RIP, Dr. Bachtel

University of Georgia professor Dr. Douglas Bachtel died Thursday, August 8, 2013. Dr. Bachtel also was the editor of the Georgia County Guide, among other publications, and a skilled researcher/demographer.

You may be wondering what that means to you and/or to DeKalb County Schools.

After Crawford Lewis commissioned a demographic study, glaring errors were discovered in what has come to be known as a “faux – or fake – study.” A long-time parent (now DSW contributor) met privately with Lewis and his top assistant, Debbie Loeb , to point out the errors. Lewis appeared shocked and troubled. Neither Lewis nor Loeb mentioned that a few weeks earlier a group of Nancy Creek parents had brought similar concerns to Lewis’ attention.

Here’s the story:
Believing we were dealing with a man (Lewis) who had gotten some very bad advice (faux demographic “study”) we went to talk with Dr. Bachtel, with Lewis’ knowledge and approval. We took copious notes and prepared a written report for Lewis stating what we had learned. Dr. Bachtel also sent the most recent Georgia County Guide and accompanying DVD ($85 value) to Lewis at no charge.

Dr. Bachtel was very gracious and very generous with his time. He explained where the study, prepared by an out-of-state so-called demographer, was unreliable and, in some cases, completely false. He explained how to obtain very reliable numbers regarding housing and population growth. One critical thing Dr. Bachtel pointed out was that the so-called demographer was seemingly unaware that, in Georgia, building permits are issued by counties only for the unincorporated portions of each county. Cities issue building permits for land within their boundaries. That is why DeKalb County had no building permits for the City of Chamblee, where the majority of Nancy Creek students lived. Knowing that is Demography 101.

We asked Dr. Bachtel what he would charge to re-do the clearly erroneous demography “study” and report from the so-called demographer. He said it would cost $15,000. Lewis had paid $100,000 plus expenses. Fairfax County (VA) Schools had paid $50,000 for the exact (word-for-word) same report. In fact, that is what tipped us off to the duplicity. Knowing that Fairfax County Schools was much larger than DeKalb County, we were surprised to see so many similarities. For example, according to the faux demographic “study,” Fairfax County Schools had the same number of elementary schools as DeKalb County Schools.  Not true!  A closer look revealed that the faux demographic “study” was simply a cut-and-paste job – not very well done, either.

Following delivery of the detailed written report and the Georgia County Guide plus DVD to Lewis, he suddenly and unexpectedly cut off all communication. He would not return calls or e-mails. It became clear that the demographic “study” commissioned by Lewis likely was, in fact, a fake study to enable Lewis to move forward with whatever “deal” he had cut with Sembler to sell off extremely valuable property on North Druid Hills Road. Based on Sembler’s $20,000 contribution to Gene Walker’s election campaign, we believe Walker was involved in this maneuver, as well.

Lewis had to empty Nancy Creek School, by claiming, untruthfully, that population was dropping in the Nancy Creek attendance area and adjoining elementary school attendance areas (Huntley Hill and Montgomery), so he could move Kittredge (Grades 3 – 6) from its North Druid Hills location (on land Sembler wanted to buy and develop) to Nancy Creek. Lewis kept Kittredge parents quiet by sending Nancy Creek students to elementary schools in the adjoining attendance areas, ultimately resulting in overcrowding in the receiving schools.

It is interesting to note that the out-of-state GIS consultant who worked with the out-of-state demographer who prepared the highly flawed, cut-and-paste demographic “study” states on his website that his aim is:  “to provide expert demographic analysis and recommendations to clients while empowering them with the ability to keep any plan alive.” 

Several weeks later, after no response from Lewis to phone calls and e-mails, we went by Lewis’ office to pick up a large envelope containing the Georgia County Guide and DVD which had been hand-delivered to Lewis. The large envelope was handed to us by Gloria Talley. It had never been opened.

This story is important because it shows a continued past practice of fraudulent and corrupt behavior by Crawford Lewis, perhaps aided and abetted by Debbie Loeb who was involved in at least one other questionable – possibly fraudulent and corrupt – deal.

This story is important because it is yet another demonstration of how damaging is DeKalb District Attorney Robert James’ refusal to bring Lewis and Pope to trial. Cointa Moody, a critical witness, is dead. Now Dr. Douglas Bachtel, another potential witness, is dead.

DeKalb County (GA) and its youngest, most helpless, least vocal citizens are damaged daily by this continued uninterrupted corruption. As the Biblical David cried out, “How long, O Lord, how long?”

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14 Responses to RIP, Dr. Bachtel

  1. concerned citizen says:

    This is an incredible piece of work you have presented. I am humbled by its scope and perspective. I echo, “How long?…” And we know that many of the present Palace know exactly what happened and the enormity of the spread of corruption, constantly perpetuated by themselves.

  2. concerned citizen says:

    What was the time-frame? Who is the demographer who spewed this crap, and is the material a part of the DA’s evidence? Who is Debbie Loeb and where is she now? The Palace? Thank you.

  3. This is why it is so important to clean out the palace. After 18 years, I have left Dekalb schools because it is no better without Lewis. Almost all of the people at the palace were put there by Lewis.The corrupt, autocratic, self centered style of management is still in place.

  4. @ursokm16: We are going to leave your comment up here for a brief period of time so you can document your accusations.

    It is important to know that additional counts may be added to RICO charges. So, Dr. Bachtel could have been a witness for additional counts added to the RICO charges against Crawford Lewis. Further, the demographer and the GIS consultant appear to be complicit in Lewis’ and, possibly, Walker’s attempt to cut a deal with Sembler.

    Here’s what you need to document: “inventing reasons to build schools, close schools, redistribution” (do you mean re-districting?) “urban harvesting, busing and school construction since the 1980s” concerning DeKalb County Schools “white” administrations and AJC “coverups.”

    In 1969,a lawsuit by the white parent of a black child was brought against DeKalb County Schools, charging that DeKalb County had operated a dual system since 1954. (As background, it is important to know that Georgia state law required such dual systems. It was not a unilateral decision by white administrators of DeKalb County Schools.) Subsequent to 1969, DeKalb County Schools was under federal court supervision for the next 27 years — until 1996.

    During that time period, federal courts did NOT allow DeKalb County Schools to re-district, build new schools, close schools or sell real estate property. We don’t know whether or not DeKalb County Schools was allowed to harvest hardwoods or softwoods on any unimproved real estate it owned.

    Transferring more experienced teachers through lottery to majority black schools, setting up the costly majority-to-minority busing program, and creating magnet schools whose student body was arbitrarily 50% black and 50% white-and-other selected by lottery was the final agreement with the federal courts to enable DeKalb County Schools to come out from under federal court supervision in 1996.

    So, we need you to document your claims: “inventing reasons to build schools, close schools, redistribution” (do you mean re-districting?) “urban harvesting, busing and school construction since the 1980s” concerning DeKalb County Schools “white” administrations and AJC “coverups.”

  5. dekalbite2 says:

    I totally agree. At a certain point, the administrators (at that time white) in DeKalb became detached from the business of providing an excellent education to students. The reason this became so problematic and public is that more and more students came from economically disadvantaged homes. When you have a student population that comes primarily from low income homes, a system of power and patronage is much more detrimental to student achievement. This is true no matter the racial or cultural makeup of your student population.

    Attracting and retaining high quality teachers is infinitely more important to the academic success of low income students than middle income students. Anyone who has taught kids will tell you this. However, attracting and retaining high quality teachers has become impossible with the culture that has come to pervade DeKalb.

    EVERY student in DeKalb deserves:
    1. A clean and safe learning environment
    2. A competent, well compensated teacher in a reasonably sized classroom
    3. Abundant access to cutting edge science and technology equipment and supplies

    Until we get a superintendent and upper management team that believes in these three components and takes actions to see that they are in place we will not see ALL of our students move forward academically. DeKalb students are not less intelligent, our parents are not less involved and our teachers are not less hard working than demographically similar metro Atlanta school systems that have much higher rates of student achievement.

  6. concerned citizen says:

    Dear DeKalbite2 – you’ve said it and said it over and over. Student achievement is the last thing Thurmond and all the corrupt supts before him, going back to Jim Cherry but excluding him, is the very last thing considered. This is a poor, corrupt administration like the ones before it. Can’t you see Lewis and Sechler plotting it out to make their millions on our backs? But, that at least stopped after Lewis paid off the demographer. Wow and I continue to follow the spiderweb of corruption, adding a new name everyday.

  7. concerned citizen says:

    DSW – just a note – HR was only hiring white teachers as early as 1964 to assign to lower-level schools in DeKalb. A showdown took place in 1968 when all the white teachers at one high school, including the principal, were allowed to transfer. If you were white, you were doomed in your career if you didn’t leave, too. I know what I’m talking about. Neither black nor white teachers trusted you! It didn’t matter that you believed in equality. That was 1964-1978. It is still the pattern for HR, and we allow HR to continue to disillusion everybody who ever had a conscience. I just wish I could see Thurmond face-to-face talking the “my father was a share-cropper” business! Where does he think the rest of us came from! He needs to be kicked out since he doesn’t seem to want to leave voluntarily – too much MONEY.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    First, my deepest sympathies to the family of Dr. Bachtel. I did not know him and only learned about him in his obituary in the AJC. It is very apparent that is was at the top of his profession. If there was every a good lawsuit for the DCSS to bring, it is against that “out-of-state” firm. Professional firms should be held accountable for the data and recommendations that they provide.

    I wish that we could get away from the past, especially the distant past. It has been 45 years since 1968 and very few of our residents were even alive then. And virtually all of the people who were involved in any capacity in the DCSS at that time have long since left the DCSS. We do need to clean up the mess that is now before us and get our focus on students, teachers, and achievement. The DA should get on with the Lewis/Pope trial – he has grossly failed the people of Dekalb County in not pursuing this trial. Justice need to be served and we need to move on, but can’t until that matter is resolved.

    I want to float a couple of ideas for comment regarding a future direction:

    1. Eliminate the position of DCSS Superintendent. Dekalb County is larger than the State of South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and many other states. There is simply too much power vested in that one position and the sheer size of Dekalb County makes the management of a single school district the size of Dekalb untenable. In his/her place, each area superintendent would now report directly to the DCSS School Board and his/her budget would be set on a per student basis. Each superintendent would be accountable for achievement results, for capital budgets, and for allocation of expense budgets within his/her district The central office administration as we know it today would be phased out completely and replaced by whatever structure each superintendent felt appropriate. The DCSS School Board would hold each superintendent accountable for student achievement year-over-year. Each district (managed by a superintendent) would be separately accredited. This would improve the local accountability, encourage the support of a smaller community than the whole of Dekalb County for the school system, and enhance student achievement. Schools within each district would be attended by students who live within those districts. Exceptions could be granted with the approval of the Superintendent in that area and, should that be done, then the budget for that student would also be transferred with that student. Busing would be restricted to within a district and inter-district busing would be based on student demand and budget availability.

    2. The State Legislature should revamp the legislation that empowered the Governor to remove the school board. In its place, legislation would state that if one or more districts within a jurisdiction (such as Dekalb County) were put on probation by an accrediting agency, then the Governor, at his discretion, would have the authority to immediately order a recall election of any or all school board members sitting at the time the district(s) were placed on probation. The recall election would be held not more than four months after the Governor’s decision. The Governor would base his/her decision on the extent to which the School Board was involved in the probation decision. A probation status would be reason for the school board to dismiss the superintendent of that district.

    3. The size of the DCSS School Board would be reduced to five. Dekalb County would be split into five zones with boundaries extending east-to-west. If there are, say, 700,000 residents of the county. then boundaries would be set for each 140,000 residents. This would promote better decision making on the part of the board and require fewer resources.

    We have got to shake things up in Dekalb. We have got to get the focus and budget on the classroom and on results. And we have got to take action to reduce what is now a huge propensity for corruption and inefficient allocation of resources that don’t enhance student achievement.

    Again, I would appreciate your comments.

  9. In addition – demographics have completely changed: at the time of the federal lawsuit, DeKalb schools were 94% white and 6% black (with 242 students labeled ‘other’). The busing and the unrest triggered years of white flight. Today, the school system is only about 10% white, 12% hispanic and over 70% black.

    Check out the enrollment data at the tab at the top of the blog labeled “Facts & Sources” then pull down to “Enrollment: FTE & Capacity Reports”.

    The earliest chart was a historical published in the AJC and can be seen here:

  10. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – I forgot to thank you for the excellent report about Dr. Bachtel and the “happenings” at the Dekalb County School System administration. This is why we must re-structure the DCSS, break it up into smaller districts that can be better managed and have better accountability, and get the focus back on the students and teachers. Whatever we need to do to attract and retain competent, highly motivated teachers we must do. That begins with providing our teacher with benefits and compensation comparable with other metro counties. I am convinced we have the money to do that and it can be done when our school board demands that it be done.

    Again, thanks for the information.

  11. Dr. DeKalbb says:

    I do not get this …

    “…Lewis had to empty Nancy Creek School, by claiming, untruthfully, that population was dropping in the Nancy Creek attendance area and adjoining elementary school attendance areas (Huntley Hill and Montgomery), so he could move Kittredge (Grades 3 – 6) from its North Druid Hills location (on land Sembler wanted to buy and develop) to Nancy Creek.”

    why move one school to the other’s building? Isn’t Kittridge in Brookh’vn, now?

  12. psdad says:

    Many of the Nancy Creek families were displaced to Montgomery (another excellent school). Montgomery continues to be an awesome community school, but the school was beyond capacity on day one of the consolidation. The whole community (both Nancy Creek parents and Montgomery parents) was vocal about the flawed study… The projected population growth was already evident at the K to 2nd grade levels…. Now the number of children in attendance zone for Montgomery has increased significantly, the school is way overpopulated and the size of the kindergarten population suggests that the school will be even more taxed over the next few years unless something is done to accommodate the growth. We have 30 to 35 kids packed in classrooms that were built for no more than 22 kids. With this many kids in a class, there is no way that a teacher can address the learning needs of their students… and this is a high scoring elementary school with mostly economically advantaged kids that have a strong support system at home. I can’t imagine the state of despair that some of the other schools are experiencing. Our elementry school kids in the north will be goning to school in trailers while our poliitically motivated administrators plow money for new additions and renovations to underpopulated schools in the south. With Montgomery I truly believe that we have the best the DCSS can offer… but our children deserve better.

  13. Dekalbite2 says:

    Lewis wanted Kittredge property to be vacant so he could sell it to Sembler. That’s why he needed an empty school to move the Kittredge kids to. So he emptied out Nancy Creek is what Atlanta Media Guy says. He used bogus numbers to back his decision is also what Atlanta Media Guy says (coret me if I’m wrong AMG). Apparently Atlanta Media Guy and his wife were parents who were fighting against the distribution of kids out of Nancy Creek so the Kittredge kids could come in. They were right in that within a few years the schools that took on the Nancy Creek kids were overcrowded. In the end the Kittredge property was not sold because the North Druid Hills community was most unhappy and vocal about the scale of development Sembler would have brought to the area so all of this overcrowding of students was for naught. The same old Lewis crew is still there under Thurmond so don’t expect too much in the way of change.

  14. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Indeed the numbers the Palace used were bogus and the saddest thing was, our local media failed us. The former AJC beat writer, Kristina Torres, went right to Clew with our information as well as all our names. Ms. Torres referred to us as loud and vociferous parents in her article! Ms. Torres discounted our TRUE researched numbers and obviously was only interested in her DCSS scoops, and maintained her line to the top. Fox 5 and WSB were also offered the information, but they said the story was too difficult to tell in a short news piece.

    So many stakeholders came together back then and we were very frustrated as the research told a different story than what Clew was trying to sell. Thanks DSW for writing about the assistance Mr. Bachtel gave us. By then, Clew had dug in. Even Fran Millar whispered in my ear, during the first public hearing, that the closing of Nancy Creek was a done deal. This was over a year before it became official. DCSS with the assistance of Dr. Alice Thomson, a former Nancy Creek principle, tried to make Nancy Creek fail, but the parents and staff had another idea! We even asked for a resident program, like CMS and CCHS have today. In the end. we lost the school but the folks suffering today are the teachers and students of DCSS! Priorities at DCSS have been mis-placed, by inept leadership and BOE, and most likely will never be found as long as the Tyson led Clew crew run OUR Palace!

    Volunteer at the schools! Assist the school leadership any way you can! They really will thank you for the help.

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