It ain’t over till it’s over… Gene Walker has support from the GSBA

UPDATE: Video of the Supreme Court oral arguments has been posted:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VxU8Anmhb4

From “On Common Ground” News:
State school boards organization joins Eugene Walker lawsuit

The Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) has filed a friend of the court brief in the case of former DeKalb School Board chairman Eugene Walker against the state of Georgia. The brief was filed on Friday, May 31. The case is set for a hearing [Monday] before the Georgia Supreme Court.

“We are elated that the Georgia School Boards Association is supporting our position that the law that gave Governor Deal the authority to remove certain DeKalb Board members is a violation of the Georgia Constitution,” said Walker, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. “This friend of the court brief filed by this highly regarded organization speaks with us as a united voice for school boards all over this great state.”

The GSBA is the second organization to join Walker in challenging the state statute. 1Person1Vote, which is paying for Walker’s defense, is also challenging the statute. 1Person1Vote is a coalition of educators, former school board members, the faith community, business people, union representatives, and other activists. The organization emphasizes the ouster of DeKalb school board members is not an issue of personalities, but the constitutionality of the law that gives the Governor power to remove elected constitutional officers.


+++

S13Q0981 DeKalb County School District et al. v. Georgia State Board of Education et al.
The case was streamed this morning via the State Supreme Court’s live web feed. It should be available to view again in a day or so. Click here to check.

In the meantime, feel free to download the court briefings. They make for very interesting reading – and a very interesting discussion. Join us!

GSBA Amicus Brief to Supreme Court

State’s reply to Supreme Court

Tom Cox reply to Supreme Court

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39 Responses to It ain’t over till it’s over… Gene Walker has support from the GSBA

  1. Go Gene says:

    I support Walker also. The board is worse now than before, with Tyson and Co. writing the budget and Elgart pulling the strings. The Luv doctor is worse than Sarah and Edler

  2. I found this question by Judge Meltin very on-point: “Does it matter if SACS standards are not fair standards or if SACS acted inappropriately? If the statute relies so heavily on SACS, what if, sometime in the future, SACS acts inappropriately?”

    A: SACS is not the only accrediting agency – if SACS acts inappropriately, the school system can seek another accrediting agency.

    hmmm. really? no.

  3. The lawyer for the state also proclaims many of Gene’s issues as “de minimis” He uses this term very often:

    De minimis is a Latin expression meaning about minimal things, normally in the locutions de minimis non curat praetor (“The praetor does not concern himself with trifles”) or de minimis non curat lex (“The law does not concern itself with trifles”).[1][2] Queen Christina favoured the similar Latin adage, aquila non capit muscas (the eagle does not catch flies).[3]
    In risk assessment, it refers to a level of risk that is too small to be concerned with. Some refer to this as a “virtually safe” level.[4]

  4. howdy1942 says:

    One of the issues to come out of this whole sordid mess is the process by which voters can recall an elected official. An elected official in Georgia can be as incompetent as one can be and can cause such calamitous events that whole segments of the population can suffer innocently and extensively and yet this elected official can remain in office until the next election. There are only four grounds for being recalled in Georgia and they all relate to criminal activity or immorality. In either case, the burden is on the State and on the People to prove the case. Had the recall process been attempted in Walker’s case, he would have blocked these efforts in court probably at the expense of the people who were trying to remove him. In that case, the Dekalb County School System would have most certainly lost its accreditation and the students in our public schools would have paid a terrible price. People would, of necessity, either have had to leave Dekalb or have chosen to make other arrangements for their children. The very children at greatest risk, those who Walker keeps citing, would have been left with no choice. Property values would have plunged and businesses would have left. The loss in property values and in the accompanying tax digest would have threatened many of the critical services we depend upon to protect us from fire, crime, and medical emergencies. Clearly, the recall process must change and that ought to be a Constitutional change.

    I’ve lived in Dekalb for a long time and I know of few other officials who have done more to destroy our school system or our property values than Eugene Walker. Already, we are learning about financial misconduct and this comes from none other than Walker’s good friend, Michael Thurmond. Hiding taxpayer funds by taking them off the books is, from my understanding, a violation of Georgia law. That’s where the bulk of this so-called “found” money resides. There is no telling what an independent, unbiased audit would find, but that doesn’t appear to be in the works as long as Thurmond is in charge.

    Dekalb’s School System was once a model, once great, once proud. To take something so good and to screw it up so badly until it is on the verge of losing its accreditation and is the only system in the nation to be placed on probation defines incompetence. The Dekalb County School Board was at the very top – it governed the school system. It selected and supervised the superintendent. It set tax rates, set budgets, and approved them. Nothing of any importance happened outside of the express direction or the express approval of the Board. This Board failed and it failed miserably. It let our students down and it let our residents down. It embarrassed us in the local media, in USA Today, in the New York Times. It threatened to “slug you”. It could not be found when it was supposed to testify in a State Board hearing – where it was embarrassingly incompetent. It lost millions in State revenues because it could not fill out simple forms even after State officials had almost filled them out for Dekalb. Despite repeated warnings by SACS, it could not even begin to answer the relatively straightforward questions posed by SACS. We are at the point where we have one administration that supposedly “does” the job and yet “another administration” filled by people who could not perform their jobs yet are also paid their full salaries. This board cannot even count money. This board has now hired four superintendents in four years. One has been indicted and a second was forced to leave and is still being paid. Two are interim. This board has voted to pay the legal expenses of the indicted former superintendent. It is paying one interim superintendent who failed to respond to SACS. There is simply no excuse for that – she had every opportunity to communicate with SACS, understand the concerns of SACS, and address them. Governor Deal would have never had any reason to act at all had it not been for the almost certain loss of accreditation of our schools and the severe impact that would have had on our students, our people, our County, and our State. After all, what was the Governor supposed to do? Was he supposed to let the never-ending recall process take its course until January 2015 when a newly elected school board could be seated? Was he supposed to sit through that process and the school system lose its accreditation? Was he supposed to sit there and let our graduates face the consequences of Walker’s failures? I did not vote for Governor Deal in the last elected, but I have nothing by respect and praise for his actions. Don’t our children have any rights or are their rights less important than those of Walker?

    As for Walker, I look forward to a time when he simply goes away. For the rest of us, we will have a better school system when we choose to elect competent people of integrity. I might also add that I would look for some humility as well as an overwhelming desire to do what is in the best interest of our students and our people. However one may view Walker, we are much worse off today than when he came on the scene.

  5. Miss Management says:

    “One of the issues to come out of this whole sordid mess is the process by which voters can recall an elected official. An elected official … can be as incompetent as one can be and can cause such calamitous events that whole segments of the population can suffer innocently and extensively and yet this elected official can remain in office until the next election.”

    Two People Come To Mind:

    George Bush

    Barack Obama

    I’m confident there are hundreds more.

  6. As much as many of us really do not like Gene Walker or care for the way he strong-armed the majority of the Board and the administration, we do have to wonder deeply about this law. Mr. Cox, Walker’s lawyer, makes the point that this is a slippery slope. What is to prevent the legislature from deciding that other elected officials can harm the public with bad decisions and should therefore be subject to removal by the Governor after a private accrediting agency provides a bad ‘report’ without actually producing their evidence? He used the example that this could happen even to the judges – if say, the bar decided that they weren’t doing as good a job as someone the governor would appoint. This could apply to nearly all elected officials – how about the insurance commissioner? The county commissioners? Local legislators? The state school superintendent? These people too can cause financial damage to the people of the state with their decisions. Should the legislature make laws allowing a pathway for the governor to remove them? On top of that, should the entire board be removed – even those who were consistently voted down by the majority? Is that fair to people like Nancy and Pam who did the American thing and raised money, ran a difficult campaign, participated in debates, were fairly elected and then wiped out because the rest of the board made poor decisions while these two consistently voted ‘no’?

    All in all, they are elected by the people of their districts. Even Michael Thurmond admonished the people of DeKalb for electing such bad board reps. Shame on those who voted for Gene. Shame on them for not bothering to initiate a recall. At least the voters in district 4 voted out Paul Womack – but shame on everyone in every district for not throwing a hat in the ring and running for the seat. During the last election there were so very few people who jumped in to try to make a difference. How ironic that once the governor announced he would replace the board there were over 400 applicants!

    Is this really the direction we want to go? What’s next? Who’s next? How much power do we want to give our governor? If Georgia is an incubator, then translate this kind of power to the president. Voters rights are the treasure of the United States. Do we really want to allow other leaders to start taking that away? Do we want ‘some’ elected officials to have the power to remove other elected officials?

    Admittedly we, on this blog, advocated to remove Gene and the people responsible for the bad leadership. We are guilty of jumping on the bandwagon with our torches and pitchforks. But, our bad feelings about those people aside, we are now seriously wondering if this is a very dangerous precedent. This action tests the waters and puts a lot of power and control in the hands of one person — Mark Elgart — representing a private agency with no accountability to voters – who didn’t even have to present his ‘evidence’ to any kind of court. His evidence, in fact all of his documents are not even subject to Open Records. We are all going on his word. And we are removing duly elected officials because Mark Elgart says to do so. That is even worse than electing those yahoos in the first place.

  7. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Thurmond has assigned Alice Thompson to Kendra March old job, Ramona Tyson is STILL on the payroll, making sure the key F&F folks are safe from being let go. Clews and Genes crew are still running the system and yet we sit here and wonder why so many issues are unsolved. Life goes on at the schoolhouse, the very location that does not matter to Central Control eh, er Central Office. DCSS-D still a disaster since 2003. It is Deja Vu all over again!

  8. anonmom says:

    The better answer to all of this may be that Boards of Education should be appointed by some process that holds them accountable at some level (Governor or CFO) — still political but at least get qualifications into it; elect the superintendant for 4 or 6 year terms at large…. with qualifications… that would shake things up (or appoint by a similar process or keep that process in place) but the process of electing within the districts, without any educational or financial or criminal background pre-requisites is what really led to the problem. The law is a “fail safe” — they run a billion dollar system. I am not sure that the current BOE is much better and would personally prefer vouchers and a break down of the budget into very small increments spread amongst the children who use the services…. then there would have to be a “gathering” of the users of the services in order to have the mass amount of abuse that we have seen — it couldn’t be skimmed so much at the top…. but a story for other discussussions. Nothing would ever be perfect.

  9. Stan Jester says:

    DSW et al.
    I have posted a transcript of the oral arguments with the Supreme Court of Georgia. There is also a cliff notes of the oral arguments.

    The public sentiment to date is summarized in Judge Story’s decision, “The interest of the public in a healthy public school system outweighs the interests of board members“. I ask that we trample lightly on the constitution, we may need it some day.

    Where has the GSBA’s criticism of SACS been all these years?

  10. Dr Moore says:

    Walker is only concerned about saving face he should be concern about our students not finding jobs for fanily members such as his son at Tucker High

  11. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW, I understand your concerns, but I think that I share Judge Story’s interest as cited by Stan Jester. This matter is about the clear failure and dysfunction on the part of the Dekalb County School Board. Residents of all parts of Dekalb County – North and South – have one belief in common – that this Board failed. All those residents were very concerned about the impact that any loss of accreditation could have on our children. The rights of our children must be protected and, as Judge Story correctly pointed out, those rights outweigh those of the board members.

    Does anyone not think that the School Board would have hesitated to use the resources of the school system to fight any recall? The recall process is the elephant in the room – get approval from the Secretary of State, collect thousands of signatures during a short 90-day period, fight the school board to show that at least one of the four grounds for removal has been satisfied, submit the petition, get the petition approved, and get the Governor to call a special election. Look at the difficulty that the Lakeside City Alliance has had to raise $30,000 to study cityhood. Fighting a school board with the depth of financial resources provided by taxpayers would require a great deal more than $30,000. And then you have to answer the question of whether any recall could, in fact, be held before the next election in July 2014. By that time, any such election would be moot – the district would have lost its accreditation and Dekalb County would be in the throes of its consequences.

    The failure of this school board is not a close call. This board had every opportunity to prevent the result that has happened. It was warned repeatedly by SACS. SACS stated its concerns in very clear terms. The board did not or could not respond and did not or would not carry out what it (the board) had promised. The Dekalb board had an opportunity to present its case in a marathon 14-hour hearing that was brutal to watch. Board member after board member had the opportunity to defend his/her actions, had the opportunity to provide an action plan, and had the opportunity to be heard. Does anyone think that the State Board was not fair? Not patient? Not understanding? The children, the parents, the residents had no such opportunity to be heard by anyone. There was not one – not one – dissenting vote on the State Board. It unanimously found that the Dekalb County School Board had every opportunity to fix its own problems, to make its own case, to reach accommodation with SACS – and this Dekalb Board failed on each count. In watching this State Board hearing, I did not see where anyone on the board other than Nancy Jester or Dr. Pamela Speaks had made any notes or done any preparation for what he/she would say to the State Board. Is there anyone reading this post thrust into a situation wherein you knew that in such a hearing that your job would be on the line, that your performance would be questioned, that your integrity would be at stake who would not have done extensive preparration, I mean extensive preparation for this meeting? Finally, this board had the opportunity to be heard in Federal Court and fell short. This Court cited the failure of the board and the severe consequences that the children of Dekalb would face as a result of this failure.

    I don’t think that the State Board wanted to do what it did nor do I think that the Governor wanted to do what he did. In fact, I think that both would have much preferred not to become involved. I don’t agree that this case poses a slippery slope at all. This case is not about removing anyone that anybody does not like. This case is about the suffering and hardships that would have been imposed on the children, parents, and residents of Dekalb County as a result of the dysfunction and failure of the Dekalb County School Board – nothing about personalities. What alternatives were there? Leave the school board in place and face certain loss of accreditation? Initiate a recall process that could not possibly have resulted in any election before the loss of accreditation? Or have a process such as was used to make an effort to avoid loss of accreditation?

    The Dekalb County School Board chose SACS as its accrediting agency. Throughout the course of sordid events, it chose to keep SACS. Somehow, every attempt has been made to make SACS the target. Dekalb County is the only school district in the nation that SACS has placed on probation. Is there any evidence that anyone can cite that SACS was not fair? That its concerns are invalid? SACS accredits just about every school district and every college in the South and, in fact, in the nation. If it is not fair or competent in this process, why does it remain the accrediting agency for so many institutions and districts? SACS repeatedly warned Dekalb, repeatedly stated its concerns, repeatedly gave Dekalb the opportunity to fix itself. Dr. Mark Elgart is not a villain, not a dictator, not a judge, not a jury. SACS has simply stated that Dekalb County does not meet its standards, has not met its standards, and repeatedly failed to make any progress toward meeting its standards. Dekalb County could have chosen another accrediting agency. It did not. It could have worked very hard to take the steps that SACS wanted taken. It did not. Dekalb continued to wander in a sea of darkness and failure. Superintendents were hired and fired. Superintendents and chief officers were indicted. Finances were and remain in disarray. Legal expenses were out of control. Employees were threatened and bullied and lived in fear. The input of the people was ignored. It would be very difficult ti imagine any Supreme Court Justice, any State School Superintendent, or any elected official being so incompetent or so failed, or any situation where so many stood to suffer so much, that would ever require the intervention of the Governor or Legislature or any other body. With the exception of a few legislators from Dekalb County, no one has come to the defense of this failed school board. Don’t you just suppose that had the school board had even one sliver of merit to its case, that we would not be where we are – that there would be an outcry of support? This case is unique – it is no slippery slope. The Supreme Court is in no danger, nor is the School Superintendent, nor any other elected official.

    Other than Eugene Walker, I see anyone who supports his case. It’s time to put this matter to rest and fix the Dekalb County School System for the sake of our children and our people. Eugene Walker and this board was given every opportunity to fix the school system and avoid the situation in which he and this board find themselves.

  12. I don’t disagree with your perspective Howdy – not at all. In fact, we all at the blog had that perspective and voiced it loudly. However, in truth, when you really think about it – what if you were Nancy or Pam? What if you had spent a great deal of time, money and energy running for a spot on the school board? What if you tried your best to do the right thing but were consistently voted down? And then what if you were fired because the majority of your elected board made bad choices? If we had listened to Nancy, Pam and Don, we would have had Dr. Duron as superintendent – a true professional – and perhaps we would not have gone down this road. In truth, the board does not have access to the details of the budget (as it is spent) – the superintendent and staff do – and we’re not positive they track it carefully. How many times did we hear Nancy ask for budget documents and other documents only to be ignored? In fact, Mark Elgart admonished her for asking for so many documents from Dr Atkinson. And further, there actually was a time that Elgart gave the board a good report- told them they were doing a favorable job responding to his action items. Then he did an about face. And we — as well as the court and the state board – were never shown actual testimony or proof. We are all going on the word of one man and we are giving power to one elected official (the governor) to dismiss other elected officials – replacing them with selections made by a committee he personally selected. I do think that this is a slippery slope. I think it’s just a chip at the state Constitution, which could begin a crumble. Georgia is already viewed by the rest of the states as not exactly the place with the highest level of civil rights. I think we should tread very, very carefully here.

  13. hopespringseternal says:

    But it’s not Eugene Walker’s case. It’s our case. It is a serious conundrum to be sure. No board member was charged with any wrongdoing. Judge Storey was right on both counts: there’s the welfare of the students, and there’s the constitutionality issue. Both must be taken into account. Whatever we think about the inept or delusional way the board operated, you don’t take away due process. If the law gets changed to appoint members, then that’s one thing. In that case there may be something sound about a mechanism for removal, like the potential loss of accreditation. But the law allows for elections, and though very tough, the removal of elected officials by the people who put them there — the voters.

    It is so frustrating that these two issues are interwoven. In our haste to get rid of a bad board we decided that we’ll give up our voting rights. DSW put it succinctly: who’s next? what’s next? And based on what? Even people charged with a crime have a right to face their accuser in court and have their matter adjudicated. No such provision is present here. On the basis of some fact and much conjecture contained in notes that SACS can’t or won’t produce, duly elected people were removed from office. Finances in disarray? Seems so, but that’s as much an administrative issue as a board issue, if not more. Living in fear and bullying tactics? Maybe, even probably, but where’s the sound proof or the bullied victims? And here’s a big question I have: What makes us think that this one board should be villified and removed when for years before most of them arrived the school system was being driven in the ditch? Why does no one examine the utterly curious lack of leadership of Tom Bowen (an attorney and CPA) before Gene Walker? On most every front, there was a failure of leadership prior to many on the Gene Walker board ever taking office. In fact, it could be argued that the Walker board’s hands were tied so much from legacy decisions, they had no choice but to stay the course.

    And this is why voters should take much of the blame. This comes down to a lack of leadership and a shift from the main focus of a school system. Everything but educating students became important. I’m not defending that board. But nor do I defend the thing used to remove the board. It is dangerous. Frankly, I think many people are hoping this gets fixed by declaring the removal law invalid, but that to put them back in office would irreparably harm – well – everyone. That’s why I think the federal court’s decision was genius — continue to pay them so they’re not ‘harmed’ until this gets decided.

    Finally, each of the previous boards should take responsibility for behaving in a way which inspired all this mistrust. If we look up the word “crime” in the dictionary it won’t include lack of leadership and professionalism. But so many kids have been harmed (and using our money to harm them), we want the word to have this meaning. And, boards should absolutely be barred from making legacy decisions which tie up future boards.

  14. Stan Jester says:

    PDS 24
    PDS 24 has posted many board meetings and one of three budget hearings to date. 04/29 and 05/08 budget hearings are conspicuously missing.

    Missing Budget Hearings
    I hope it’s just a coincidence the administration has neglected to post most of the budget hearings. In one of the missing budget hearings Michael Thurmond indicated without a policy specifically instructing the administration what to do with after school monies, he was left with no option but to appropriate after school money into the general fund and use it for the classroom. He has subsequently been touring the county with the opposite message saying “And I said at the budget hearing, I have no past, present or future intent or desire to use these monies in any way other than what was first provided.“

    I suppose if hope were horses, beggars would ride.

    –Stan

  15. Well said, Hope. And I must also add, I really don’t see this new board and their superintendent Michael Thurmond doing much of anything truly different or making decisions that will turn the ship in a big way. They are just whittling around the edges. Thurmond boasts of 600 jobs cut from the Central Office – but the HR reports in no way support that claim. In fact, the net loss of CO jobs has been shown to be about 50. Many of the riffed CO staff were rehired with newly created job titles. Thurmond also claims to have reduced the budget for legal fees, but that remains to be seen – the legal budget is overspent by millions each and every year. We keep getting sued – and therefore we need defense. Best bet — don’t make decisions that cause legal issues! And — get rid of one of our TWO legal firms for which we overpay about a million dollars in total. He has not done this. It’s easy to talk – and write numbers in the budget. Actually cutting spending to match the budget – that’s quite another thing.

    Unless and until this board begins a search for a new, professional, highly qualified superintendent, and unless and until this board orders a full forensic audit as was done in 2004 by Dr Brown (fired by that board) and hidden by Dr Lewis, then promised again by Ramona Tyson who never made a single move toward ordering such an audit — then I think this board too is a failure. There is no way they can lead us out of this darkness without the light of a full forensic audit and the leadership of a successful educational leader.

  16. BTW – very good catch Stan. One really has to wonder where those videos are – especially when Thurmond promised over and over that they would be posted publicly. Could it be that he might be caught in a lie? If not, then he should post the videos. Today.

  17. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Hope

    You presume there hasn’t been a crime. Perhaps there has been. The DA refuses to investigate.

    By the way, there are at least a handful of other states where school boards can be removed for mismanagement type issues. New York is one of them. It has to do with the fact that the state government funds education (or partially anyway).

    Also, Orson introduced a policy, that will be voted on in July, to protect the after school monies from being scooped up by the system.

    https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/ePolicy/policy.aspx?PC=DK&Sch=4054&S=4054&RevNo=1.11&T=C

  18. Dr. DeKalb says:

    “Look at the difficulty that the Lakeside City Alliance has had to raise $30,000 to study cityhood..”

    What? You call a couple of short months “trouble” for a city that is based on an area that has no town center, no identifiable commercial areas of its own, no identifiable issues with the current services they aim to take over, no plan for what will improve, no explanation for what they aim to change and no transparency on who is actually backing their plan? As far as I’m concerned, the money they raised came far too easily and without enough explanation about what it will buy.

    Dunwoody is a city, but it was already established. You have an identity and can be represented by a single board member. Lakeside is seeking to establish a city by taking from the other half of the existing school district, dividing lines along income and race bias and using the school system as a scare tactic to make some areas believe they have no other options. When your mission is to divide areas at a time when it is critical that the county works together for the sake of its own children, it should be hard, or even impossible, to gain financial backing from the community.

  19. hopespringseternal says:

    Not presuming anything. The bottom line is that however it came about, no charges were filed. Period.

  20. Good for Marshall! Having to introduce this policy at all makes us think our suspicion is true – Thurmond tried to scoop up individual school’s after school monies and move them into the general budget in order to make it look solvent…

    On the other point – here is a bit of Judge Story’s decision:

    The most significant competing interest to that of Plaintiffs is the interest of the public. Though the public has an interest in its elected officials being allowed to serve in the offices to which they were elected, there is an even greater public interest at stake here. The interest of the public in a healthy public school system outweighs the interests of board members in serving in their positions. Though Plaintiffs have refuted some SACS’ allegations which served as part of the basis for the recommendation of the SBOE that they be suspended, there was sufficient evidence to convince SACS and the SBOE that actions of the Board were in violation of applicable standards and policies.

    In fact, the violations were so egregious that the School District was placed on “Accredited Probation,” the level of accreditation immediately preceding loss of accreditation. The harm from the loss of accreditation to the School District and the resulting harm to the students in the district are profound. To permit the Board Members to continue to serve while their individual claims are resolved risks substantial consequences for the School District and its students. The Court finds that this risk of harm far outweighs the risks to the Board Members. Should Plaintiffs prevail, the Board Members can more nearly be made whole than can the students if the return of the members results in loss of accreditation.

    Case 1:13-cv-00544-RWS

    Now, we’ll have to wait to see if the state Supreme Court judges agree.

  21. Oh, and if they say they don’t have the money for a full forensic audit – there’s a word for that — it’s called, bankrupt. That’s a whole ‘nother issue.

  22. concernedmom30329 says:

    Howdy,

    Recalls are nearly impossible in GA. This column in the AJC talks about the need to change that…
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/opinion/law-allowing-board-members-removal-needs-changes/nYCwP/

    “Third, given the difficulty of recalling an elected official in Georgia, the law could include a lower threshold for recalling school board members when a system loses accreditation.”

    Other problems, most of which we are aware of, are the ones that relate to who regulates school boards/systems. SACs is the answer, but clearly the state needs to play a bigger roles.

  23. FROM: The White House

    Cutting edge classrooms

    President Obama is on his way to North Carolina to see how one middle school is developing a cutting edge curriculum that embraces technology and digital learning — and talk about the way we can bring that kind of innovation to more classrooms across the country.

    As soon as that event concludes, we’re hosting a national show and tell with high tech schools from around the country. Students and teachers will demonstrate how they’re using connected classrooms to improve the education system.

    And we want you to be part of that discussion. Watch live as it happens at 3:30 today!

    What: National Show and Tell on connected classrooms

    When: Thursday, June 6 at 3:30 PM ET

    Where: http://www.whitehouse.gov/show-and-tell

  24. Board members should be appointed by grand juries, and the superintendent should be the sole elected position in the school district. This was how it was done in Georgia until about 25 years ago. So much of the Dekalb bs could have been avoided were this still the law. Almost all state agency boards, I believe, are appointed.

  25. Live Twitter Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson
    Join the conversation as we discuss themes from his new book, Finding Your Element, and explore how fostering creativity in education is critical to unleashing personal passion and discovering hidden talents.

    Follow the conversation and participate:
    Thursday, June 13
    at 11:00 a.m. PST

    #AdobeandSirKen hashtag

    Tweet along with us! We will select two questions from participants to include in the interviews. And those who use the hashtag #adobeandsirken will have a chance to win a signed copy of the book.

    Be sure to follow @AdobeEdu for the latest details and updates.

  26. Stan Jester says:

    Board Norms
    Board Norms was an agenda item in the May 6th Work Session along with policy changes and a strategic planning initiative. There is no action item for Board Norms, just a supporting document. The May 6th Work Session minutes says “it was recommended that all items be moved to the consent agenda. The Board agreed.”

    In the May 6th Business Meeting minutes the policy changes made it to the consent agenda, but the board norms and strategic planning initiative are nowhere to be found. What action did the board norms document support? What board norms were actually voted on and passed in the business meeting’s consent agenda?

    While the board norms are ‘sweet’, it signals an operating environment that Dr. Mark Elgart warned us about at the April 3rd called meeting with SACS saying, “There is some underpinnings as to why even governance ten years ago was a problem. Part of it is the operating environment. Some people want to use the word ‘culture’. I use the word ‘operating environment’. But, has emerged where there’s been practices that have not necessarily been written down. But have been carried forward through board member to boards”

  27. Legal Eagle says:

    Judge Storey cites “sufficient evidence to convince” but he is wrong. Hearsay is not court-admissible evidence. And SACS was not able to produce any actual evidence — not even notes from the chair or other members of the evaluation team. As much as I do not want to agree with Gene Walker, allowing a duly elected school board to be removed without a shred of court-admissible evidence is just wrong — and a very slippery slope, indeed.

    Further, when asked to produce e-mails in an open records request, SACS refused, claiming they are a private company. However, it is likely that at least 50% of SACS’ revenue comes from tax dollars through public schools. That puts SACS well within the guidelines of Georgia’s Open Records Act as a private company subject to the act. So far, SACS has not produced a financial statement that separates tax dollar revenue from private revenue.

  28. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Has anyone taken SACs to court over the open records issue?

  29. concerned citizen says:

    Stan, you know, Thurmond does have a remarkable resemblance to Richard III, but don’t worry, Shakespeare is not on his “wish” list! any more so than the citizens of DeKalb are unless they are residents of “deep SE” DeKalb. The man just is such a blatant racist, and the little pointy fade-do looks like (((%%$$ But, just leave, Thurmond, and all will be well. Git out!

  30. Good question. As far as we know — no one has taken SACS to court about their refusal to comply with Georgia’s Open Records Act.

  31. concernedmom30329 says:

    I agree that SACs should be required to follow open records, at least as it relates to its work for public sector schools, colleges etc.

  32. Viola Davis says:

    I was in the courtroom during the hearing. I honestly believe that Eugene Walker and the prior DeKalb Board of Education can “win” this case on a simple technicality such as the Governor removing only 6 members when the law mandate “all” members.

    I was totally surprised to hear the attorney for Governor Deal state that the Georgia General Assembly can create a law to give the Governor the power to remove the members of the Georgia Supreme Court.

    What will happen when the Georgia Supreme Court rule in Eugene Walker and the prior Board of Education favor? What will happen with our accreditation when the court rules in Walker’s favor?
    We need the second accrediting agency to protect our school system. Since SACS placed the full blame on the BOE governance, SACS can remove our accreditation if the board win the case. What do you think?

  33. Stan Jester says:

    Ga Constitution – Parts Are Superfluous
    Exactly, Viola. I found that fascinating. As Justice Nahmias alluded to, Article VIII of the Ga Constitution goes through numerous constitutionally created positions related to education. For the State BOE and Board of Regents the General Assembly may provide “The qualifications, compensation, and removal from office”. However, for State Super and Local Boards, the General Assembly may only provide for “compensation and additional qualifications”.

    Ritter, attorney for the state, called parts of the Ga Constitution ‘superfluous’. That goes against everything I know about constitutional law. Ritter concluded his oral argument by saying the General Assembly could create statutes for the removal of judges if it so desired.

    Cox, attorney for Dr. Walker, stated the General Assembly could certainly create a removal process for Local Boards.

    Dual Accreditation
    Board support for dual accreditation is split down the middle. I’m anxious to see where this goes. Thurmond’s 90 day plan includes a unified board.

  34. AParent says:

    @Stan how can it be split down the middle? aren’t there 9 members? why can’t they just vote on it?

  35. Stan Jester says:

    Hi AParent.
    Dual Accreditation
    Split Board – Obviously it’s not 4.5 votes for each side. If it were voted on today, the board would be split 5-4 or 6-3. On page 9, the first deliverable in Thurmond’s 90 Day Plan is a “Unified Board/Superintendent governance team”.

    A few board members have promised the passage of Dual Accreditation. However, Morley and Tyson were vehemently against dual accreditation at this past Work Session. Thurmond said at the DCPC Meeting, “My focus is on gaining full accreditation for the entire district … I will not support anything that undermines the value of that effort.”

    If they vote now, it will go against Thurmond’s unification plan.

    –Stan

  36. AParent says:

    Right, but doesn’t Thurmond work for the Board?

  37. Stan Jester says:

    AParent, excellent question!

    The Myth of Local Control
    In theory, Superintendents work for the board and the board works for the children and taxpayers. In reality, as published in the AJC, Nancy wrote an article about the The Myth of Local Control. She says, “Let’s set the record straight about who controls education in Georgia. Superintendents and their administrators do. Local boards of education do hire the Superintendent but once in place, these educrats are in the driver’s seat. The legal framework in our state reinforces the supremacy of the superintendent’s position relative to a board.”

    Replacing Superintendents
    If you are wondering how difficult it is to replace a Superintendent, just look at the problems LSU and UVA have had. The Wall Street Journal published an article, Rise of the Accreditor, where they talk about the University of Virginia’s problems replacing their President for lack of cost controls saying, “SACS’s action comes in the wake of efforts by the University of Virginia’s governing board this summer-later reversed-to remove President Teresa Sullivan in favor of a leader more aggressively focused on cost controls.”

  38. Word Wall says:

    Victory in Every Courtroom !

  39. SRO says:

    @ WORD WALL….TOO, TOO FUNNY!! EVEN YOUR NAME IS FUNNY!!!! LMAO!!!!

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