The more things change, the more they stay the same (or worse)…

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.

DSW comment:
We simply must ask, “What on earth is the new, highly-compensated communications director doing?”

Read more>> Restore DeKalb blasts school officials for mishandling sexual harassment complaint


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9 Responses to The more things change, the more they stay the same (or worse)…

  1. concerned citizen says:

    All of us know what he is doing…nothing at all! Why should he? He really makes me sick. All of these ridiculous supers we are paying – Lewis, Thurmond, Ramoona, Adtikinson, gag! We are totally passive people in DeKalb, sort of like (but not as likeable) as Schmoos.

  2. Ms. Davis states in the article,

    The employees gave their statements about sexual harassment to Christopher Davis with the Office of Internal Affairs. Mr. Davis stated that his job title is investigator and he has years of experience. However, the state website lists Davis as a substitute teacher. When I asked Mr. Davis if he occupied a supervisory position, he said, “no.”

    It’s true. Christopher Davis is listed on the 2012 Salary Schedule as a substitute teacher, and earned $12,225.00 in 2012.

  3. Ms. Davis is also requesting the following:

    Restore DeKalb is seeking several actions:

    · Full investigation of the Office of Internal Affairs.

    · Retrieval of the emails of prior Superintendents, Atkinson and Lewis, to assess if the acts of sexual harassment went to the top of the chain of command.

    · Re-train upper management on sexual harassment and acts of retaliation.

    · Update policies and procedures to make sure changes in work conditions and time schedules are given with written notices under the name of the supervisor issuing the change.

    · Legal matters, such as EEOC complaints and sexual harassment complaints, are handled by people with fiduciary responsibilities.

    PLEASE, Ms. Davis – REQUEST ATKINSON’S TEXT MESSAGES. We were told that she mostly communicated via texts. However, when her texts were requested in another discrimination lawsuit, the suit was settled and the texts were destroyed. Or ‘the phone’ was destroyed ‘accidentally’. However, those texts were submitted into evidence in that prior lawsuit. There IS something there!! Something that (we think) pushed Atkinson to resign.

  4. From the AJC: Posted: 6:14 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, 2012

    Suit pursues DeKalb superintendent’s text messages

    By Ty Tagami

    Last summer’s budget cuts continue to haunt the DeKalb County school system, with a lawsuit alleging the system violated state law in the way it conducted layoffs and also raising concerns about the superintendent’s text messages.

    The suit, filed Monday in DeKalb Superior Court by a former graduation coach, accuses the school system of violating the state open records law in failing to release Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s text messages in connection with the case.

    Plaintiff Cynthia Gipson’s attorney, Julie Oinonen, wrote that she filed an open records request for Atkinson’s text messages three months ago based upon tips that their contents were relevant to the case. The system still hasn’t produced them, the suit says.

    Jeff Dickerson, a spokesman for the district, had no comment Monday, saying neither he, Atkinson nor the system’s chief legal officer, Ron Ramsey, had seen the lawsuit.

    The court fight comes after a county school board vote last month authorizing Atkinson to hire independent, outside counsel to represent her. The attorney was to read her text messages, and separate public communications from private, before responding to an open records request, Dickerson said soon after the vote. Only the work-related messages were subject to disclosure, he said.

    Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers was one of the attorneys Atkinson hired. Bowers said Monday that Atkinson sent no public text messages on her personal phone. He said the device was sent to outside technical experts to confirm that. He also said, however, that it’s a new phone. She returned her old phone to the district when it broke, he said. Bowers said that to his knowledge, her old phone was not analyzed for text messages, but said he knows Atkinson sent no public text messages on it.

    “She’s told me that she didn’t, and I believe her,” Bowers said.

    School board Chairman Eugene Walker also had not seen the suit and was unwilling to comment on it Monday, though he did say he was “confident” the state law on layoffs was followed.

    State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, has watched the developing dispute. He said Monday that he, too, filed an open records request for Atkinson’s text messages several months ago. The chairman of the DeKalb Senate delegation said he was following up on tips that the messages might contain information about questionable use of consultants. He said he filed his request in August and still hasn’t received any text messages.

    “I don’t know what they’re hiding, but it seems to be something important enough that if it got out to the public, there would be some repercussions,” Jones said.

    An expert on Georgia open records law said recent changes to the law clarified that official electronic communications are subject to disclosure.

    “Text messages pertaining to a public agency’s business are subject to release under Georgia’s open records act, just like any other document generated in the course of public business,” Hollie Manheimer, a lawyer who runs the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said in an email.

    The employee lawsuit also contends that Ramsey, the school system’s chief legal officer, made a deal with Oinonen: drop the open records request, and the district will reinstate your client and 11 other laid-off employees. Oinonen wrote that she accepted the deal but that DeKalb then reneged. (She also noted she had only four laid-off clients.)

    Bowers said he doesn’t know what, if anything, Ramsey promised Oinonen. “But Ms. Atkinson hasn’t authorized any such deal,” he said.

    This latest legal contest comes just ahead of a much-awaited decision from an accrediting agency on the school system’s status.

    DeKalb is already a step shy of full accreditation, and the agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is wrapping up an investigation into allegations of school board mismanagement that could drop it further. Among the concerns raised by Mark Elgart, president and chief executive officer of SACS’ parent company AdvanceED, is how much DeKalb spends on lawyers.

    Oinonen would not comment for this article, but the suit she filed claims her client heard that Atkinson’s text messages contained evidence pertinent to her own job loss. Gipson’s suit claims DeKalb broke the new state law governing public sector layoffs.

    The law requires officials to take job performance into consideration when targeting employees for termination. Gipson contends in her lawsuit that DeKalb sidestepped this requirement by eliminating groups of employees then hiring back some regardless of prior performance. The school system has 30 days to respond.

  5. “She’s told me that she didn’t, and I believe her,” Bowers said.

    Oh. By all means, Mike…


    The video report states that Atkinson and Ramsey told contradictory stories.

    Ramsey: Winner!

  7. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Public comments at the board meeting on Monday would go a long way.

  8. These are the speakers listed for Monday’s meeting so far — there are still 3 open slots. Email Board Sec, to reserve an open slot.

    1. Marney Mayo
    2. Margaret Paynich
    3. Deidre Pierce
    4. Sujad Quinn
    5. Amy Trocchi
    6. Carrie Staines
    7. Melanie Darby
    8. Thomas Benefield
    9. Tanya Graham
    10. State Senator Gail Davenport
    11. Sandi Morris
    12. Mayra Maldonado
    13. Veronica Watts
    14. Tom Keating
    15. Sierra Wilson
    16. David Runyon
    17. David Schutten

  9. concerned citizen says:

    Do you actually mean that a substitute teacher is playing a role of investigator in Internal Affairs? OMG!!!!!! Whoever did this must be fired, and of course, the sub put back in the sub pool. OK, Hr, AND THURMOND, really want another lawsuit because this little item has great potential for legal action. Unqualified people performing tasks that are no part of what they were hired to do? OMG. Thurmond and Smith, you two better have some talks, real soon. Think of all the teachers and others who were denied positions because they weren’t certified. So what part of F&F is the sub impersonating an investigator in Internal Affairs? It’s everyday, In everyway, DeKalb just doesn’t get anything probably done, from little to big tasks. OMG.

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