary and benefits. We are also paying for almost 40 Graduation Coaches (and BTW we only have around 20 high schools) $2,400,000 in salary and benefits. We also have 133 Instructional Supervisors who could staff the classrooms. They cost us over $12,000,000 in salary and benefits. And let’s not forget the Staff Development another group of non teaching personnel who are certified teachers. We have 20 of them and they cost us almost $2,000,000 a year.

    That’s around $27,000,000 a year we are paying for 333 non teaching personnel who do not teach but could be sent back to teach students. We actually have MORE expensive non teaching personnel than ever – even in the middle of running a deficit.

    How is it that we always have money for every position except to give students classroom teachers? Parents need to be asking Mr. Thurmond this questions. And they also need to be asking who in the Central Office is giving him advise that is so obviously wrong for kids?

    Look at the PATS positions for teachers to see Concerned Citizen is correct:

  6. howdy1942 says:

    Does it bother anybody else how racial this whole mess has become? I find it very disturbing that the NAACP and most of the black members of the Dekalb Legislative Delegation have become more concerned with protecting the “rights” and “due process” of the failed Dekalb County School Board while remaining in complete, deafening silence on the rights and due process of the children in Dekalb County, the vast majority of whom are black. That makes absolutely no sense – none at all!

    Look at the facts. The Dekalb County School System has been placed on probation by the very accrediting agency it (Dekalb) chose. It is the only System in the nation to be placed on probation by SACS. SACS accredits over 30,000 institutions in over 70 countries worldwide. It accredits most colleges and secondary schools in our region, including the two colleges from which I graduated. Many of these are predominately black institutions. Does anyone really think that SACS singled out the Dekalb County School System for any reason? Does anyone really think that SACS used a difference set of measures and standards for Dekalb?

    Everyone is painfully aware of the failure of this School Board. You don’t have to take SACS word for it. You only had to attend the meetings of the Board to observe its incompetence and dysfunction. Four superintendents in four years? One criminal indictment, two interim superintendents, and one severance package! Really? Dekalb has a larger legal expenditure than all of our neighboring counties combined and a higher staff/teacher ratio of any of our neighboring counties. Dekalb has the highest millage rate in the State of Georgia, yet is the only system in the nation to be on probation. It is one of the best funded Systems in the State yet it is running a deficit and, just last week, had to pass a deficit reduction plan. It can’t afford to buy all of our students textbooks yet we can fund lawyers ad nauseum! Dekalb has been on a downward spiral for years. Dekalb has been warned – repeatedly – over many years. Although it has made promise after promise, it has failed to deliver on each one – taking little if no action. And the hammer was finally dropped and we seem to be more concerned about the noise it has caused rather than what it hit!

    Where was the NAACP while all these warnings were going on? Where was the Dekalb Legislative Delegation while these warnings were being issued? Why were these people who failed us so blatantly re-elected time and again? Why have we not been concerned about the students, even now? Why is it so important to protect the failed and incompetent and inept members of this board and risk the future of our children whom even Michael Thurmond says are completely innocent? Moreover, Mr. Thurmond says “this is an adult mess”. Well, who caused that mess? The children? Their parents? The teachers? SACS? God? George Bush? Barrack Obama? Congress? The Legislature? Dunwoody? Tucker? Lithonia?

    The short answer is that this mess was caused by the incompetence, the poor performance, the egotistical attitudes, the dysfunction, the misconduct, and the inability of this board to perform. It makes no difference whether you grew up in Upson County or in New York City or what your experiences were there. I’m 70 years old and remember the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King well. I’ve studied his letters, including my favorite written from the Birmingham jail. I’ve listened to his speeches over and over and have shared his dream with my own children. I’ve taught in majority black institutions and my best friend in high school was black. If I learned anything from them, it was that education for minorities is key to their moving ahead in life and acquiring what is rightfully theirs. That was their fundamental lesson. It just ashamed, very ashamed, that the NAACP and many black leaders of today don’t understand it.

  7. momfromhe11 says:

    I am puzzled –
    I looked at PATS, and I found several teaching positions listed – they were not marked sub. Has somebody quick jumped in and fixed it after hearing the concerns? Also LOTS and LOTS of para positions.

    There are also non-teacher positions posted, some of them posted at the end of February. They ranged from cafeteria assistant and and bus driver through legal officer to compliance officer. There were also several AP positions and position for principal at Lakeside, Oak Grove and MLK High Schools and Cedar Grove Middle. As Nancy says, “what’s up with that?”

  8. dekalbite2 says:

    No. They are still classified as subs as are the paraprofessionals:
    From the 4th grade position at Avondale:
    “”Effective March 1, 2013, this position will be classified as a substitute position through the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year.””

    Click on the number below and to the right of the position to see the job description.

    None of the non teaching positions are “temps” or underpaid.

    Clayton County’s superintendent last year put many of their non teaching “Coaches” back into the classrooms to teach students in areas that needed teachers. Such an action would go a long way towards showing DeKalb parents/taxpayers that he is serious about redirecting resources back into the classrooms.

  9. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Must I say it again! Ramona Tyson is advising Thurmond. Thurmond is a politician and a professional word smith artist. Folks as long as Tyson is in the Palace, these 333 non-teaching teachers will continue NOT teaching. Do these folks get their TSA match too!

  10. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Did anyone ask Thurmond why Tyson was still working at DCSS. She left her mark, or should I say stain, once already! Did anyone ask why Tyson was chosen to make the response to SACS, her last attempt was an embarrassment! Does anyone have a transcript of last nights meeting with Thurmond. We will need to make this man accountable for his answers, at some point.

  11. Oh boy. The racial issue has hit the ceiling. It’s all very revealing as to Georgia politics. We are all about race. Period. Nothing else.


    BTW, yes, Thurmond’s meeting in Dunwoody was taped. We’ll add a link as soon as it’s posted somewhere (we heard it will be posted by the Dunwoody Homeowner’s Association.)

  12. howdy1942 says:

    Yes, Michael Thurmond is talking a lot. He is promising a lot. He says that he understands why people are frustrated, upset, and concerned. He says that he didn’t created the mess, but he now owns this mess. He says that everyone at all levels will be treated with the same respect as is shown the superintendent. He says that he is dumbfounded that we can’t buy all our students a textbook. He has promised to reduce legal fees substantially. He promised that he will not let us down and that we will not lose our accreditation. He says that he has already reduced the size of the central staff by 600 positions (his words). He says that teachers are important to him and that he doesn’t want them to leave the Dekalb School System. He says that he will not tolerate members of the school board going around him and intimidating the staff. He says that the Dekalb School System administration knew where the books were in December of last year and that proof exists that the System spent the money on textbooks. He promised to reach out and involve parents in restoring the Dekalb System to excellence. He promised that he will do the job of superintendent and stay out of the political fray – he will focus on the job. He says that his top priority is keeping our accreditation. He asks only for the chance to perform.

    Well, he now has that chance. The rest of us don’t have any choice in the matter. For one, I’ll give him that chance and will withhold judgment. I’ve known many people in my lifetime who promised a lot. Some delivered and some didn’t. And it didn’t take long to know who did and who didn’t. Confidence and trust are precious – each is awarded every day. But if it is ever lost, it is lost. Mr. Thurmond, the ball is in your court.

  13. Concerned Citizen says:

    Thank you, Howdy and DeKalbite2: Thurmond must make the teaching positions open for TEACHERS. He must do it today.

  14. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    I would sure enjoy seeing that list of the 600 positions at Central Office he eliminated. A former interim told us she had eliminated half that and then we found out the Central Office budget was over 49 million dollars over two years. That interim, Ramona Tyson and today she is celebrated as some kind of star! Trust and transparency, two words that have not been a part of DCSS for over 10 years. Mr. Thurmond if you are really looking to change things, you need to get rid of the folks responsible for driving DCSS into the ditch. Tyson should be at the top of that list!

  15. Tired Mom says:

    I think it’s great that Don has decided to suddenly blog all about the inside and out of the Board…but honestly, where was all of this outrage and fight when he was actually ON the board? From the beginning? Easy to criticize from the outside.

  16. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DeKalb has received many warnings
    Specifically, what warnings are you talking about? The first real warning was in the Dec ’12 SACS report.

    Schools are failing
    Which schools and by what measurements?


  17. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Tired Mom,
    As far as I know, Nancy, Pam and Don are the only board members to blog and communicate … ever. Don started before his term was up. School administrations and SACS don’t like board members that communicate.

    We should be asking Jimmy Mac and Orson where their blogs are. Didn’t they run on a platform of open communication? Orson has a blog tab with nothing in it.

  18. Tired Mom says:

    I don’t recall seeing a McChesney blog until after he lost the election. Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

  19. dekalbite2 says:

    “I would sure enjoy seeing that list of the 600 positions at Central Office he eliminated”

    If Mr. Thurmond has eliminated 600 Central Office positions in the few weeks he’s been the superintendent, where are they on the Human Resources report? Every employee that separates from the school system is listed on the Human Resources report which is reviewed at BOE meetings. It is beyond belief that Mr. Thurmond had the time to eliminate 600 Central Office staff this month as he struggled to keep the BOE members from being suspended. Perhaps he was alluding to the fact that Dr. Atkinson moved all those non teaching Central Office positions to the schoolhouse payrolls making the Central Office look smaller on paper. They were still physically present and being paid, but now all those highly paid Central Office positions were reclassified as school house positions. No matter – most of the hundreds of highly paid non teaching positions – Coaches, Staff Development, Coordinators, Directors – need to be eliminated so we can staff our classrooms with personnel who will directly instruct students in math, science, social studies and language arts.

  20. Refugee from DCSS says:

    Tom Taylor’s recommendations to the governor regarding qualities he thinks should be considered for interim DeKalb BOE members:


    Please note that race of the applicant is not a consideration on this list.

    Please note what are considerations. Specifically

    2. Look for potential conflicts of interest – vendors, contractors, etc – who may want to do business with the school system – or relatives of the same

    3 . No current relationships (such as relatives, former employees, romantic interests) with DCSD employees

    9. Members who can articulate our language through speaking, reading and writing

    16. Independent thinker – doesn’t go along to get along – unwilling to agree to backroom deals

    18. Some significant level of higher education

    Let’s see the NAACP and other race baiters argue with this one.

  21. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    @Howdy1942, Very well stated. Where were the NAACP and LEGISLATORS when BOE members were hiring F&F who were making more than teachers? Where were they when they RIF’d innocent teachers, while leaving their favorites intact? Where were they when staff members were bullied, black-balled, and mistreated by the BOE and administers? Where were they when candidates were purposely overlooked and incompotent people were given positions due to their affiliations? Where were they when teachers were written up for taking off to care for themselves or family members? Where were they when administrators purposely gave gave teachers NI’s? Where were they when Special Education teachers were asked to cover classes? Where are they when schools in southern DeKalb are so out of order? Are volunteering in the schools? Are/were they marching in the streets if DeKalb for our students and teachers to have a safe teaching and learning environment? Are they worried that teachers can’t teach, but are expected to deliver the same results as students in central and northern Dekalb? Are they talking to BOE members as to why teachers are existing DEKALB in large numbers? Are there in NAACP activities going on on Candler, Glenwood, Covington, Memorial? Where are they? Where were they when Eugene sat on his throne like he was GOD at the BOE meetings? Where were they? Where are they? They are advocating for people who could care less about their own people; the same people who throw race in the picture when someone exposes their misdeeds. The evidence has shown that we’re top heavy, yet every year they take more teachers away from the people who need it the most. To me, that is a breach of trust. This blog has done a lot to expose them. Their misdeeds have even made the news. They can no longer tell their constiuents that it’s racism because our eyes are open. We may not get it right everytime, but the voters in South DeKalb are now listening. We may not choose who those in ND want, but we will be very selective from this point forward. Further, this system has been a jobs program for F&F for many years. When Dr. Brown saw that, he ordered the audit and wanted to make changes, but once the audit came out, he was offered a nice severance package of $500,000. Along came Clewless, and well, we know the rest of the story.

  22. @DeKalb Inside Out:
    Yes, SACS gave DeKalb many warnings. We have blogged about it for quite some time.

    Regarding SACS and the first ‘report’:

    From a blogger: This was Ramona Tyson’s report to SACS in 2010. Thousands of pages scanned in (not even typed), totally unorganized. I am not making this up – scanned documents – many are crooked pages – they didn’t even take the time to scan them properly (see link to report below).

    PLEASE click on this report to see what was handed to SACS. Has anyone ever seen a report like this? No typing, just pages submitted by different departments, scanned in and saved:

    Click to access response-to-sacs-inquiry-july28-2010.pdf


    Also, as a system, we have not made AYP. To see a school by school listing of schools that did not make AYP, check out the state’s website for the system reports:

  23. @Tired Mom: Don started his blog in June of 2012. He was not happy about the budget:

    He lost the election the next month but continued blogging. We’re happy he did. It’s nice to get his perspective. We wish other former board members would be as transparent and open to the public.

  24. dekalbite2 says:

    @ DeKalb Inside and Out
    “DeKalb has received many warnings
    Specifically, what warnings are you talking about? The first real warning was in the Dec ’12 SACS report.”
    The data would not support your statements.

    Look at this quote and timeline from WABE:
    “After a six-month investigation and multiple warnings, the DeKalb County School District was placed on probation for one year by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).”
    Click below to see the timeline:

    Look at the letter sent from SACS November, 2011 to Dr. Atkinson within weeks after she took over from Ms. Tyson saying that the response from DCSS (see link to Ms. Tyson’s response below) still did not meet accreditation criteria and DCSS would continue under Advisement:

    Click to access letter-from-dr-mark-elgart-2011-11-28.pdf

    As early as 2010, Ramona Tyson as Interim Superintendent was responding to SACS warnings. Look at the report she gave to SACS in July, 2010 (2753 pages of scanned documents copied and pasted into a pdf document):

    Click to access response-to-sacs-inquiry-july28-2010.pdf

    “Schools are failing
    Which schools and by what measurements?”

    Look at the CRCT scores (see link below) for DCSS:

    Certainly not everyone believes the CRCT is a valid measure of student progress, but viewing this assessment as a former classroom teacher, the CRCT does for example ask a 4th grader to be able to multiple with double digits, divide with double digits, divide with a remainder, convert fractions, identify the main idea and supporting ideas in a story, etc. If a considerable number of students in the 4th grade in a school have not mastered these skills, then they are not working on grade level and not progressing in a manner consistent with most students in the U.S. I taught 4th grade for many years (in a very low income school BTW), and there are a number of very basic and critically important skills that a 4th grader needs to master before he/she goes to 5th grade.

    The CRCT in 3rd grade asks students to multiply and divide. My 4th graders who came to me not knowing how to multiple or divide with single digits could not advance to the skill level of multiplying or dividing with double digits until they understood the concept of multiplication and division. They had to master these 3rd grade concepts in the 4th grade before they could progress to the 4th grade concepts. Luckily, we had a number of Title 1 funded math teachers who could work in very small groups with the students who needed remediation. Their efforts augmented my own efforts in the larger classroom setting. Can you see how a student who does not understand the concept of simple division when he completes the 3rd grade cannot be expected to divide with a remainder in the 4th grade? This seems to be common knowledge to classroom teachers, but a mystery to so many people who are not in the classroom. The CRCT is certainly not a perfect measure of student progress, but it does test the basic skills that students must know on that grade level.

    This is why SACS specifically says 200 paraprofessionals should not have been eliminated from the primary grades and why class sizes should not have been increased and teacher days furloughed to save money while legal fees and ensuring no non teaching personnel lost their jobs became the priorities in the budget.

  25. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DCSD has a decent history of SACS requests, reports, etc ….

    Before the Oct 2012 report, there were no relevant warnings? Nothing fiscal … not textbooks, utilities, legal fees, etc … Nothing about how racketeering is discouraged.

    SACS – Useless Warnings
    Feb 2007 – Oral Exit Report
    SACS accredits district saying “Effective leadership at all levels” – No warnings

    Mar 2011 – Special Review Team Report
    Useless warnings regarding strategic planning

    Oct 2011 – AdvancED DeKalb Report
    KUDOS from SACS … you’ve addressed 6 of your 8 warnings from your last report.

    Oct 2012 – It wasn’t until October of 2012 that SACS had anything relevant to say.

    This is hardly a history of SACS giving DCSD plenty of warnings. Until Oct 2012, SACS was just fine with how DCSD was coming along despite whatever the crap Ramona turned into them.

  26. Maybe that’s your perspective, DIO, ours is that SACS definitely had made several warnings to DCSS. We have no idea what they thought of Tyson’s paper dump response, but we would be surprised if they were impressed.

  27. @DIO: I see why you are confused. The school system web link you provided to SACS updates is interestingly misleading. It’s a perfect case in point showing the ‘truthiness’ of the administration, when in fact it is completely a lie of omission. They do not tell the whole story in any way. An uninformed visitor to the school system website would leave that link with the impression that system leaders were simply preparing for an updated accreditation visit by SACS. When in truth, the system had been formally warned, and then placed on ‘Advisement’. They knew darn well that this visit could lead to a loss of accreditation. In fact, since the system was subsequently placed on ‘Probation’, the website has not been updated in the least – once again a big misleading ‘lie of omission’ to the public.

    For example, the visit report you cited from October 2011, does state that 6 of 8 actions were completed. (75%) However, the action item, “Establish and maintain a clear and direct line of authority between the Internal Auditor and the DCSS Board of Education.” was not addressed, and in fact later, the board cut this job completely and we have had no internal auditor since.

    The other incomplete item, “Re-establish the district’s strategic planning team for the purpose of effectively implementing the DeKalb County School System Strategic Plan to guide the direction of the district.” was not completed, nor are we aware of any movement in this direction whatsoever. (Our old blog was very unhappy with the ‘2020 Vision’ created by Tyson, which basically focused on buildings and construction with no vision for educational quality so much so that they wrote their own ‘2020 Vision’: the kind of vision we are all waiting and hoping for – to no avail thus far. Read it here: http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/02/without-vision-people-perish.html )

    The October, 2011 SACS report ends with this critical sentence: “As a result of this Monitoring Visit including a comprehensive review of evidence, the Monitoring Review Team recommends that the school system remain in the accreditation status of Accredited on Advisement.” To make an analogy, say a teacher places a student who was earning a 75 in class on ‘Advisement’ or academic warning due to a lack of completing the assigned tasks – especially the truly important ones. The student completes some of the tasks but the teacher says they will remain on Advisement. That student probably wouldn’t walk away thinking “I’m doing great!” However, that is exactly how the board interpreted this report.

    Don’t get your information from the school system leaders – they are only concerned with preserving their own jobs. One can only access the truth here on this blog and other external reporting venues.

    Once again, to read the ridiculous paper dump submitted as a formal response to SACS by former interim superintendent Tyson, click here:

    Click to access response-to-sacs-inquiry-july28-2010.pdf

  28. Ella says:

    Thank God SAC finally acted.

    It does not matter what we think. We are not changing SACS. They have been around a very long time and they do work with school systems. DeKalb ignored the requested and that is why we are where we are now.

  29. dekalbite2 says:


    “Until Oct 2012, SACS was just fine with how DCSD was coming along despite whatever the crap Ramona turned into them.”

    Sacs gave a number of warnings:

    Click below to see the timeline from WABE:

    Look at the letter sent from SACS November, 2011 to Dr. Atkinson within weeks after she took over from Ms. Tyson saying that the response from DCSS (see link to Ms. Tyson’s response below) still did not meet accreditation criteria and DCSS would continue under Advisement:

    Click to access letter-from-dr-mark-elgart-2011-11-28.pdf

    As early as 2010, Ramona Tyson as Interim Superintendent was responding to SACS warnings. Look at the report she gave to SACS in July, 2010 (2753 pages of scanned documents copied and pasted into a pdf document):

    Click to access response-to-sacs-inquiry-july28-2010.pdf

    I agree SACS drug its feet because this organization does not like to make waves, but no doubt the intense public pressure began to put its reputation at risk and that outweighed its tendency to do nothing. And Ms. Tyson’s 2010 report was just an incredibly unprofessional and quickly thrown together job. Looking at this document shows that calling it an embarrassing effort (euphemism for crap) is an understatement. SACS hedged their bets as they left 2 of the areas of concern open and continued DeKalb on Advisement status. The movement of SACS against the BOE is more a reflection of the public anger towards the decline in the school system and the push to use SACS to effect change than any initiative that originated with SACS.

  30. Stand by! We may know who our new board members are tomorrow —

    Deal set to announce 6 DeKalb school board members on Wednesday

    Gov. Nathan Deal’s aides raced to narrow finalists for six vacant DeKalb school board seats on Tuesday as legislation spurred by the crisis got an important stamp of approval in the statehouse.

    The governor plans to name the six replacements Wednesday, about a week after a nominating panel began poring through more than 400 applicants. Deal will choose from a list of 63 semi-finalists that includes former lawmakers, education experts and community leaders.

  31. howdy1942 says:

    Don, I appreciate your thoughts. However, I think Judge Story listened very carefully to the arguments presented in court and considered both in great detail. I’ve read his order and just think he did an incredible job of reasoning and getting this thing right. Had the Constitutional challenge as presented by Dr. Walker’s team had strong merit, I am convinced that his ruling would have been very different.

    This case was very unique. SACS placed DCSS on probation AFTER the last election. Although SACS gave the DCSS a year to correct the 11 deficiencies, that year expires on in December 2013, seven months BEFORE the next election in July 2014 and a full year before that new elected board could be seated in January 2015. He issued his Order on March 4, 2013. I’m sure that he considered the option of a recall and realized that option was not viable because of the time required. Just to get the recall filed would require that the petitioners clearly present a case that the board members had violated at least one of the four grounds for even proceeding to the point of allowing a recall election to take place. Given Dr. Walker’s record, that recall process would have been challenged in court. Even if a court ruled in favor of the petitioners, they would need to file the recall petition and have an election scheduled, a process that would require at least 90 days. A minimum of another 90 days would be required to hold the election – candidates would need to come forth and have ample opportunity to present their cases before the people. If there were more than 2 candidates, then there would be the requirement of a runoff election. By the time all of these processes were complete, there most certainly would be inadequate time to satisfy SACS thus placing the accreditation of the district in perilous jeopardy.

    Judge Story clearly understood this. His consideration came down to the basic question: who would suffer the most harm? He reasoned that Dr. Walker would not suffer any monetary loss. He could petition the State to be reinstated. He could run for reelection in July 2014. His only harm would be a year out of office. Judge Story found the performance of the DCSS to be “egregious”. He also found that the District had the opportunity to satisfy SACS and didn’t over a long period of time – thus avoiding the need for this court case. He found that Dr. Walker had the opportunity for “due process” on numerous occasions. On the other hand, the children in Dekalb faced incalculable harm. How can you measure their loss of HOPE scholarships, their difficulty of getting into institutions of their choice because their school system lost its accreditation through no fault of the children, or face the loss of opportunities to obtain other scholarships because they need to meet a higher standard? Moreover, these children had no “due process” – none! Their school board did not fund representation for them. From Judge Story’s perspective and from that of many others, this case was not even close.

    You may be correct, but I hope not. Another court on another day not facing the same time constraints and focusing very narrowly on the written law without considering the harm and risk to our children, so many of them, may see this another way. I hope not.

    I commend Governor Deal for his excellent handling, perhaps even magnificent handling, of this case. I commend the State School Board for taking that 14 hours to reach its decision. And I commend and thank Judge Story for his ruling. There are so many young lives that are no longer at risk and will have the opportunity to succeed in life. Dr. Walker can be very thankful that no one in Upson County placed his education at risk the way that he has the children of Dekalb County.

  32. howdy1942 says:

    By the way:

    1. Has anybody actually seen the “proof” that those textbooks were bought and where they

    2. How can we get access to the votes of individual members of this board on:

    a. The vote to hire Wilson to pursue this litigation against the State

    b. The vote to hire that law firm to provide “governance” training

    c. The vote on Dr. Atkinson’s severance package

    d. The vote to hire Michael Thurmond

    I would appreciate your pointing me in the right direction.

    Thank you

  33. @howdy: you can ask the board secretary, Margaret Francois, for the minutes of meetings on these topics. [ MARGARET_C_FRANCOIS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us> ] or you can go to the Palace to the Board office and ask to see the minutes and make copies of the pages you are interested in.

    Excellent questions, BTW … We hope you’ll share the answers here when you get them.

  34. dekalbite2 says:

    @ howdy
    Great questions. The auditors and SACS could not find the records for the textbooks. That’s two completely separate organizations.

    And voters deserve to know which of the new BOE members voted to use tax dollars to fund the ousted BOE members lawsuits. One or more must have voted to fund this lawsuit since Speaks and Jester voted against the funding leaving only 4 old BOE members to vote for it. They had to have at least one of the new members vote for it to make a majority of 5. It isn’t like you are asking for their discussion notes, but it seems taxpayers have a right to know which member or members voted to spend taxpayer money for this lawsuit. Voters next summer need to know if their BOE member voted for or against the lawsuit to keep the ousted members. That is important information as they decide on the candidate they want to vote for.

  35. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DSW and Dekalbite2,
    Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful comments! You guys are definitely the subject matter pros here.

    No real warnings were issued to DCSD until Oct 2012.
    You’ve listed numerous reports and letters prior to Oct 2012, but the DCSD board wasn’t removed for any of those reasons. Over the last 10 years, think of the RICO, corruption, fraudulent budgets, not budgeting for substitute teachers, under budgeting for electricity, excessive lawyers, failing CRCT scores …etc … all the ‘real’ problems with DCSD. None of the real issues were ever hit upon by SACS until Oct 2012.

    Despite all the real issues with DCSD, SACS gave DCSD a glowing district accreditation in 2007. In Oct 2011, SACS gave DCSD kudos for addressing many of the superficial issues they pointed out in those reports you mention.

    The shot over the bow didn’t come until Oct 2012. It is apparent to me SACS and the State BOE fast tracked the DCSD board removal. The largest cheating scandal in the country at APS didn’t get the fast track DCSD received.

    1. I disagree that DCSD was given fare warning and plenty of time to address its issues.
    2. Until Oct 2012, SACS provided crappy reviews and DCSD provided crappy responses.
    3. Now that the 6 are gone, we can expect to go back to the volleying of crap between SACS and DCSD.


  36. dekalbite2 says:

    Lewis hired Gloria Talley to be Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning to steer DeKalb through the 2007 SACS review. She came to directly to DeKalb as the Director of LEAD for the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Both SREB and SACS are accreditation agencies and have overlapping social and professional ties. Ms. Talley left right before Lewis left.

  37. dekalbite2 says:

    Oops. Typo. Should read:
    She came directly to DeKalb from her position as the Director of LEAD for the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

  38. @DeKalbite2: The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is NOT an accreditation agency.

  39. Dekalbite2 says:

    “@DeKalbite2: The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is NOT an accreditation agency.”
    Yes they are in the area of Distance Learning. Please see link below.

  40. dekalbite2 says:

    There are many connections between SREB and SACS – professional and personal. That is why Lewis hired Ms. Talley, and it worked. She steered DeKalb through the SACS review in 2007. Ms. Talley’s expertise was in educational leadership, not in curriculum and instruction. Lewis knew exactly what he was doing. Ms. Talley was at the heart of the 2007 SACS review:

    Click to access sacs-casi-district-self-study-(2007).pdf

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