Could be an interesting meeting…

DeKalb County schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond will speak Thursday evening at a meeting of the Northlake Community Alliance.

Speakers include school board vice chairman Jim McMahan and board member Karen Carter. They’ll discuss what the board is doing to get the district “back on track and on top,” according to an NCA announcement.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m., in the back lot building at Briarlake Baptist Church, 3715 Lavista Rd.

UPDATE: Below is a video of the meeting from Stan Jester’s Fact Checker website:

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131 Responses to Could be an interesting meeting…

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    I have lots of questions for these people, but one is taking over! Has anyone looked at the job postings? What is going on at Freedom Middle? Four English positions, several math and science? It must not be such a fun place to work.

  2. midvaledad says:

    This meeting could have everything and the kitchen sink.
    Will the “Get the Cell Out” people show up to discuss the Lakeside cell tower?
    Will anyone bring up the 685 seat addition to Lakeside H.S. that is proposed for SPLOST V?
    Will the “Lakeside City” folks be there to say their movement isn’t about schools?
    Will the “Save Tucker from Lakeside City” people be there to counter the Lakeside City crowd?
    Will Thurmond explain why he feels he can take money from the schools to balance the general fund?
    Will anyone tell us if Dr. Ralph Taylor has paid back the money he promised to return?
    Will the transportation department RFP be brought up in light of the issues Coralwood had last August?
    So many questions!
    Could be very interesting!

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    Yes! These are some very, very important questions. I wonder why we have so many unanswered questions? It’s ridiculous how little the public knows about its own school system. I’d also like to know why Thurmond is the supt., and nobody can explain that!

  4. concernedmom30329 says:

    What transportation RFP and what issues at Coralwood?

  5. Hmmmm says:

    As the tucker and lakeside discussions are important to some, I hope and pray they can focus on the school issues.

  6. Concerned Citizen says:

    You know, I believe to my soul that these people will both focus on the school issues and also represent their positions well. Cetainly, they have every reason to get shut of the DeKalb Couny School System which once was so fine. These are some smart people, and I would love to have them on my side. I hope they will take Thurmond and Johnson to the mat and not let them wiggle around and show their skinny behinds! (again!)

  7. howdy1942 says:

    Tucker and Lakeside have so much in common. If a way could be found to fix the Dekalb County School System, especially the administration and governance, then the driving forces behind the Lakeside City Alliance and the Tucker city movement would go away. For one, I want a way that insures that the likes of Eugene Walker, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Zepora Roberts, Jay Cunningham, Tom Bowen, and similar personalities would never again dominate the Dekalb School Board. For that matter, I have not been very pleased with McMahon and Orson, especially their support of the Walker’s suit against the Governor or their support of the severance package for Atkinson or their support to hire Thurmond as interim or their vote to hire that “governance training” law firm. Until some of these changes are made, to include substantive changes in the makeup of the school administration, I will continue to support cityhood and the chance, however remote that possibility may be, to control our own schools. I continue to hope that the Lakeside City Alliance and Tucker can unite and combine the efforts of each to increase the potential of cityhood.

    I would encourage the County Government and the current school board to work for the people and clean up the mess that is now the Dekalb County School System. I have nothing but kind words for the current “appointed” school board and the process used by the State to select them, but the risk is too great for the likes of the previous school board nightmare to return. I appreciate those who are sponsoring this meeting on Thursday night, but people like me do not trust this this Superintendent or this administration to fix the school system. Promises have been made over the past several years that were not kept and the situation only deteriorated. The best thing that could happen right now is for this School Board to replace Thurmond and for that new superintendent to clean house, I mean clean house at the central office. Get the Heery case settled, find a way to get the Crawford Lewis matter behind us, get free of the same old names that have been part of the mess we have, get the issues with SACS – all of them – cleared up once and for all, and get the focus and school board meetings back on the schools and not executive sessions. We have heard enough “nice” words, we have seen enough “dancin around the issues”, but we have seen very little tangible action. The same people who caused this mess are still in place. As has been said so often, “you can put lipstick on that pig, but it is still a pig”.

  8. @concerned: The Coralwood issue was the shuttle that picked up magnet students at Coralwood and transported them to Chamblee Middle.

    Nancy Jester wrote about the Coralwood transportation shuttle issue here:
    http://whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com/2012/10/03/140/

    Don McChesney wrote about it here:
    http://blog.donfordekalb.com/2013/01/13/146/

    They both got in trouble with SACS for trying to help these parents …

  9. teachermom says:

    Since we are listing those things that are still hanging…I would like to see Thurmond and/or the board remove the sentence “if there is room” from the policy that allows teachers/school house employees children to attend the feeder schools in which they work. This is a way to retain teachers and stay competitive that doesn’t cost a dime. Those who work on the north side and don’t have connections are usually told no these past two years, that the schools are too crowded. Unfortunately, I believe the overcrowding is caused by CO employee’s and F&F. At at least one school I have heard that they recruit athletes form other schools (Tucker).

    When asked at the Brockett community meeting, Thurmond said they are looking at making a policy allowing employees of a school house to attend feeder schools. Someone needs to remind him that such a policy already exists. Continuing in the feeder pattern is not permitted for teachers children in the north as these schools remain overcrowded. A cafeteria worker I konw is a single mom who leaves her home at 4:30 am. She was just told that she needs to wait 6-8 weeks to find out if her daughter can continue on to the high school in her mothers feeder pattern. The number of employee students at each school house is insignificant. At a school of 800 I know of less than 10 employees who would use this benefit. Throw us a bone and get rid of this loophole, please.

  10. Initially, I was willing to give DeKalb School System interim Superintendent Thurmond the benefit of the doubt. The found money is immediately suspect. Now, I am appalled at the improper grammar in his address at McNair High School commencement: ““I come here to tell you tonight that God don’t make no junk,” he said to cheers. Seriously? I “get” that it’s the vernacular, but set an example, please.

  11. Concerned Citizen says:

    How can he set an example for the students and teachers? Since day one, he has been speaking off the cuff with no continuity and with no sense of sophistication. Now, he may have already have written off McNair as being not worth cleaning up his grammar. He should be MADE to understand that speaking this way he does to groups is insulting the groups to their faces. Would he have said that a Dunwoody HS? NO, he would not have. I have talked about his horrible grammar before, but I guess he doesn’t care or most likely simply doesn’t know better…very ignorant and determined to stay that way. If he starts talking his “junk” Thursday night, I hope someone will call him on it. I probably will go to the meeting, and I will call him out on his decision to insult his audiences by telling the same old “rags to riches” while speaking ebonics!!!! Gross – he simply has to go, immediately. We need a consumate professional who can speak the King’s English. Dump him and the nasty members of his Round Table – Ramona, Howe, March, Smith, Ramsey, Beasley, that’s a great start. We can go from there.

  12. Concerned Citizen,
    Since his first meeting with Emory Lavista Parent Council, the same message and rhetoric has been repeated. Thurmond talks down to the parents, and made an enormous mistake at that meeting, as it was a group of very knowledgeable and informed parents – as is true with the other parent councils. It is insulting. He is also speaking at Chamblee Charter commencement, and it will be interesting to hear if the same remarks are made. Please, someone call him out on this – I’ll miss this important meeting, travelling out of town for son’s wedding.

  13. midvaledad says:

    Those are not the Coralwood issues I was referring to.
    The majority of Coralwood students have IEPs and a large number ride busses as stated in their IEPs. The transportation department couldn’t figure out how to get the kids to school in a logical fashion. They changed some routes 5 & 6 times in the first 3 weeks of school. The parents never knew when a bus was coming for their child or when their child would be home. One 5 year old was to get on the bus at 6:05 to get to school at 7:40.
    The principal and members of the Coralwood Foundation started a group, DeKalb Coalition of IEP Parents http://www.facebook.com/groups/393010754082138/ to address these issues.
    There were several meetings. Dr. Atkinson and Dr. Howe both walked out on the parents when they couldn’t answer their questions. Dan Drake spoke and had people line up to give him their child’s name and address.
    Bus routing is beyond the capabilities of the staff in the transportation department.
    Now the transportation department is looking to buy a new routing system.

  14. Stan Jester says:

    South DeKalb Mafia
    South DeKalb board reps elected Johnson to chair. Johnson and Walker appointed Thurmond. Johnson’s campaign was funded in part by Bouie and Mayfield. Judge for yourself who’s running this show.

    Budget
    Mr. Thurmond’s budget surplus epiphany casts a long shadow on SAC’s Special Review Visit Report back in December condemning the prior board’s lack of fiscal responsibility. While Dr. Walker, grinning from ear to ear, applauds these findings, I’ll maintain a healthy amount of skepticism. The latest proposed budget references numerous .xls documents which should be made available to the public under rule of law.

    Policies and Law
    Then again, since when did DCSD start showing any regard for laws and policies? Georgia Sunshine Laws (OCGA § 50.14.1 and § 50.18.70) state that records must be produced upon request within 3 days. The DCSD administration is batting .25 at best on that one. Mr. Thurmond said at the ELPC Meeting, “DeKalb School District did not have a policy prohibiting nepotism” when clearly we have a Employment Of Relatives Policy. If anybody presses the Superintendent to follow law and/or policy, those people are dealt with as seen with The Curious Case of Policy DJE

    See you Thursday night at Briarlake Baptist Church.

    –Stan

  15. Thanks MidvaleDad — We had no idea that Coralwood had these other transportation issues. How very sad.

  16. Mr. Thurmond is a politician. He was offered this job and took this job because those in charge at the time thought that he had the political connections needed to ‘save’ the Board. (Plus it pays almost twice the Governor’s salary!) He has absolutely no other professional qualification for a superintendent. In fact, we have to wonder why SACS and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission have not had one issue with the fact that he has no qualification to be a superintendent – yet, here we are, paying him along with former supers Tyson and Atkinson – not to mention, Lewis’ pension and legal fees in the civil case with Heery. SACS is mum on these issues. SACS is mum on the budgetary issues and the fact that this ‘new’ Board has not demanded a FULL turn-every-page FORENSIC FINANCIAL AUDIT – like the one publicly promised to audience applause by Ramona Tyson in May 2011 yet never even begun. Her ‘speech’ of lies is transcribed word for word here:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/05/ramona-tysons-report-on-2004-ernst_13.html

    Please go to tomorrow’s meeting, stand up and demand that the Board contract a FULL turn-every-page FORENSIC FINANCIAL AUDIT and begin a SEARCH for a permanent, professional, experienced SUPERINTENDENT. Do not fall for any of their empty promises and lies about things getting ‘better’. Do not be tricked by their double-talk and shell games. Stick to those two issues and those two only.

    We cannot move forward until we have a FULL turn-every-page FORENSIC FINANCIAL AUDIT and begin a SEARCH for a permanent, professional, experienced SUPERINTENDENT. All else is smoke and mirrors.

  17. http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/05/ramona-tysons-report-on-2004-ernst_13.html

    Ramona’s Empty Promise:

    Now today, as a part of the transitional plan, the next steps are to complete the following over the next 6-9 months with a direct focus on central office positions and administration salaries:

    + By May 30, 2011, we will develop a request for proposal to conduct a compensation study partnering either with a college or university or a company that specializes in organizational structure/compensation study.
    + By June, 2011, I will transition this plan to the new superintendent and I will include the documents that were found under the E&Y study for full disclosure and receipt to the new superintendent.
    + By the end of June we will ask the legal team to review the RFP.
    + By July of 2011, a public advertisement of the RFP will occur.
    + By August of 2011, the RFP will be acknowledged with vendors that will reply to that RFP.
    + By September of 2011, the RVP evaluation and vendor selection will occur.
    + And by October, board approval and award to such vendor.

    All of this is subject to change dependent on the new superintendent, but I did want to give the board the complete commitment to follow through on the charge of seeing that the study is begun.”

    I’m sure she’ll blame the lack of an audit on Cheryl Atkinson…

  18. Contributor says:

    Given the Friends and Family connections between Thurmond, Johnson and Walker, I’m not holding my breath.
    http://marshallorson.wordpress.com/friends-and-family-network/

  19. @Contributor: From your link:

    Former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond was appointed interim superintendent by the Dekalb County Board of Education on Friday Feb. 8, 2013.

    Jan 24th, 2013, before Michael Thurmond was hired as Superintendent, he and Melvin Johnson were on a race relations panel together . http://trumpetfoundation.org/events/race-relations-symposium/

    Gene Walker, Michael Thurmond, Cynthia McKinney and civil rights activist Tyrone Brooks all have a history together. From Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America, “The chair of the LBC, Michael Thurmond, and the chair of the senate redistricting committee, Eugene Walker, favored plans with two black districts.”

    This is concerning as Tyrone Brooks has had some serious missing money issues lately with a series of charities he chairs:
    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/rep-tyrone-brooks-pleads-not-guilty-fraud-charges/nXzCX/

    ATLANTA —

    Longtime Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks pleaded not guilty to federal fraud and tax evasion charges Wednesday even as his attorney, former governor Roy Barnes, worked to have the indictment tossed out.

    A federal grand jury indicted Brooks on charges he solicited close to a $1 million charitable donations for two organizations, Universal Humanities, which he created, and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, but then kept that money for himself. The indictment alleges he used the money for personal expenses like lawn care and personal bills.

  20. Refugee from DCSS says:

    @ Concerned Citizen
    “He should be MADE to understand that speaking this way he does to groups is insulting the groups to their faces. Would he have said that a Dunwoody HS? NO, he would not have.”

    It wasn’t Dunwoody HS, it was the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and there wasn’t a single word of “ebonics” in his speech. He didn’t dare play the race card. Nor did he try to talk down to the audience. He did, however make up 600 as the number of central office employees who were “removed”.

    Thurmond already believes that there can be no “one DeKalb” because he talks to the different audiences around the county in different ways. Then he has the nerve to wonder why Dunwoody is so adamant about pursuing its own options. He can’t be that stupid.

  21. Thurmond definitely sees at least two DeKalbs. And Dunwoody is a foreign land to him.

    You can find so many opportunities for common ground. But yet, if I travel from my house there in Stone Mountain, as I did one Sunday afternoon up to Dunwoody. It was just a 15 minute drive. But sometimes, politically, it felt like two thousand miles. What we have to recognize is that some of the dysfunction that we face at the school board is really dysfunction in the county. . . .

    We look at Dunwoody and we might criticize them, but if you really think about it. Majority to minority, is a system to move what exceptional bright kids from a large population of kids that may not be as equally as bright to a more segregated location. Right? That’s what that is. If you really look at it.

  22. dekalbite2 says:

    ““He should be MADE to understand that speaking this way he does to groups is insulting the groups to their faces. Would he have said that a Dunwoody HS? NO, he would not have”

    Mr. Thurmond is a politician. He is going to say what makes people think he shares their experiences. Language or vernacular is a huge part of that. That is his background and that is what got him elected when he ran for statewide office.

    Of course DeKalb is a “Tale of Two Systems” because there is no motivation or incentive to ensure EVERY CHILD has:
    1. A safe and clean learning environment
    2. A competent, well compensated teacher with a reasonable class size
    3. Abundant access to cutting edge scientific and technology equipment and supplies

    This is just common sense for students, but Mr. Thurmond is letting politics dictate his actions.

  23. howdy1942 says:

    @Stan Jester and @DSW – you are so right! Thurmond is there because the previous board thought that he had the “connections” and the legal skills to save their jobs. Yes, December 2012 was a terrible month for Dekalb, but January 2013 was not much better. With the exception of Nancy Jester and Dr. Pamela Speaks, that Board made some awful, and I do mean awful decisions, that month. I plan to hold Jim McMahon accountable at the polls in July 2014 for his timidity, for his support of Walker and Crew, for his vote to hire that “governance training” law firm, for his vote to hire lawyers to sue the State, for his strong support and for the boards strong support to prevent the Governor from taking action, for his vote to hire Thurmond (which was clearly not based on the ability to lead the third largest school system in the State but on his ability to protect the failed board from removal), for his vote to award Atkinson an extraordinarily large severance package, and I could go on.

    After the Governor had acted and a Federal judge had ruled in favor of the State, Thurmond and the remaining three decided to “throw in the towel” and ask the people to “give them a chance”. Why on earth would we do that? Thurmond pleaded with the State Board to not recommend that the old board be removed. He said repeatedly that that was the best course of action. Clearly, the people do not agree.

    A lot of folks say that the chances of any change to the Georgia Constitution to allow communities to form their own school systems are slim and none. But I believe with all my soul that a united Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Lakeside, Tucker, Briarcliff, and Druid Hills would be a formidable force. There are a lot of smart people who live there who have a passion and commitment to make our schools once again among the nation’s elite. They abhor the prospects that any remnant or any likeness of the previous school board could again be elected to once again have any impact on our schools and on our children.

    Change is coming to the Dekalb County School System. Yes, we have a new school board, but it was, with the exception of three members, appointed by the Governor based on their outstanding qualifications. It is probably the best board we have had in years and, until changes are made, probably the best board we will have for some time. Dr. Atkinson is gone, but her departure happened under bizarre circumstances. The interim superintendent is a political appointment made by a failed board. The top financial officer of the school system is gone, but that likewise occurred under some very bizarre circumstances. The reasons for his departure have never been shared with the public nor have those for Dr. Atkinson’s departure. Regarding the finances, did the former financial officer just mess up or does he have ethical issues with the way Thurmond is counting the money? Was Atkinson terminated or did she resign? If she was terminated, why was her severance package so large? Why hasn’t an outside accounting firm been hired to straighten out the mess and report to the people? Does Thurmond really think that he is viewed as a “financial whiz”? Does anyone really believe those statements regarding the “found” textbooks? Again, no unbiased party has been allowed to audit the records.

    Again, I say that it is absolutely amazing when a group of committed people who share a burning passion and have a laser-like focus to achieve a shared goal can do. I have seen that in the eyes of people who live in Lakside, who live in Tucker, who live in Dunwoody, and who live in Brookhaven. Change is coming!

  24. Another comment says:

    It looks like Thurmond has exposed himself and ruined any chance of being nominated as the Democratic Canidate for the open Senate seat. Hopefully, Ellis will be indicted shortly as well. We all saw he again was not invited to another visit by Obama to the area.

  25. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    @Howdy1942 – “the best board we have had in years”

    This “best board” is chaired by Melvin Johnson, aka Walker 2.0, whose campaign was run by Ed Bouie and contributors consist of Mayfield and Eddie Long. The “best board” voted unanimously for new wheels for the Area Superintendents.

    The “best board” would vote unanimously to hire an outside accounting firm to straighten out the mess. The “best board” would hire an internal affairs person that reports directly to the board and would hire and H.R. firm to perform a real analysis on DCSS. The “best board’s” number one job should be finding a permanent Superintendent. Alas, the “best board” is going to let the Walker/Johnson Interim Superintendent stay until the next board is elected.

    If by “best board”, you mean most clueless rubber stamping board we’ve had, then ‘Yes’ … best board ever.

  26. Concerned Citizen says:

    I like Howdy1942’s comments, and I like DeKalb Inside Out for the real truth about the BOE. The problem is Johnson and McMahon, both of whom are on heady ego trips. Re Thurmond, I think he really, truly is just plain stupid. If he dares to show out tonight and walk all over us, I will not accept his behavior just to be polite. I’ve heard enough of his bs and jive for a life-time! He greatly underestimates the population in DeKalb who are tired to death of this horrible school system. He better talk sense and mean what he says from this moment forward.

  27. Insider says:

    “God don’t make no junk” ?
    With that being a double negative… does that mean that God DOES make junk?

  28. Confused Former Teacher says:

    Just Don’t Do The Harlem Shake Michael Thurmond

  29. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I hear from some that a forensic audit was done. Why then do we need another? Was this not full audit? Wasn’t KPMG the auditors?

  30. howdy1942 says:

    @DIO – Yes, this is the best board, comparatively speaking. Compare them to the immediate past board, or the one before that, or the one before that. Then think about the board that is likely to be elected in July 2014. Think Zepora Roberts, think Sarah Copelin-Wood, think Eugene Walker, think Jay Cunningham, et. al. These are the people who got us into the Heery mess, hired law firms based on race, hid money from the official books (not my words – Thurmond’s), drew the ire of SACS, led us to the brink of losing the System’s accreditation, were totally oblivious to Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope, voted to spend more on lawyers than all of our neighboring counties combined, hired three superintendents over three years, etc., etc. I readily exempt Ms. Nancy Jester and Dr. Pamela Speaks from my comments. There are some decisions of which Melvin Johnson has been a part that I don’t like, but recent school board meetings have been better, far better than those of the last board. There were times when I wanted to put a brown paper sack over my head while I sat through some of the previous board’s meetings – they were contentious, they were dysfunctional, they were rarely productive, they were racist, they made poor decisions, they ignored the people, they insulted and harassed people, they repeatedly failed to respond to SACS, and they risked the very futures of our young people. Compared to that, this board is better.

  31. concernedmom30329 says:

    The “forensic” audit that was done under Atkinson wasn’t really forensic and was selective and not thorough. It looked at a shorter period of time and not at all departments and accounts.

  32. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    @Howdy1942
    I understand. We no longer have Zepora Roberts, SCW, Cunnignham, Lewis, Pope et al. But, these people were just pawns. They usually did whatever Dr. Walker told them to do.

    Board meetings go quite smoothly now because there is no Nancy Jester, Don McChesney or Pam Speaks to stand up against the evil doers. We are left with evil doers and rubber stamps. Like you said, the board meetings are no longer contentious and are now productive. The evil doers are free to get new cars for Area Supers and pass magic budgets.

    Michael Thurmond, Gene Walker, Melvin Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Bouie, and Mayfield are all cut from the same clothe. They are first class pros unlike the aforementioned crazies. It’s business as usual except the crazies and whistle blowers have been replaced with rubber stamps and evil cohorts. This is quite possibly DCSD’s darkest hour. Unfortunately, there’s nobody shedding any light on it, so we don’t see it.

    Ignorance is Bliss.

  33. Stan Jester says:

    FactChecker – Northlake Community Alliance
    I’ll get the video up today. Transcription and analysis will be posted next week. 100+ people showed up including various political types from around the area. I had a couple of big take aways.

    Dual Accreditation
    Various communities are understandably anxious to obtain dual accreditation. It should be on the agenda for discussion at the next business meeting. Last night Karen Carter echoed verbatim Michael Thurmond’s sentiment that GAC accreditation is a secondary concern.

    Board Norms
    Board Norms were presented at the 4/1/2013 Board Work Session. Subsequently, Dr Elgart brought up at the Board Meeting With SACS a “standard operating procedure to receive phone calls and emails.” I haven’t heard anything since until last night when Mr. McMahan mentioned in passing the board was now operating under said board norms. I’ll email Mr. McMahan for clarification.

    Exerpt from Dr. Elgart’s presentation

    “One of the first things you may all design and agree to is a standard operating procedure to receive phone calls and emails. What is it that you do, and almost and I’ve seen some districts do this, is you give every board member a script. It gets down to that level of detail. To help guide you through a very difficult conversation if it’s on the phone, or an email exchange. … The community needs to be respected in their view but you don’t need to solve all their problems. In fact, their problems can be addressed, just you’re not the vehicle for that to happen. “

    [31:15]
    “Don’t say to them, I’m going to pass your concern on to the Superintendent and have him look into it. Because, then you just became a carrier to help solve the problem. You actually … and it’s a hard thing to do … Is to bring back to them and say, You need to go through the process. Don’t own their problem for them. They have to own their problem.”

  34. @bettyandveronica: Yes, Dr. Atkinson ordered a ‘transactional’ audit – a look at several specific areas of the budget and transactions requested directly by her. This study was conducted by KPMG. They released a draft report, outlining the requests, found in our files here. And then they released a final report, found here.

    A full forensic audit, including a salary study was requested by Johnny Brown and conducted by Ernst & Young in 2004 – the only full forensic audit with salary study ever done in DeKalb. Leadership did not like the results, as it showed that serious overpayment of salaries at top tier levels was prevalent and costing the system millions (interestingly, one of the top overpaid people was Melvin Johnson, our current Board chair). Dr. Brown was also essentially fired (with a $400,000 exit package) and replaced by Dr. Lewis, veteran insider who quickly buried the study after first using it to give out raises to a few select top tier employees. As we all know, Lewis was later essentially fired (with a pension and $100,000 toward legal fees) after being indicted on RICO charges. Ramona Tyson was his hand-picked ‘interim’ replacement. After many ORRs, consistent pressure, and following many denials of the existence of documents, Ramona Tyson finally produced 4 large boxes of files generated by Ernst & Young, but still no copy of the final report. Tyson was replaced by permanent hire, Cheryl Atkinson, who conducted the aforementioned transactional audit, resulting in the firing of Marcus Turk and Jamey Wilson. Atkinson was also essentially fired (with a $100,000+ exit package) and replaced by the Board’s hand-picked ‘interim’ selection of Michael Thurmond who thus far shows no desire to conduct an audit.

    The original DSW blog had several posts on the subject of the E&Y audit:

    Feb 08, 2011
    Update on the missing $340000 Ernst & Young Salary Audit

    May 13, 2011
    Ramona Tyson’s report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans …

    May 13, 2011
    May 9, Part 2: Ramona Tyson’s report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans for a new audit
    (Transcribed from the Monday, May 9 board business meeting.)

    DeKalb County School Watch: Back to the topic of the Ernst & Young …
    May 21, 2011

  35. Budget Hearing Scheduled for May 15 Postponed

    The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) budget hearing scheduled for May 15 was postponed until 12 p.m. on June 3. The hearing will accompany a DeKalb County Board of Education committee of the whole.

    The Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. on June 10 for a called meeting at which the tentative budget may be adopted. The final adoption of the budget and tentative millage rate hearing will take place at 6 p.m. on June 26. All meetings will take place in the J. David Williamson Board Room, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain.

    The meetings will be televised on PDS-TV24 and streamed live on http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us. The proposed DCSD budget can be accessed here. Community members are encouraged to share feedback by emailing budget-feedback@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us.

  36. Observer says:

    Monkey Psychology 101

    If you start with a cage
    containing five monkeys
    and inside the cage,
    hang a banana on a string from the top
    and then you place a set of stairs under the banana, before long a
    monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.

    As soon as he touches the stairs,
    you spray all the other monkeys
    with ice cold water.

    After a while another monkey makes an attempt
    with same result… all the other monkeys
    are sprayed with cold water.

    Pretty soon when another monkey
    tries to climb the stairs,
    the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

    Now, put the cold water away.

    Remove one monkey from the cage
    and replace it with a new one.

    The new monkey sees the banana
    and attempts to climb the stairs.
    To his shock, all of the other monkeys
    beat the crap out of him.
    After another attempt and attack,
    he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs
    he will be assaulted.

    Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a
    new one.

    The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.
    The previous newcomer takes part
    in the punishment… with enthusiasm,
    because he is now part of the “team”.

    Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

    Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

    Finally,
    having replaced all of the original monkeys,
    none of the remaining monkeys
    will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of
    the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.

    Why, you ask?
    Because in their minds…
    that is the way it has always been!

    This, my friends,
    is how DCSS operates…
    and this is why, from time to time:

    ALL of the monkeys NEED to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME!

  37. Stan Jester says:

    Video – Northlake Community Alliance
    [Please watch the video of the meeting from Stan Jester’s Fact Checker website, now included in the body of this post above.]

    Board Norms
    I traded a few emails with Mr. McMahan this morning. Apparently the board is working from the Power Point presentation given by Dr. Morley and Dr. Carter on 04/01/2013. You can find a text version of the doc here. Mr. McMahan went on to say it was a living document that is being adjusted and might be put into policy.

  38. Concerned Citizen says:

    Mr. Thurmond made no mention at last night’s meeting of conducting the search for the new supt or of a full forensic audit. Why? He does a terrible job of lying through his teeth and generally acts like he is full of wonder and awe over what he has done! Which is what? Do you think one furlough day is OK for the teachers? He certainly seemed to and said so. After seeing his “performance,” my question is who is the man who came to the meeting with him and why do they spend so much time babbling back and forth? I thought all the politicians who showed up and were acknowledged and hugged and kissed, it’s clear again Thurmond is simply showing off for his buddies. What about his books? Are you kidding me?????. He may fool some of the people all the time, but I see a corrupt, double-dealing, pretentious (for no reason) one-eyed Jack. He says he’s doing a wonderful job, that he is full of “glee.” Yes, that is the heady reaction to a power trip. Hello, he did indeed play the race card repeatedly last nigt, over and over. Shame, shame, shame on him. It’s funny,too, but he can’t correctly say words like “with” (wid) and four (fo) and the “on yesterday” thing. These are just a few examples. His pronunciation as supt. should be superior and his delivery impeccable. Yet, he feels confident enough to talk off the cuff, no notes, just talking about what he has done. Wow, does he have head problems that stand in his way. Thurmond, you must go! Take your friends Gene and Melvin, Ramona, Smith, Ramsey, Bouie, Eddie Long, CL, and all the rest of your motley crew with you. And please take March and Howe. We don’t have even one bright light in DeKalb, nothing but liars and dummies. The DeKalb County Schools are history. Every employee who is talented and honest needs to leave with no qualms about abandoning ship. The ship is not sinking; it has sunk! Get out before these evil people contaminate you because that has happened in DeKalb even with formerly smart and talented people. Morale is not improved, Mr. Thurmond; it couldn’t be worse. Someone is feeding you a lot of crap about your doing a wonderful job, but you need to touch the ground and get out. We deserve a professional educator, not a little Napoleon. Why are you bragging about not bringing any of your friends In? They’re already there.

  39. howdy1942 says:

    Some thoughts for consideration:

    1. Mr. Thurmond has referred constantly to money that came into the Dekalb School System but was never reported to the public in financial documents and this was done intentionally. My understanding is that our laws require such formal reporting be done – none of this “off the books” stuff. If that is correct, is the previous board and senior leadership guilty of criminal activities? Could Eugene Walker, as Chairman of this Board, be held accountable?

    2. Does anyone know why Thurmond is so reluctant to hire an outside accounting firm or get the State to perform a full financial audit of the county? I think that many of our people want this audit to be done and it would serve to provide clarity to Thurmond and this Board as to where the District fully stands. After all, this money does belong to the taxpayers.

    3. Does anyone know whether the immediate past chief financial officer was terminated or if he resigned? What was the true reason behind this action – did he leave because he messed up or because he had some serious reservations about the “new money that was lost and is now found”? Did he receive a severance package?

    4. Was Atkinson terminated or did she resign? If she resigned, why was she awarded such a large severance package? Why was her leaving such a priority when SACS made no direct mention of any of her activities of significant concern?

    5. Is it possible to get an accurate listing of the legal expenses we are encountering, the firms to which they are being paid, and just what those expenses are for?

    I have some others, but these are enough for us to get started. Look forward to hearing your comments.

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