September 9, 2013 public comments

Click here to watch the video of the public comments portion of the September 9 board meeting.

A recap:

David Schutten is against the Druid Hills Charter system petition.
Lyndsey (?) is also against the Druid Hills Charter system petition.
Both say that the charter board will have too much control of too much money. Charter will host 5000 students, 400 instructional staff. Thinks votes came from the inner circle. (Schutten pointed out that only about 16% of total possible voters turned out and they were a majority white, even though the school population is 80% minority.)
Ruth Primm examined the charter and says it doesn’t represent DeKalb.
Orvia Cushney speaking on disabilities. Son is in Druid Hills cluster on a transfer due to the fact that his needs aren’t being met at his home school. Grave concerns about special ed programs. Says the charter will offer separate special ed programs and they will be inferior.
Lorene Booker Brown concerned about nepotism. People are dying due to ramifications of nepotism. Leaders get their jobs due to connections and aren’t qualified. They have a sense of entitlement and use it to threaten and harass others. Sent Thurmond an email with recommendations to deal with it. Four heart attacks and deaths due to the stress of being harassed. Also disappointed that the new board blanket approved the budget. Fought hard to get former board removed but is sad to see this new board approved budget prior to learning their jobs.
Louis Cushney (son of former speaker – in special ed program) Has high test scores. Intellectual potential. Laurel Ridge ortho impairment student.
Matt Lewis – parent of two children – one in college, one at DHHS. Community of schools puts aside years of attendance line bickering and makes decisions based on putting teachers and classrooms first. They need to think and act at the schoolhouse level. Parents willing to help at all schools and advocate for all students. Finances are central to community trust. Community has decided to act and share the responsibility for educating all of its children. Pro Druid Hills Charter Cluster and asks for approval.
Kathleen Mathers – for DHHC – would be member of the board if approved. Teacher at Avondale ES, and worked at Governor’s office of achievement. Says research on charters is positive. (Gives many details). Says charter cluster will be good for students.
Mr. Bonder? Talks about waivers. Waivers do not carry a negative for the cluster.
Robert Thorpe – most recent past principal at DHMS and a proposed board member for the cluster. Not meant to be criticism but as a new way to create a world-class school system. Has seen a lot of change in DCSS that undervalued teachers. Millions on programs like Springboard, Americas Choice and Success for All – the emphasis on programs is a mistake. The charter will focus on processes – like IB. Cluster will offer several pathways. MEntions that the DCSS IB coordinator left the system and went to Cobb. Believes DHCC is the right change at the right time. Can help return DeKalb schools to their former prominence.
Teresa Bennett – daughter in DCSS. Heartbroken that we were placed on probation. The charter cluster is a ray of hope. Avondale ES – all parents want the same thing – a different way to educate. Diverse group and they all want the charter. Was secretary of cluster. Open meetings. Minutes online. Answered all questions. Totally accessible to communities. Asked everyone to sign up to be a part of the committee. Wants board to look favorably on the petition to empower parents and students. It’s about educating kids.
Alexander Fitzhugh – school uniformity. Chapel Hill MS PTA president(?). Council voted to be a school of uniformity. (Uniforms) All but about 15 students participate. Being out of uniform is causing disturbance. Wants to make sure the board has their backs when they administer consequences to these students for being out of uniform.
Darrell Fun – parent of 2 children. One with autism. Panola Way ES. Wants people to get involved with the special needs program. Principal has done a remarkable job. Parents of special needs students need support.
David Roberts – future board member of charter cluster. Son goes to private school for Kindergarten. Didn’t feel comfortable with DCSS. Missed a slot in the Museum lottery. Wants board to support Druid Hills Charter petition. It’s not based on chance and luck like the Museum School lottery. Hope and Luck are not strategies.
Becky Brickman – Briarvista Elementary School Council. Two children. Trying to preserve programs. Rivals with people promoting the cluster. Now they work together to create a cluster that works for all. Helped write the charter. Excited about the cluster – one large community that won’t need to fight for resources. Feels supported by the charter cluster community.
Lance Hammonds – NAACP area rep for DeKalb. Mission statement ensures the educational rights of children. Do not believe the petition vote did not represent minorities. Deprived families of right to vote and how children will be educated. Vote at DHHS – many could not come. Counted in secret – non-verified. DCSS was under federal court order for years to desegregate. This could resegregate schools. DeKalb NAACP asks board to deny petition until they are comfortable that the vote included all. Send it back for revision or deny it.
Michele Pinkava – 2 children – Tucker. Long journey to this place. Don’t know the conclusion or who will still be on the board in January. In order to move forward we must be innovative – even if there’s a perceived loss of power. Charter cluster is innovative and inclusive. Power at the school house level – vertical alignment. Obviously her children won’t attend but she supports their efforts.
Jesse Cunningham – (Ousted board member) “Education drive our economic development. It is a shame that we see during the 50th anniversary of the march that we see a petition for a charter cluster.” It’s a new school system for DeKalb county. It is wrong. It doesn’t even support the action plan for SACS. There is nothing unique about the plan. If voted yes, what’s to say that we won’t have 17 more charter systems? It will be the end of DeKalb schools. It will be a system of individual clusters. This was a 70% minority cluster and they didn’t even have any say so. Have you thought about the conversion program? Gives waivers, but holds DCSS board and superintendent accountable. “I ask you not to grant and move forward with this contract until you actually go back and look at different ways in order for this to be done. Charter schools do work but this particular petition does not work.”
Evette Hall – parent of 3 Columbia HS graduates. All attended college. We are happy and doing well at Columbia HS. Science, math and technology magnet leader. Gives accolades to several people. 400 new computers at Columbia. We trust that Brantley will take care of other matters swiftly. Waved a Columbia pom pom…
Mr. Harmon – Service center employee – says Sam Moss Service center lost about 80% of staff during layoffs. Very few mechanics. If people quit or retire, please post the position. A couple people have retired, but the positions have not been posted. Begged for super to post the position and hire needed staff.

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5 Responses to September 9, 2013 public comments

  1. H.A. Hurley says:

    Druid Hills Cluster Charter: I have read the Charter and I am not sure how SpEd services will be provided for the students within the cluster. Having worked in a charter school, the SpEd services were provided by charter hired teachers & coordinator, but the due process procedures, all forms related to referral to SpEd, placement forms were all the same as the large school system. The system remained the LEA and regular audits and meetings were held by the system. Psychologist was hired by the charter. The State monitoring of SpEd services and FTE reporting was also performed by the charter & monitored by the system. Very little separation of SpEd services and procedures from the system. A system was also assigned to the charter to support and monitor due process. Rather complex process, but necessary. Should not go without it. Legal support was shared.
    Any input from NDCluster Charter?

  2. dekalbmom says:

    I live in the Druid Hills cluster and I was inundated with email messages and flyers about the vote so it was definitely not “secret.” The DHCC organization has recently distributed an email that answers many of the questions that have been raised and resolves the misinformation that is circling about a charter cluster. I wish this had been distributed much earlier (and to our highly misinformed board). I think the DHCC org could have done a better job before the vote explaining the state laws regarding who gets to vote about a charter and the funding of charters. (my children have graduated so I didn’t have a vote.)
    David Schutten is simply pandering to get paid members for his organization and I suspect he is going to run for office. It may be true that not many minority residents within the cluster residency area showed up to vote. But a friend taught for years at McClendon Elementary school and said the parents NEVER showed up for parent teacher conferences, PTA or any school functions. So I think Shutten’s and the NAACP’s objections have a very hollow ring.
    I am disappointed that folks (like Jay Cunningham) who do not live in the cluster will expend substantial time and energy trying to derail a novel and innovative approach to public education for thousands of public school students from a very diverse area of the county. The Board wants to spend my tax dollars on parent centers, graduation coaches and canned programs that have done nothing to improve academic performance. Well I want the BOE to spend MY tax dollars on trying something new.

  3. Word Wall says:

    Put it this way : the new board and leadership will be judged on whether or not they shift money from the bloated Palace to the front lines for student performance. The SSI / annuity issue is a huge issue. Step raises and furlough days are huge issues. Classroom size (teacher force size) is a huge issue — for the success and legacy of Dekalb’s new board and administration.

  4. howdy1942 says:

    Without question, the Druid Hills Charter is not perfect, but it is a vast improvement over what the Dekalb County School System is now. As for Mr. Cunningham, we are where we are largely because you and the School Board majority made some very poor decisions, provided very poor leadership, alienated the people of Dekalb County, and caused our system to be placed on probation. There may well be an additional 17 clusters proposed but that is because each will meet specific needs that the DCSS is not now meeting. Perhaps the DCSS needs to be broken apart and, at some point in time, be reconstituted with new leadership, a new and fresh approach, and a different, far smaller administration. As a side note, it is not a good thing nor is it a bad thing that this Charter happensed to be proposed during the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech. As I recall, he placed a lot of emphasis on people being judged by their character and dreamed of a time when all people regardless of race could be afforded equal opportunities. Given the racial mix in the Druid Hills Cluster, I fail to understand how this Cluster would not achieve Dr. King’s goals. Like many of your other statements, this one also seems to be off the cuff and groundless.

    The days of segregation in Dekalb County have long since passed. Just look at the racial mix of the County that has been referenced so often on this blog and try to conclude otherwise. We have a majority black school board, a majority black county commission, a black congressman, a majority black school administration, a majority black school population. It is so sad that so many simply cannot move past the 1960s and see the reality of a new decade in a new century in a new millennium. There is simply no way that the Druid Hills Cluster proposes any hint of re-segregation. I have lived in Tucker for a long time. I applaud the people who have worked so hard to make the Druid Hills Cluster a reality. I’m sure that they spent hours upon hours figuring out how what alternatives were available to them, how they should proceed, what was required of them, writing the countless drafts that led to the final proposal and working to be inclusive. To simply come in at this late moment and state your old and tired opinions about “re-segregation”, about “insulting” Dr. King, about dismissing the efforts of the Druid Hills Cluster group doesn’t make any sense. I know that this School Board is disinclined to support this cluster, but I truly hope that they will give this Charter proposal an objective, unbiased analysis and work with the people of the Druid Hills Cluster to find a solution that would be a win-win for all. Such an analysis, free from any racial bias, will be the epitome of Dr. King’s Dream.

  5. “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public.

    “Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances because they do not want to lose their jobs.

    “There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well.”

    -Booker T. Washington

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