The long and winding row yet to hoe

long-row-to-hoeMany people are saying the fields are ready, the ‘deck has been cleared’ and want to ‘move on’ – us included! However, we don’t think the fields are tended nor has any deck yet been cleared. So we would like to move forward with eyes wide open and full knowledge of where we’ve been, where we would like to go and an honest plan of how to get there from here including assessing who, of our current staff, can get it done and who, of our current staff, is holding us back and needs replaced.

There are still unresolved issues – still many questions that were never answered in the criminal trials of our former superintendent, our COO and her husband – still a long row to hoe. If we don’t pull all the weeds, they certainly will regrow and flourish. For those who are new to DeKalb schools, or for those who may have forgotten our journey, we thought we’d share a well-written look back from one of our regular bloggers.

One essential requirement to get our school system back on track is the full, unqualified support of the residents of Dekalb County. That cannot happen until all of the facts regarding what has happened in recent years are laid out for the people to digest and be assured that justice has been served and that measures are in place to prevent any re-occurrence.

There is just too much smoke to know the truth at this point. Our school system was driven into the ditch and that occurred over at least a 10-year period. As some have pointed out, Eugene Walker has a PhD from Duke University and we must assume that he is an educated and knowledgeable man. Tom Bowen is a lawyer. Others on that board were similarly well-educated. Why did our school system go downhill so far and so fast? Former school superintendent, Crawford Lewis made a plea deal and the Chief Operations Officer was convicted of crimes against the public. Dr. Lewis testified that he tried to fire Pope and was stopped by two [former] school board members. Who were they? Why did they stop Lewis from firing Pope? How deep in the administration did this criminal behavior go and did it reach the level of the school board? What are the details of board members trying to influence hiring decisions by the superintendent? Why didn’t the board investigate the leaks surrounding candidates for the position of superintendent (when the next superintendent, Dr. Atkinson was hired) as they had promised that they would do? Exactly why did Dr. Atkinson leave? What does she know about what happened during her watch as superintendent? How did the former board get away with hiring Michael Thurmond in a secretive manner just before it was removed by the Governor? Why did the current board vote to hire Thurmond as permanent superintendent without conducting a search?  Why did we have so many law firms under retainer? Why did we have so many legal problems? Why was Ramona Tyson kept on at her interim-superintendent salary even after she was no longer filling that position? Why was the District Attorney so quick to ignore what was going on in the school system and state that it could “govern itself”? Why was the District Attorney so slow to prosecute Lewis and Pope? There are just tons and tons of questions that need to be answered. I don’t know the details of what happened when Cherry and Freeman were at the helm, but I do know that the school system of their day was among the best in the nation. Dekalb was a destination for parents wanting their children to attend quality schools. What happened?

Until the public better understands what actually happened in the DCSS, until the present board and superintendent stop stonewalling the public, until the present board starts getting its priorities in order such as initiating a full and open search for a permanent superintendent, until the board and superintendent gets it focus on the classroom and not the administration, until the board and superintendent choose to be completely open and honest with the public, and until the board and superintendent stop fighting our teachers and show at least some empathy for them, this superintendent and board will be denied the support they so desperately need.

We want to start fresh too – but first, we want honest answers. The ‘deck’ still has more work to be done in order to truly be ‘cleared’. Moving forward in denial, without fully clearing out the past is just not healthy progress.

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48 Responses to The long and winding row yet to hoe

  1. H.A. Hurley says:

    Important and well informed words! Appreciate your dedication and professionalism, always.
    Long road ahead, but we have no other choice!
    Thank you

  2. Kim says:

    This lays out the caring public’s dilemma rather well: How many hundreds of dedicated parents and thousands of well-intentioned DeKalb residents are “frozen” awaiting answers to questions such as you have outlined? How many parents and public school advocates in DeKalb question their commitment to the current system leadership? How many employees? Very grave questions … may God forgive us for not having answers and give us courage to help DeKalb’s children where we can without “feeding the beast.”

  3. Kim says:

    In a similar vein, I penned this cover letter to a 25 year time capsule recently buried by the City of Brookhaven. We have a very grave situation, indeed. Here’s hoping our betters in 2028 can look down on us with satisfaction knowing these seemingly insurmountable hurdles were overcome in the next generation.

    Cover Letter
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5VY2U0y-dgRSUFId3c1Um54YzA/edit?pli=1

    as in intro to this time capsule report on “Cross Keys:”

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5VY2U0y-dgRRVdiQU42ZHpXZnM/edit?pli=1

  4. Fred in DeKalb says:

    “Why was the District Attorney so slow to prosecute Lewis and Pope?”

    This is an easy one. They delays were caused by Heery. They wanted to tie the Lewis/Pope trial to theirs. Judge Birch saw through this and determined they did not have a case. This led to the eventual settlement though former Board members were upset with the amount based on the evidence they saw. Don McChesney and Paul Womack both commented on this.

    Those who know contract law would acknowledge that typically when a separation is negotiated, a non disclosure agreement (NDA) is signed, i.e. we won’t say anything bad about each other otherwise there will be financial penalties. I doubt we will hear anything from Atkinson for this reason.

    What if we found out that the leaks came from the representatives of the superintendent candidates? Would anyone be willing to compel the media to reveal their source since they obviously know where the information came from.

    How much time would we want to spend on these questions in lieu of addressing the education of children? I know some that would like to ask Board members from the 70’s and 80’s why they did not lower the millage rate after selling DeKalb Community College, now GPC. It was increased because DeKalb operated a junior college, it only makes sense that it should have been lowered when they no longer operated it. Is it because of the impact it would have had on the budget at that time?

  5. Kim says:

    Sorry, that should have been “in 2038” … wishful thinking that I would still be around, I guess! 🙂

  6. @Fred: The Heery Mitchell civil case had nothing to do with slowing down the criminal prosecution of Lewis and Pope. The DA had many court dates – and as I recall, it was Dr. Lewis who delayed some of them. Heery sought to delay their civil case because Lewis and Pope were the star witnesses against them – and they thought the outcome of the criminal cases should be decided first. We tended to agree. Conversely, Dr. Lewis and school leaders wanted the civil case to go first – so they as witnesses would not be convicted criminals. Lewis knew it would harm the civil case. It’s why he got in trouble for trying to put a halt to the investigation by the DAs office.

    (Regarding the technical college – true! We should have scaled back the millage rate after it went independent. An aside: It’s not GPC – it’s Georgia Piedmont Technical College – formerly DeKalb Technical College. GPC – Georgia Perimeter College was never part of DeKalb schools.)

  7. Insider says:

    Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) was, in fact, part of the DeKalb School System. It used to be called DeKalb Community College and retained that name for several years after it was transferred to the University System of GA. But when they expanded outside the county’s borders, the name needed to be changed. The BofE was also the schools board of directors.

  8. Insider says:

    And Georgia Piedmont Technical College used to be called DeKalb Technical College.

    I attended both.

  9. Fred in DeKalb says:

    Thank you Insider for the clarification. See below for the history,

    http://www.gpc.edu/catalog/history#.Us7g-J5dWSo

  10. concerned citizen says:

    DSW and participating blogger: Great work, well-said, and truthful. What is our first step other than finding a way to get rid of Thurmond and all his crew, well-known.

  11. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @DSW, you are correct, I mixed up the two cases.

  12. dekalbite2 says:

    @Fred
    “I know some that would like to ask Board members from the 70′s and 80′s why they did not lower the millage rate after selling DeKalb Community College, now GPC.”

    It really all about Return on Investment.

    When you have a high millage rate with good student achievement rate and a highly rated school system, taxpayers are getting a better return on investment than when you have high millage rate with a poor student achievement rate and a lowly rated school system.

    For example, Rockdale County Schools is a fairly poor school system with every one of their schools Title 1 schools. They have a very high millage rate. However, they have an excellent student achievement rate and a highly rated school system.

    Taxes are the investment and student achievement is the return.

  13. Interesting info on GPC — glad to know. I always thought it was just the DeKalb Technical College (much of it is still housed in former DeKalb school buildings).

    Interestingly, Jabari Simama (formerly known as Fred Lewis) was appointed as president of the college by a board that included Gene Walker — and coincidentally, Michael Thurmond serves on the school’s foundation’s advisory board. Read more >> Interesting news from the DeKalb political network!

    He is also somehow tangled up with the Burrell Ellis case:
    Jabari Simama returns to role in DeKalb
    DeKalb special grand jury recommends 12 for criminal investigation

  14. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @dekalbite2,
    You are absolutely correct! The additional revenues allowed DeKalb to pay higher salaries for staff (unlike in the 60’s when teachers complained about low salaries), established hiring guidelines that teachers had to have a master’s degree, operated schools smaller than state standards with full staffing, and offered services and programs (i.e Fernbank) for students that were the envy of other school districts in the state. DeKalb was staff heavy however could afford it. Without question, students thrived.

    There were recessions in the mid eighties that resulted in some budget belt tightening and the recommendation for closing schools. Subsequent recessions caused DeKalb to make other moves that were not popular with all citizens. Not having the highest salaries in the metro area put DeKalb in a position to compete more for high quality teachers. The recession in 2007 had a dramatic impact on schools across the country, DeKalb included. It resulted in massive teacher layoffs, class sizes increasing,salaries stagnating and benefits packages reduced among other moves that compromise student achievement.

    What if belt tightening was done in 1986 with the school budget after DCC was given to the Board of Regents? Students at that time benefitted but what impact would it have on future generations, especially if the economy went belly up? I think we are living that now.

  15. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Fred

    If you read the BOE meetings from 2005 – 2009 you will see that Lewis consistently raised class size limits. Remember Barnes had shrunk the high school class sizes to 28 – no averaging – not a single student more. As soon as Perdue came in, Lewis could raise class sizes and he did. Then Lewis would take the money he saved by increasing class sizes and fund the various departments he established – Security, Parental Involvement, Literacy Coaches, Instructional Coaches, Springboard, America’s Choice, eSis, SchoolNet, etc. – tens upon tens of millions on new programs and departments as he eliminated classroom positions by increasing class sizes. Please go back and read the BOE minutes. You will see all those meetings he keeps asking the BOE to increase class sizes and stresses that it meets the state requirements (never mind what is good for students – that is never mentioned).

    In addition, many of the pay increases that were for teachers in those years got distributed to everyone – teacher and non teacher – or in some years there were no pay increases even when the state gave us just a little hit more. All the while the new programs and departments filled with non teaching personnel stayed in place. Many of the non teaching departments had their status upgraded with a new title or made 11 or 12 month so their pay could increase while teachers stayed the same. I remember that as well. If you don’t I would suggest you go back and look at the state Salary and Travel spreadsheet. Do some sorts and you’ll see how granting different job titles or increasing their work year from 10 month to 11 or 12 month financially benefited so many groups of non teaching employees.

  16. concerned citizen says:

    Several totally reliable sources who served as an adjuncts or full-time instructors at what was DeKalb Tech say that the bozo president was truly “inaugurated” as royalty with pomp.and circumstance that would out-do the crowning of Elizabeth. In fact, there was so much ceremony involved that just about all employees were insulted but amused, too! Pure theater and bogus crap. Sort of an “African King” truly unbelievable crowning it was. Just out of their minds – those who planned this. And EW, MJ, and Thurmond and other DeKalb “stars” were a big part of this! What was the reason for this nonsense? This is all tied together with all the mess in DeKalb Schools. Truly, they are all together in this – no question to those of us who don’t go around with our eyes closed. Also, the Palace does impact so much else that goes on in the DeKalb community, and at one time, the former DeKalb Tech was a very, very respected school. But, that is as dead as the school system. Talk to people who work there and you will the very same F&F network as the school system; in fact, former employees and current ones, too, are all tangled up together like rats in a diseased food factory, chewing and clawing even each other. Ugh, ugh, ugh for the bozo at the once fine technical school.

  17. concerned citizen says:

    DeKalbite2: In spite of excellent reasoning and insightful comments from you and DSW and Howdy, and Dr. (er, uh,,,Hurley, er, uh),, Fred won’t hear a word you are saying. I for one vow never from this moment on to read anything he says: he is too obsequious for words, and he always touts his own horn. He needs to chill out with some martinis and Imex and some of his F&F pals.

  18. thedeal2 says:

    @Fred, I am as much of a fan of the “move forward” philsophy as anyone, and I would love to dismiss the questions posed above in the spirit of moving on. BUT (and that’s a big BUT), because a large number of the people who were in key positions when those problems happened are still being paid handsome salaries as employees of the school system, those questions need to be answered. We need the full stories to determine if anyone else who is still in a decision-making capacity was responsible for some of the immoral, if not criminal, activities of the past.

    If the house had been truly cleaned, then who cares what’s in the dumpster? Unfortunately, the house hasn’t been cleaned, and the roaches are beginning to multiply again.

  19. @Deal: “If the house had been truly cleaned, then who cares what’s in the dumpster? “

    That’s a great analogy!

  20. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @thedeal2,

    Fair questions but what crimes do you think others still on staff committed? A comment was made that I gave generalizations however I don’t recall anyone providing specifics of crimes committed by anyone still employed by the school district. Are there some bad apples in the school district? Probably yes but do you go on a witch hunt to try to determine who is clean and who is dirty without any proof? Do we want to add a type of loyal oath to employees contracts? Let’s say you personally know someone that ended up being found guilty of a crime. Should you become a suspect simply based on association?

    That is what I am fearful of. There is a LOT of speculation, suspicion and innuendo but no proof of wrongdoing. What Pope/Reid were ultimately found guilty of were crimes where they personally benefitted not those that required others to be involved.

    If there is proof, I am all for seeing where it leads us. Otherwise I say it is time to move on. I respect any disagreements with my position as I would do the same for those that want a full scale investigation. This is not a contest to persuade someone to change their position but to express their viewpoints.

  21. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @DSW, I understand why you modified one post and took down another. I should not have replied to it.

  22. True – – accusing people of crimes is over the line. We are personally just concerned that we don’t have strong, experienced educational leaders – and we have too many of them. And an HR department that needs A LOT of work! And too many programs. And too many contracts. And too many lawyers. And not enough teachers and people who interact with and teach children on a daily basis.

  23. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Fred

    You do know that you don’t have to be indicted or convicted of a crime to be let go. Contracts are not guaranteed to be renewed. If class sizes are lowered and there is no money for all those non teaching positions, then that’s the way it is. If you want to consolidate, cut or outsource jobs in order to save money that can be re employed in the classrooms, then that is what Thurmond should be doing.

    But Mr. Thurmond has added on new expenses to the non teaching side and then says DeKalb Schools has no money to decrease class sizes and pay our teachers on par with competing systems.

    He can’t have it both ways – claim DeKalb has no money for teachers and the classroom but then add non teaching positions and incur more expenses that are not directly spent in the classroom. That’s why he has lost credibility.

    He also cannot keep the same old Lewis crew as his top advisors with the same old recycled ideas and expect academic achievement for students to improve.

  24. howdy1942 says:

    I think that the grand jury report of several months ago raised sufficient concern about the Dekalb County School System. If there is nothing there, then there is nothing to be concerned about. Based on those who have commented on this blog, based on the cityhood movements that are in progress, based on the efforts of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster group, based on Dunwoody’s efforts to form its own independent school system, based on DCSS’s probation status, based on the Governor’s removal of the Dekalb County School Board, and based on the tensions that have long existed between the School System and its own teachers, I think that it is very fair to say that the perception of at least 45% of the people in Dekalb County is that things are not at all well with the DCSS. If there is nothing wrong with the administration or board, then it has nothing to fear and everything to gain. But until that investigation is conducted and the truth is known, the administration and school board will continue to lack substantial support in the community.

    I fully agree with Dekalbite2 – if there were things wrong in the DCSS governance and administration in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the 90s, it was not apparent in student performance in the classroom. In contrast, there is a lot of evidence pointing directly to a link between failures in administration and governance and student performance in the last decade.. There have been four superintendents in four years. One now stands convicted of wrongdoing. A second was forced to leave after only 18 months under very suspicious conditions.. The administration of Ramona Tyson was warned by SACS and her response was obviously not acceptable with SACS. She is still being paid her superintendent salary. There was a serious breach in ethics by the former school board in leaking confidential information that significantly damaged the employment and careers of other candidates, yet the source of that breach was never investigated. Then there were endless “executive sessions” conducted by the board, legal expenses approved to provide at least $100,000 for Lewis’ defense, and no telling how much the taxpayers spent defending Walker. As we all know, it was a unanimous State School Board that recommended that he be removed and a unanimous Georgia Supreme Court that upheld his removal. The Chief Operations Officer at DCSS is now in jail. Incidentally, Jabari Simama (Fred Lewis) was also named in the grand jury report as warranting further investigation. To my knowledge, no investigation has ever been initiated. The secrecy surrounding Michael Thurmond’s appointment as interim superintendent and the action of the current board to make him permanent without even conducting any search whatsoever also raises concerns.

    Regarding Heery, this case should never have reached the courtroom. What should have been a $500,000 compromise mushroomed into a catastrophe for the Dekalb County taxpayer. The $18 million that we spent could have surely repaired any alleged shortcomings on the part of Heery, but all of the evidence presented points to poor project management on the part of the DCSS. Also, had this case been allowed to go to trial, who was going to testify for the DCSS? Pope? Lewis? Walker? I’m not so sure that this case would have been the slam dunk that Womack and others seem to think it was. However, I think that such testimony from the DCSS would have been very interesting. My sense is that lawyers for Heery would have embarrassed the DCSS by once again pointing to its confusion, mismanagement, corruption, and incompetence. Based upon Lewis’s testimony, I think that the only conclusion that one could reach is that the administration under Lewis was an abysmal mess.

    As Dekalbite2 also points out, the same people involved in all of the incidents that led up to the removal of the former school board are still in place. Thurmond was appointed by that board. Dekalb County is now on probation. Those who mismanaged Heery are still in place. The administration and board are still fighting our teachers in court and no attempt has been made by the administration to reach some kind of middle ground with them. Were that the case, the lawsuit would have been withdrawn. It would also be interesting to know how much money the DCSS is spending to fight its own teachers. Again, my sense is that the DCSS will lose this one at great expense to the Dekalb County taxpayer.

    For now, I will continue to strongly support cityhood for Lakeside, Tucker, and Briarcliff and work to support a middle ground for any boundary dispute. I think that can be done. After all, I think that all three share the same concerns and goals. Local people can better zone our properties and work out solutions, local people can better perform code enforcement and, I think, that local people can better maintain our roads. Also, cityhood offers us the most promising opportunity of bringing about higher morale among teachers, restoring competent management to our school system, and improving student outcomes. Maybe that is a long shot, but I think that its probability of success is much greater than that offered by the current administration.

  25. Word Wall says:

    Clearly, until class size comes down and teachers get the resources wasted by the Palace the “reformers” have failed– period. The interim has zero credentials not even a teaching certificate. After banking a cool million in four years he can declare Victory and move on. Meantime he needs people who speak the educrat code to prop him up and mystify the board and public. Shovel money to the “experts” and teachers take the hindmost. Laughable if it weren’t so sad. Shameful and self-deluded authorities protecting their turf, duh!

  26. Dekalbite2 says:

    “The secrecy surrounding Michael Thurmond’s appointment as interim superintendent and the action of the current board to make him permanent without even conducting any search whatsoever also raises concerns”

    That is the worst of all. The ousted Board holding secret meetings to hire Thurmond so he could defend them at the Capitol. Then keeping all of the old Lewis crews around and getting reappointed without looking at any other candidates.

  27. thedeal2 says:

    @Fred, I guess I’m a pessimist (or a realist?) to doubt that only 2 school system employees were involved in the racketeering mess. I don’t think it’s possible to have such a complicated, sizeable criminal enterprise going on and only have 2 people in the know. I think the more we dig, the more we will find. The more people we can turn, the more we can truly clean house.

    Here’s who I want gone – everyone from the criminals to the bad apples. Anyone who worked under Lewis or Tyson needs to be evaluated for salary, suitability, and qualification for their position. Essentially, implement the audit that said we were badly organized, overstaffed, and overpaid.

    This system has a disease, and we are only giving it aspirin and band-aids. Yet, Fred, you seem to want to continue to treat the symptoms or pretend there’s nothing wrong. This system will progressively get worse and worse with the same diseased pigs running it.

  28. Oh yes! That’s quite another very important thing Thurmond could do to gain credibility and trust — order a salary audit! We have NEVER had one completed – and the one Johnny Brown attempted to do in 2004 showed gross over-spending on administrators (our current board chair included!) That audit was buried and we’ve never had one conducted since — even though Ramona Tyson promised one during her tenure as superintendent – complete with a timeline – that never got past ‘Go’. She must think we are the most gullible people on earth! She wins — still collecting that giant six-figure salary – while conducting the ‘response’ to SACS issues – much of which occurred during her tenure.

    In our old blog’s minutes from the September 15, 2010 ELPC meeting, this was recorded:
    Shayna Steinfeld asked her to unbury the 2002 salary audit done by Dr. Brown’s administration. It had been paid for but was never used. Tyson said she plans to look hard at CO salaries, and there will need to be a bridge between the ’02 audit and a newer audit. She admitted the audit got buried, and said one should have been done every five years (meaning there should have been one in 2007).

    Then, we transcribed Ramona’s exact words —
    Friday, May 13, 2011
    May 9, Part 2: Ramona Tyson’s report on the 2004 Ernst & Young audit and plans for a new audit
    Now today, as a part of the transitional plan, the next steps are to complete the following over the next 6-9 months with a direct focus on central office positions and administration salaries:

    By May 30, 2011, we will develop a request for proposal to conduct a compensation study partnering either with a college or university or a company that specializes in organizational structure/compensation study.
    By June, 2011, I will transition this plan to the new superintendent and I will include the documents that were found under the E&Y study for full disclosure and receipt to the new superintendent.
    By the end of June we will ask the legal team to review the RFP.
    By July of 2011, a public advertisement of the RFP will occur.
    By August of 2011, the RFP will be acknowledged with vendors that will reply to that RFP.
    By September of 2011, the RVP evaluation and vendor selection will occur.
    And by October, board approval and award to such vendor.
    

    All of this is subject to change dependent on the new superintendent, but I did want to give the board the complete commitment to follow through on the charge of seeing that the study is begun.”

    And there you have it. Nothing but empty promises. Lies. And the bad karma for letting down so many thousands of children over the course of a decade or so.

  29. howdy1942 says:

    @Dekalbite2, @thedeal2, @wordwall, @DSW – Very well said. I simply don’t see how the current administration and even the current school board can even think about moving on with so little trust and support by the public. I don’t see how any organization can continue for very long with such strong distrust. And I don’t think that we are being unreasonable to expect that a full investigation of those items delineated in the grand jury report and a full salary audit would be completed. We should be hearing from SACS any day know as to the results of its December 18 visit. I would expect it to show improvement. After outlining 11 very specific items last year, I would be shocked to learn that substantial progress had not been made toward improving each one. But the underlying ethical questions, the spending on lawyers, the questions about misconduct given the conviction of Lewis, Reid, and Pope, and the continued friction between the administration and teachers – all those remain. In fact, I view the suit by the teachers against the school system regarding breach of contract to be even more serious than the Heery case or any of the other legal issues that we had a year ago.

    @thedeal2 really put it very well – it is very difficult indeed to believe that such corruption as has been brought out in the conviction of Lewis and Pope could have been carried out without the knowledge and/or support of others in the administration and board. According to the testimony of Lewis, at least two members of the school board were aware of what Pope had done and what Lewis wanted to do about it. Who were they? What about others in the administration – what did they know? Why was Atkinson terminated (or forced to resign) in January and also not allowed to speak publicly? What happened in all of those “executive” sessions – the “metadata” can at least be share if not the names. I fully agree with @thedeal2 – the disease is just too rampant and contagious for only two to have caught it.

  30. former Dekalb parent says:

    why is Ramona Tyson still an employee? Until we rid the very heavy administration of all the dead weight, this system will NOT move forward. As a graduate of DeKalb County Schools in the 80’s, the hardest decision I ever made was to move my family to Gwinnett for a better education in their super huge but well run schools.

  31. dsw2contributor says:

    former Dekalb parent asked “why is Ramona Tyson still an employee?”

    I think Ms. Tyson gets a bad rap here on DSW2. She is actually leading DCS’s efforts to regain accreditation. I’m also told that she is doing many other things traditionally done by the Superintendent.

  32. thedeal2 says:

    dsw2contributor, but we already HAVE a superintendent, a very well-paid one. So we are paying close to half a million a year for Tyson and Thurmond, neither of whom have any superintendent experience prior to their DeKalb stints. Tyson was an utter disaster. She didn’t do anything that she said she was going to do, and she slashed the teachers even more. There is no reason we need a $200K project manager, which is all she is.

  33. dsw2contributor says:

    What I was trying to say is that Ms. Tyson is doing many things that the very-well paid Superintendent should be doing.

  34. Dekalbite2 says:

    @dsw2contributor
    “What I was trying to say is that Ms. Tyson is doing many things that the very-well paid Superintendent should be doing”

    So how do you think she is handling things? She was the superintendent before and from what you say she is the virtual superintendent now.

  35. It’s insane to me that Ms. Tyson presided over the worst financial debacle in DCSS history – our worst cost overruns ever – costing teachers furlough pay as well as pension contributions — along with the worst test scores from students in decades — YET – now she is tapped to ‘fix’ the problems with SACS? I just find it all shockingly ironic.

  36. howdy1942 says:

    If Ramona Tyson is having to do things that the superintendent ought to be doing, then Mr. Thurmond needs to step up or step out. Ramona’s duties should be spelled out in a valid job description and paid what others in the metro performing similar duties as her job description. We are paying Mr. Thurmond a $275,000 per year salary (not including the accessories such as car, gas, etc.). As I recall, we are continuing to pay Ms. Tyson $245,000 salary and I’m quite sure that she gets a car and other amenities.

    This points to a major issue at the DCCS – there doesn’t seem to be anyone performing in a position that has a valid job description and being paid a salary that may or may not reflect those job duties. As far as I can tell, Mr. Thurmond has created even more positions which also lack a job description and/or salary evaluation. I wish that members of the board would start requiring a valid job description and salary evaluation to be in place before it even considered approving a new hire. Do that for all positions and force Human Resources to do its job.

  37. @Howdy: Ramona’s salary was supposed to decrease to something less than $200k. We will check the salary reports – they are out now at the state’s website. Further, her salary isn’t the only outrage to us – it’s her pension boost, which is based on your highest 2 years of pay. The board made sure she had 2 years over $200k – even though she completely screwed teachers out of their pension boosts. She really should have worked on Wall St, IMO.

  38. dsw2contributor says:

    dekalbschoolwatch said – “Further, her salary isn’t the only outrage to us – it’s her pension boost, which is based on your highest 2 years of pay.”

    Yet, AFAIK, this blog has never addressed the huge boost Mr. Thurmond’s state pension is getting from him being DCS Superintendent.

    Mr. Thurmond’s two highest years will be $275k and his DCS position will get him at least two more years added to his creditable time. His Wikipedia entry (“written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject”) says he served three terms as commissioner, so I assume he had at least twelve years of creditable service before coming to DCS. (I don’t know if his time as a member of the GA General Assembly counts toward a state pension.)

    I think in his highest year as Georgia Labor Commissioner, he made just over $100k…. so his two years at $275k as DCS Superintendent is going to triple (or possibly quadruple) his pension payments.

  39. Very true contributor. We’re not sure how the state salary and the school system salary combine for a pension, but it seems right that they are both state pensions – the same fund. That’s why so many school system employees from DeKalb do the opposite – go to work for the state after retiring from DeKalb. Yes, extending his contract was a very nice gift – in so many ways. It’s no wonder he loves his job so much! $$$

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