John Oselette qualifies to run for the District 4 seat

[We were sent this press release by the John Oselette campaign. We will print any other bios or press releases candidates choose to send to us at the blog. Email us at ]

John Oselette qualifies to run for the District 4 seat on the DeKalb Board of Education.

John is a parent, active school volunteer and a strong advocate for children and teachers. He is dedicated to reforms in DeKalb that put the classroom first and protect the taxpayer from wasteful spending.

John has demonstrated his commitment to education in DeKalb through his involvement in the Hawthorne Elementary School Council and as a founding member of the Hawthorne Foundation. He served as President and Vice President and chairs the Technology Committee.

John is an Emmy® Award winning Editor and Producer of media content whose clients include TNT, TBS, NBC, Lifetime, and The Learning Channel. But it was when his son first entered a DeKalb County School in 2009 that he became a full time advocate for a more responsive and efficient School System that puts the classroom before the central office.

John and his wife Lauren have one child attending public school in DeKalb. John has personally experienced the condition of our schools and the challenges of parents and teachers. He has a vested interest in the success of DeKalb’s schools and will bring a no-nonsense, important, and effective voice to the DeKalb Board of Education

Contact: John Oselette
(770) 713-8188

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39 Responses to John Oselette qualifies to run for the District 4 seat

  1. Allyson Stone says:

    I’m glad he is an advocate for education, but what business background does he bring to an organization charged with overseeing a multi-million dollar operation?

  2. stanjester says:

    That brings up a good point. What makes for a good board of education representative? Here are the resumes of prior board members. Is their background commensurate with their performance on the board?

    Walker – State Senator, PhD History from Duke, Teacher for 15 years
    Womack – Bachelors from UGA, VP of Trailways, President of Georgia Courier, VP of First Financial Group (Fortune 400)
    Bowen – BS Accounting, Attorney and CPA, Director of U.S. Transaction with Hewlett Packard, JD from Georgia State University, College of Law
    Redovian – BA degree in Finance from Ohio University, President and Owner of Atlantic Southern Products
    McChesney – BA History, Masters in Education, Teacher for 34 years
    Jester – BS Economics, Actuary
    Edler – MS Business, BS Accounting, CPA
    Speaks – Masters, Ed. S. and Ed. D in Education. Special Ed teacher for 25 years

  3. howdy1942 says:

    He has a child attending Dekalb schools. He has a focus on the classroom and teachers. He wants to increase the emphasis there and away from the central office. Looks promising!

  4. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Does Mr. Oselette advocate for a formal Superintendent search? If not – That will be the indicator of a rubber stamp.

  5. John Oselette says:

    @Allyson Stone

    Jim McMahan, the incumbent in District 4, has a pretty impressive business background himself. However, his voting record would suggest otherwise. I can assure you, I would never have voted yes to spend $1 million for the purchase of cars for central office admin making 6 figures. Nor would I have voted to spend another $50k on attorneys fees.

    I think the taxpayers and our children could use a little more common sense and a lot more backbone from their BOE.

  6. John Oselette says:

    DeKalb Inside Out:

    Absolutely. I advocate for an immediate search for a qualified Superintendent with a record of academic achievement.

    Here is the link to my campaign’s Facebook page:

  7. midvaledad says:

    As much as I agree we need to begin searching for a new superintendent, y’all are not thinking about it in the right way.

    You need to be emailing and calling the current BOE & superintendent because a search will easily cost $75K and it needs to be put into the next fiscal year’s budget.

    It is obvious the current board isn’t going to initiate a search, but it would be responsible of them to budget the money so a search can begin in January 2015 when most of them are gone.

    Since they don’t think that far ahead, it is up to the “stakeholders” to show them how.

  8. Word Wall says:

    You really have to wonder who gives the thumbs down* to remarks like these. Check out the Facebook website and refreshing priorities of the candidate, Osellette. Dekalb schools are not out of the woods yet…, not by a long shot…(I know, let me guess, thumbs down…..whatever troll)

  9. howdy1942 says:

    Facts: McMahan voted for Thurmond as “interim” and then voted in favor
    of making him permanent; he voted to fund Walker’s legal defense; he voted to hire those lawyers to provide “governance” training; he voted for Atkinson’s “severance” package; he voted to buy those administrators new cars; he voted to keep the school board at 9 members; he is quoted as saying how well the administration
    is doing at restoring the the public’s trust; he left Nancy Jester to dangle all alone without a single word of support and then voting for Melvin Johnson to be board chair; he voted to fund those lawyers to fight our teachers in court. Well, I could go on, but my point is obvious.

  10. Exactly Stan. Folks, you have to remember – these are the resumes of the people who were removed from the school board by the Governor. There is a lot of talk about the qualifications of their replacements, however, in truth, on paper, the dismissed members had stronger resumes, more education and more years of experience. Odd, isn’t it?

  11. @midvaledad: You raise a good point. Did the board put money in next year’s budget for a search? They only extended Thurmond’s contract for one year. Were they intelligent enough to put a plan in place beyond that? Or perhaps, are they simply planning to extend his contract yet another year? Or worse, are they abdicating responsibility for the difficult, but critical task of initiating a search?

  12. Word Wall says:

    Oselette. The Facebook page contrasts photos of the Palace with mud paths and trailers used as ” classrooms” …

  13. John Oselette says:

    Of all the talk about candidates with business acumen (remember, Jim Redovian was endorsed by EduKalb over Nancy Jester in 2010), it is quite remarkable to me that I have seldom heard any of them, or their business backed groups, articulately link economic development to the importance of a successful, productive school system. I believe their idea of economic development is supporting candidates that will cast the necessary votes that continue to pour money into the companies and law firms at the receiving end of the spigot. The children and the taxpayers are getting the overflow.

    This recent story posted on DSW2 is an unpleasant look in the mirror.

  14. John Oselette says:

    Word Wall:

    That is one post that highlights the absurdity of the DCSD priorities, particularly with the management of SPLOST funds.

  15. Disgusted in DeKalb says:

    Howdy, I love your detailed list of McMahan’s actions as board member. McMahan promised change and all he has done is maintain the status quo.

  16. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    Absolutely agree about McMahan. We need real change now.

  17. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Jimmy Mac ran on a campaign of “transparency”. Jim commented on DSW here, “streaming ALL board meetings and archiving them …. is an item that I have been advocating for everyone … Isn’t this the type of leadership we want?”

    The veil of secrecy has never been so obfuscated at the school district. PDS 24 hasn’t had an archived video in 9 months.

    To paraphrase a sitting board member, “Is this the type of leadership we want?”

  18. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @midvaledad, you raise a good point about allocating money in the budget in next school year for the superintendent search. As I recall, Thurmond’s contract ends in June 2015. It would make sense for the next fully elected Board to take that as their first major task. I would probably start the process in March 2015 to allow new Board members to be first seated then meet together and collaborate on the criteria they are seeking in a candidate. They will have their plates full.

    It is interesting that there is an article in the 3/24 AJC regarding the superintendent search process in Cobb County and the possible lack of transparency. While I understand and respect the Open Meetings Act along with the publics right to know, I hope that does not compromise the ensuing search process. Hopefully there is another Dr. Robert Freeman type candidate out there for DeKalb.

  19. BTW — Happy Pi Day everyone!! We hope your schools are in full celebration!!

    Pi Day Celebration
    Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π. Pi Day is observed on March 14, since 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form. (Wikipedia)

    Click here for the official website >>

  20. midvaledad says:


    I have not seen a draft of next year’s budget. The board doesn’t get to write the budget. Their budget is under the superintendent’s office. So, it will be Thurmond who decides when the search for his replacement gets funded and then started.

  21. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Time to start mass emailing the boe, the supt. office about the budget allocation for the search. Start asking the questions and we will be heard. They hate it when the lowly folks, I mean the parents and taxpayers, start screaming about an issue. Then they have to deal with it instead of ignoring it. Public comments time.

  22. howdy1942 says:

    Hate to say this but I think that you are wasting time dealing with this board and this superintendent. They have not listened this past year (or ever!), they are not listening, and they are not going to listen nor do they really care about what any of us think. I’ve given up on them!

    I’m looking forward to the election in May and to a new board focused on the classroom taking its seat next January. I’m encouraged by the slate of candidates and a 7-member with the real possibility of a new, positive agenda. Let’s all hope.

  23. Another comment says:

    Channel 2 just had a thing about the Bridgeman ? Guy running against the board chair having a criminal record. He got very defensive when confronted. I just caught the end of it.

  24. Another comment says:

    Out of a $1 billion dollar budget, finding $75k for a Superintendent search is peanuts. That really doesn’t have to be budgeted, it should just come out of the HR line item.

  25. Hey! How about just forgoing the newly secured legal services of McKenna, Long and Aldridge – the law firm selected by Thurmond to help manage the board and system? They are $50,000 per month! Two months without them would easily pay for a search. Six months would cover the new super’s salary for a year!

  26. Here’s a repeat of an old comment from the board meeting on the issue >>

    On the subject of lawyers — remember when — Michael Thurmond hired McKenna, Long & Aldridge to do board governance training? Remember the board meeting at which there was a whole lot of tension after Thurmond asked to extend their $300,000 contract (which had already doubled from $150,000) for another $600,000? Well, he did. And we’re still paying them as well! So – I stand corrected – we currently have THREE law firms on retainer! That’s more that we had when Elgart admonished the old board for having too many lawyers! — MLA does board governance. Josie Alexander does HR [because we had to have her since she’s African-American. Gene Walker insisted on it]. And Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan is general counsel. Of course, on top of this, we have several law firms working on independent issues as well as (State Rep) Ron Ramsey heading our internal affairs and legal department, with a very large budget all their own…

    A memory refresher can be found here >> An interesting little thing that happened at Monday’s meeting
    Posted on October 10, 2013

    Something strange happened at Monday’s Board meeting. And it piggy-backs on something that happened a while ago. You see, back in February, 2013 the Board met in closed door “executive” session to discuss a never previously discussed ‘legal matter’ – at least that’s what the agenda stated. We all wondered what legal matters they were once again discussing, but since it was a closed session, we were not allowed to know. However, soon after, a request was made and approved for a $150,000 contract with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP for “Installation of Governance Evaluation & Accountability Systems”, which apparently went over budget by 100%, for a total of approximately $300,000 spent. [Click here to view this agenda item.]

    Now, Monday, October 7, a request was made and approved for $600,000 for the “Extension of Contract with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP for Installation of Governance Evaluation & Accountability Systems”. There was much discussion, during which as you can see in the video clip below, Michael Thurmond exclaimed in exasperation, “This is not for legal services!”

    [Go to the post and view the video here >> Time: 23:10]

    …Watch Thurmond accuse the board of micromanaging and insulting him at 49:20. View the final decision at 51:56.

    View the entire meeting and read detailed notes at Stan Jester’s FACT CHECKER by clicking here.

    Thad Mayfield asks some great questions and Thurmond is visibly irritated. He wants to know the ‘deliverables’ of the contract. He wants to know exactly what he wants done, because this contract doesn’t say. Thurmond does not have answers. He looks very, very defensive and full of rambling excuses. He concedes nothing. But in the end, he plays the ‘micromanaging’ threat card – and gets his way [with the help of Dr. Morley – and 6 yes votes, 2 abstentions, 0 no votes]. Not a team player in this example whatsoever. No respect for his 9 bosses either. Read the printed transcript at the Fact Checker link in order to get a full idea of how this went down. It gets especially interesting when Jim McMahan tries to put out the idea that the super can approve this project $50,000 at a time each month on his own without board approval (sneaky, Jimmy Mac!)

  27. Word Wall says:

    Midvaledad# your comment has broader implications. The appointed board failed to bring urgency or serious checks and balances to the School System. Taxpayers and stake holders expect the new board, Jester, Oselette, to take more control of the Agenda, by rejecting spending and other inside commitments, and by forcing issues onto the agenda ( Classroom size limits, addressing the Social Security Annuity SCANDAL, and basic textbook and teacher retention). … Like the Druid Hills Cluster duck, the search for a certified super will test the new, new board. Stan Jester and John Oselette at least “read the blogs….”

  28. Word Wall says:

    And further, these five issues should form the hammer and anvil for the board’s new Superintendent. Classroom size, pay rates for teachers, addressing federal Social Security or its equivalent, textbooks and board control over selling off properties all need to be dealt with. So far, Dead Silence….

  29. concernedmom30329 says:

    I hate to burst anyone’s bubble — but the reality in GA is that school boards are essentially powerless (except to cause havoc as demonstrated by DeKalb) except for the hiring of the Super. Last year, the City of Atlanta school board voted to lower class size and it never really happened.

  30. Word Wall says:

    The 2015 Board should use the selection process to guarantee action on these issues.

  31. Ella says:

    I agree with Stan. I am puzzled by the amount of money being spent behind the scene regarding governance. I do understand the problems the school system has had with governance. However, the price we are paying to another attorney firm is extremely high when we are paying for the school superintendent and assistant superintendents to run the day to day operations of the school. I would hope these very highly experienced employees would be able to guide the school board.

    I saw this section of the board meeting when it happened and Thurman was extremely frustrated by the questions. He did not want any questions from school board members about the large sum of money being spent to help govern the school system.

  32. Word Wall says:

    Ella … that’s because shoveling money to consultants and elite edu-crats is their answer to everything,…. and classroom spending stays on ice…

  33. Ella says:

    Word Wall, I am concerned about the approximately 500,000 being paid on top of the school superintendent’s salary to help him make decisions regarding governance issues. I do understand we had a problem with governance. However, this organization is owned I believe by Baker (an attorney group) who is a friend of Mr. Thurman and I am sure some of the other old and new school board members.

    Mr. Thurman has worked hard to try to get our school system’s standing back. The Governor last Tuesday night at a church function in DeKalb indicated Thurman has done a good job. However, I am not sure about paying a large amount to an attorney group to help with governance. We are already paying too high of a price for our legal fees in DeKalb.

  34. momfromhe11 says:

    I recall Marshall Orson boasting at a meeting at Emory Presbyterian that he found the governance group and it was suggested to him by his friend Michael Thurmond (this was prior to Thurmond being appointed super.)

  35. @ Ella — Please be very specific about what Thurmond has done to “try to get our school system’s standing back.” Because you are running for a seat on the school board, everyone will be interested in your specific observations and evaluation of Thurmond’s “hard work.” What specific accomplishments did the Governor name when he said Thurmond had “done a good job”? Or was his statement unsupported and simply a politically motivated pat on the back?

  36. Stan Jester says:

    I’m concerned that at the 10/07/2013 Business Meeting, the board authorized the payment of $50,000/month from June 2013 to October 2014. Only $150K of that has been reported. Our disbursements are woefully under reported.

    Furthermore, at the 04/03/2013 SACS Meeting, Mark Elgart was incredulous saying, “There is no other urban school system in just the metro area that has two law firms on retainer.”

    Well … we now have three law firms.

  37. concerned citizen says:

    Ella, I’m surprised at your praise of Thurmond. Your previous postings have indicated a profound sense of dismay at Thurmond’s and his minions’ awful lack of leadership and caring for the students and teachers. SO, please tell us all as you are running for the board your true feelings about the way things are going, or not. I would not only not vote for you if your current statement is the way you believe, but I would also campaign against you vigorously. So, what’s up, Ella?

  38. concerned citizen says:

    Ella, days have gone by with no response from you re your praise of Thurmond. May one assume your praise is “the way it is”? Added to your lack of a response, I don’t admire the way you have conducted yourself on this blog. Please stop the pity party you are immersed in. It’s boring…also, get real! I surely can’t imagine you on any school board unless or until you know what it is you are trying to say!

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