Other Districts Skimming Dekalb’s Best Teachers

We have received reports that other local districts are filling their last-minute vacancies with many of our best teachers. With only a few weeks to go before school opens, many DeKalb County School District principals have discovered unexpected teaching vacancies that they urgently need to fill.

You may wonder how this is possible since, at the end of a school year, DCSD teachers sign contracts that commit them to return and teach for another year. It turns out that teachers are allowed to break their contracts when they are offered a promotion in another district. As DCSD teachers have not had a pay increase in a decade, almost all equivalent teaching jobs in other districts are effectively “promotions”.

Teachers can effectively do the same work they’re already doing, get a raise for it, and also start receiving social security credits! While it’s distressing, it’s certainly understandable that DeKalb teachers are taking advantage of these opportunities in Gwinnett, Fulton, Clayton, Decatur and Atlanta.

Also read our post >> Looking for work? Jobs galore: Available at DeKalb Schools’ PATS website

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This entry was posted in DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County [GA] School System Retirees, DeKalb County, Georgia, Georgia Education, Michael Thurmond, Teacher Contracts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Other Districts Skimming Dekalb’s Best Teachers

  1. concerned citizen says:

    I have talked to an administrator in Decatur, and he/she said that all he/she is interviewing is DeKalb teachers. And he/she has hired three in the last two weeks! That’s a lot for such a small system, but he/she said he/she has been waiting on these teachers to get released; that these teachers are wonderful! No joke. Most teachers would give anything to work in the Decatur system because it works. I also know six (6!) teachers since yesterday who have resigned after a lot of crap and “gone to Gwinnett.” Two of them have the best possible assignments and are treated really well by GW Hr and Principals! Isn”t that a switch? To be treated with respect by HR… If only things were different, if only we weren’t stuck with numb…and his in-place minions. I’m still trying to organize a PP for probably this week-end or maybe for the wonderful and amazing board meeting.

  2. TracyW says:

    Ya think? My daughter wanted to teach at Lakeside or at Tucker, but they were so far behind in their hiring that they didn’t make her an offer until two days before class started, by which time she had long since accepted an offer from Gwinnett. Let’s not talk about how she really wanted to teach where she went to school or could walk to work.

  3. idabelle25 says:

    There are really great families, teachers and principals in this district that are holding it together at many schools and they are the reasons many have stayed but the central office keeps taking more and more away from teachers with no end in sight. A parent asked at the end of the school year would I be around to teach her other child but at this rate I don’t know. I have a great principal and parents who have tried to soften the blows of the administration but it is only so much they can do when they can’t control how people spend their tax dollars.

  4. H.A. Hurley says:

    Loyalty is a two-way street. Dekalb County Schools has shown NO LOYALTY to its teachers for many years. The focus has been on all the illegal and unethical doings and financial bleeding by enough top administrators, extreme practice of promotions provided to friends and families, years of frozen salaries, many poorly maintained and outdated schools, lack of technology, and rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I could go on and on.
    School systems do have the right to refer teachers to the Professional Practices Commission for breaking contract at such late date. I strongly suggest that DCS not even think about doing so. The treatment of teachers in this system should have been addressed years ago and teachers should not be punished more to hold them hostage. DCS deserves no consideration! Natural consequences for running a system so badly is exactly what is happening. A slow DEATH!

    Although, I am sad for the students of DCS, I am happy for the teachers who will experience better working conditions and hopefully will remain in their noble profession for years.
    Many of us sounded the alarms about teacher exits. No one paid attention and continued to treat them like second class citizens, while unraveling the system by superintendents, BoE, top-heavy administrators, spending M$$$ on things other than to support children and teachers. Wasted million$!

    My concern is that even this exit will not change DCS’ behavior or finally take ALL DCS’ MESS SERIOUSLY! More good teachers will leave. We cannot continue business as usual without all of us paying a huge price.

  5. Sickofdekalb says:

    I’m headed out of Dekalb as soon as possible. My husband has been telling me to get out of Dekalb schools since year one. His reasoning? “I hate to see you treated so bad.” I expect this to be my fourth, and last year in this embarrassment of a district.

  6. H.A. Hurley says:

    SickOfDekalb, listen to your husband! Often teachers don’t want to leave their students. Admirable! However, when you love teaching kids, you will thrive in a setting where you are respected and treated professionally. Much success to you.

  7. Free From Dekalb says:

    I have left DeKalb as a teacher. Goodbye and good riddance!

  8. Niah says:

    All this goes back to the Leadership in HR. It has not changed even though Leadership in Dekalb has changed at least 3 times. Also SACS said hiring practices were not right in Dekalb, but we still have the same team of leaders in HR. Wake up and release all HR administrators and bring in a new team.

  9. TD says:

    I am new to this blog and learning a lot! I’m confused about the frozen salaries… So, the teachers are not getting any step increases?

  10. H.A. Hurley says:

    TD,
    Frozen! Frozen! M$$$ for admins to spend, get PhDs on the job with RTTT $$, wasted $$$ galore.
    Our teachers will experience a culture shock, especially if they go to Fulton and Gwinnett Counties. They will see where the $$ is being spent – on kids, teachers and schools. Our RICKITY school system can be used for all the Hollywood film companies as backdrop for school settings from 30 years ago. Yes, there are a few updated schools, but too many, way too many have been left behind. You break your neck just crossing the pothole filled parking lots.
    There are many who will say that buildings and surroundings do not matter. The teacher is what matters. Really? You try it! Especially, when EVERYTHING in DCS looks like those parking lots with Grand Canyon potholes. HR DEADWEIGHT needs to go TODAY!
    Wishing all our teachers the very BEST!

  11. @TD: Yes, and along with furloughs, this inaction to teacher pay has resulted in quite a decrease. Add on top of that an increase in healthcare contributions for employees, and an end to matching pension contributions and you have a significant fall off in earnings.

    Read our post from the old blog on the lawsuit filed by teachers against DCSS for ending the pension contributions (which had been promised in lieu of participating in Social Security).
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/03/teachers-file-lawsuit-over-dekalb.html

  12. Also, for a bit of history, read this AJC article – going back to the beginning of these severe cuts, that started under Crawford Lewis, which then continued and deepened, with Ramona Tyson and Cheryl Atkinson —

    DeKalb schools propose cuts in programs, teacher pay
    By Megan Matteucci
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    5:29 p.m. Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    DeKalb County pre-kindergarten classes, magnet schools and art courses will be slashed and teachers will likely see another pay cut to offset a $56 million deficit in the school system.

    The only other option is to raise property taxes, DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis said Wednesday.

    Either way, students, teachers and administrators will feel the pinch next year.

    On Wednesday, Lewis outlined several budget proposals to help trim $56 million from next year’s budget, which starts July 1.

    A loss in revenue from declining property taxes and state aid caused the shortfall, he said.

    The school board will spend the next few months deciding whether to raise property taxes or slash employees’ salaries through furloughs or a pay decrease.

    “No one will lose their job,” Lewis told the board Wednesday. “But some employees will be offered a different position.”

    Lewis said his goal is to avoid a property tax hike by trimming programs which have low attendance.

    “We’re trying to be sensitive to people who are out of work, lost their homes to foreclosure and are struggling,” he said.

    At 22.98 mills, DeKalb already has the third highest school tax rate in the metro area, according to Lewis.

    Lewis’ proposal calls for teachers to take seven furlough days next school year or a 5 percent pay cut, an annual loss of about $3,200 for the average teacher. Administrators would take 15 furlough days under the proposal.

    Bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers would not be affected. Substitute teachers would have their salary cut from $90 to $80 a day.

    Those reductions would be in addition to about $11 million in cuts to school programs, including magnet and Montessori schools, classes at Fernbank Science Center, standardized testing in first and second grades, single gender schools and Lithonia Charter School and DeKalb Early College Academy. Summer school classes would be offered online only and half of the 104-pre-kindergarten classes would be cut. The state lottery funds pre-K teachers but not paraprofessionals, Lewis said.

    The superintendent’s proposal also calls for 45 administrators in the central office to be transferred to schools, where they will become teachers.

    The proposal also calls for cuts in the ranks of paraprofessionals, assistant principals and counselors. Once positions become vacant, they will not be filled.

    Some board members said they would rather see a tax increase than cuts to teacher pay and programs.

    If the board raises property taxes 1 mill, teachers would only face two furlough days or a 1.25 percent pay cut. The tax increase would cost a homeowner with a property valued at $200,000, about $68 more a year.

    Board member Eugene Walker suggested the board raise taxes 2 mills, which would raise the average homeowner’s tax bill by about $135 more a year.

    The county commission is also considering raising property taxes.

    Teachers said they understand everyone will feel the effects of the recession and they are willing to take a cut. But they don’t understand why their furloughs are coming at the same time Lewis is getting a raise.

    “Dr. Lewis just doesn’t get it with this pay issue,” said David Schutten, president of Organization of DeKalb Educators. “We’re willing to pitch in, but that continues to irk all of the employees.”

    Earlier this month, the board voted to raise the superintendent’s pay from $240,000 to $255,000 and extend his contract to 2013.

    On Wednesday, Lewis defended his raise and pointed out that he voluntarily took a pay cut last year.

    “I don’t know any other superintendent who did that,” Lewis said. “Nothing I can say would be sufficient for anybody. If the board thought I was not a good deal, they would have gone outside and hired someone else.”

    Despite the proposed cuts for next year, teachers said they are happy not to have to take any more furlough days this school year. Instead, they will not get contributions to their tax-sheltered annuity.

    On Friday, Gov. Sonny Perdue asked teachers across Georgia to take three more days off to offset a decrease in state revenue.

    The three furlough days equal about a $10.5 million budget cut in DeKalb, the state’s third largest school district.

    Last year, the DeKalb board halted contributions to all school employees’ tax-sheltered annuity. By continuing with that cut, the board will save $9 million for the rest of the school year, Lewis said. The remaining $1.5 million will be trimmed from other spending.

    The tax-sheltered annuity contributions will be re-instated July 1, Lewis said.

  13. H.A. Hurley says:

    The current trend in the US is to hire young, inexperienced, cheap teachers right out of school or working for Teach For America ( w/ 5 week training) to teach children. There is little loyalty and career in teaching left. Multiply those national currents to unravel the profession with the illegal and unethical practices of DCS, we are lucky to have any teachers left in the system. Long serving career teachers have not only lost thousands of $$$ with the rest of the teachers, but their frozen salaries will reduce their retirement pensions drastically, FOREVER!
    When one sees the waste of $$$ in DCS, and FatCats getting fatter, we should be thankful that many teachers stayed loyal to our kids as they have. Superintendents can do a P*ssPoor job and walk away with golden parachutes and ride off into the sunset and leave DCS behind. Teacher do not do that. They agonize for a long time before they exit. Let that be a warning and kick DCS’ behind to clean house for a better tomorrow for all.

  14. Fed Up Faculty says:

    This will be my last year in DCSS. I work at a great school with strong parent support. The PTA gave us cupcakes at the end of the year, and begged us to stay. I really feel for them, they have tried to help in any way they can. Their kids are great, but we teachers cannot take care of our own families and future anymore. I’m leaving for the sake of my children’s education, my pension, and my livelihood. Don’t get me started on the degradation, lack of trust, and lies. We are OUT OF HERE.

  15. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    As of this morning on PATS, here are the jobs still open in the high schools:
    4 Art (3 are part-time)
    1 Economics
    10 English
    7 French (3 are part-time)
    1 History
    15 Math (no, that’s not a typo)
    7 Science
    5 Social Studies (1 is part-time)
    3 Spanish (1 part-time)

    That is not including, of course, the interrelated teachers as well as several elective teachers (like consumer and family science).

    That’s 53 classrooms full of students throughout the high schools waiting for a non-substitute teacher to teach them on August 12.

  16. dsw2contributor says:

    Concerned DeKalb Mom @ July 31, 2013 at 12:09 PM said “As of this morning on PATS, here are the jobs still open in the high schools”

    Additional vacancies have been posted to PATS today: Cedar Grove High needs an English Teacher, Dekalb Alternative needs a Graphic Arts teacher, Druid Hills Middle needs an Art Teacher, Flat Rock needs a Grade 2 Teacher, Freedom Middle needs a Math Teacher, MLK High needs a “Teacher, Interrelated”, and Bethune Middle needs an Assistant Principal.

  17. Murphey says:

    @concerneddekalbmom @ 12:09,

    Let’s talk about the number of high school students who would be affected by these teacher vacancies. Let’s omit the 4 Art teachers and the part-time teachers, so we have vacancies for 44 core subject high school teachers who need to be hired before pre-planning starts this Monday.

    Per the class size waiver document that Dr. Alice Thompson will ask the BOE to approve at this Monday’s BOE meeting, the maximum class size for high school core subjects is 36 students.

    High schools are either 7 period day or block schedule.
    Seven Period Day – These teachers teach 5 periods per day, or up to 180 students per teacher (5 x 36). The 44 core subject teacher vacancies affect up to 7,920 students (44 x 180).

    Block Schedule – These teachers teach 3 periods per semester, or up to 108 students per teacher for a semester (3 x 36). Multiply by 2 for both semesters to get up to 216 students per teacher.
    The 44 core subject teacher vacancies affect up to 9,504 students (44 x 216).

    The March 2013 FTE report from Georgia DOE (http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fte_pack_enrollgrade.display_proc) states that DCSD has 26,830 high school students.

    SO, this means that up to 30% (7,920/26,830 for seven period day schools) or up to 35% (9,504/26,830 for block schedule schools) of our high school students will not start school with a teacher in a core subject unless those teachers are hired and in place in the next 12 days.

    Yes, I assumed that all classes would be the maximum size, and hopefully this will not happen. But even if class size was half of what I calculated, we’re still be talking about 15% or more of high school students who won’t have a core subject teacher unless DCSD hires them in the next 12 days. And for new teachers, the ones who really need pre-planning, the deadline is 5 days.

    I also didn’t consider the vacancies for 4 Art teachers and 5 part-time core subject teachers.

    Wow. We still need to hire teachers for up to 30% of our high school core subjects. Wow.

  18. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Murphey, You also assumed each core teacher affects an additional 180 or 108 students with no overlap in students.

  19. Murphey says:

    @DIO, thanks for pointing that out. I guess I got carried away.

  20. concerned citizen says:

    Dear H R Hurley – I’m glad to live on the same planet with you. I appreciate your comments on behalf on the students and teachers. You are a tough competitor, and I would love to team up with you and some of our other fabulous posters to bring this mess down. Then, we’ll have a fabulous dinner party and invite everyone of importance (do you know who will be left out?) This is a really bad school system, full of deceit and wrong-doing and downright EVIL.

  21. info says:

    Am I the only teacher who doesn’t know what I’ll be making? Is there another “profession” for which you have to try to find a calendar, determine the number of days you’ll be working, and then get out the calculator to figure out your pay? I haven’t received one first class notice announcing my salary or even stating the number of days I’m (supposed to be) working this year. Did I miss something?

    And has anyone else noticed that Dekalb is looking to employ two additional people in communications? Since one is identified as III, it makes me think there are two others. And if you read the job descriptions, one has to wonder what they do. I don’t see anything posted on the web, given to the press, or produced for the community that would require more than an intern, much less four highly paid people.

    I also have to wonder why we need any coordinators since English went without one, much less the two that most disciplines have, for most of last year and all of second semester.

  22. PI says:

    While I do feel sorry for the students who are receiving the worst treatment of all in this, I do want to congratulate each of the teachers who make it into a new areas that actually offer the opportunity to prosper. Take advantage of these situations when they’re offered, because you never know when the opportunities will dry up again.

    This decaying, negligent system only continues to prove how it deserves neither the talent nor the tax dollars to administer this farce of public education.

  23. dsw2contributor says:

    Does anyone know what is going on with Browns Mill Elementary (6 Teachers and 1 Counselor needed) and Stoneview Elementary (5 teachers needed)? All the other elementary schools have, at most, 3 teaching vacancies.

  24. James says:

    @dsw2contributor Browns Mill has a new Principal so that may be one reason. I’m not sure about Stoneview other than a new Principal was placed there last year from Flat Rock I believe. Not clear about what goes on with her but if you go onto the MACE Teacher Advocacy website she’s listed along with a ton of other DeKalb and metro area Principals with an “NI” or needs improvement rating.

  25. H.A. Hurley says:

    Dear Concerned Citizen,
    Thanks, always open to help and offer my support and input.
    Spent 40 years in education in numerous states and metro systems.
    Could it be that I may have something to contribute? Retired, advocate and grandparent of two grandchildren, attending DCS. Very concerned and have been sounding the alarm for years.
    The wheels are falling off and the Pink Cadilac from 30 years ago is sitting on blocks on a dirt road in rural GA. Need to work to get it road ready.
    Could be done if we get some hardworking intelligent unselfish people wanting to revive DCS.

  26. Remember the charrettes? Here is a list of ‘themes’ posted in the old DSW blog resulting from those charrettes (December, 2010)

    North, South, East, or West, parents want the same quality education for their children.
    The public does not believe that program offerings are equitability distributed or of the same quality.
    The public expects the district to maximize state funding opportunities.
    There is a conflict between focusing on neighborhood schools and providing for magnet opportunities and ESEA (NCLB) requirements.
    There is a need for more accountability and transparency in how dollars are spent.
    Trust in the leadership must be rekindled.

    This is the frustration in a nutshell. These ‘themes’ just don’t go away. Yes, we get new leadership in a few key places, yes we get new representation for taxpayers, yes, we get new buildings and computers, but these key ‘themes’ are stubborn and we just don’t seem to be making any progress.

  27. H.A. Hurley says:

    OMG!
    Just looked on the Employment Website for DCS. Majority of vacancy announcements were posted last week and this week. How in carnations can HR even process all the applicants? Many SpEd openings. Could be a major crisis for DCS. Why did they wait until now to post those vacancies. Can’t believe that all those positions and contracts were broke this week. What is going on? Almost physically impossible to process and hire that many people in 12 days.
    The efficient metro systems, such as Fulton & Gwinnett attract new staff early in the summer. They get the best and early. This is not rocket science.

  28. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Info
    “And has anyone else noticed that Dekalb is looking to employ two additional people in communications”
    Because the current administration which is largely made up of the old administration does not think DCSS has an academic problem. They think it is a public relations problem.

  29. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Deklbite, you just said it in a nutshell. They think we are just not getting it. They think as many do in this current political environment do, that if you keep denying there is a problem, it will eventually just go away. Can anyone imagine what kind of bull$&@! Thurmond , Walker, Howe, Atkinson, Clew would say to anyone of us in a one on one discussion about the state of our system? For years they have been dismissing, devaluing, disregarding us parents and vocal teachers as squeaky wheels to be placated. There is nothing to see here, move along…you reap what you sow DCSD.

  30. concerned citizen says:

    Last night, I talked with a young, dynamic Gw teacher in her seventh year. She told me of one young woman her school wanted to hire from DeKalb, but that HR gave the teacher tons of *^%#, and they wouldn’t release her from her contract. This all has been happening this week. I thought I understand that a pay raise was considered a promotion and that teachers could get out of DeKalb based on the lower pay than GW and other systems. We know that if they don’t get out this year, they won’t be fooled by HR’s machinations again. Although I hate so much that great teachers have left, who can blame them? We all know how bad DeKalb treats its teachers and parents. So depressing ..

  31. firstgradeteacher says:

    @ info if you are in a school building the bookkeeper at your school should be able to tell you, or find out how much you will be getting paid. However, you are right it should not be that complicated to find out.

  32. concerned citizen says:

    In fact, the salary should be stated =- more of the same – mystery, deception, intrigue from the Palace. Imagine teachers’ not knowing what their salaries are! Ridiculous. Of course, HR doesn’t want to divulge how much they are screwing the teachers.

  33. sameoldsameold says:

    Its not the pay raise that makes a promotion. Going to another district to teach is a lateral move. Unless it is attached to a higher title (coach, assistant principal, specialist, coordinator etc), its better money but not a promotion. That said, if you want out you should go. Neither Dekalb nor the Professional Standards Commission have the resources to follow up on it.

  34. H.A. Hurley says:

    If the system refers teachers to the PSC for breaking contract, they should get the BEST ATTORNEY and sue the h*ll out of DCS for all the personal mistreatment, professional mistreatment, unethical conduct and not allowing them to ESCAPE a system that could harm teachers’ careers with their practices. I would DARE DCS to come after me. Best of luck!

  35. concerned citizen says:

    Hurley, I just wish everyone had your courage. It’s hard to leave when you have no resources,as so many of us don’t. DeKalb is so inhumane and backwards. HR and of course with the supt’s permission just talk and do anything they want – huge power trips. Also, I want to see a list of those receiving cars. Who can I contact besides the supt who never responds to any question I have. And, I have a lot of questions for him. Of course, he doesn’t want to deal with me,let alone you, Hurley! You rock!

  36. H.A. Hurley — I am an attorney and my wife was a DSC teacher until the end of last year. I reviewed the 2013 – 2014 DCS teacher employment contract and concluded that it is unenforceable under Georgia law. First, as “Info” correctly points out above, the contract does not specify the exact salary a teacher will make during the school year. It only contains a daily rate and: (a) does not incorporate a schedule detailing how many days a teacher will work; and (b) states that the daily rate may be adjusted based on budgetary and other concerns. A teacher cannot look at the face of the contract and calculate how much she will make over the school year. In Georgia, an employment contract must set forth the specific payment a party will receive over the term of employment in order to be enforceable. Second, the contracts contain absolutely no description of what the “employee” will actually do during the school year. In fact, the term “teacher” is only used once in these contracts and is used only to describe the teaching credential the “employee” must have. An employment contract is unenforceable under Georgia law if it does not describe what the employee will be doing.

    Two of my friends broke their contracts and went to APS. I was ready to go to Court to prove that the contracts were unenforceable and that DCS could not report my friends to PSC. But in true DCS fashion, HR was too lazy to take any action. My friends are both making $10K more than what they made last year at DCS.

  37. H.A. Hurley says:

    James Johnson ~ It sure seems so wrong and should be illegal. The trend through the years has been to write as little as possible of specific information on teacher contracts, in other systems too. Educators were always told that they had the right to do so, as one contracts with the system and they have the right to use you as they see fit. Heard it for years. I suslect there is a ,egal loophole that allows them to do so. Unions have not challenged it, as far as I know.Has probably gotten much worse. Sounds like MODERN SLAVERY to me.
    DCS does not deserve one oz. of loyalty from teachers.
    Since DCS has tons of vacancies, they need all manpower to process the hundreds of applicants (if they get them). Major job! They should not take time to refer exiting teachers to the PSC. Would be foolish, but that might be exactly why they may do it.
    Teachers leaving for other systems, let us hear from you. Tell us if DCS gave you a hard time releasing you from your ‘Piece of Sh*t Contract’, not worth the paper it’s written on.

  38. September says:

    The contract used in DeKalb is similar to the ones used by other counties. I was once given a legal reason why school systems are allowed to enforce a contract that cannot be used anywhere else in Georgia, but I couldn’t begin to explain it. Know that if you sign a teacher contract in Georgia and don’t honor it, the Professional Standards Commission will pull your teaching certificate. There are ways to break a contract, but you can’t just walk away. As for unions, it is illegal for teachers to organize. PAGE, GAE, etc. are professional organizations. There is no collective bargaining for teachers in this state. Teachers are not allowed to negotiate a contract. If you want to teach in Georgia you have to “follow the rules.”

  39. Concernedmom30329 says:

    September

    For the GPSC to pull a certificate, first the school system has to complain. It is a ton of work for systems, and I bet virtually no systems do this. I understand there is a risk, but it is a very small one.

  40. September says:

    Yes. The school system does have to complain. I was released from a contract in Georgia. It was serious business. It didn’t look risk free to me. The reality is that you can’t be under contract with two school school systems at the same time. Until the school system releases you, you are under contract. You can take the chance that the school system won’t complain to the GPSC, but do you really want gamble with your career? The contracts that teachers sign are designed to protect school systems. They do not protect the rights of teachers.

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