Breaking News Regarding TSA Hearing!

Today the Court granted a motion by DeKalb County Schools (the defendant) for a continuance in the TSA lawsuit.  So, there will NOT be a hearing on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 concerning class-action status as previously announced.  We don’t have any further information, but we will let you know as soon as we do.

Yes, that’s right, folks.  Instead of doing the right thing, DeKalb County Schools (Thurmond and the Rubberstamp Board) chooses to spend more of our money on a case they are sure to lose.   These tax dollars should be going into the classroom but are being spent on billable hours for DeKalb County Schools’ attorneys.  Instead of doing the right thing, DeKalb County Schools has decided to delay making our teachers whole — worst salary and benefits, worst working conditions, and now, worst retirement, ever (many teachers who have spent their entire workinglife with DeKalb County Schools will retire to poverty and foodstamps).

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UPDATE:

The hearing is rescheduled for October 14th and 15th 9 AM, courtroom 6A in the Superior Court of DeKalb County. This information is from an email from Barnes Law Group. Seating in the gallery is limited if you would like to sit in on the hearing and get the full details.

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24 Responses to Breaking News Regarding TSA Hearing!

  1. Ella says:

    It is sad.

    I remember who I first came to DeKalb years ago and how they explained to me that they paid the money into this account that they would normally pay into social security. There was no doubt that this was a choice that DeKalb County had made and had thought out. They indicated they felt it was a better benifit for its employees.

    Teachers who retire from DeKalb cannot even draw their husbands’/wifes’ portion of social security when they dies like other employees’ who retire from companies that pay social security.

    The school system should be forced to pay social security benifits or the TSA that they agreed to pay their employees upon becoming employed by the school system.

    In my opinion this is not exceptable. I agree their chances of losing this case are great. However, they probable do not have the money to pay these benifits anymore due to poor management in the past.

  2. The following is a history and links to more information from the Barnes law group website —

    DeKalb County Teachers Retirement
    GOLD and SHAYE v. DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

    In 2009, the DeKalb County School District stopped payment on a retirement fund for district employees. Plaintiffs claim this was in direct violation of the contract the district agreed to and has resulted in a loss of millions of dollars for district employees.

    DeKalb teacher Elaine Gold and school psychologist Amy Shaye filed suit against the district in June 2011. Their suit seeks class action status, which would allow other DeKalb Schools employees to join the suit against the district.

    [The canceled hearing was to] take place on August 21 at 9:00am before DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott. Judge Scott [would have heard] oral arguments on various issues, including whether to grant class-action status to the case. This hearing [was to be] open to the public.

    Below is a summary of the case status.

    June 2011 Suit filed.
    [Click here to read the First Amended Complaint]
    October 2011 DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger issued several orders, including a denial to the school district to dismiss the breach of contract claim.
    November 2012 The school district appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which upheld Judge Seeliger’s decision to allow the contract claim to proceed.
    August 21, 2013 Hearing at 9:00am before DeKalb Superior Judge Mark Anthony Scott on various issues, including whether this case will be granted class action certification. CANCELED

    [Click here to read the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment]
    [Click here to read our Reply Brief regarding Class Certification]

  3. Dekalbite2 says:

    Do not forget that Ms. Tyson eliminated the TSA in her 2010-11 and 2011-12 budgets setting the precedent for not paying into the TSA or Social Security for teachers. She must bear much of the responsibility for this mistake that may cost taxpayers over $100,000,000. It is very disconcerting that she is one of only two direct reports to Mr. Thurmond (his only other direct report is his executive assistant).

  4. howdy1942 says:

    It would be interesting to understand why the Judge granted this continuance. The reason has to pertain to “unforeseeable events” or something similar. Perhaps the attorneys for the DCSS are coming to the conclusion that they have a pretty weak case, or that they don’t have their act together, or that the teachers have a good case and are represented by Former Governor Roy Barnes. The current School Board would be very wise to negotiate a settlement with the teachers. The DCSS has not treated the teachers fairly. The DCSS has not done what it said it would do – it broke its agreement. It did not even give the two-year notice that it was required to give. It offered no options for the teachers.

    This is no way for a school system to be managed. First and foremost, the school system must keep its commitments however they were made. Think about it a minute – what kind of example is the DCSS setting for the very young people it is educating? I am very disappointed in our current board for even continuing to pursue this matter – their credentials indicate that they should know better!

    I continue to strongly believe that the DCSS has the money necessary to provide our teachers with compensation and benefits that are commensurate with other counties in the Atlanta Metro area. We have the money to provide our kids with a quality education on par with our neighbors. The priorities set by Mr. Thurmond and the current board just don’t support those goals. If they did, we wouldn’t be buying new cars for administrators, we wouldn’t be adding more highly paid administrators, we wouldn’t have the legal expenses that we have, and we would have an administrative staff that is twice the size as our neighboring counties. We would address this matter honestly and straightforward and not try to “play games” with “hiding administrative staff” in schools and stop trying to justify the size of our administrative staff. We would listen to our teachers, improve their working conditions, restore their benefits, and treat them with the respect they ought to have because they have one of the most important responsibilities in our county – teaching our young people so they stand the best chance to succeed in life.

    Coming back to the main point – the Dekalb County School System is just plain wrong in the case of TSA. Tom Bowen was wrong. Eugene Walker was wrong. The former board was wrong. Ramona Tyson was wrong. And the current School Board needs to correct this wrong and do it with the teachers and not wait to be told to do so by a Court.

  5. Dr Moore says:

    Yes they will lose, this needs Class Action status. Where is Lynn Cherry Grant and her Musketers.

  6. PHDJTM says:

    Maybe we the retired ripped off many need to show up in protest…… this is not getting enough press, we need Richard Belcher on this he is a DeKalb graduate of Cross Keys High.

  7. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    I’m wondering if there is any money available to even offer a settlement? This withholding has been going on for many, many years…would it be enough for the plaintiffs to simply begin offering TSA or Social Security payments today? Because if we go back in time…I don’t know where DCSS finds that sort of lump sum. Perhaps that’s why the continuance?

  8. DCSD FOR DUMMIES says:

    How difficult would it be to switch to paying into Social Security?

  9. dsw2contributor says:

    Breaking News – there was a shooting at McNair, per the AJC homepage

  10. howdy1942 says:

    Concerned Dekalb Mom – Good question! A previous comment by DSW (I think) that Dekalb teachers are not receiving $26 million in TSA contributions per year and for two years, that is $52 million. While the DCSS might not be able to pay that back all at once, it could begin to negotiate with the teachers to make arrangements to pay them this money. At a minimum, the DCSS could choose to immediately restore the TSA contributions. If DCSS chooses not to negotiate and tocontinue to pursue this matter in court, the risks grow exponentially. If DCSS loses this case, it will likely be ordered by the court to pay the legal costs of both parties in addition to what it owes the teachers. If the case is granted class action status, the court could increase the amount owed to well over $100 million and add damages on top of that. DCSS is taking an enormous risk here and it is not acting in the best interests of the taxpayers nor is it acting in the interest of the teachers. The DCSS simply needs to do the right thing – how hard is that? Yes, they might have to downsize the administrative staff and they might have to stop buying cars and they might have to stop adding highly paid administrators, but doing the right thing is far, far more important.

    By the way, I am not a teacher nor is there anyone in my family who teaches in the DCSS nor are we related to anyone who does so.

  11. Yes, we ‘think’ this is a $52+ million trial. We can’t figure out if they will only have to pay for 2 years worth of contributions, since the policy was to give a 2 year notice. Teachers could have left once (and many, many did) after this notice was given.

    On top of that – we still have the Heery case — and the Lewis and Pope trial (which will cost taxpayers for both the prosecution and the defense).

    Now that the Sneiderman trial is finally over (click here for Andrea’s tearful plea for leniency) maybe, just maybe the DA will turn its attention to these DeKalb school trials so that we can finally get them behind us and truly move on (hopefully with a professional, highly-qualified new superintendent).

  12. Deca Don't Need the principal from Rainbow!!!! says:

    The word on the street is the Principal from Rainbow is trying to become DECA new principal. We don’t need someone who has a history of not doing her job, low test scores results, and no clue about education. If she comes to our school than us as parents need to move districts. I will not be apart of her bad track record!!!!

  13. PI says:

    I’m not too legal savvy, so I need to ask. Why are we calling this hearing “cancelled” as opposed to “postponed?” Shouldn’t they simultaneously grant a follow up date instead of just wasting the court’s time altogether?

  14. PI says:

    Nevermind. The hearing is rescheduled for October 14th and 15th 9 AM, courtroom 6A in the Superior Court of DeKalb County. This information is from an email from Barnes Law Group. Seating in the gallery is limited if you would like to sit in on the hearing and get the full details.

  15. Thanks for the update — we’ll add it to the text of the post.

  16. d says:

    There is, to my knowledge, no mechanism for us to reenter Social Security.

  17. Dekalbite2 says:

    @d
    City employees of SanDiego are considering going back into Social Security. They had also opted out.

  18. Terry says:

    I do have a question: IF this follows through to class action status and IF the Barnes Law Group comes out a winner… what is THEIR take? While I DO realize DCSS needs to be soundly punished, it just irks me to think that a lawyer group would be greedy and take from teachers. I certainly hope that is not the case. And WHY would anyone want to pour money into SS any more?

  19. @Terry: Sadly, when people don’t do the right thing, and you exhaust all methods of trying to get them to do the right thing, the only recourse is through the courts — and the only way to go to court is with a lawyer. Often, the judgements include the lawyers fees on top of the plaintiff’s award. Especially if the judge feels the defendant has been less than respectable. That said, we are very disappointed that the administration is spending top dollar to fly in DC lawyers to fight the teachers and their lawyers.

    But, I’m no lawyer, so any real lawyers out there who may want to weigh in, it would be appreciated.

    ps – the rest of us have to pour our money into SS so we all hope it remains solvent!

  20. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – I didn’t realize that these lawyers hired by the DCSS were from Washington DC! Of all the lawyers in Atlanta, could they not find one or two to handle the case? That’s incredible – and it is sad that our school board would choose to spend our dollars in this manner.

    Regarding damages, I am quite sure that if the teachers win their case, then they will ask that their legal expenses be included as part of the judgment. With Roy Barnes on the case, that will not be cheap. I’m not a lawyer and there may be a lot more to this case than I am seeing, but my perspective is that it does not look good for the DCSS. This agreement was in writing and I’m taking it that it was signed by someone from the DCSS School Board. That would seem to be a requirement since the Social Security Administration required some sort of documentation before it would have allowed the teachers to leave the Social Security System. Also, this written agreement did state that the DCSS would give two years notice if it contemplated making changes. At least that could have been done, but apparently was not. I’m not sure what latitude is given to a local government body to just simply “break” agreements that it had made, but it looks like the City of Detroit could not just change its pension requirements short of bankruptcy. I just don’t think that it looks good for the DCSS and the school board would be wise to try to settle this matter outside of the courtroom. Maybe they have tried and couldn’t reach an agreement. I’m sure that all of that will come out in court.

    The DCSS has wasted enough of our tax dollars on lawyers and the residents of this County need to put a screeching stop to this madness. Our teachers are being penalized, our classroom sizes are to large, and there shortages of classroom materials. The only way that we can correct this matter is simply to commit ourselves to going to the ballot box and voting out the people who can’t seem to get it right.

  21. Yes, a reliable commenter had this to say in another post on the subject:

    Come see the team of hired guns from Sutherland Asbill that our tax dollars are paying for to fight the teachers with every bit of resourcefulness they can muster (including the lead attorney who our tax dollars pay to fly in from Washington, DC – as if there is no attorney in the entire Atlanta area capable of doing what he is doing).

    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/tsa-a-story-of-betrayal-and-greed/

  22. Dekalbite2 says:

    Jut what parents want – tax dollars going to fight the individuals who are working hard to ensure children are successful in life.

  23. For your reading pleasure — and perhaps a peek into our own future in Georgia.

    Monday, Aug 19, 2013 07:01 PM EDT
    “Indescribably insane”: A public school system from hell
    Pennsylvania’s right-wing governor drains public schools of basic funds — and the sickening details will shock you
    By Aaron Kase

  24. ZBS11 says:

    Just wanted to emphasize that the hearing is on again for this coming Monday, October 14, in Judge Mark Anthony Scott’s courtroom at the DeKalb County Courthouse in DT Decatur, starting at either 9 AM or 9:30 AM. Teachers have off that day, and it would be great for folks to show up in support. It will also provide everyone a first-hand look at what is going on with this suit, and Roy Barnes in action.

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