Why, of course DeKalb school system should partner with DeKalb county commissioners…

At a recent Brookhaven City meeting, Interim Lee May had a ‘revelation’…

The DeKalb County School System needs to work in concert more with county government to improve its schools, interim county CEO Lee May said in Brookhaven last week.

“In my seven years on the commission, we have had exactly one joint meeting between the board of commissioners and the DeKalb County Board of Education. That says a lot,” said May, according to The Brookhaven Post.

Is that shocking or what?

Sigh!

Read more>> DeKalb Interim CEO holds Town Hall at Briarwood Park

And the Tucker Patch

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Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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27 Responses to Why, of course DeKalb school system should partner with DeKalb county commissioners…

  1. bettyandveronica1 says:

    In many previous posts on this blog, we questioned over and over why wasn’t the county more concerned with the school system problems. We asked questions like: Doesn’t the county understand that if our school system stinks, people will not invest in businesses or homes? Why isn’t the chamber or county commissioners banging on the palace door to tell them to get it together!

    How ridiculous this comes as a ‘revelation’ to the interim CEO? Seriously????
    What a great idea! So glad he thought of it.

  2. Sigh. Well, just as we had feared, it looks like the board never had any intention of seeking a new, professional, highly-trained superintendent:

    DeKalb interim superintendent may stay longer

    By Ty Tagami

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    The DeKalb County School District chief could lose the word “interim” from his title.

    Members of the county school board have been discussing an extension of Michael Thurmond’s contract that would amend his title to just “superintendent.”

    School board Chairman Melvin Johnson said he and the vice chairman have been negotiating with Thurmond for at least the past month. Johnson said he thinks Thurmond has done a good job, but it will be up to the nine-member board (and Thurmond) to decide whether he will stay. Thurmond’s year-long contract expires in February.

  3. acheolus says:

    Someone has his hands in the cookie jar… Too bad he is helped there by the people that should be saving those cookies for our students!

  4. howdy1942 says:

    This is just so very wrong. It is a violation of due process. Rather than searching for the best qualified person to lead the Dekalb County School System, we are considering some guy that Marshal Orson saw at some meeting and thought he would be a good superintendent – no interview, no searching, no nothing! Then Eugene Walker rams Thurmond through the School Board and just days later that same school board is removed. The People of Dekalb County deserve better than this!! The People deserve to have a properly conducted search process initiated, potential candidates apply for the position, and confidential interviews conducted without any “leaks” as we had in the selection of Cheryl Atkinson.

    This School Board looked great on paper, but what we saw is not what we got. Yes, this Board has been very nice to each other, but it has also been a passive, rubber-stamp Board that has given the Administration all that it asked for without even asking some very basic, obvious questions. It routinely approved those cars in a time when we are asking teachers to sacrifice so much without even thinking about the taxpayers, it has chosen to go to court to defend a broken promise by the previous Board to contribute to their TRA, without thinking about the taxpayers, and I could go on and on.

    I don’t think I have heard one searching question since Nancy Jester left. We should turn this Board out – lock, stock, and barrel next July. I wouldn’t deny Thurmond to be a candidate for the permanent job, but he should be one of many and the best, most competent person should be selected. While I don’t like the manner in which Thurmond was selected as interim superintendent, he was hired as interim, not permanent.

  5. Kim says:

    I arranged a meeting with Commissioners and Board members with the help of Jeff Rader in 2009. The Board Members could not have seemed more uninterested in continuing a dialog. While it “takes two to tango,” my impression is that the school system tends to see it as DeKalb County Govt’s job to do the courting. That’s sort of a non-starter in my opinion – that sort of inter-governmental cooperation has to start from equal footing and respect.

  6. concernedmom30329 says:

    Howdy et all

    I am curious who you think would take this job? It isn’t a good one and there are so many unknowns. We simply don’t stand a chance of attracting a good solid candidate. Remember there are probably scores of superintendent jobs open nationally. In metro area alone, there are three, DeKalb, Atlanta and Clayton. Atlanta will be considered a “prize” job and is the one most likely to attract solid candidates. That said, their search is essentially on hold until their Board elections this November. Apparently, top candidates are astute enough to want to see who is elected, and what their platform is, before agreeing to take the job.

    This tidbit from today’s paper is interesting. Private donations are paying for the search for the Atlanta Superintendent. It is sad how little the business community in DeKalb pays attention to or school system and does nothing to hold system accountable. Expecting them to make donations seems a dream a million years away.

    http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local/unknown-donors-pay-up-in-broad-search-for-atlanta-/nbByC/

    Since I think it is behind the pay wall, I will cut and paste a bit here.

    BY MARK NIESSE – THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

    Atlanta’s search for its next school superintendent will cost five times more than originally planned, and taxpayers aren’t being told who’s paying for it.

    The high-stakes search for the city school district’s leader will cost about $146,000 for services handled by a partnership between BoardWalk Consulting and Diversified Search, according to bid documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through open-records requests.

    But none of the bid evaluators or the head of the school board’s Superintendent Search Committee revealed who is underwriting the nationwide search other than to say it’s funded by outside contributions. Superintendent Erroll Davis, who plans to retire next year, has led Atlanta Public Schools since he took the job in July 2011 after an investigation into standardized test cheating. He replaced Beverly Hall, who faces criminal allegations that she conspired to artificially inflate test scores.

    a bit more

    Money for BoardWalk Consulting’s contract will flow from the unidentified benefactors to Atlanta Public Schools, and the school system will then pay the firm, said Howard Grant, who handles the school board’s administration as its executive director. The money has already been raised, and the identity of the group or individuals giving it will be known once invoices are filed, he said.

  7. Marney Mayo says:

    I would also like to add to the prior post the observation that just as top rank superintendent candidates are not likely to present themselves to a school district with our SACS cloud, Bond Rating and financial position, without even knowing what board will be sitting once the Georgia Supreme court rules or after next July’s election, etc…Mid level educational leaders of quality are not likely to present themselves as candidates to replace the people that many on this blog demand be fired en mass and immediately. At this point if Michael Thurmond is to turn from constant pointless apologizing for the past to culling dead wood, empowering those quality schoolhouse staff that remain, and rebuilding a streamlined and truly supportive administrative staff focused on academic success we are going to have to understand that, like Ramona, he is doomed from the get go if interim remains in his job title. Understand that that does not mean that he should stay beyond a one year extension. But as the Atlanta search won’t produce quality candidates until after their election, any search of ours that is not clearly labeled for “corrective interim” can’t really start until after there is a strategic plan, key mid level staff changes and next July’s election and the actual seating of those candidates the following January.

    What is necessary is that whatever board, community, legislative delegation, chamber of commerce, NAACP, and Mayors and county commission that we have writes his goals in such a way that he is empowered and directed to focus and take actions consistent with what a corrective interim is expected to do..i.e..make difficult and radical changes to move the culture to a different set of values and exceptions.

    I expect a goodly number of thumbs down on this one, but that is why I rarely post here anymore.

  8. concernedmome30329 says:
  9. Marney Mayo says:

    The last word in my next to last paragraph should have been “expectations” not “exceptions”. Not sure how that happened. =)

  10. howdy1942 says:

    I don’t know how many candidates might be interested in becoming the next DCSS superintendent, but my point is that we will not know if we do not even try. That is what really galls me about this current school board – they aren’t even trying! We should have begun this search process months ago and should be in the final selection process. We haven’t done anything. Again, Michael Thurmond can choose to be a candidate for the permanent job and he may well be the best one in the candidate pool.

  11. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    The appointed board had 1 job … to get a new Superintendent. $150K to find a new Superintendent is a small price to pay for a $1.3 billion system. A parade of candidates were interviewed when we found Dr. Atkinson as well as Thurmond.

    This was our only chance.

  12. Wow. Not sure it will help the school system one iota to partner with this crew:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/internal-review-dekalb-needs-purchasing-help/nbByn/

    All I can say is, this report really makes me wonder why no one ever conducted an investigation into the school system as was recommended by TWO Grand Juries…

  13. howdy1942 says:

    Following on to my previous comment, there are many reasons why someone might be interested in the Dekalb School Superintendent position. First, the job pays $275,000 plus substantial benefits. Most of the mid-tier school districts with around 50,0000 students make in the $150,000 – $175,000 range and some even lower. Second, some people just like a challenge – they really thrive on going into a very bad situation, as we have in Dekalb, and turning it around. They don’t come in with grandiose schemes but have a habit of sticking to the basics. Third, Dekalb is not a bad place to live and work. People here are friendly and are, for the most part, reasonable and supportive. Fourth, there is sufficient financial support here to permit one to really get the job done. People in my community of Tucker want good schools and they want a good, clean and well-run government (That’s another topic). I look around our community and I see a new, thriving and clean Main Street. I see people out on Saturday mornings cleaning up their streets and surrounding areas. Fifth, there are many, many cultural events close-by that would appeal to many people. There are professional sports, a world-class symphony, there are plays, well known entertainers, and just a huge variety of attractions.

    I don’t deny that the DCSS is a huge challenge. It is badly broken and poorly managed. Its focus has not been on the classroom, teachers and students, but rather on a cumbersome bloated bureaucracy that is filled with friends and family. The DCSS is on probation. But these problems have been caused not by students and teachers, but by poor governance, poor leadership, and an bloated administration. Those things can be fixed. I know they can because I have seen it done many times during my 40 year business and teaching career. I’ve seen situations where I thought the hole was too deep and the hope was too little. But I saw someone come in with a big, big shovel and fill that hole and build a good foundation that led to a solid structure and future.

    My point here is that there are candidates out there to give us the leadership that we need, but they will not be beating our door down. We must search for them, seek them out, and bring them here. If the members of the current board did not want to do that, that my question is why on earth did you go through the bother of applying for the job. But you did, you are here, now get busy and do your job!

  14. Kim says:

    Well said, Howdy1942! The one fly in the ointment for me is the last recruiting cycle. Utter. Disaster. We had just such candidates as you describe in my opinion and they were swiftly dismissed with groundless rationales and the one that remained wisely withdrew her candidacy when she saw the underbelly of DeKalb politics. Until our politics that are so poisoned are cleansed I’m afraid the head office at The Palace is where angels fear to tread.

  15. If only they had hired Dr. Duron… I must say that at its core, we are in this situation today due to Dr. Eugene Walker’s racial prejudice.

  16. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Principals sing his praises!

  17. concernedmom30329 says:

    /betty, You mean Thurmond’s praises. While they may like him, most principals I know are still struggling with his underlings at some level or another. And Thurmond, so far, hasn’t made the Central Office changes that most principals think are needed.

    Howdy, I respect your perspective but I think you are a bit delusional. I don’t have a good answer here, but I would like to see at least some of our challenges put behind us before we proceed with a search. The reality is that the Thurmond was hired, and the Governor removed the Board, simply to make sure accreditation was retained. And for a host of reasons, you can rest assured that it will be. Once that hurdle is passed and the Supreme Courts rules, the next big barrier is the Board Election that will occur sometimes in the year. Just like Atlanta found, the best candidates aren’t willing to jump into a job when so much could change in such a short period of time.

    Certainly, there are people who would take this job. Most will be like Atkinson fleeing a situation with lots of baggage. There are also scores of school systems, nationally, looking for superintendents, some of which are larger and pay more than DeKalb. The competition is tough.

    The candidates that we saw last time all were simply “eh” (remember Duron never made it here). They were average at best and not necessarily particularly qualified. Atlanta is spending nearly 150,000 dollars of donated money to actually recruit to fill their position. DCSS won’t get the donations. Even if the system spends 150K, I don’t trust we would have positive results.

    In fact, I stumbled upon this article and it should be worrisome about the whole search process.

    http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20130926/NEWS/309260050/Superintendent-search-firm-accused-withholding-info-past

    Read it carefully and remember that Ray And Associates did our last search for 34K,

  18. concernedmom30329 says:

    Howdy Please excuse my use of the word delusional. A more appropriate word would be optimistic.

  19. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Thurmond was hired by the old board right before their removal.
    What challenges, aside from SACS, do you believe Thurmond is going to overcome?
    Duron was here. He interviewed in person and was summarily dismissed for not being black. It was expected that the appointed board wouldn’t pick a Super based solely on race … like Atkinson and Thurmond. They should take this opportunity … it’s the only one the school district will get.

    The old school – status quo is in charge with Thurmond at the helm.

  20. @concerned: FASCINATING article about Ray & Assoc. Yes, these are the people who brought us a superintendent with at least 2 personal bankruptcies on her record to manage our billion dollar budget…

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  22. howdy1942 says:

    @concernedmom30329 – I appreciate your change in words. This whole thing about simply changing Thurmond’s status just galls me. I am baffled that members of this Board who are so well educated, possess such strong credentials, had the motivation to go through a very selective process to get where they are, cannot seem to understand that we need to find the best person to be our permanent superintendent and that involves looking. As I’ve said, Thurmond may well be a better candidate than those in the selection pool, but he also may not be. The record of the School Board has not been one to write home about with its selection of Lewis, Tyson, Atkinson, and now Thurmond. The new superintendent needs to have the strong support of the people and that cannot happen until we search and conduct a professional, ethical selection process that is free from any racial or gender bias. Simply selecting Thurmond by default without a search is a serious cop-out and really does not serve the very people that members of this board represent.

    I really thought that this new School Board was better than that!

  23. @howdy: Sadly, we don’t think the ‘selection’ process was all that ‘selective’… or maybe it was ‘uber’ selective!
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/oh-the-connections-they-are-more-tangled-than-ever/

  24. Restore DeKalb blasts school officials for mishandling sexual harassment complaint

    Restore DeKalb is calling for an outside law enforcement agency to investigate the sexual harassment/retaliation complaint of a DeKalb County School bus driver.

    The organization says neither the new Governor-appointed School Board nor the interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond have provided follow-up to its request for an investigation.

    Viola Davis, who heads Restore DeKalb, said she has been tracking complaints of school bus drivers since April after learning that whistle blowers were being unfairly punished for speaking out about their work environment. Davis said one bus driver’s schedule was changed several times, making it difficult for the driver to learn new routes and children who were supposed to be picked up.

    “It’s ridiculous what they’re going through. I had one grandmother break down crying,” Davis said. “We were surprised to find that our documents were not read after two weeks and no one acknowledged they received the documents during this time,” said Davis. “We were instructed by Superintendent Michael Thurmond to send documentation directly to him if we know of anyone experiencing retaliation. We sent the documentation to the Superintendent and copied the entire Board of Education. There is no excuse for our documents to go for two weeks without any reply.”

    On Common Ground News is awaiting a response from the School District.

  25. howdy1942 says:

    I realize that we can’t go back and start the search process in May or June, but we can start that process now. If this School Board wants to extend Thurmond’s contract until July when we elect a new board at his current salary, I would grudgingly accept that. But I would urge this Board not to give him any increase greater than what the teachers have received, which would be nothing – 0 – nada! Regarding the so-called “surplus”, what specifically do to make that happen? “Cut” the administration by “600” jobs? Replace some of the full-time teachers with “substitutes”?

    I had hoped for so much from this new School Board when this year began and I even wanted Thurmond to have a chance. I’m disappointed in both. Dekalb County needs a clean slate that begins with the School Board. Nancy Jester, where are you? Please run again, please! This time around, you would be 1/7 th of the Board and not 1/9 th! If we can just elect 3 more in addition, we could make some real changes for the good!

  26. concerned citizen says:

    not only Nancy but also Stan, too – would be such strong leaders on the DeKalb Board or State Board. The State BOE is also the pits. I think most of us know that. When I came to understand that all of Deal’s appointments were already “set up” by Deal and Bradley, F&F all the way), I was not surprised at their “hiding” behind Thurmond’s skirts. BTW, who authorized MJ to meet and negotiate with Thurmond about staying? Does that mean that all the board are so stupid as to want Thurmond to stay? This board is so, so, so, so WEAK. And unfortunately when they do speak up, they speak such nonsense and foolishness as to be comical.”Punish the teachers” Love Doctor, etc. I’m surprised that the teachers did not rise up at the idea of punishment. Anyway, how mulch more can they be punished?We ain’t got no money, no respect, no leadership, no hope. Also, I would like to add that if any principal “likes” Thurmond, he/she is either stupid or likes to kiss it. I can see that Thurmond is buddy-buddying with the principals.It’s really obvious. They’re all scared for their jobs.

  27. howdy1942 says:

    This Board strikes me as being too busy, too involved, or too sidetracked to really be into the business of doing what a school board should be doing. That has been obvious to me because of their lack of questioning or, when they did ask questions, those questions were not searching and were obviously not researched. Maybe what we need is a bunch of us old geezers to be on this board that had all the time in the world to research and little to lose by asking direct questions and demanding answers. I can assure you that we would have the time and the common sense to understand that we do need to search for a new superintendent so that we could select the most qualified candidate from among those available.

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