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. concernedmom30329 says:

    He resigned. I have had multiple inside sources, none of whom are connected to each other, who have told me that Peronne resigned because he didn’t like the funny money that Thurmond is now presenting as found money. At least one of my sources says he is right, that this federal money isn’t as straight forward as Thurmond claims. Another tells me that Thurmond fully intended to use that after school money to buffer the budget. (He has backed off that now, apparently.)
    Atkinson left. The board shouldn’t have paid her off, but I suspect that at least some on the board were buying her silence.
    You can easily file an open records request bout the legal fees. Here is a fill in the blank site that makes it very easy…
    http://www.splc.org/legalassistance/foiletter.asp

  2. @howdy: On the contrary, this newly balanced budget with the ‘found’ money will bolster Gene Walker’s consistent claim that DCSS has plenty of money, we are not broke, and it has not been mismanaged. He points to the yearly state audit as evidence. This newly found money seals the deal and voids one of the biggest SACS complaints. He fully expects to be reinstated. We’ve heard he has a hearing June 3 and looks for a full resolution by September. Thurmond is helping Walker make his case by moving this money around.

    FWIW >> Perrone and Atkinson both resigned. Atkinson essentially quit coming to work for about a month – she sent her attorney to negotiate her exit. Perrone is obviously not as shrewd. We believe he just wanted out before he was forced to do some fancy bookkeeping that would jeopardize his license. (Something Thurmond doesn’t have to worry about as he is a lawyer, not a CPA. Which will be interesting when he leaves DeKalb – he is a personal injury lawyer with the ability to negotiate multi-million dollar settlements.)

  3. Just Saying. says:

    School ended for the teachers and para educators on yesterday. These people ended the school year and are not sure of the number of days that they will be working next year. Para educators have no idea of the amount of their salary for next year, The same is true about food service workers, custodian and classified staff members. Teachers do not know the number of days that they will work next school year.

    Mr Thurmond had one meeting with the administrators. He spoke with them about 15 minutes. That is the total communication that he has had with the school based administrators. This did not leave a lot of information for them to take back to the schools and share.
    No one is sure of the class sizes for next year, No one knows the number of planning days.

    The problem about so many people leaving is that you also lose very good people.I do not think there was anyone left to explain the way that the TOTY celebration is normally held. The TOTY celebration was going to be May 17th. Then it was going to be May 19th. Then it was changed to sometime in the fall. Having it in May was not a good idea, This is too close to the end of the school year and graduation, School based people are never asked to give input.

    If you saw the report about our graduation rate, you understand that the schools need support. Class sizes are bigger. Support staff works less hours. The number of paras were cut. If you remember, there never was an answer to the positions that were eliminated last year.

    I think that anyone with an option will leave DeKalb. It does not mean that people do not love and cherish their jobs. It is never knowing that makes things so very difficult.

    Please pray for us.

  4. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – What you say may well be true. We are in deep sewage if it is. If Thurmond is not telling the truth, then the truth will come out and any confidence the people have in him will be destroyed. That’s one reason I think that our top priority should be in finding a new permanent superintendent – and I would like for this board to make that choice. And I would also like to see an outside accounting firm closely scrutinize the numbers and make its report directly to the Board with the public present. CPAs are certified – they play by the rules, report the facts. With their professional licenses at stake and the accounting procedures and laws that they must follow, this would settle the questions that so many of us have. Mr. Thurmond is a lawyer and not a financial expert.

    Eugene Walker may have a doctorate from Duke University, but he has demonstrated little expertise in finance. Mr. Perrone had certainly been in office long enough for any “new money” to have been found. Also, Walker and Perrone had served together long enough for them to have a common understanding on the finances of the county. If Walker knew they were there, why didn’t he bring this fact up while the board and superintendent were grappling with serious budget issues. For one, I sincerely hope that Walker never again has even the slightest opportunity to be on the school board. He has done enough damage to the system that educates our young people – of all races. I simply cannot imagine the turmoil into which Dekalb County would be thrust if the Georgia Supreme Court rules in his favor. The school budget would be in chaos because property values that support school taxes would plunge. Critical services would likewise be placed in jeopardy because of destabilizing property values. The issue of who the members of the school board really are would destroy any semblance of governance and this is the key issue that SACS has.

    Mr. Thurmond owes it to the residents of this county to set the financial house of the school system in order and that cannot be done until we have a professional, certified audit of our finances. What we now have is like a lawyer telling someone that the doctor who told him/her that he/she has a fatal disease has now left and the lawyer has discovered new medical data that suggest that the patient will live. Were I that patient, I would at least want the opinion of another doctor – wouldn’t you?

  5. info says:

    Just Saying,

    If tentative 2013-2014 schedules are any indication, it looks as if class sizes will be just as large as this year. If Thurmond and this board were serious about being good wards of the school district’s money and the need to re-direct funds back to schools, they would have already sorted some of this stuff out.

    During this May 23 meeting, Thurmond was quite clear about who is in charge. While he is the one reporting to the board, everyone else reports to him. I hope people start-or continue-asking him and the board why so many people who ushered the school district into financial collapse and educational decline are still cashing hefty paychecks. How, exactly, is he evaluating personnel?

    The school district leaders love “data.” Our leaders know that @ 75% of Dekalb students’ parents don’t access parent portal. I bet we’ll find (what the leaders should already know) that the @ 25% of students whose parents access parent portal aren’t the ones failing multiple classes, failing EOCTs, and lacking basic skills crucial to academic or employment success.

    When are any of these people in charge willing to admit that Dekalb’s students are entitled to a basic education that shouldn’t be only in the form of “programs,” after-school tutorials and “coaches”?

  6. Concerned Citizen says:

    Excellent, Outsider! That’s why if the Gov had taken the remaining three at the same time, maybe they could have dealt with Thurmond and elected a real supt who would have kicked out the obvious ones who need kicking out. (We know who they are).

  7. So is Thurmond a pawn in Eugene Walker’s power play?

  8. midvaledad says:

    @howdy1942,

    Atkinson resigned. The package she received was deemed to be less expensive than the cost of her staying. She wasn’t worth two cents to begin with, but that is on the board members who hired her and Dr. Elgart who pushed for them to do so. Makes one wonder what was covered up that would have cost more than her severance package.

    Every month there is a list of legal expenses posted on the BOE web site along with the monthly financial report. The legal expenses are in the monthly vendor report. If you search for “legal” you can see who is billing the district. You can not see what those expenses are for.

    For the May BOE meeting there are 12 firms listed who have billed DCSD and were paid by the legal department. (I excluded the “legal fees” associated with Dr. Atkinson’s departure and MERSA.) Also, the information presented at the May meeting was through the end of March. For fiscal year (FY) 2013 DCSD has been billed a total of $8,137,947 and has paid $6,753,926. Simple subtraction shows $1,384,021 is still owed. Since DCSD operates on a cash accounting system the legal fees reported in the monthly financial report was $6,753,926. Looking back through the monthly reports you can see some of the legal fees were more than 90 days overdue.

    My assumption as to why Thurmond does not order a full audit is the expense of it. Based on the price of the KPMG audit last year (very limited in scope) my guess is a full audit would cost several million dollars.

    The proposed budget for next year contains millions of dollars to upgrade the finance department. That is a step in the right direction, but the HR department is just as bad. If that isn’t overhauled at the same time we will still see “garbage in, garbage out.”

  9. dekalbite2 says:

    “Atkinson left. The board shouldn’t have paid her off, but I suspect that at least some on the board were buying her silence.”

    Perhaps Atkinson “resigned” because she was given a nice severance package by the outgoing Board who wanted to make sure they installed an “insider” superintendent before they were ousted by Deal. They are always trying to figure out who they can install in power to keep their power (including gerrymandering to elect newly elected BOE members). Very sad for students that adult concerns always trump student achievement.

  10. dekalbite2 says:

    IMO – the old BOE did not want the new BOE to choose a superintendent who was politically unconnected to the power base that made DCSS into a jobs program. The timing of Atkinson resigning and therefore allowing them to install Thurmond, a status quo supporter, within days before they were ousted is too coincidental. It’s like they were let go but they made sure a leader who would protect their family and friends was installed before they were gone.

  11. Kim says:

    Stan said above: “Georgia Sunshine Laws (OCGA § 50.14.1 and § 50.18.70) state that records must be produced upon request within 3 days.”

    Just a refinement of this statement for this important topic – officials are required to either produce the records within 3 days or if retrieval or access and reproduction require more than 3 days, officials must respond within 3 days with a plan to provide the records in a timeframe “which shall be as soon as practicable.” So it is a little less straightforward than we’d like on first reading.

    Also, the effort to respond must be via the ““most economical means reasonably available.” This could mean a $250 / hour lawyer for some records or a $25 / hour admin. In either case, the costs can be accurately or deceptively set at very high levels.

    I think until the “sunshine laws” incorporate a “cost-free” way for citizens to acquire the records in question for an Open Records request the sneaky organizations will find a way to make it painful and very costly to acquire records.

  12. Kim says:

    Also on the Open Records question, I should add that the “3 day clock” starts when the organization’s “designated person” receives the request. In the case of DCSS, does anyone know who the officially designated person is for Open Records requests?

    This timing aspect to the law can also create room for shenanigans …

  13. acheolus says:

    We are all in a freeze. New principals have yet to be announced, positions go unfilled, and we are constantly under fire from admin and the county office about class size and points. Some of us can legally teach 504 students a day, each day. That’s a lot of grades to put in!

    More to the point, many aspects of our schools go unfunded, while subjects that have not been traditionally thought of as ‘core’ subjects receive hundreds of thousands of dollars they cannot spend (i.e. career tech), so we can teach kids born in the Internet age how to type……

    Each time I see our superintendent, he is talking about large, big picture ideas. At some point, someone has to start running the system, and actually getting something done. I feel like we are as likely to see Mr. Thurmond pull a rabbit out of his hat as we are to see him take any action on any policy to genuinely move us forward.

    Balance a budget! Hire good personnel! Dispose of the jobs program in the county office! Build a stadium! DO SOMETHING!

  14. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    BOE member McMahan said to make sure and sound off on the new budget. Yet DCSS administration head and head of SACS, Mark Elghart says that BOE members should not communicate with their constituents. So Mr. McMahan, where can the regular folks, or as you call them stakeholders, go to sound off about the budget? We would not want to make the defacto leader of DCSS, Mark Elghart, angry. I am so over this central control madness, I remain focused on our local schools, the county office will never be fixed. It is hard to fix stupid!

  15. curious says:

    Kim,

    The designated Open Records person at DCSS is Audrey Qualls. Here email address is:

    audrey_k_qualls@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

    She’s always been responsive to my requests (although I haven’t asked for a lot).

  16. Concernedmom30329 says:
  17. Dr. DeKalb says:

    McMahan and Thurmond both reported incorrect graduation data that overlooked TUCKER being the top non-speciality school in the list. They said they only looked at the schools that graduated more than 300 so they could cut Tucker out and try to put Lakeside at the top. Even that was incorrect so McMahan just used total students regardless of how many started there and dropped out. Very disappointed jim!

  18. Concerned Citizen says:

    That’sa fine bit of rhyme, Observer. I still like “Eugene, You Must Go” a lot, too. Both are brilliant and so realistic! Love the drawing in “Eugene”! You two have scratced my funny bones which heretofore does not happen when I read about the bozos in the school system – the administration, I mean. I have nothing but concern and respect for the teachers and the students. It’s too, too bad! As of us said, “Pray for us.”

  19. Concerned Citizen says:

    After viewing Thurmond’s latest attempt at speaking, I believe that the word “stakeholders” should be striken from the language and specifically forbidden for him to utter as he has no sense of any real meaning. He is only about the power of his office and the money.

    “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power (which he has) tends to corrupt absolutely.” Said by a very famous philosopher. Dump Thurmond, now!

  20. Just another day in Paradise says:

    @ acheolus

    Word is that Thurmond may name principals tomorrow night at the board meeting. Some of the new ones may not meet community/student body/faculty input (since there were surveys sent out…but apparently ignored), so it was deemed necessary to hold off on the naming until after the majority of the stakeholders were out of the picture. He learns quickly, apparently. Ramona must be coaching him 😉

  21. Dr. DeKalb says:

    You are supposed to send the Open Records Request to the person most likely to be the keeper of the records you are seeking. If you do not know, then it goes to Ms. Quails, but cc: the board and Super so you know they got it, too.

  22. concernedmom30329 says:

    Just another day– there is no board meeting today. As much as I am concerned about Thurmond, I doubt he ignored community input knowingly. The man is a politician and more than anything wants to please. However, since he has done nothing to assure that those advising him are honest, capable and well intended, he will not be successful in his need to please.

    In this world of internet, facebook, etc, it doesn’t matter when something is announced. Word travels like wildfire and he will get slammed with complaints if the communities don’t like the announcement.

    Finally, with the exception of retirements, are many principals even being replaced? i figured this would be a quiet year since Thurmond doesn’t know very much about anyone or anything….

  23. @curious

    Please e-mail [dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com] to us a copy of the Open Records Requests you submitted and the answers you received. We have a place in our archives for this information — and your name will not be included, unless you specifically request that it is shown. It helps all of us to know what has been requested and what the answers have been. This avoids having the same requests sent over and over if the answer has already been provided. It also makes it possible to widely disseminate valuable information to those who are interested.

  24. curious says:

    DSW2,

    I did forward you the info when I requested and received it. One ORR concerned Ronald Ramsey’s agreement regarding his time away from DCSS during the legislative session. The other concerned the board vote to pay for Walker’s lawsuit seeking reinstatement.

  25. sameoldsameold says:

    As for Atkinson’s departure, it was a forced resignation. They had plenty to fire her with cause. Like Lewis, she was sleeping with a subordinate on company time. She negotiated and signed a contract with SFA withought going through the board (later nullified), and she and her minions colluded to spend federal funds illegally to line the pockets of her friends. Most of her hires were as incompetent and dirty as she was. She brought this district to its lowest point and even the group of losers serving on the BOE at that’s time knew she had to go. They were just too stupid and scared not to pay her hush/extortion money

  26. @sameoldsameold

    You sound like a person who may be well informed about the goings-on in DeKalb County Schools. If you can provide us with any documentation — or direct us to where the documentation can be found, especially regarding federal funds — we will print your comments. You need not reveal your name. There is no need for us to know your name if you tell us where to look and what to ask for. We can do that without anyone ever knowing that it was more than a lucky guess on our part. Please just send that information to dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com. If you would be more comfortable providing the information in another manner, just let us know. We will do our best to accommodate you. Otherwise, with no documentation, we cannot print your comments, unfortunately.

  27. Word Wall says:

    The brief moment of optimism and hope with a new board and CEO is officially over. The status quo rolls on….

  28. Wonderful Curious – thanks. We do have those docs in our archives. We didn’t realize that’s what you were referring to.

  29. @concerned mom, yes Thurmond aims to please – but only please certain people. We are told on good authority that he actually said to a group of Dunwoody ‘stakeholders’ that he didn’t need Dunwoody – he only needed to keep south DeKalb happy.

  30. Bucky Rogers says:

    Our school’s principal is leaving in June, and we were told that Mr. Thurmond would make an announcement today of all new principals in the county. Has anyone heard any such announcement? We have many teacher/staff positions open for the fall that we cannot try to fill until we have a building-level leader in place, and I am afraid that we are going to have difficulty finding quality candidates if the hiring process stalls out any longer. I don’t know why Mr. Thurmond wanted to wait to make these announcements– I know for a fact that they did interviews for the principalship as long ago as March– but the wait for leadership to be identified has affected the schools in ways that I’m guessing Mr. Thurmond didn’t anticipate.

  31. Breaking News: Ms. March is now “Administrator on Special Assignment” and Trenton Arnold is a new Area Superintendent.

  32. dekalbite2 says:

    @Dsw2contributor

    “Ms. March is now Administrator on Special Assignment”……..

    Ramona Tyson was given the position of “Special Assistant to the Superintendent” when Dr. Atkinson was hired – Ms. Tyson got a made up title for made up work.

    Perhaps Ms. Tyson helped Mr. Thurmond come up with this “Special” position – highly paid “special” position when no one knows what to do with them.

  33. So, what’s the ‘special assignment’?

  34. Concernedmom30329 says:

    I only hope that this position doesn’t come with a contract for next year. If it does, shame on Thurmond. Big, big mistake. Any idea which region Trenton Arnold has been assigned to?

  35. psdad says:

    What is the back story on Trenton?

    On Tue, May 28, 2013 at 10:53 PM, dekalb school watch two wrote:

    > ** > Concernedmom30329 commented: “I only hope that this position doesn’t > come with a contract for next year. If it does, shame on Thurmond. Big, big > mistake. Any idea which region Trenton Arnold has been assigned to?” >

  36. Whatever says:

    Dr. Alice Thompson is now acting deputy superintendent for management of day to day affairs. Trenton is taking Darius Adamson’s place.

  37. concerned citizen says:

    Who is Alice Thompson and who is Darius Adamson and who is Trenton? I’d appreciate knowing. What about Ramona – ? Any information on HR or Title I, both of which are a shameful mess!

  38. concernedmom30329 says:

    The comment about the contract was related to Kendra M not Trenton. Is Adamson gone?

    I thought that I heard Thurmond say that they were going to push some top folks out of the central office and into the position of regional super to have some smaller regions where the schools are mostly low performing. I could have totally misunderstood him because he might not have even understood what he was saying, of course.

  39. momfromhe11 says:

    Try again…

    We now have the following additions to the Organizational Chart:

    “Acting Deputy Superintendent for Management of Day to Day Affairs”
    “Administrator on Special Assignment”

    When someone went on “special assignment” anywhere I’ve worked, it meant they were right next to the exit. “Acting Superintendent” implies there was someone in the position before – who was it? What is “management of day to day affairs”? I would think that was a clerical/admin task…
    Don’t these feel a little “Rubber Room”-ish?

  40. momfromhe11 says:

    Trenton Arnold was Executive Director of Assessment and Accountability. http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/assessment-and-accountability

    Darius Adamson was Asst. Supt. for region 5 – Cedar Grove, Columbia, McNair and Towers clusters.

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