So far we’ve had quite a wild ride since the start of school just ten short school days ago. So much has happened that we thought it would be helpful to go back and recap recent events in DeKalb.
Here’s a recap of the first two weeks of school in DeKalb County, Georgia:
Interim superintendent, Michael Thurmond toured a handful of schools the first day of school, stopping for a television interview at Midvale Elementary school where Susan Wilson serves as principal. Thurmond spent the entire interview with his arm draped over Susan’s shoulder, rambling on, never pausing to introduce her to the reporter (the reporter finally asked who she was).
Then, of course, the modular outdoor 16 classrooms at Vanderlyn that had been removed the week before school started have not yet been replaced and are not yet usable. Here’s a lovely photo of how it looked the day before school started (sent to us by a Vanderlyn parent) >>
As predicted, Vanderlyn has been forced to squeeze these 16 classrooms into the existing space inside the school building somehow. Art classes and others have been displaced and students and teachers are doing their best to do the work of schooling in organized chaos. Even when the ‘newly refurbished’ trailers are ready to occupy, there will only be eight of them.
Interestingly, one of those infamous, new cars doled out to senior administrators was seen parked in the principal’s spot at Vanderlyn — with an expired tag.
Later in the week, Druid Hills filed a petition to form their own charter cluster. As the AJC reported, “…the petition, the first of its kind under an untested state law, goes to the DeKalb school board for an up or down vote in coming weeks or months. If the school board approves the cluster, it will go to the state for final approval.”
“The petitioners seek to establish their own governance board that would hire an administrator and oversee operations at Druid Hills High and its six feeder schools. State officials say if the charter is approved, it could be a model that gets repeated elsewhere.”
“Parents and teachers thronged the gym of Druid Hills High School Tuesday to cast ballots in an unprecedented vote that could reverberate across the state.”
Then, the long-awaited court hearing for the teachers possible class-action lawsuit was postponed. Read more on the history of this situation here >> TSA: A Story of Betrayal and Greed
And of course, there was the frightening drama of a gunman loaded down with an AK-47 as well as other weapons, entering Ronald E. McNair Elementary School and starting a shoot out with police. Thankfully, the gunman was talked into surrendering by a wonderful angel, and the school’s front office employee, Ms. Antoinette Tuff. Listen to her bravery and tenacity as she single-handedly talked this troubled gunman into peacefully giving himself up to the police in this 911 call.
All our interim superintendent had to say about the school system’s complete inability to notify the parents of this disaster in a timely, efficient manner was this:
[Oddly, once again, one of those fleet cars was seen on a WSB television news report, still with an expired temporary tag, and parked next to a DeKalb patrol car.]
We have some very serious work to be done in the communications department. As we reported, Thurmond hired a new communications officer, Quinn Hudson earlier this month. However, as far as we can tell, he is there to run interference for the school system’s public image — as well as Thurmond’s own public image (the new guy formerly served as Thurmond’s communications director for his 2010 failed run for US Senate).
Anyone think Thurmond will make a congressional run? Or is the large DeKalb paycheck worth staying in this game? Or more frightening, will he try to do both, as our head of legal services, Ron Ramsey does by juggling his full time six-figure DeKalb schools job with his job as a state rep in the Georgia dome?