The elephants in the palace

elephants-palaceOn the heels of the first meeting of the new DeKalb School Board, and now that reality has set in, we would like to revisit several “Big” items that are still lurking in the halls of the Palace, presenting major hurdles for this Board to jump.

First, of course, is the SACS accreditation. Remember now, that Ramona Tyson was superintendent when DCSS was placed on Academic Warning. In response to SACS, Ramona filed a massive, 25,000 page hard copy paper dump on SACS–the result of which is that today, we are now on Probation and facing a complete loss of accreditation in December.

[BTW – Ramona did the same thing when we requested a copy of the Ernst & Young Salary Study.  At first she stalled and said it was lost.  Then she put together various pages from related and unrelated information.  Then, when we persisted, she sent us four (4!) legal boxes of an unorganized paper dump — mostly e-mails — we estimate approximately 16,000 pages.  All she had to do was request copies of the survey and audit from Ernst & Young. She later made a statement about the Ernst & Young findings and promised to conduct a full compensation audit—which to this day has not been done.]

Oddly, Ramona is still on the payroll.  Even stranger, our new superintendent, Michael Thurmond, has placed Ramona in charge of responding to SACS again. It sort of reminds us of the Republicans running Mitt Romney for President after he already lost once. Not the best choice.

Second, we have several looming lawsuits which in reality, could bankrupt us if we lose them. Of course there’s the one between Gene Walker and the State and Governor. The new Board voted Monday to disengage themselves from this lawsuit and cease funding the attorney (who already charged taxpayers over $160,000 in the last seven weeks). But, thanks to Orson, McMahan and Johnson and the rest of the former Board except Nancy Jester (who voted NO), the case was filed while Gene Walker was still de facto board chair.  So, Walker could carry on and win this case, and the current Board could find they have some financial liability, as well as find themselves in the precarious predicament of having to reinstate the former Board members—the very people the Governor chose them to replace.

Further, we have the teachers’ lawsuit over the former Board’s decision to remove the matching contributions to teacher’s pensions. The Board broke their own policy to give a two-year notice for such action in order to make this enormous cut. On the surface, that sounds like a reasonable budget cut, however, in reality, this matching contribution was originally adopted in order to opt out of Social Security, where employees pay 7% and employers BY LAW pay a matching 7%. The matching TSA contribution was supposed to be in lieu of the matching Social Security 7%. Private sector employers cannot choose to opt out of paying the match to Social Security, so this would essentially be some form of tax evasion on the part of the school board.  They will lose, in our opinion. And it will cost us upwards of $50 million or more. >> Read more.

Then, there is the mother of all lawsuits—Heery Mitchell vs DeKalb County School System. Heery originally sued DCSS for unpaid invoices and breach of contract for around $1.5 million in total.  Dr. Lewis then convinced the Board to spend $3.6 million to pay a consultant to conduct a study on how to respond.  Their suggestion? Counter-sue for one hundred million dollars! (Say that with your pinkie upturned at the corner of your mouth.) Now, we have already paid King & Spalding lawyers and other vendors well over $30 million in this civil action and haven’t seen the inside of a courtroom! In addition, we are paying lawyers in this case to defend Dr. Lewis and several former Board members – to the tune of over [an estimated] $200,000 thus far. This is, of course, a different lawsuit from the criminal case against Dr. Lewis and his COO, Pat (Pope) Reid. Much of that cost will fall to taxpayers through the DA’s office.

>> Click here to read Heery’s new very interesting website highlighting their side of the case.

The Board should not be spending a penny more than it takes to keep the lights and water on and teachers in the classrooms, yet they spent millions at their very first meeting. Mr. Perrone did not present the February financials at the March meeting, but he did say that they don’t look good. This Board may not realize that they may be in charge of a historic public financial disaster—they would be wise to start doing some very serious research on the school system’s liabilities.  Research they do on their own–not simply soaking in the story they are told by the staff and attorneys.

Advertisements

About dekalbschoolwatch

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"
This entry was posted in Board of Education Meetings, Crawford Lewis, Criminal / RICO Trials, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Fraud & Corruption, Heery Mitchell Civil Case, SPLOST III, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to The elephants in the palace

  1. midvaledad says:

    Thank you for this concise summary of some of the big issues the BOE is facing. We all know there are many more such as staff morale, student achievement, graduation rates, and “reorganization”.

    The fundamental problem with the district is it has been run so poorly for so long, the “infrastructure” needs to be replaced before real change can be made. By that I mean friends & family in the central office, computer systems throughout the district, and the district’s relationships with external stakeholders. Why in the world is it acceptable that at the March 20, BOE meeting the monthly financial report was for January and the monthly HR report covered three weeks, Jan. 23 to Feb. 12? This would never be allowed in “the real world”.

    The new BOE needs to make sure Mr. Thurmond knows these are embarrassments are not to continue so he can make sure his employees do their jobs in a professional manner.

  2. Terry says:

    OMG!!!! OH HOLY COW!!! I CANNOT believe you actually posted a slap in the face at ramona!! SHE IS VINDICTIVE!!!! You HAVE to understand that!! ANYONE that works/worked in the IT department knows that fact about her. PLEASE be careful. I AM NOT joking. She will get back at you. She knows how to cover her *** and her tracks. She knows just who in her cozy little IT world to go to that will make things dissappear. I simply cannot stress it enough…. you have touched a dog that will bite!! And IF there is going to be an investigation against ramona, then there should also be one launched against the DCSS IT department. They are as guilty as she is just for DOING what she told them to do and NOT reporting it!!!! She is still employed by dcss. She is associated (THROUGH CrawLew) with Michael Thurmond. NO board action was taken to get rid of her. Something definitely smells!! You know… when Atkinson and her minion Brantley came in to dcss, some of us thought it was funny that Brantley could “lock out” some of the upper level IT officers from the system…. now I know just how dangerous that whole world is!!!
    That said…. has anyone ever contacted Ernst and Young to get this salary study report? Why would it not be housed THERE as well? There should be a copy SOMEWHERE with them.
    good luck

  3. @Terry: We aren’t afraid of Ramona. We only write the facts. If she wanted better fact reporting, she should create better facts for us to report. We reported every word she promised to the ELPC crowd and then followed up to find that she had done very little of it.
    http://www.emory-lavista.org/node/43
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/08/revisiting-past-comments-from-ramona.html
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/09/wednesdays-elpc-meeting-notes.html

    Tyson also stated that the published cost for the MIS move was the ‘cadillac plan‘ and that they weren’t really going to spend that much. Click below for our report on the true cost of the MIS move:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/09/keeping-tabs-on-mis-move.html

    Note that there was a lot of talk back then about the $40 million SPLOST ‘surplus’ – some of which was spent on the new IT department. Fast forward to Atkinson’s hiring – and the discovery that SPLOST was actually in arrears over $30 million!!

    Also, we did request the report from Ernst & Young only to be told that as a private company they are not subject to ORRs and that we would have to go through the school system. Perhaps one of the new board members or Michael Thurmond could request a copy. But it’s doubtful they will, as they have made the same old decision to ‘look forward’ and not in the past. (See our post on that subject…
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/the-vortex-of-dekalb/

  4. info says:

    Contracts for central office employees are to be issued on April 23. The next board meeting is a week from Monday on April 1.

    I hope that parents, teachers, and other Dekalb taxpayers will ask the superintendent and the board what data they’re using in choosing which positions and personnel to retain.

    Perhaps the governor and SACS also need to be asked how a new board and super are going to change much if the same people are misinforming, obfuscating, or just not able to do the job.

  5. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    The Walker 5 Elephants
    Ramona, Michael Thurmond and Melvin Johnson (aka Walker 2.0) are all products of the The Walker 5.

    Short Term Memory
    People were Gung Ho about a new board for 2 reasons:
    1. Get a new Superintendent
    2. Clean house

    We are doing neither. Not only is it business as usual, the administration has cleared out all their road blocks:
    * numerous board meetings per month with all those pesky questions
    * Nancy Jester

  6. Longing for Integrity says:

    What can WE do to influence change in the palace? This blog is a great resource, but there needs to be more. Do we write Thurmond? The Board members? The Governor? All of the above?

  7. Thomas says:

    Your duty as a concerned parent and Dekalb resident is to call, email, and write letters to everyone, media included. We stand by and allow things to happen. For at least 10 years, I have lived through all the miscues of the Dekalb County School System by way of a family member. I spoke out against the hiring of the recently fired superintendent and all of her perks. I spoke out against the mismanagement of funds. I spoke out against what I feel was a wrongful termination of my family member. Why keep spending money on research that doesn’t lead to results? If Ramona Tyson is deemed to be a part of the problem and the old regime, then she should go too. Dekalb needs a new start and they need to gradually rehire all the qualified and tenured school system employees they let go and who were replaced by less qualified individuals. The school board should solicit suggestions from the community on how to get this thing turned around. Free ideas and solutions are just as good or better than the ideas coming from the people who are being paid to do nothing.

  8. Longing for Integrity says:

    How many members do we have? I ask only so all will know the strength of this group.

  9. Concerned Citizen says:

    Longing for Integrity: I feel exactly the same way. As you say, what can WE do? I have sent the supt two faxes and and an e-mail, I have e-mailed HR Dr. Smith,don’t think the Board should have any say (not sure), don’t know what gov can do. Can someone out here advise, please?

  10. Concerned Citizen says:

    I count two: you and me. Anyone else?

  11. Nancy Jester has an interesting idea posted on her blog — read it and let her know what you think!

    The Teaching Firm

  12. The real power for change lies in who this Board chooses for the permanent superintendent. IMHO, they should make this task Job #1. Thurmond has good intentions, but he is not capable of running a successful school system and is very upfront in stating that he does not want the job long-term. We need a tried and true professional ASAP—preferably over the summer so he or she can hit the ground running when school starts. We’ve had one big opportunity to hire a true pro slip through our fingers when someone on the last Board manipulated the system in order to hire Atkinson. We all know how that turned out. As I see it, this Board has one important task: Hiring a highly qualified, experienced leader to return our schools to excellence. All other tasks pale in comparison.

  13. you are superman says:

    I suggested many months ago to march on the capital to remove the board. It did not take a march but very little has changed only the faces. I would strongly recommend that a consolidated to do list is created and presented to the new board and copied to SAC and the Governor. That the list be presented at the April 1, 2013, meeting with as many students, parents, teachers, taxpayers, and concerned citizens present.
    This new board must be made to feel the pressure of mandatory reform or forfeit their “good professional reputations”. They took professional risk by signing on to DCSS and we need to insure that they know there is something to lose by inaction and going along with the regime. Let us call them by name, credentials and their votes. Nothing should have occurred at their first meeting but paying the utility bills and wages. To act on the long list of items prepared by Melvin Johnson and the other two board members was unprofessional, incompetent, unethical and lacked transparency. We must apply warranted pressure right now to do otherwise is negligent on our part. We are Superman!

  14. Terry says:

    So, naturally, #1, top of the “TO DO” list would be to hire a new QUALIFIED super. ONE THAT IS NOT CONNECTED IN ANY WAY to ANYONE that is currently or in the past connected to dcss.
    #2?? Personally I think should be ALIGN the budget.
    #3… DUMP ramona
    #4…..??? anyone????

  15. sam123 says:

    So many things are being discussed, but the biggest task at hand is picking a new superintendent. If that doesn’t have a good outcome, all problems will continue. Because of SAACS restrictive guidelines on what topics are to be discussed as far as academic, the board has to TRUST and rely on the superintendent to make prudent decisions in that area and many others areas.

    I read somewhere that Thurmond is using WIlbanks as a mentor. That is really a smart thing to do.
    He has done a good job in Gwinnett and evidently has surrounded himself with the right people.

  16. Read this old blog post for a look at communication regarding SPLOST IV where Ramona was less than truthful to Nancy Jester:

    Open Records Request yields interesting information about SPLOST
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2012/01/open-records-request-yields-interesting.html

  17. There are many here who are advocating for the kids. My wife and I started before our kids were born in the late 90s, when Sexton Woods would be the location for Chamblee Middle. Many neighbors were angry and my wife even received an anonymous threatening email, well all water under the bridge now, the new school facility is wonderful and both our kids are there today!

    We have been volunteers in our kids schools since the beginning and during that time we were always trying to figure the Palace out. Our group caught a former BOE chairs son hiding out at our school, after getting a $15k raise and a new position at MIS. Ramona Tyson was this guys boss, you should have heard her hem and haw, when Clew and another Asst. Super got her on a speaker phone with us in the room and was told this guy had not shown for his new job for 6 months. Tyson had no idea! Clew promised us a leadership change at the school, if we did not go to the media. It was just 3 months earlier, when Clew said on WSBTV there was no nepotism at DCSS.

    It was a little more than a year later when the cut and paste demographers report came out and claimed that our school was slated to be closed. Well this group of parents were tireless in trying to expose the Central office lies. We knew the area was growing with all the multi-family buildings which were slated to be built. Things were not right and Clew had built a kingdom with OUR tax money. SACS, Title 1, State dollars, SLOSH 1,2,3, Sembler and North Druid Hills Rd. We went to media, but was told the story was too difficult to tell. The former AJC beat writer, Kristina Torres, was given a huge folder of documentation connecting the dots. Ms. Torres went right to Clew, gave up the sources to him and wrote and article about the loud and vociferous parents at our school! We lost those battles, but once Clew was indicted the media orgs were crawling back, too little too late. The BOE was stacked against us, even Redovian could not help! Back room deals for votes were the norm.

    Sad thing about all this, Tyson still works for the system, as does the son of the former BOE chair in MIS. Poor performance at the Palace is celebrated at DCSS under the Clew and most recent regime, it is time to retire these folks, they had a chance and failed. Most of them still work for the system and at the same 6 figure salary they were paid when they were in the Executive Suite. This Palace bunch should have been swept out two years ago. But the indicted Clew was able to choose his successor, Tyson. Need we say more!

    We are still in the system because the real mission takes place at the schools everyday! Our school leaders and teachers make the difference. Tomorrow say thanks to your kids teachers, matter of fact do it everyday! So send your emails and speak at public comment meetings. Do not stop!

  18. Longing for Integrity says:

    @Terry:
    #4 should be to remove Ronald Ramsey!

  19. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Count me in, I am beyond frustrated with this system. Many of you are parents, but imagine how employees with kids in this system feel. It’s migraines on top of migraines Like the poster above, I may can’t fight on the front lines, but I have family that are taxpayers who have no problem fighting on behalf of the students and teachers.
    If its so apparent to us, why Tyson should no longer be employed with this system, why doesn’t Thurmond see that? Is it a legal issue? Why do they keep her on? She is quite expensive and toxic to staff morale. There are just so many questions and very few people are willing to be honest and shed light on the mysteries.

  20. Embarrassed Employee says:

    #5 should be Beasely

  21. Longing for Integrity says:

    @ Thomas:
    While I agree with you and appreciate all you’ve been through, I know too well how emails and letters of individuals are dismissed by the folks at the palace. I don’t know that individuals truly make much of a difference. I wish I could believe otherwise.

    I was speaking more of what do WE (as a group) do to make sure the changes that are needed actually start being implemented. I just feel that, as a former employee, there is nothing that citizens can do to clean out such a totally dysfunctional “system”. Can you tell I’ve been working at DCSS too long?

  22. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    A successful replacement of the BOE was predicated on the new BOE bringing in a new Superintendent forthwith. In the meantime, we should pressure Thurmond to provide names and dates of termination for the 600 jobs he keeps bringing up. From the DHA meeting:

    Michael Thurmond says, First, I want to share with you that during the last round of budget cuts, we cut, based on what I believe I have been able to understand, was 600 jobs in the central office.

  23. info says:

    What to do?

    Go to the next board meeting. Express your concerns. They’re on the record and harder to ignore.

    People from different news outlets are present.

  24. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Thurmond might want to STOP quoting information that he can not verify.

  25. Thank you so much for posting that video, DIO. Now, we will specifically ask for the records. Atkinson was touting that she cut 303 jobs from the Central Office. We asked her for a list as well and never got one.

    We tried very hard to cull through the HR reports submitted to the Board at the monthly meetings and figure out these cuts — to no avail. Tekshia Ward-Smith also said that she did not track the RIFS but would “going forward”. We have not seen a RIF report since.

    Click here and scroll near the bottom to find the most recent reports and our Excel spreadsheets —
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/dcss-files/budgets-and-audits/
    dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/copy-of-restructuring-presentation-final-highlights1-2.xls

  26. howdy1942 says:

    At the outset, I also want to thank DSW2 for providing this forum for all of us to vent, express our frustration, share our suggestions, and return the focus of Dekalb County to the classroom. Without doubt, this site has probably has had as much to do with bringing about the removal of the former school board as any single or, for that matter, any number of factors.

    I am also encouraged about the School Board meeting last week. The Board was “nice” when it was confronted by so much incompetence. As @midvaledad pointed out, such incompetence would not be tolerated at all in industry. I know – I’ve had “my head handed to me” on a number of occasions when I did not know the facts that were requested or expected. I hope that this Board will assert itself and demand much better of the staff. That operations report was just awful. The MIS staff wanders through the district and occasionally looks at the copiers without even asking anyone about how dependable and how well the printers meet their need. Really? It never occurred to anyone on the MIS staff to survey or provide some feedback mechanism for the service they provide? Really? That is a sure sign of poor job performance and, perhaps, even arrogance.

    And Dr. Howe said that SFA required 80% buy-in – and it just wasn’t done. Really? Whose responsibility was it to see that such buy-in was obtained? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I heard that even the Company that provides this product requires an 80% buy-in. Am I right? That makes sense because it would be the last thing any company wants is for its product to flop among the users to which it was targeted. If this is the case, did someone at DCSS not be truthful with the company? Did someone tell the company that such buy-in was obtained when, in fact, it was not? Or did the company fail in following its own policy? What was Dr. Howe’s responsibility? Did the Dr. Atkinson personally involve herself in such details? Something is blatantly wrong with this picture – in fact, it doesn’t pass the “smell test”. If someone was less than truthful in this matter, that is called “you bet your job”.

    Third, how about those cars for the area superintendents? While in marketing, I know that our sales people used their own cars, and I know that they traveled to a much greater extent than any area superintendent. They kept a log of their mileage and were reimbursed. They bought their own cars, maintained their own cars, bought their own gas, and drove them back and forth to work. And the same applied to their managers – area managers, regional managers – all. The Dekalb County School System is in dire financial straits – and that may be understated. This is no time for this staff to be making such a request to spend $1.7 million. Perhaps the dumbest answer I’ve heard to a question in a long time is when Wilkins said that “the voters voted to do this”. I don’t think that we did and even if that were by some stretch of the imagination, this is a poor use of funds at this point. The DCSS is going to need every dollar that it can get just to meet basic needs. Think of this as “sequestration”!

    There are other misstatements by the staff as well. Suffice it to say that, as DSW2 has accurately pointed out, the DCSS has not “bottomed” yet financially. I also agree with DSW2 that the DCSS is going to lose that lawsuit brought by those two teachers. The School Board was very disconnected with reality and naive to even think that it could just stop funding the teachers’ retirement plan any more than a company could just stop funding its portion of an employee’s Social Security contributions. And this lawsuit will most likely be granted status as a class action. That’s $50 million.

    Then there is Heery – again, the DCSS does not appear to be on very firm ground. Once again, the School Board was just dumb – very misinformed. The first question any company would ask is “how can we resolve this to the mutual benefit of both parties?” Worse case, the DCSS could have settled this case for about $28.5 million less than it has already spent. Given that the superintendent that convinced the board to do this has been indicted as has the chief operations officer involved and the school board that approved this poor decision has now been removed by the Governor for incompetence, the Heery case doesn’t look very promising.

    Add to this the legal expenses for that “governance” training and for Walker’s lawsuit already incurred – well, you get my drift.

    Now consider the fact that the DCSS has “maxed out” its millage rate that it can tax the people and if I read this blog right as a consensus of the people, there is just no way that the public is about to approve any more taxes without drastic, and I do many drastic, reductions in the staff and its expenses. In fact, all bus routes need to be closely scrutinized and determined if they are needed – can kids attend schools that are closer to them? Don’t even think about those cars for area superintendents. And don’t even think about paying for the cost of palace administrators to return to school to get their PhD. Can the staff grasp the idea of “austerity”?

  27. Thanks Howdy. Appreciate the support.

    FWIW below is a comment about the SPLOST IV vote from another thread – as far as we can tell voters never could have realized that they were voting for a car for each area super – judging by the text of the referendum. This purchase was a big stretch. This is why the naivete of the new Board concerns us – they were told a big stretch of the truth – that voters voted for this purchase – and they believed it – hook. line. sinker.

    What will they agree to next? Thurmond is already repeating misinformation about 600 Central Office RIFs – is this to pave the way for more school house cuts? The new Board doesn’t have much to go on – as the HR reports are not detailed enough to determine how many people were RIFd – and believe me – we tried! We have suffered terrible, unprofessional HR department leadership for pushing a decade – and it shows. How about the legal fees – is our new Board being told the cold truth about our legal expenditures – ALL of them? We are very worried that staff is trying to cover themselves by feeding the new Board bad info or partial truths.

    +++

    This is what was proposed during the SPLOST IV vote:

    District-Wide Projects
    Technology Upgrades (Infrastructure Refresh & Technology Equipment)
    Purchase of Vehicles & Support (Buses, Service Vehicles, and Radio/GPS Upgrades)
    Local School Priority Requests (LSPR)
    Safety & Security Upgrades
    Demolition of Vacant Facilities
    Prototype Development and Miscellaneous
    Engineering Studies

    Here is the list of projects in order:
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/splost-iv-sequence-list-in-start-date-chronological-order.pdf

    If you visit the original SPLOST IV list at DCSS’ website, you will see only the following line item regarding vehicles:

    19. Service Vehicles
    Acquisition of support service vehicles. $1.7M

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/splost-iv/referendum/

    And you can read the actual, full, legal referendum here: [Wonder if the new board members have read it…]
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/10/splost-iv-referendum-just-about-covers.html
    which actually says:

    “(19) (17) Acquisition of support service vehicles;

    Below is the actual text from the voters ballot. We have bolded the text about vehicles.
    http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/pdf/SBCountywideSPLOST.pdf

    Shall a special one percent sales and use tax for educational purposes continue to be Imposed in DeKalb County for not longer than 20 quarters, beginning July 1, 2012, to raise not more than $645,000,000 in the aggregate for the purpose of (A) developing sites for constructing and equipping new schools, support facilities and athletic facilities; (8) making additions to, acquiring or renovating and equipping existing schools, support facilities and athletic facilities and greenspace associated with such facilities, and demolishing portions of existing structures In connection therewith; (C) making system-wide renovations, additions and improvements to bus and parent pick-up driveways and facility parking lots and purchasing school buses, school related vehicles and other transportation equipment; (D) making existing lease-purchase payments with respect to the acquisition of new and existing schools and support facilities; and (E) modernizing technology and making system-wide technology improvements, Including the acquisition of computers and similar technology for students and staff; not to exceed $607,384,422 for the DeKalb County School District, $18,115,116 for the City Schools of Decatur and $19,500,462 for the Atlanta Independent School System, all as more fully described in the Notice of Election? If imposition of the tax is approved by a majority of the voters within the DeKalb County School District, such vote shall also constitute approval of the Issuance of general obligation debt of the DeKalb County School District in the principal amount of not to exceed $200,000,000 for the purpose of funding a portion of the above projects of the DeKalb County School District and if the tax is approved by a majority of the voters within the City of Decatur, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of the City of Decatur In the principal amount of not to exceed $10,000,000 for the purpose of funding a portion of the above projects of the City Schools of Decatur?”

    +++

    “Buses, Service Vehicles, and Radio/GPS Upgrades & Acquisition of support service vehicles & school related vehicles .” Pretty vague. But we’re still not sure it can be interpreted as purchasing vehicles for area supers. That’s exactly why we encouraged people to vote NO for SPLOST IV. We felt we needed a much more specific plan – with education-based outcomes. Sigh!
    
    In fact, Marshall Orson should seriously consider rereading his own quote in “The Champion” when it was determined that SPLOST III was $40 million short.
    http://www.championnewspaper.com/news/articles/1535advocates-voice-concerns-about-dscd%E2%80%99s-projected-splost-shortfall1535.html

    “Orson said he thinks the projected shortfall is the result of several factors including the lack of a strong staff to provide accurate information to the board of education for SPLOST II and III projects.

    “There was a lack of basic accounting rules and poor oversight from the board of education,” Orson said. “I know that they’re reliant on the staff for a substantial amount of information but they also have to ask the right questions.”

    Hmmmm. Yes, Marshall, “They” have to ask the right questions. Now, that “they” is you!
    
    
    
    
    

  28. Terry says:

    HOLY CRAP…. those moronic jackasses made us go through RIF and DID NOT EVEN TRACK US???? HOW EFFED UP IS THAT??? I’m NOT JUST MAD, this is beyond stupid…. I GOT RIF’ed …. DID NOT EVEN TRACK??? They shouldn’t be fired (the palace guard INCLUDING RAMONA)… should be thrown in jail. My kids keep telling me that I am “in a better place” in my life now. But that’s not the freakin point, is it. It’s how WE WERE TREATED by people that should have KNOWN better. Smiling in our faces and plunging that knife in our backs and twisting it. [Names removed]…. I hope someone comes in behind you and JERKS YOUR CAREER away! And Tekesha Ward Smith???….. fester. YOU BET I write to the governor… the board…. the pretend super. I don’t care if he does show it to ramona. I DO NOT answer to her any more!!
    DSW.. if you have to remove this because it’s too angry, I will understand. I am just totally floored by the fact that dcss CHOSE not to track it’s RIF employees.

  29. Further, click below to view the cuts proposed by Ramona Tyson while she was super – most of which were made – except 100 paras were saved (riffing 161 in total) and half the magnet transportation cost reduction was saved.

    We don’t think these savings will come nearly to projections… it’s a smoke and mirrors list of ‘budget cuts’.

    As you can see, there only seem to be 150 Central Office layoffs in this plan. Question is – did they occur? Did HR ever submit a report to the Board showing follow through on the budget cut plan? As far as we know — no.

    How about the plan for energy reduction that should have saved $950,000? How’s that working out?

    How about the $500,000 to restructure the textbook payment? What exactly WAS that? Did it happen?

    The savings for continuing the cut to TSA contributions amounts to $26 million a year – which will result in zero or even a deficit if the teachers win their lawsuit.

    They also cut the K-9 units as part of the savings ($72,000) resulting in these highly trained dogs retiring to someone’s couch – could they be sold to another law enforcement agency?

    Also, the High Schools that Work program was cut – saving $143,000

    BUT – then Atkinson bought the Success For All program — For $500,000

    And now we know – she was offered a job at Success For All – that she pretty much started right after exiting DCSS – and after refusing to hand over text messages requested as evidence in an employment lawsuit.

    That is very suspect.

  30. Chamblee Dad says:

    @AMG “We are still in the system because the real mission takes place at the schools everyday! Our school leaders and teachers make the difference. Tomorrow say thanks to your kids teachers, matter of fact do it everyday! So send your emails and speak at public comment meetings. Do not stop!”

    My oldest starts CMS in the fall- we’ve got a great bunch of rising 6 graders & parents on the way. I’ll still have 2 in ES but we’ll be active in both schools. We definitely need to meet & work together (maybe meet at Dandy Donuts on a Saturday, usually there after soccer). It’s a great facility & after taking the tour, meeting some staff & hearing from families already there – can’t wait.

    I tell my kids teachers “thanks” & do what I can as much as possible. And I’ve just started to reach out to the current super. & board – a couple of emails so far & had a bit of open dialog compared to the past (Jester would always respond – nobody else). All will be hearing from me this week. And agreed, time to start signing up again for the meetings. No giving up on the Huntley Hills side of Chamblee-Dunwoody!

  31. Don’t forget to support Tucker which is fighting for its life against a movement called The Lakeside CIty Alliance, which is seeking to tear apart the other half of its own school district by taking the bits and piece it likes (mostly commercial) and leaving the rest. We hope to stop the bill for cityhood as we are certain this has everything to do with the former supporters of Paul Womack and their anger at losing their grip on the school system, which was the driving factor behind their property values. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at Tucker Middle School hosted by County Commissioner Elaine Boyer.

  32. Chamblee Dad says:

    @DSW Wow. That Heery website is . . . well . . . I don’t know. Could say it brings back painful memories, if we weren’t still living the nightmare. Perhaps it should be the basis for a Powerpoint presentation at the next meeting.

    As for Ramona Tyson . . . I’ve made a personal pledge to not question it any further posts why she’s . . . ., well I said I won’t, I’m having trouble not, so I’ll stop typing now & just click “post.”

  33. dekalbite2 says:

    @DSW
    “As you can see, there only seem to be 150 Central Office layoffs in this plan. Question is – did they occur?”
    From the AJC – June, 2010
    “DeKalb schools cut lower paid workers”

    “When the DeKalb County school board voted last month to eliminate 289 jobs to help meet an estimated $88-million shortfall in next year’s budget, at least 150 of those jobs were supposed to be in the district’s central office, which parents thought included mostly administrators and other high-paid staff.
    But records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show that more than half of the employees laid off by DeKalb schools make less than $40,000 a year. They include nine custodians, 11 school resource officers, 12 secretaries and 19 maintenance workers.
    An Open Records Act request of the 289 jobs included in the layoffs lists only 253 names. And only 12 percent of those employees make more than $100,000.
    “The people who are being let go make no money,” said Bruce McMillian, father of a Southwest DeKalb High School student. “The ones in the classroom who touch kids are going. For every central office job they are keeping, they could have saved three paraprofessionals at least.”
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/dekalb-schools-cut-lower-paid-workers/nQgXZ/

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/06/dekalb-schools-cut-lower-paid-workers.html

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-budget-cuts-mean.html

  34. howdy1942 says:

    I would love to be a “guest” school board member for one night at its regularly scheduled meeting, one in which some of the operations staff and others, such as Dr. Howe and Ramona would be present. One question that should be asked of Wilkins is to point to the chapter and verse where the voters authorized the purchase of those area superintendent vehicles. Another is to ask point blank about who authorized SFA to be implemented without getting the 80% buy-in? Apparently it was common knowledge among all of the higher echelon at DCSS that such buy-in was required. Who advised the company that 80% buy-in had, in fact, been obtained? If it had not, why did the company proceed with selling SFA to the DCSS?

    I would also ask Human Resources point blank about the 600 jobs that had been eliminated. What were they by title? Do you have a report that provides the names of those affected? If that could not be produced, then who was supposed to keep track of these numbers and how do you know that 600 are gone if you have no documentation or numbers to support it?

    Good point – DSW2 – that SACS response by Ramona was pitiful! I didn’t read all of those 25,000 pages. But I did read enough to know that it was not well organized. It was difficult or impossible to see which SACS concern was being address – the response was too verbose! There appears to be a disease among the administration that someone has convinced them that “more is better” or maybe they know that they have nothing to say so they try to camouflage that fact with garbage. Again, as I’m sure that @midvaledad can testify, the truth in business is the direct opposite – the “less the better”. In any case, I would strongly recommend to this new School Board and to Superintendent Thurmond that they/he get a new leader and definitely a new writer to prepare our response to SACS. Ramona’s last response was to a “warning” (as in Strike 2). This next one poses much more risk (Strike 3). Wonder if Ramona would bet her pension?

    By the way, I did not include in my expenses cited earlier that of the lawyers we are paying to defend the DCSS in the suit brought by those two teachers that has the potential of costing the district $50 million. Nor have I included any numbers relative to settling with Heery nor for the lawyers involved.

    Also, I’m not sure that I agree that things are getting more rosy in Dekalb County from a financial perspective. I see houses for sale all over the place. One that I did see as having been sold was bought by an investor and one can only imagine what he/she paid for it. In short, I don’t think that we are going to see any improvement in the appraised values that would increase the tax base. To emphasize this point, has anyone noticed the number of potholes in the roads? CEO Burrell Ellis stated that we have an enormous backlog and we have no money in the County to pay for their repair. That is why he is proposing to raise the sales tax.

    I did not vote for SPLOST IV either. By the time it came to a vote, I had been watching the shenanigans of the school board for at least 3 years. Given what had happened with Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope and the fact that the school board was totally oblivious to their activities, I was not going to vote for another penny for any reason until some answers had been provided. And those silly statements by Wilkins doesn’t make me any more likely to vote for any future SPLOST either – unless there are wholesale changes in management and leadership of the school system.

    Right now, if I faced almost a certain loss of the teacher retirement lawsuit, if I faced what I think are enormous costs to bring the Heery case to a close, and if I faced the legal costs associated with that “governance training” law firm as well as that of the suit against the State – well, I think that I would be discussing at least a 50% reduction in non-teaching staffing, a complete freeze on travel costs, and …. – well, you also get my drift. It would be austerity (defined), sequestration, downsizing, expense elimination. I think the new School Board would be well advised to begin thinking in these terms. We are going to need to find dollars from anywhere we can. And they won’t come from new taxes!

    And we have all of this at the same time that Senator Tom Taylor has dropped a bill in the hopper to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow the creation of new school districts. With all of the shenanigans that have occurred in Clayton County, Atlanta Public Schools, and now Dekalb County and with the publicity brought by Eugene Walker, the chances of that amendment coming before the voters increases every day. And Lakeside is wanting to form a new city with the same consequences. Parents and residents are just not going to tolerate having to put their kids in such a failing system, but rather will seek alternatives. The Dekalb County School System must, absolutely must, get its house in order and improve what it offers. And it doesn’t have a lot of time. This new School Board must demand action, and stop praising a staff member for standing up so long. Given what they have done, they ought to stand a lot longer.

    Can anyone say Detroit? Or Chicago?

  35. Embarrassed Employee says:

    The board meeting was well planned. Compliments ,good manners, good ol Georgia boy laugh fess, etc.,I am not impressed with Thurmond, at all.

  36. From Rebecca Williams, Brookhaven City Council.
    Face to face with Interim School Supt. Thurmond and State Rep. Jacobs at Brookhaven City Council Meeting:

    We are pleased to announce that Supt. Michael Thurmond will attend our next city council meeting to be held this Tuesday, March 26th. We have moved our meeting to the Path Academy on Hermance to accomodate a larger crowd. While the city has no control over the DeKalb School System, we are as concerned as you are about the state of affairs with our school system and were delighted that Mr. Thurmond wanted to come to Brookhaven to talk with and listen to our citizens. We have also invited State Rep. Mike Jacobs to talk to us about his bill that would allow cities like Brookhaven to form an independent school district.

    The city council regular meeting will begin at 6pm, as we are voting on the budget, but Mr. Thurmond will speak at 7 p.m.

  37. concerned citizen says:

    I am looking for information on the current whereabouts of Beasley and Ramsey. And any other information

  38. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Board meeting this Monday (4/1)
    The April combined work session and business meeting will be held on the first Monday.

    Email Correspondence
    Are you getting communication from any board members? I get emails from Johnson, Mayfield and sometimes McMahan. Otherwise, nobody returns my emails.

  39. Ramsey is currently working his second job, at the Gold Dome as a state legislator. Check out his website, nary a word about his his full time job at DCSS….wonder why that is? He is a colossal waste of OUR tax dollars.

    http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/Documents/PrintBios/BioRamseyRonald36.pdf

  40. @concerned: As far as we know: Beasley was put in charge of the Race To The Top funds and Ramsey was moved back over the legal department… and yes, he is a state rep, getting a separate salary, and is currently at the Gold Dome all day. We asked for an ORR regarding his time at DCSS during Legislative Sessions and he responded with time sheets. He claims that he goes from the Capitol to his office at DCSS and works another full “day” at night, every night for 3 months. You will see, if you check open,georgia.gov, that his DCSS salary is not reduced by the hours he spends on his important legislative responsibilities. And what are those? Go to Ramsey’s Senate webpage and click on “Sponsored Legislation” (right under his picture). You can also click on his bio on the same web page.

Comments are closed.