So, where’s the plan?

Inspector+Clouseau-300x220According to a March 3 AJC article, Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond was to have presented a 90-day plan of action on March 15—most likely including a request for a forensic audit.

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

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

Ironically, at the April 1 meeting – after the report was already over two weeks late – the all new Board approved an amendment to Thurmond’s contract that gave him an extension to April 30 to submit his ’90 day plan’ and to July 31 for his first review. [Incredibly, this was not on the agenda for the 2PM work session, but appeared just in time to get on the 7PM business meeting.]

The amendment (which we certainly paid attorneys to write) states:

Sentence One of Paragraph 7(A) is deleted and replaced with the following:

By no later than April 30, 2013, the Board and Interim Superintendent shall meet to establish goals, objectives, and expectations of performance by the Interim Superintendent, which shall be among the criteria by which the Interim Superintendent shall be evaluated for that school year.

Sentence One of Paragraph 7(B) is deleted and replaced with the following:

The Board and Interim Superintendent shall meet in closed executive session, by July 31, 2013, for the purpose of evaluating the Interim Superintendent’s performance. Thereafter, at least once each fiscal year, the Board and the Interim Superintendent shall meet in closed executive session for the purpose of evaluating the Interim Superintendent’s performance.

All other provisions of the Employment Contract, dated February 8, 2013, remain in full force and effect.  …  [Well, at least until they amend it again.]

That means that Thurmond will spend his first 90 days creating a 90 day plan! Oh the irony!

In truth, we have spent the last several years awaiting various 90-day plans —first from Ramona Tyson, then Cheryl Atkinson and now Michael Thurmond. We have awaited plans and then read plans but have never really implemented any kind of plan – instead, we just get a new Super and a new Board and start over! And each one promises to request a ‘new’ forensic audit – after finally admitting burying the the only one ever done—in 2004.  In fact, in May, 2011 Ramona Tyson publicly and dramatically promised a brand new forensic audit – and included a specific timeline! That was two years ago, yet as of today, no forensic audit has been ordered.

So comes April 3, and Mark Elgart holds a very dramatic meeting talking about goals and expectations. This would be encouraging, except he is chatting with a temporary Superintendent and a temporary Board – placeholders at best, until we elect an all new (7 member) Board in July, 2014. Then, this newly elected Board won’t even take their seats until January 1, 2015.

Will our temporary Board spend the time and energy necessary to go ahead and hire a much-needed professional, experienced Superintendent? Or will they defer that decision to the next elected Board – who can’t even begin the process until January, 2015? If so, then Thurmond could end up steering the rudder for well over two years!

Thurmond himself led us to believe that he wanted to find a highly qualified permanent superintendent ASAP. In fact, a February 8 report in the AJC quoted Thurmond as saying that finding a permanent superintendent would be Job #1:  “Thurmond said the search for a permanent superintendent would begin immediately and he would leave as soon as one is found.”

But then, those extra large deposits into his checking account made their debut! And gee, Thurmond is now saying that he plans to stay at least a year—or as long as this Board ‘needs’ him.

Feeling duped yet?


Please read our article, “The Vortex of DeKalb” to get a sense of perspective.

You may also want to read, “Thurmond treads into Ramona Tyson’s land of empty promises

About dekalbschoolwatch

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45 Responses to So, where’s the plan?

  1. [State Rep Fran] Millar said he thinks the DeKalb board should focus on the accreditation issues. He said Thurmond is “a very fine man and was a good labor commissioner” but that the DeKalb board should appoint a “placeholder” from within the system while it addresses the accreditation issues and prepares for its showdown with the state. He thinks the DeKalb board is trying to find a big name successor to bolster their own efforts to remain in office.

    “What I am not happy with is that this board is willing to sit on this resignation, or whatever you want to call it, so they can say they have this wonderful interim,” Millar said. “This smells of desperate people trying to maintain their positions.”

  2. H.A. Hurley says:

    Running a school system is an extremely complex job.Why our Governor thought that anyone who may have run something in the past could step right in and proceed, baffles me. May be a continuation of: Anyone can teach! Therefore anyone can run a system full of kids & teachers? How’s it working for them? Is this remedial school board and remedial superintendent 101?

  3. Barbara says:

    Had to laugh on Sunday’s GA Gang, J. Dickinson said he thought Thurmond was doing a wonderful job and should be hired for permanent super! Really disappointed in this group. Don’t feel anything has been done. We NEED that audit NOW!

  4. mawrites says:

    I had similar thoughts at two community meetings where Mr. Thurmond said the problems of the past were not problems he had any part in and asked everyone to “just give him a chance.” He seems to have no idea how often DeKalb’s parents have been asked — and were willing — to give a new superintendent a chance. Mr. Thurmond has no experience whatsoever with an urban public school system, not even as a parent, as he sent his own children to private schools. While I agree that he was a great Labor Commissioner, I sincerely wish he had let that be his legacy. Dr. Elgart of SACS told him problems in DeKalb have existed for a decade. With 20/20 hindsight, it is clear that when Crawford Lewis was indicted in 2005 is when we as parents, educators and stakeholders should have demanded action from the State and/or SACS. When the Board leaked and tampered with the superintendent search process and an excellent candidate withdrew the State Board of Education should have become involved. 20/20 hindsight is not a solution. But remember when Grady Hospital was repeatedly in the news with fiscal and operational mis-management, and on the verge of bankruptcy? My father-in-law was a physician who did rounds at Grady and always spoke highly of it, but the administration, like DCSS, was dysfunctional. Finally a highly successful hospital manager was brought in from Pennsylvania who had no ties to anyone in Atlanta — and in a short time he turned Grady completely around. I believe the same is possible with DeKalb County Schools and all we need is the will, as parents, educators and stakeholders, to insist that our Governor and legislators and the newly appointed board give up their political interests and bring in someone who will give our children an educational environment where they can thrive. After 10 years it is really not too much to ask,

  5. It’s too bad they refused to hire Dr. Duron when they had the chance. They twisted the hiring process to ensure that they hired an African-American. African-Americans are only 14% of the total US population, so when you do a ‘national’ search and will only consider African-Americans, you are eliminating about 86% of all candidates! Duron is Hispanic and Walker and crew would have none of it – but he would have ROCKED! Walker got what he deserved for being such a bonehead.

  6. bettyandveronica1 says:

    second verse, same as the first

  7. Another comment says:

    Mike Young who saved Grady was brough from ECC in Buffalo, New York. My former next door neighbor was also brought down with him, as were others.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    This is precisely why the parents, taxpayers, and the broader community have no respect or regard for the Dekalb County School System’s administration – they frequently break promises, they are deceptive, and do not perform. Mr. Thurmond is very likable, probably did a good job as State Labor Commissioner, but he has never been in private business. At the Department of Labor, he did not have to really clean up any mess, to really set expectations, and then to impose performance consequences on those who did not meet expectation. He had no time constraints or any deadlines – just go to work and try to come up with some good ideas.

    He has talked a lot, promised a lot, asked people to give him a chance. Well, the honeymoon is over – it’s time for him to get to work. That audit would be a great, great first step. It just seems to me that an audit should have been his first action – he needs an independent, objective analysis of where the Dekalb County School system really stands. Then again, it may well be his first action.

  9. Embarrassed Employee says:

    His solution is going to be more furloughs,lay off custodians and paras, and increase his senior staff.
    By the way, the paras have really been duped. Their duties and responsibilities since converting to SE, have surpassed their 27k tops salary and for some reason they are now being told they can’t work in the extended day program, because they have to be paid time and a half, which is still comparable to what the teachers make.
    Many paras have been a reliable part of that program since the beginning. It’s amazing what people sitting in a cozy office ,who are really eating up the budget, can say to employees, but when you ask them to put it in writing, all you get are “crickets”.

  10. The School System website hosts several ‘Evaluation’ audits contracted by Atkinson and her Board.

    You can go to the link above and download three of them:

    Human Resources Audit [ ]
    Curriculum and Instruction Audit [ ]
    Safe School Alternative Program Audit* [ ]
    *(This is the ‘audit’ by Ralph Taylor, a friend of Dr. Atkinson’s, called, “Safe School & Alternative Programs Audit” which was discovered by Ty Tagami at the AJC to have been largely plagiarized. Oddly, you can still download it at the link.)

    This one does not appear to have been completed or released or posted:
    Strategic Management & Accountability Pughsley & Associates
    Strategic Management/Aligned Management System Implementation
    In Process

    The the 18 page HR report found at the link above is the one contracted to Jim Huge & Co.
    No sign of the second HR report by Karaton – which says it was completed.

    Human Resources
    Karaton Services Inc
    Job Reclassification/Position Specifications Development & Implementation

  11. Oh! Silly me… Karaton Services is Atkinson’s good friend and supporter, Dr. Dilligard – who is also simultaneously on a consulting contract with the school system. Oh! and Pughsley is also a good friend of Atkinson’s from Charlotte who is also associated with CELT corporation – who does big bucks business with DeKalb schools. And of course, we have Ralph Taylor the plagiarist on a contract who Atkinson later hired as a DCSS six figure executive.

  12. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    Hi everyone! This is the school district that I believe Elgart referred to as a model for DeKalb to get its fiscal house in order.

  13. dekalbite2 says:

    “Karaton Services is Atkinson’s good friend and supporter, Dr. Dilligard – who is also simultaneously on a consulting contract with the school system. ”

    Dr. Dilligard is part of Tidwell and Associates.
    “The “Tidwell Team” consists of professionals with expertise in several key areas that serve as consultants to Tidwell and Associates, Inc. The team is made up of Dr. Nina R. Brown, Ms. Colleen Campbell Bozard, Dr. Brooke Culclasure, Dr. Barbara D. Dilligard, Dr. Katherine H. Duffy, Mr. Adam C. Hall, Dr. Pam Imm, Mr. Dennis A. Kramer II, Ms. Maria McCall, Ms. Wanda J. Pearson, Ms. Pamela Petersen-Baston, Ms. Susan Saylor, Ms. Catherine Snyder, Ms. Shannon Starace, and Dr. Patricia Ann (Annie) Wright. ”

    “Tidwell and Associates, Inc. is also affiliated with MGT of America, Inc., an international research and consulting firm. To find out more about MGT of America, Inc., please visit their website at”

    Wasn’t MTG the group that was chosen to do the salary audit?

    It looks like Dr. Dilligard helped implement Success for All in Lorain, Ohio where Dr. Atkinson was superintendent:
    “Lorain City Schools has integrated and aligned the strategies proposed within this SIG proposal with other district initiatives in order to maximize and leverage fiscal and human resources. Since Lorain is a Race to the Top district, teachers at PACE will benefit from significant PD in the following areas: new academic content standards, using data to drive instruction, value­added data and evaluation systems.”

    All of these groups are very interwoven and spend lots of money earmarked for students doing what?

  14. From the AJC

    Interim DeKalb County schools superintendent Michael Thurmond is scheduled to speak to parents in Tucker on April 23.

    Thurmond will meet with the Tucker Parent Council at Brockett Elementary School, 1855 Brockett Rd., Tucker. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

    The public can ask spontaneous questions or e-mail them in advance to

  15. Yes, dekalbite2, Dilligard is part of Tidwell too. She seems to have many pathways to paychecks.

    Dr. Barbara D. Dilligard

    Dr. Dilligard is President and CEO of a management consultant firm, Karaton Services, and is the former Deputy Superintendent for the Charleston County School District in Charleston, South Carolina. Under her leadership and guidance the district received recognition for school improvement under the S. C. Palmetto Gold and Silver School award for school improvement; a successful military magnet middle school was initiated, the first public military middle school in the nation; and the district received many state and national recognitions for distinction. Dr. Dilligard has extensive experience in strategic planning, human resource management, curriculum development, organizational development, grant writing and performance evaluation. She received her doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University, an MBA from The Citadel Military College of South Carolina, and a BS degree in Mathematics from Johnson C. Smith University. Dr. Dilligard is certified by the Center for Creative Leadership in Benchmark®, a 360N performance appraisal instrument; trained by William Cook of the Cambridge Group in Strategic Planning; certified in Student Team Learning (cooperative learning strategy) from Johns Hopkins University; and certified by the SC State Department of Education in the Superintendency, principalship, supervision and administration.

    Dr. Dilligard has authored and co-authored a number of competitive federal, state and foundation grants totaling more than $70 million for the school district, non-profit organizations, health agencies, and other community-based organizations. Dr. Dilligard continues to be a favored speaker and consultant for a number of organizations and businesses.

    Pretty solid resume – why didn’t we hire her for superintendent? Maybe she actually ‘was’ superintendent – on a contract!

  16. concerned citizen says:

    Great investigative work, DeKalbite 2 and dekalbschoolwatch. Will wonders ever cease? Dear Dr. Adkinson did a major dump on DeKalb Schools; in fact, I can’t believe a county with so many resources has allowed a series of supts. and other administrators to do so much damage. I’m deeply ashamed that we have not found a way to demand a quality system of schools and government. There’s so much ignorance and arrogance, and they are so interwoven that I believe we’re out of luck. And what earthly good will it do for Thurmond to speak with Tucker parents? If he were capable of doing anything but running his silly mouth, he would have begun by now to make some kind of favorable impression. What is he doing on our dime? A big, fat nothing.

  17. concerned citizen says:

    Oh, Boy – I just read your link :Superitendent Consultant List: – Karatan, Huge, Pushsley, Taylor —
    don’t know about “Educational” I see all kept the board out with less than 100,000 tickets. So, all she did was hire a few friends to come up with those crap reports – the one on HR was particulary horrible, disgraceful! Again, how did this happen in a sophisticated setting like DeKalb??? Crazy insanity. All I can say is, “I had no idea how bad it was ,but I knew it was awful.”I wish everybody who cares would read this material you provided us.

  18. curious says:

    Does anyone have any insight as to whether the cirminal trial really will begin on Monday? It is listed in the DeKalb County online criminal docket as scheduled for Monday. The docket also lists witnesses, although I couldn’t tell if they were prosecution or defense witnesses. Some interesting names: Ramona Tyson, Jay Cunningham, Tim Freeman, Bebe Joyner.

  19. GREAT question Curious – we haven’t heard anything official. Nothing mentioned in the AJC… maybe Sunday? would you send us the URL where you saw that it is still scheduled, please?

    On another note —

    DeKalb County interim schools superintendent Michael Thurmond will speak to a parents group Wednesday, April 17 about the state of the school system.

    The talk with the Emory Lavista Parent Council starts at 9:15 a.m. at the Coralwood School, 2477 Coralwood Dr., Decatur. For information about the group, go online to

  20. curious says:

    The link to the DeKalb County Online Judicial System is:
    (Honestly, it’s probably easier just to google it.)
    Once you enter the system, click on the “criminal case search” tab toward the top of the page.
    Type in Crawford Lewis’s name and hit “search”

  21. Thank you! We just like to be sure that anyone who reads a comment knows where to look to find referenced information.

  22. Susan Curtis says:

    The trial has been postponed. There is an article online at

  23. Thanks Susan. I see the article now…

    Crawford Lewis trial now set for Oct. 15

    The racketeering trial of former DeKalb County school Superintendent Crawford Lewis and two others has been pushed back to October, almost three and a half years after they were first charged.

    And now the prosecution is expected to bring a second “superseding” indictment — one that revises and updates the revised indictment returned in May 2012, defense attorneys said Friday.

    Lewis, his former chief operating officer, Pat Reid, and her former husband, Tony Pope, are charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, theft by a government employee, bribery and falsifying a public document. The first indictment returned in 2010 also included Reid’s secretary, but Cointa Moody was dropped as a defendant when the first revised indictment was returned in 2012. Moody died in January.


    I’ll bet they get to Andrea Sneiderman’s trial on time though.

  24. FAMU set to interview finalists for band director
    Saturday April 6, 2013, 11:56 AM
    Associated Press

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida A&M University officials are set to interview two finalists to lead the school’s famed marching band.

    University officials tell the Tallahassee Democrat ( ) that the search committee will meet Monday with two candidates for director of the Marching 100.

    The two candidates are former Ohio University music professor Sylvester Young and Don Roberts, who is the instrumental music coordinator for Dekalb County School District in Georgia.

    In January, FAMU officials said they were starting over in their search for a new band director. They had planned to appoint Jorim Reid of North Carolina Central University, but they said Reid and the university disagreed over the duties of the band director.

    The university changed the job following the hazing-related death of drum major Robert Champion.

  25. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Custodians are being moved around due to the recall of the trailers, which reduces the square footage, which reduces the workforce. #dekalbmath

  26. howdy1942 says:

    Delaying the Lewis/Pope trial is a outrage. Three and one-half years – that’s justice? Once again, this is why I am so in favor of forming our own city, having locally elected leaders who are responsive to the electorate and, most of all, having the great potential to have our own school system. The District Attorney, Robert James, is so obviously unresponsive to the people. The grand jury indicted Lewis and Pope years ago and this guy can’t even get to first base – the court room. It just looks like the old Dekalb County insiders club is at it again. This is sorry, sorry justice. This is an insult to all who have done so much and sacrificed so much to conduct our justice system in such a dysfunctional and disorganized manner. Looks a lot like the School System administration, doesn’t it? Come on Robert James, get on the stick.

    Anyone want to bet on the case really going to court in October?

  27. ShooShee says:

    This is an excellent article about the DC school situation, comparing it to Atlanta. It’s long, but worth it.

    My favorite paragraph:

    “Putting all her eggs in the DC-CAS [test] basket was a mistake that basic social science warns against. ”The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” That’s Campbell’s Law, formulated in 1976 by esteemed social scientist Donald Campbell (1916-1976) .”

    So true!

  28. Concerned Citizen says:

    How can I ask Thurmond if he reads our remarks? I’ve tried to fax him and e-mail him to no avail. We have got to find out if he is getting the great input we are offering, but I’m thinking he isn’t reading anything. I haven’t heard a word from him that makes any sense – not one!

  29. H.A. Hurley says:

    Start a comment campaigne on Twitter to DCS. Enough residents tweeting him personally via DCS Twitter address…he’ll get it. Get his attention. He gets paid to respond and not just schmooze at community gatherings. He’s not just playing a superintendent, he is the Super now. Get crack n’. Let us know how it works.

  30. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Or … ask Thurmond at one of the public engagements he has coming up.

  31. H.A. Hurley says:

    He’ll schmooze his way out of that one. Public requests can be rather powerful.Needs to respond to residents in some manner.Has support staff who can do it for him. In over his head in this job!

  32. 10s1dach says:

    Embarrassed employee- what exactly is going on with the trailer recall? I know the week before spring break Principals received an email about the possibility of losing trailers. Is this really going to happen? How is this possible when schools don’t have anymore room inside the building? What will happen to the music, art, speech, EIP math and reading, ESOL and other programs that are in trailers? Once again, someone from DCSD isn’t thinking about what this will do to students and the education they need to be successful.

    Also, has anyone requested an update from HR as to how many transfer requests they received and how many teachers didn’t sign their contracts? I bet the number is astounding! When is this information going to be available for parents and stakeholders? Hopefully soon..

  33. howdy1942 says:

    Guess Robert James is waiting for everyone involved in the Lewis/Crawford to pass into another world – then he can just drop the case for lack of evidence. I apologize if this offends anyone, but this type of justice is what made the civil rights movement so necessary. Pitiful.

  34. concernedmom30329 says:

    10s1dach s

    Teachers can sign their contract and back out until the first week of June. I don’t think we will know much yet. Also, I am not sure how transferring from one school to another really is a trend that matters unless there are a lot of teachers who are leaving from one school, which speaks to school leadership.

  35. Concerned Citizen says:

    How do you find the DCS twitter address? I am going to do as you suggest, Hurley. Thank you.And I’ll start as soon as I get the address and have a friend help me twitter.

  36. H.A. Hurley says:

    is the school system’s Twitter address. Someone from Central office maintains this Twitter acct.Usually, they don’t respond, but I am sure he’ll get the message if you address him personally. Try it.Good Luck!

  37. Educator says:

    Regarding contracts June first date. I did not see that anywhere on the multiple emails. The emails I received stated that if you signed you had better be prepared to honor the full contract.

  38. We seriously doubt if Thurmond or anyone monitors the Twitter account. They have been putting out a few email newsletters, but that’s it.

  39. concernedmom30329 says:

    Edugagtor– ODE representatives spoke to it at the last board meeting during public comments. I think it is a state requirement, as the state has been later and later getting to school systems about revenue being sent to local systems.

  40. Achelous says:

    @Educator –

    That has been an informal policy of most of the school districts in the metro area for a long time. They prefer that if you back out of your contract, you are either moving to a higher position, making more money, or applying to work at a place closer to your home. They still have the option of denying you the ability to back out, however that can be appealed.

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