Big news day for DeKalb Schools

Several DCSS news items have hit the [newsstands] today.

These items follow the big debate on the Georgia Gang Sunday, where Dick Williams is quoted as having said, “And, the SACS report on DeKalb County was shoddy and flawed. Jeff, you above all know that. It was all hearsay, didn’t name any names. And, it resulted in the removal of the school board, and I think that’s good, because the board was dysfunctional. But, wait a minute, that SACS report didn’t make the case. They’re a shoddy agency. And, I encourage all these other school systems to look for other accreditations including the Georgia Accrediting Agency. There’s all kind of alternatives. This guy has no business meddling in the electoral process.”

Now, the PolitiFact Georgia, an opinion post in the AJC took their ‘Truth-O-Meter’ out to measure the reality of Michael Thurmond’s recent statement, “When SACS came back to the DeKalb County School District to give a midterm review, we got straight A’s.”

In their post, “DeKalb superintendent guilty of grade inflation in describing accreditation review,” the AJC asked, “We were intrigued by the superintendent’s statement. Had DeKalb, with its ongoing legal, financial and personnel issues, secured a perfect score with an accrediting agency? We decided to do our homework and find out.”

“Earlier this year, after the system was placed on probation, the governor removed and replaced six board members. The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to rule by November on a challenge to the law that allows governors to remove school boards in districts on probation.

“In May, a SACS team returned to DeKalb for a three-day review, as Thurmond noted during the parent meeting. The agency issued a report of its findings in July. The report indicated that all 11 required actions from the agency’s October 2012 visit were “in progress.”

“The monitoring team concluded that the district had made “recognizable progress.” The report also noted: “The overall progress of the district in addressing the required actions is still evolving and significant work remains to be accomplished.”

Another SACS monitoring team is scheduled to return to DeKalb for a two-day visit in December. In the meantime, the district remains on probation.

“We asked Thurmond’s office about the superintendent’s claim and reading of the SACS report.”

“In the educational arena, an ‘A’ grade is generally awarded when a student receives a score of 90-100. It is important to note that an ‘A’ does not require perfection, but an ‘A’ does represent significant and noteworthy achievement,” a district spokesman said in an email.”

“The spokesman said Thurmond was speaking metaphorically about the importance of the interim report, which noted significant improvements during the past two months and recognizable progress on addressing the 11 required actions.”

“PolitiFact Georgia also questioned SACS about Thurmond’s claim.”

“Agency representatives noted that AdvancED and SACS do not give letter grades to school systems. “(Thurmond) was clearly using an analogy that the monitoring visit was positive,” said an email from the company spokeswoman and CEO. “The report clearly indicates that the district is moving in the right direction but that the required actions remain In Progress as there is much work to be done in ensuing months and years.”

“We also checked with the Georgia School Boards Association, which helps boards prepare for SACS visits, for thoughts on Thurmond’s statement. A board development specialist with that agency deferred to SACS for an explanation.”

“So, was DeKalb Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond correct that the district’s midterm review from an accrediting agency back in May resulted in a straight-A report card?”

“It’s subjective.”

+++

Now, Thurmond and Mark Elgart are saddling up together and issuing a joint statement in response (penned by our new communications officer!)

The statement says, in part, ““We have no problem with the characterization by Superintendent Thurmond of our Monitoring Review Report dated May 15-17, 2013, “When SACS came back at midterm for review we got straight “A’s.” While not part of our assessment terminology, a school grade metaphor is appropriate for the Superintendent to use to describe what our team found in the midterm review. Indeed, we found that the DeKalb County School District had made noteworthy progress in all 11 Required Actions.” …

“Of particular note from the report, we observed that the district established and identified specific budget parameters with the goal to develop and implement a balanced budget for FY 2014. Student academic achievement and career readiness has been prioritized and work has begun to strengthen parent, guardian and mentor involvement in school and district business. The district has implemented a plan that will improve operational efficiency throughout DeKalb County School District and continue to rebuild trust with internal and external stakeholders.”

Download the entire press release here: Dekalb PolitiFact Response 10 16 13 2.FINAL

+++

In addition, apparently, after four years, Crawford Lewis has decided to plead guilty.

Stan Jester has posted a new Fact Checker, ‘Crawford Lewis Pleads Guilty’

Crawford Lewis and crew were at the helm during DeKalb Schools’ darkest days of
corruption. Oddly, at the same time, SACS fully accredited the DeKalb School
District with no warnings saying “Effective leadership at all levels”.

Rhonda Cook of the AJC is reporting today

Former DeKalb Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis has agreed to plead guilty
to one and testify for the prosecution
[…]

You may view Stan’s latest post at
http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2013/10/922/

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This entry was posted in Board of Education Meetings, Budget Cuts, Crawford Lewis, Criminal / RICO Trials, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Fraud & Corruption, Friends-and-Family, Gene Walker, Michael Thurmond, SACS/Accreditation, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Big news day for DeKalb Schools

  1. dsw2contributor says:

    ”Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.”

    A construction manager, an architect and a former physical education teacher — guess which one knows the least about construction contracting!

  2. dsw2contributor says:

    I also wonder which cost the DeKalb County taxpayers more: the prosecution team or the defense team?

  3. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Indeed! Clew is going to squawk! But what about the credit card abuses.. Does he skate on those charges too…..

  4. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Yes, he skates on it all, at our expense. This sucks to say the least. All of DeKalb are in cahoots. I give up.

  5. Retired DeKalb teacher says:

    I feel we all foresaw this coming….he could fall into “mud” and come out smelling like a rose! Let’s just pray he speaks loud and clear on Pat and husband and SOMEONE goes to jail! Have a feeling the new super has learned tricks from the old master and is up to similar acts of stealing from our students and teachers in DeKalb! My personal feeling…HE SHOULD BE UNDER THE JAIL!

  6. concernedmom30329 says:

    Thurmond desperately wants us to believe that all is OK. And not just with accreditation, but with academics, money, etc….

    This article was a real black eye to his fantasy.

  7. Figured I’d copy and past my comment here, too, so the person who quickly thumbed it down under the “Optimal School District Size” post can thumb it down here, too. I seem to be fair game for the trolls. I like to think I hit one of Dekalb’s many raw nerves when I post.

    “Lewis’ plea is to a garbage charge. Obstructing a police officer? A misdemeanor? The DA never intended to prosecute his buddy. This is disgusting. So only Pope and her “husband” will be tried. The insiders are let off the hook. And they force the concept of accountability on the teachers! Man, I’m pissed.”

  8. You Are Superman says:

    I totally agree with this report. The only change is the faces and level of education. They attempt to be slick by sitting on the floor instead of their chairs where we can see how they vote. SAC’s came after the board once Crawford was no longer the big cheese. Don’t be fooled Thurman was a plant just like Atkinson hand picked. Now they really like him! no kidding he’s just a “good politician” that don’t know squat about education.
    On a final note, does anyone know if the $225.000 was returned to the district for those 8 friends and family to get their PH.D’s?

  9. The levels of education haven’t changed all that much. Of the six board members ‘fired’ by the Gov, Dr. Walker is a PhD, Pam Speaks is a PhD, Nancy Jester has a Masters Degree, and completed PhD work, and Donna Edler is a CPA and holds a bachelors degree in accounting. Only Jay and Sarah aren’t highly educated.

  10. Here’s the quote from Maureen’s blog:

    Former DeKalb Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis has agreed to plead guilty to one charge of obstructing a law-enforcement officer, a misdemeanor that would end one part of a nearly three-year-old legal case that alleged corruption in the district’s construction management.

    REally? $100,000 + in legal fees and FOUR years of litigation to plead out to ONE misdemeanor?

    Wow.

  11. Great timeline from Stan’s blog:

    TIME LINE

    Oct. 8, 2004: Crawford Lewis becomes DeKalb superintendent and later hires Pat Reid to oversee construction of new schools funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

    Dec. 22, 2008: Lewis tells school lawyers that Reid tried to blackmail him and wanted to hire her friends for SPLOST work.

    May 2010: Lewis, Reid, her husband Tony Pope and Reid’s assistant are indicted. (The assistant is later dismissed from the case.) Lewis is fired.

    August 2011: After operating more than a year with an interim superintendent, the DeKalb school board, under pressure from an accreditation agency to select a permanent successor to Lewis, hires Cheryl Atkinson.

    May 2012: The DeKalb district attorney brings a superseding indictment against Lewis and the others.

    December 2012: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, citing mismanagement of the district, puts DeKalb on probation.

    February: Atkinson resigns. The school board hires former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond as interim superintendent.

    July 18: Yet another amended indictment is issued, shrinking the case against Lewis, Reid and Pope.

    Oct.7: The school board makes Thurmond superintendent, dropping the “interim” from his title and extending his contract into 2015.

    Oct. 16: Lewis pleads guilty to a misdemeanor. He will be sentenced only after he testifies in the trial against Reid and Pope, set to start Oct. 28.

    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2013/10/922/

  12. thedeal2 says:

    This stupid county and school system is going into the toilet and will not be able to get out, I’m afraid. I am so disgusted I can’t even articulate everything that is wrong with our current situation. Anyone interested in a decent public school system is going to have to show major dissent in a shocking, national news-gaining sort of way. We are not going to be able to eat this elephant one bite at a time. We need a nuclear bomb. Thurmond is a liar, a politician, and is continuing the waste and fraud of his three predecessors. He might as well hire Lewis and Atkinson back, and they can all have a six figure party on our tab. The county office is a cesspool.

  13. DSW2Contributor says:

    From the AJC article: Eugene Walker, who was on the school board during Lewis’ tenure, said he was surprised Lewis pleaded to anything. “I didn’t ever think that he stole money,” Walker said, adding that he did think Lewis “was way over his head” in a running a school system as big as DeKalb, Georgia’s third largest.

  14. Pitiful. This guy started this whole ball rolling when he was being questioned about his P card purchases and told investigators to take a look at Pope — more as a way to steer them away from himself. Now, he will get a sweet deal by throwing the same people under the bus again. I am telling the truth – Georgia and DeKalb are so screwed up — people are spending far more time in jail for possession of marijuana than stealing from taxpayers — which is what Lewis did when he used his P cards to entertain his lover. Not to mention all the rest.

    How very nice to have an ‘in’ with the prosecution in DeKalb.

  15. PSDad says:

    If Lewis submitted a guilty plea, shouldn’t he be on the hook for the cost of his defense???

  16. Remember the photo in the AJC of Robert James announcing that there would be no investigation of the Board as requested by the grand jury? Towering over his right shoulder was none other than Gene Walker, a potential subject of investigation had James carried out the grand jury’s recommendation. My speculation is that Walker dictated whether or not Lewis would actually go to trial. Crap, Walker is probably still running the board or the superintendent or both.

  17. Here’s the link to that post, dissonance: DeKalb DA Robert James: “It’s the board’s job to police themselves”

  18. thedeal2 says:

    Again, this county and its school system central office is a cesspool, an obese, inbred, greedy, entitled, fat from the trough cesspool. I live in the central area of the county, so I do not stand to benefit from the cityhood activity, the Druid Hills cluster idea, or the Dunwoody school system discussion, but anything that rips money out of the hands of the cellpool kings is good with me. It would be satisfying to watch them cry as their piggy bank gets emptied.

  19. Fred in DeKalb says:

    **I also wonder which cost the DeKalb County taxpayers more: the prosecution team or the defense team?**

    It is interesting that many here did not follow up on dsw2contributor’s comment. Despite a very misleading headline, Dr. Lewis accepted a plea deal thus dropping all the charges against him. In return, he agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. Three years waiting for this. Perhaps the evidences was not as strong as some would have made it out to be?

    There was an article in the Sunday paper exploring this further. It is on the pay side but could be read at,

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-law/crawford-lewis-case-costs-school-district-in-treas/nbRmS/

    I said it before and it is worth repeating that we are seeing a series of overcharging by the DAs office and it is hurting the overall community. I’m surprised there has not been more outrage about this We saw this recently with the Schneiderman case. I believe this will be repeated in the cases against Reid, Pope and Ellis though I’m willing to look objectively at the evidences.

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