Governor names new DeKalb County School Board members

Channel 2 Action News has learned the names of six people Gov. Nathan Deal has chosen to fill vacant DeKalb County School Board seats.

Channel 2’s Erica Byfield confirmed that John Coleman of District 1, Michael Erwin of District 3, David Campbell of District 5, Joyce Morley of District 7, Karen Carter of District 8 and Thad Mayfield of District 9 will be announced as new board members by the governor at a morning news conference.

Click here for the Governor’s press release.

Click here to watch the live feed at 11:00

Governor’s Comments:

DEAL-5Gov implores them to work together. Says we have a qualified new superintendent – please work cooperatively with him. Expects great results. Thurmond’s response was “Wow! These are very qualified people.” Wanted to keep politics out of it. Important to get the super a functioning board.

Swearing in will be at 1:00 pm today. They can then jump right in and get to work!

–Brad Bryant says he called Mark Elgart and Elgart says he was only concerned about the timing of the law. Elgart is very pleased with the residents of DeKalb and the positive response.

–Regarding racial makeup: It’s exactly the same. They replaced a white with a white and the 5 blacks with 5 blacks. (Said that race is definitely an issue.)

Gov says as he understood it, SACS accreditation rests on a one legged stool: Governance.


We applaud the Governor for taking action and moving swiftly. This could not have been an easy task. We understand the SACS deadline for improvement to be December of 2013. That is not a lot of time. This board will need to roll up their sleeves and get started – pronto!

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99 Responses to Governor names new DeKalb County School Board members

  1. Bill says:

    Woo hoo! Justice has been severed, the problem DBOE members are gone. This is a new day for DeKalb schools. Let’s show our new school board our support! Hooray!

  2. Melissa Wilks, parent of 3 DeKalb students says:

    A quick review of these candidates shows them all to be very successful in their careers. They seem to have many skills and talents to bring to the table. What a terrific bunch. We never could have hoped to have a board full of these types of successful and skillful people if we just left it up to the current election process. So now we have Michael Thurmond who is a proven leader, listener and doer. Coupled with 6 of 9 Board members who bring enthusiasm and a history of success to the table. I hope taxpayers and parents stop the snark and realize the excellent opportunity we now have for change in DeKalb education. What a great day for DeKalb. I am quite surprised and pleased at the swift action of Gov Deal. Let’s get on board, PAY ATTENTION, demand accountability and be part of the process.

  3. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Marshall Orson and Thad Mayfield were on the Friends of DeKalb together … Woo Hoo!

  4. Funny – now Gov Deal is being criticized by SACS…

    Regarding the SACS question – Brad Bryant said that Elgart was misquoted – this is what WSB reported as what Elgart actually said:

    SACS says Deal moving too fast to replace DeKalb BOE

    The head of SACS, Mark Elgart, told lawmakers Tuesday night that he believes the state is moving too quickly, but the governor said it is important to move fast for the sake of the children.

    “We believe at least six months, preferably a year, be granted, let the process work,” Elgart said.

    “This is not a show-me proposition, this is a get to work, do the important things that we need to do to fully restore accreditation so that the deserving young people in this school system will not in any way be affected by the consequences of adult actions,” Deal said.

    So – Is Elgart saying that the threat of losing SACS accreditation is not as serious as the Gov has made it out to be? Does Elgart think he is in the position of telling the Gov what to do? This is getting ridiculous!

  5. Grapevine says:

    Thaddeus Mayfield—a big heck no!
    Years ago he worked for the system, and then most recently he popped up when he married Crawford Lewis’ Chief of Staff–Dr. Felicia Mitchell. He is too connected to Ron Ramsey and Eugene Walker, Stan Watson, etc.

  6. Anon says:

    “Morley has a doctorate in Counseling”. Good, everybody in DeKalb County needs some counseling right now.

  7. dekalbite2 says:

    “Funny – now Gov Deal is being criticized by SACS”

    Not really. If things don’t work out, SACS can say we told you so and blame it on Deal. If it does work out, they can say that’s great and no one will fault them. It’s a win win for SACS and takes any liabilities off them. Mark Elgart is a pretty good politician. Deal is between a rock and a hard place. If he let’s DeKalb go down, the state economy has a mighty blow. Deal knows he has to move fast. Elgart is just hedging his bets so no blame ends up on SACS.

  8. Probably true, dekalbite2.

    I have to say that while I’m happy that the Governor acted swiftly to place a professional board so that the school system and superintendent could get back to work, I am disappointed that in the year 2013, he made a racial statement such as he did. While the Governor is a life long southerner, he is also our biggest representative to the rest of the nation. To make a statement that race was definitely an issue and that each of the seats were replaced with persons with the matching race (although we noticed that the gender was irrelevant), is so backwards. We would have deeply respected the Governor had he stated that the very best six people were placed in the seats – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. That would have been a progressive, enlightened move. Instead, in reality, race was the main criteria for selection of the applicants – not their qualifications or the content of their character. Why wasn’t this stated up front? Why wouldn’t the committee have simply said to the people of DeKalb – “If you have a black rep, then only blacks need apply. And if you have a white rep, only whites need apply. Race trumps gender, therefore we do not care about gender.” Why did they trick so many good people into wasting their time applying for a seat on the board that they could never win, due to too much or a lack of pigment? Saying that race was a factor dilutes their professional credentials. These are all very capable people – regardless of their race.

    Still backwards southern politics, if you ask me. But at least we got some good people and we can move forward – even if it gives me a bit of a tummy ache.

  9. dekalbite2 says:

    I think her husband is Rodney Mayfield, and I think he is related to Thad Mayfield. She indeed was very close to Lewis. However Thad Mayfield needs to be given a chance. I’m sure the public will be watching the actions of this BOE very carefully.

  10. whyaminotsurprised says:

    Why can’t we get this type of candidate when we have an election cycle?

  11. The Tucker Patch has bios on the appointees…


    John Coleman

    Coleman is a strategic planning manager at Invesco. Previously, he held a variety of leadership roles at McKinsey & Company. He also serves on various nonprofit boards. Coleman has a master’s in Business Administration from Harvard and a master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. He resides in Atlanta.

    Michael Erwin

    Erwin is a U.S. Navy veteran and has been a research assistant at Duke University Medical Center and the University of South Carolina. He has worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Services and is past chair of the NOAA fisheries committees on fish species and fish diseases in Maine and South Carolina. In 2008, he earned a Ph.D. in Biological Science from the University of South Carolina. He has been a member of the faculty at Georgia Gwinnett College since 2009 and teaches undergraduate students in biological science. He graduated from North Carolina Central University with a bachelor’s in Biology and a master’s in Biological Science. Erwin resides in Decatur.

    David Campbell

    Campbell is a senior manager with Georgia Power, where he supports the company’s energy conservation efforts. He is a certified public accountant with managerial experience. Campbell received a degree in Business Administration from Albany State University. He is a former chair of Leadership DeKalb, a member of the DeKalb 100 Black Men and an active member of St. Phillips AME. He formerly served on the Stephenson High School Council and resides in Lithonia.

    Joyce Morley

    Morley is the chief executive officer of Morley and Associates and is a nationally known public speaker and trainer. She is a certified counselor, a trained mediator and serves on several local and national governance boards. Morley has a doctorate in Counseling, Family and Worklife from the University of Rochester. She received her specialist’s and master’s degrees in Counseling Education from the State University New York College at Brockport, and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the SUNY College at Genesco. A Stone Mountain resident, Morley has lived in DeKalb County for more than 22 years.

    Karen Carter

    Carter serves on the faculty of Georgia Perimeter College where she is chair of the Business and Social Science department. She received a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications from Denison University and a law degree from Ohio State University. Carter has served as a classroom teacher and has held several senior administrative roles in the field of education. She is a graduate of Leadership DeKalb and is an active community volunteer and a PTSA member. Carter is a resident of the Lakeside Community.

    Thaddeus Mayfield

    Mayfield is a senior partner with FOCOM, Inc., a Georgia-based business development firm. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Mercer University and received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tougaloo College. He co-chaired the successful Friends of DeKalb Education SPLOST IV Campaign and is an active member of several business and civic organizations in the metropolitan area. Mayfield is a resident of Lithonia.

  12. Bill says:

    Time for Dr Elgart to go back to work on some other school system. His ’15 minutes of fame’ in DeKalb Co are over. He is a tool, we’re done with him, get back in the drawer. This exercise has brought to light: that we CAN have schools ‘accredited’ by other organizations, and we CAN pursue it further and split the bloated DCSS into smaller, more efficient, more accountable systems. Hopefully, at least for now, the new board can get the financial house in order.

  13. tenbsmith says:

    DekalbSchoolWatch, respectfully, I think your post on March 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM is off base. Maybe I missed something, but I read that Deal said that race was an issue, but I did NOT hear him say it was the “main criteria” for selection as you state. This is misleading. I imagine many well qualified candidates applied, and it seems reasonable to me to use race as one criteria in selection, with the goal of ensuring a board with a racial/ethnic make up matching its constituents. Probably increases the chances of them being re-elected too. Unfortuneatly, race is an issue in Dekalb politics–that’s reality.

    BTW, I voted against Mr. Deal, so I’m not a blindly faithful Deal fan, but think he’s done a good job with this.

  14. No, he didn’t say it was a ‘main’ criteria – but he did say they replaced them by race individually. Gender no. Race yes. The race of the appointee per district matches the race of the previous board rep – and he did say that was by design. I watched the press conference and that is what he said.

    In fact, Maureen tweeted at the time, ” Maureen Downey @AJCGetSchooled

    #dekalb Governor says race was factor; new board members same race as removed board members.

  15. Concerned Citizen says:

    I am pleased with the selection of the five; I have some concerns about Thaddeus, but he is going to be thoroughly scrutinized. If cronyism and friends/family (unfortunately, already there wth him) rear its ugly head, I hope the other five can remind him of his proper duties. I don’t look for anything positive from the three others. Would that their resumes were as impressive as the new five.
    Now, no more DRAMA. Just do what your job description calls for, nothing flashy, you don’t need to put on dog and pony shows for a worn-out public. No jobs, no contracts for power and money, no meddling in the schools, no moving principals around at will, no more ignoring students and teachers, no more salary cuts, no more maneuvering for more individual power. Work as a team and moderate yourselves. We have had enough from the DeKalb Board of Education. We all need some rest. If you will function as a board should, and the Supt will get involved with the classroom situation in DeKalb, we could really see some improvement. Supt Thurmond, right now, start cleaning house. It doesn’t matter about the SACS report, someone else can easily do that job. Ramaona must go, Kendra must go, Howe must go (where are those books, Cathy?) Shake up HR until they start treating teachers with some respect. This school system is not about HR!

  16. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Shouldn’t finding a permanent Superintendent be on the list of things to do?

  17. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    DIO, could not agree more! We want this BOE to choose the next Super. The next elected one scares me, since the DeKalb electorate has elected some questionable folks, over the last 10 years. Mayfield is a concern, I still have many questions for that Friends of DeKalb group and the SKLOST IV vote. I knew Elgart would rear his ugly head today, I do want this new BOE to look at other accreditation options. SACS has too much power and who holds Elgart accountable… But I am glad this group can get together and start cleaning the Palace out and returning the taxpayers dollars back to the classroom! Teachers should get entire salary, a raise and their promised TSA match, period! Teachers deserve it after surviving a decade of decadence by the Palace guard! Looking forward to their first meeting!

  18. bettyandveronica1 says:

    One thing Thurmond needs to tell this board is stay the heck out of the school houses. There is absolutely no reason a member should be there unless it is a PTA sponsored event and they are there to speak with their constituents (parents in the area). Any information about the schools, meeting with the principals, teachers, etc. should go thru the Supt. office, for these are the Supt. employees not the boards.

  19. Procopius from Constantinople says:

    Wait one darn minute. You mean to tell me that the governor, who is clearly white, had the outright gall to replace the 5 black suspended board members with 5 new black board members? The machinations involved are clearly not in the best interest of the suspended board members. There is not one felon amongst the new board members, nor is there a new board member without a college degree, and it is painfully clear that no sexual harassment suits have been settled on their behalf by the state.
    The governor’s agenda is brilliant in its obtuseness. He is stacking the deck against the suspended board members solely to deny them the ability to compete for their jobs once again next summer.
    Next thing you know these so called new board members will continue the charade by supporting a serious reduction in force at the palace, a forensic audit, an online check register, hiring drug dogs to get the “smoke” out of our schools (I’m lookin at you Druid Hills), and a multitude of other issues actually related to the job.
    Do you realize that of all the new board members, not one has relative that works for the system? Seriously, what kind of board member is that when they cannot even butter the bread for their own relatives?
    It’s a conspiracy I tell you, I’m gonna get to the bottom of it soon.

  20. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Hey Constantinople, hand over the lint free cloth to clean the Earl Grey tea off my screen. Great post!

  21. I am glad that there are five highly regarded African-Americans on this new board. All I’m saying is that is what the Gov should have said – they are highly qualified PEOPLE. It dilutes their talent to say you replaced them by race – they are qualified no matter. He should have said that – and then said the fact that the racial make up is the same is a coincidence.

  22. And in other news…. the world also has a new Pope today! Now there’s a coincidence!

  23. Curious says:

    I hope that one of their first votes will be to terminate the contract with Bob Wilson.

  24. Here’s what the Get Schooled blog says about Mayfield:

    Mayfield chaired the 2010 20-member Citizens Planning Task Force that looked at school closings. He was campaign chair for former board member Frances Edwards back in 1998.

  25. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    How are we going to get to know these people? What is their contact information? I don’t expect them to know everything, but they should be able to answer some questions… especially if they are going to be voting.

  26. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Frances Edwards!!!!!!!! OH NO!!!!!!!! Frances is the queen of the friends and family network. Her son still works for the system, celebrated for not showing for his new job after being given a $15K raise. Parents caught him hiding out at their school and his boss at MIS, Ramona Tyson, had no idea he had not shown for his new job. Her daughter runs the DCSS Public access channel, at 6 figures. Her husband also gets 6 figures to run the transportation division of DCSS. There are others too… DSW I hope this Mayfield is not that Mayfield….too many Mayfields and wayyyy too many Edwards. We need to watch closely to see if the Palace gets the cleaning it desperately needs!

  27. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    DIO, these folks will have their DCSS email addresses running within hours. Watch the website for their links.

  28. Ella says:

    Great job on selection of new board members.

  29. ====================

    To: All DeKalb Employees
    From: Mr. Michael Thurmond
    Subject: New Board Members
    Date: 13 March 2013

    Dear Fellow DeKalb County School District Employees,

    I am pleased to share with you that Governor Nathan Deal has announced the
    appointment of six new Board of Education members. These new members will
    work with our Board Chairman Dr. Melvin Johnson, Vice-Chairman Jim McMahan
    and existing member Marshall Orson to help lead our district forward. The
    new members are John Coleman of District 1, Joyce Morley of District 7,
    Karen Carter of District 8, David Campbell of District 5, Thad Mayfield of
    District 9 and Michael Erwin of District 3. With them, they bring a wealth
    of experience and expertise in everything from energy conservation to
    strategic planning to post-secondary education.

    Five of these new members were sworn in today, and the sixth will be sworn
    in at a later time. We will begin meeting with them very soon. Together,
    we will move our district in the right direction for you, our 14,000
    colleagues, and for the 99,000 children we have the privilege to serve.

    Thanks for all that you do.


    Michael L. Thurmond
    Interim Superintendent

  30. howdy1942 says:

    I am also encouraged by the selection of these six new members of the board. There are some actions that they could take quickly to would allow healing to begin within our community. First thing, the new board should drop funding for Walker’s legal endeavors. Walker is free to do whatever, but the taxpayers of Dekalb County should not pay for him to do so. This single decision by the former board that has robbed our classrooms to pay Walker’s legal expenses has infuriated our people and needs to be reversed. I’m been to a lot of community meetings where, when this item was brought up, the people stood and cheered when this suggestion was made.

    Second, in reading the credentials of the new members and reviewing their experience, I think that they know how to read the DCSS’ policies and procedures and those of SACS and understand what good governance is. If not, they can seek training, but not pay $170,000 for it.

    Third, they need to take action to reduce legal expenses in the DCSS. Michael Thurmond committed at the Dunwoody Homeowners’ Association meeting to do so and this board needs to emphasize this commitment.

    Fourth, this board needs to be open and honest with the public. The previous board was not. It needs to be very cautious about using executive sessions and should do so only as a last resort. The previous board never – I do mean never – listened to the people. Yes, there were carefully selected people who did make public comments at some meetings, but this board never listened. Had they done so, we would not be at a point where SACS did what it did and the Governor had to take the action he did. The previous board was just tone deaf to the public.

    Fifth, this board needs to find a permanent superintendent and the selection process should be professional, confidential, and ethical. All candidates must be treated fairly and with respect. It should not be rushed, rather it must be structured and meticulous. And ultimately, the best candidate should be chosen from among many qualified candidates – REGARDLESS of race, gender, or any other parameter beyond the control of the candidate. Our teachers, principals, and students need a permanent leader who will support and represent their needs.

    Sixth, this board needs to be discussing the classroom, the students, and the teachers. No more cuts here. No more increasing the size of the classes. All non-teaching jobs should be reviewed carefully for downsizing and that money used to buy students textbooks, eliminate furlough days for our teachers, and at least give them a raise, however small that may be.

    Seventh, this board’s focus should be on student achievement. We have too many schools that did not achieve AYP. That says that too many of our students are failing. The very purpose of our school system should be to educate our youngsters to at least be on par with their peers achieve AYP.

    Finally, all of us need to be searching for and encouraging good candidates to run for school board seats in July 2014. We will elect an entire seven member board. All of the angst, hurt, heartbreak, disappointment, and discouragement will all be lost if we fail.

  31. insider1.0 says:

    Atlantamediaguy is right. Frances Edwards is the poster girl for all that has gone wrong with the BOE for the past decade. Her friends and family empire has gone well beyond what is commonly known, as her F and F member routinely subcontracted out their work to other F and F “consultants”

    Now it appears that she has ties to at least two BOE members – Johnson and Mayfield. The people of Dekalb better keep their eyes wide open!!!

  32. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Atlanta Media Guy, Howdy1942, et al ..
    Your passion for education will take us to the next step.

    Please keep us informed of your communications with the new board members. It is VERY important for us to know where they are in their next actions.

    Thanks for leading this charge!

  33. The newly appointed rep for District 1, John Colman has a blog – read it here:

    He blogs about leadership – in principle and in books – let’s hope he’s good and ready to put these leadership principles into practice!

  34. Refugee from DCSS says:
  35. tenbsmith says:

    Howdy1942 drafted a pretty good manifesto. I think I’ll use elements of that for an email to the board members and superintendent. I’ll keep an eye on the DSW website for notification that email addresses for new board members are available.

  36. curious says:

    If anyone is interested, I received a response to my Open Records/Open Meetings request for a breakdown of the vote to pay Dr. Walker’s legal fees. Here’s what I received:

    “The vote was 7\1, with Ms. Copelin-Wood, Dr. Speaks, Ms. Edler, Mr. Cunningham, Mr. McMahan, Dr. Walker and Dr. Johnson voting yes; Ms. Jester voting no; and Mr. Orson was absent.”

  37. curious says:

    Oops. The quote got bungled; a zero was deleted. It should have read:

    The vote was 7\1, with Ms. Copelin-Wood, Dr. Speaks, Ms. Edler, Mr. Cunningham, Mr. McMahan, Dr. Walker and Dr. Johnson voting yes; Ms. Jester voting no; and Mr. Orson was absent.

  38. @Curious: Thanks so much for getting the info on the vote!

  39. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Curious..quick answer for you, Wow! thanks for the leg work.

    Here is a question… Should the new board of 9 elect a new chair? The new members did not vote for Johnson, so the majority of the current BOE did not vote for the current chair.

  40. Chamblee Dad says:

    @AMG I’m 100% for the new board electing a new chair. How can they be led by someone they haven’t voted for, at least a majority? As far as whether they can or should legally, I’m not sure what the rules are on that, lots of uncharted territory here.

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