If You Sign This Contract …

… then there is some swampland in south Georgia, with an adjoining cesspool, that you might be interested in buying to fund your retirement.


We now have seen the contract offered by DeKalb County Schools to teachers. It is even worse than we thought.

Can you spell I-N-D-E-N-T-U-R-E-D   S-E-R-V-I-T-U-D-E?

Just when it seems that DeKalb County Schools’ overpaid administrators and inept school board members can’t be any meaner or colder to our teachers, DCSS kicks it up a notch. And there has been NO comment or pushback from sitting board members who are running for an elected board seat. Or from any other candidates, except Stan Jester, for that matter. Did the rest of the candidates skip the board meeting? In fact, it appears that a ridiculous $750 fine for teachers who “break” their contracts was already set up between the board and the bloated, overpaid Palace People prior to the most recent board meeting. At the least, it appears that the “Love Doctor”, Joyce Morley, worked with her sidekick, Tekshia Ward-Smith, to come up with this ridiculous contract.

As always, we strongly suggest that you seek the advice of your attorney before signing this contract – or any other contract. If you can see an attorney through your professional educators’ organization or through legal benefits paid for by payroll deduction or any other payment plan, by all means do so now.

Our commonsense advice*, though, is:
Do NOT sign this mean-spirited, unfair and possibly illegal contract.
DO attend every teacher employment fair in the area, resume in hand.

If you are an excellent teacher – especially an experienced excellent teacher with some recognitions such as Teacher of the Year and/or STAR Teacher – your skills will be in high demand by other neighboring school systems. Go to their teachers fairs and see what they have to offer. (Remember to negotiate that they give you full credit for the years you have worked for DCSS.  It is to their benefit to do so since DCSS has already paid into the Teachers Retirement system for the years you have worked for DCSS.)

Moving to another school system means you will probably earn more money and get regular raises, as well as receive the respect you are due. Also you will re-enter Social Security which will be a big financial benefit when you retire. Don’t take our word for it (even though we know). Call Social Security today (1-800-772-1213), make an appointment to speak in person with a Social Security counselor. Find out about the financial hit you will receive at a time in life when you can least afford it by staying with DCSS and not being with an employer who pays into Social Security (or keeps their word concerning a compensatory tax sheltered annuity.)

Meanwhile, for those who have not seen the contract most certainly approved by Thurmond, Ramsey, Ward-Smith and the DCSS school board, here are a few pertinent excerpts:

“This contract salary may be decreased according to any decrease in the State Salary Schedule or any significant decrease in funds from any source due to unforeseen shortfalls in revenue below revenue amounts projected at the time of this contract so as to justify a reduction in the amount for salaries.
The rate is also subject to an adjustment upward or downward according to the Georgia Quality Basic Education Act, O.C.G.A. §20-2-130, et seq., applicable to the classification and type of service to which the Employee has been assigned. The Board shall have no obligation to make up any deficit beyond such sum as may become uniformly applicable to all employees of the same group, classification, type and length of service. The Board and the Employee agree that the salary shall be subject to an adjustment on a pro rata basis for the number of days the Employee does not work during the scheduled days of duty due to late employment, temporary relief from duty by Board action, absence without approval, non-compensated absence with approval, absence when there is no accumulated leave benefit to cover such absence, early separation, or adjustment in official work schedules by Board action.”
“Except in situations in which the District, in its sole discretion, deems to be an emergency, the Employee shall not terminate this contract without written consent of the District. In the event that the Employee terminates this contract, whether by formal notice or the failure or refusal to continue to perform assigned duties, without such written consent, the District shall give notice of such wrongful termination to the Professional Standards Commission. Due to the uncertainty and impossibility of accurately establishing the actual damages that the District will suffer as a result of the Employee’s wrongful termination of this agreement, Employee shall pay to the District the sum of seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750.00) as liquidated damages. Employee further agrees that seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750.00)is a reasonable estimate of the actual damages including but not limited to costs of recruitment, advertising, professional development, and interviewing potential candidates, the District will suffer in the event of Employee’s wrongful termination of this agreement and agrees that this amount may be deducted from the Employee’s final paycheck or any other funds owed to the Employee that are in District’s possession or control. The District, however, further agrees that it will not make any deduction that will reduce the Employee’s wages below minimum wage required by law.”

Cold.  Very cold.



*As we said, this is our unsolicited opinion and advice. We are not attorneys. As always, DeKalb School Watch suggests that you obtain the opinion of a qualified attorney concerning your teaching contract (or any other contract) before you sign it.  If you have access to competent legal advice through your professional association or as an employment benefit for which you pay via payroll deduction, NOW is the time to use it. In fact, we recommend that you contact ODE if  you are a member and ask them to write a clarification on DeKalb’s teacher contracts and Georgia law.

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77 Responses to If You Sign This Contract …

  1. The Beginning of the End. What a boost this must give employee morale. Not only “don’t let the door hit you…” if you are living paycheck to paycheck like many county employees, now you will have to miss a mortgage payment if you want to move to a better plantation!

  2. teachermom says:

    Thank you DCSS FOR DUMMIES for posting the law (in the other post). I suspected that not giving an actual salary amount was illegal. It is the same as “leaving blanks.” Sadly for some, they are so dependent on their salary that they must sign. The risk is too great financially, especially for those near retirement who may feel too old for the marketplace. We had less than two weeks to sign this from the time it was given (due to technical problems). This also may violate other labor laws. I feel that a lawsuit will eventually be filed. I also think that many will sign and that there will be a mass exodus in the summer again. If you are getting an automatic $5.000.00 raise $750 is peanuts. I think they would be wise not to report anyone to the Professional Standards Commission for leaving as that would guarantee a lawsuit. I also wonder what the PSC has to say about how these contracts are written.

  3. concernedmome30329 says:

    Great graphic.

    For what it is worth, I suggest that every parent barrage the board of ed with emails about how wrong this is (and question the legality).

    Remember with the exception of Coleman and Campbell, they are all running for reelection, and teachers vote. Remind them of that.

  4. Stan Jester says:

    Ask your board and administrators tonight
    Parent Councils United Town Hall Meeting
    7:00-9:00 pm
    Thursday, March 27, 2014
    Tucker High School, 5036 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084

    Collaborative town hall meeting where you can talk to and ask questions of DCSD senior staff including:

    Trenton Arnold, Region III Superintendent
    Dr. Kathleen Howe, Deputy Superintendent
    Quinn Hudson, Communications Director
    Dr. Alice Thompson, Deputy Superintendent
    Stephen Wilkins, Chief Operations Officer

    Board candidates will be in attendance.

  5. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    As scared as I am about losing good teachers at my child’s school, we do have a good slate of candidates for the board, many of whom are focused on smaller classes and treating teachers better. I truly appreciate my child’s teachers and hope they stick it out with the hope that good change could still happen.

  6. DSW2Contributor says:

    Check out Gwinett County School’s list of Job Fairs and Locations for 2013-2014:

    Gwinett is recruiting in Kentucky and Pennsylvania this week, and in Alabama, Ohio and at Georgia Southern next week.

    And here is Gwinett’s job application page:

  7. DCSS FOR DUMMIES posted this on March 26, 2014 at 9:28 PM in the prior thread:


    Here is some very important information that DCSD employees who are considering leaving the district should be informed about: Georgia School Law 20-2-211. Annual contract.

    (b)Any other provisions of this article or any other laws to the contrary notwithstanding, each local governing board shall, by not later than May 15 of the current school year, tender a new contract for the ensuing school year to each teacher and other professional employee certificated by the Professional Standards Commission on the payroll of the local unit of administration at the beginning of the current school year, except those who have resigned or who have been terminated as provided in Part 7 of Article 17 of this chapter, or shall notify in writing each such teacher or other certificated professional employee of the intention of not renewing his or her contract for the ensuing school year. Such contracts when tendered to each teacher or other professional employee shall be complete in all terms and conditions of the contract, including the amount of compensation to be paid to such teacher or other professional employee during the ensuing school year, and shall not contain blanks or leave any terms and conditions of the contract open. A letter of intent or similar document shall not constitute a contract and shall not be construed to require or otherwise legally bind the teacher or other professional employee to return to such school system. Upon request, a written explanation for failure to renew such contract shall be made available to such certificated personnel by the executive officer. When such notice of intended termination has not been given by May 15, the employment of such teacher or other certificated professional employee shall be continued for the ensuing school year unless the teacher or certificated professional employee elects not to accept such employment by notifying the local governing board or executive officer in writing not later than June 1.

    Delayed effective date. — Subsection (b), as set out above, becomes effective July 1, 2014. For version of subsection (b) in effect until July 1, 2014, see the 2013 amendment note.

  8. formerdekalbteacher says:

    Contracts are supposed to protect BOTH parties, aren’t they? This one protects DCSS without providing one bit of assurance to teachers. Just awful.

  9. wiserthanmyself says:

    The “hit” you take for working at DCSS is major if you have social security $$ from previous jobs to collect when you retire, because of the “Windfall Elimination Provision.” See http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf for more info. If the Board TSA hadn’t been eliminated, that plan would supplement Social Security, as was intended when DeKalb and other government entities were granted permission to not pay into SS. However, because the Board maintains that the pension plan substitutes for the Board TSA, we have lost our social security substitute. If you work in a county that pays into Social Security–and come on, folks, this is one of the few Federal programs that works–you will receive Social Security, your pension, and any 401K or 403b that you participate in. In DCSS you just get the pension and your 401K/403b. Do the math, and get a job somewhere else. Few teachers seem able to grasp this point and to realize the magnitude of the hit they’ll take miles down the road. “Retirement planning” in DCSS is a joke and these simple facts are obfuscated–or maybe the “counselors” don’t understand “defined benefit” either. Believe me, I’ve been there, and the financial loss is huge.

  10. DCSS FOR DUMMIES says:

    @DSW, Georgia School Law (2013) states that teachers may cancel their contract by July 1st. I have a problem with this as DeKalb never indicates that to teachers. Also, it also states that our salary must be clear. At this point, we don’t know how much we will be making.

  11. DCSS FOR DUMMIES says:

    We need to get the word out that what they are doing is illegal. Please, how can we get the word out to teachers. Many are waiting on other districts to call as we speak.

  12. “The Board and the Employee agree that the salary shall be subject to an adjustment on a pro rata basis for the number of days the Employee does not work during the scheduled days of duty due to late employment, temporary relief from duty by Board action, absence without approval, non-compensated absence with approval, absence when there is no accumulated leave benefit to cover such absence, early separation, or adjustment in official work schedules by Board action.”

    So if there is an adjustment in the official work schedule by the Board, or temporary relief from duty by Board action, and teachers are asked not to report to work then they do not get paid for those days???? Am I reading this correctly?

    If the entire thing reads like this, then I can’t imagine what an attorney would say about it. I worked in contracts over a decade ago and back then, for a contract to be legal, there had to be equal consideration given to all parties named in said contract. I can’t imagine that has changed. Has anyone sent a copy of this contract to a news outlet?

  13. @ DCSS for Dummies
    Teachers who are waiting on a job offer from other districts should seriously consider that job offer if one is tendered. Caveat: make sure that the district you are going to is part of Social Security AND negotiate if necessary, but make sure the district you are going to recognizes your TOTAL years of service as a teacher (including total years with DeKalb County Schools). That way you will (1) be paid commensurate with ALL your years of service as a teacher; (2) receive your full pension from the Teachers Retirement System; and (3) receive your full Social Security benefits (if you work for and retire from an employer who is part of Social Security). We cannot emphasize enough how very important those three things are.

  14. concernedmome30329 says:


    Which systems pay into social security? I thought that the state retirement system supplants that…

  15. Teachers and other school employees who want to stay informed and know the truth should be regular readers of DeKalb School Watch and Stan Jester’s FactChecker. To paraphrase an African-American proverb: Each one tell one. Spread the word among your co-workers: Read DeKalb School Watch and FactChecker daily.

  16. We do not have a list of the school systems that are part of Social Security. You might try checking with Social Security. The phone number to call is in our current DSW article.

    No, the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) does NOT supplant Social Security; it supplements Social Security.

    DeKalb County Schools Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) was designed to provide retirement funds in lieu of (to supplant) Social Security. For example, a DeKalb County Schools employee who has worked only for DCSS could retire with NO Social Security credits. All that retiree would have is what they would receive from TRS and their TSA account, if they have one. Further, it is unlikely, but any pension fund (like TRS) could go belly-up. It happened in Detroit, for example.

    If a DeKalb County Schools retiree does have Social Security credits from a previous job — or intends to draw spousal benefits from Social Security (50% of the spouse’s Social Security benefit) — the Windfall Elimination Provision kicks in and the retiree is penalized an estimated 30% – 40% of the Social Security benefits he/she would ordinarily receive if DeKalb County Schools was part of Social Security.

    Both Social Security and the Teachers Retirement System will help you estimate the dollar amount you can expect to receive when you retire. Do the math. How much does it cost you to live now? How much can you expect to receive from Social Security, the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and DeKalb’s Tax Sheltered Annuity (if you even have an account with TSA)? Can you live on that?

    Each one tell one.

  17. Stan Jester says:

    Issues – TSA – definitions, timeline, etc …

    Due to TRS, it looks like in the late ’70s all the Georgia school districts were given the option to opt out of Social Security. Furthermore, it seems that DeKalb Schools in ’79 said they could put money into a TSA account instead of social security. It was put to a vote and the employees overwhelmingly chose TSA over Social Security. At the time, other school districts made other decisions. TSA is a defined contribution plan like a 401K. Gwinnett decided to enter into another defined benefit plan like TRS. Some school districts, I believe, decided to stick with Social Security.

  18. Word Wall says:

    “Shall not contain blanks or leave any terms and conditions open” — the law is clear and the contract is in clear violation…..

  19. Historically Speaking... says:

    Because of slavery, labor, especially manual labor, was devalued in the South. Because of the ongoing presence of a cheap labor pool, even after the abolition of slavery, and the lack of large-scale industrial development, unions (highly corruptible, of course) remained weak. Because of this — and a strong dose of unfiltered Protestantism — the “right to work” notion took hold. Because the “right to work” applied also to the public sector, which came to be perceived in the south as “black,” that sector remained even weaker than it would have been otherwise vis-a-vis the private sector.

    Now, because of all the attendant historical racism — both legal and cultural — and the large-scale abandonment of the public sphere by people with resources, a faction of blacks comes to power in DeKalb county and, using race as a cover, (re)institutes … indentured servitude, which is exactly what existed in the southern colonies before Africans were imported as chattel.

    In the pre-slavery colonies, white indentured servants proved too difficult to control, since they were considered human and were thus eligible for citizenship. The Indians, for their part, ran away and/or died. Thus was born the logic of importing, for purposes of free labor, an isolated population that looked different and whose humanity was denied (hence the origin of the “n” word).

    Such phenomena continue to resonate, even today, when looking at the evolution of the DeKalb county school system.

  20. Dekalb Homeowner says:

    What a contract! Is the superintendent treating teachers like sharecroppers?

  21. Just tired says:

    Teachers are so numb and morale is so low, these contracts are just another kick in the gut. Can not wait to retire from this school system. To be treated so horribly by your employer and to be so devalued as an educator has taken its toll. I am just beaten down.

  22. Pay Raise says:

    I’m so glad that I will not have to put up with DeKalb County School System/ District next year. I chose not to sign my contract and will see an increase in my pay (in a neighboring county) to the tune of $5000 dollars. While interviewing with my future school, I was asked why I was leaving my school. I told them that I was in an excellent school, but in an “unstable county”. The all-knowing nods of agreement sealed my decision to leave.

  23. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Completely off topic…can I just say, I am now completely jealous of the APS. What a catch! Ya see board? There are folks out there who are actually QUALIFIED to run a school system, with a similar student count and budget. It’s time for the board to start looking. so jealous…I know it’s not nice.

  24. bettyandveronica1 says:

    And any one who votes for the Luv Doctor based on her hype and not her actual body of work on this board is definitely uninformed and not interested in changing the direction of this school system. She is not in my district, Unfortunately I can’t vote against her!! I would stand in line to vote again if I could just to vote against her. She is unqualified and very unprofessional. We don’t need board members who are interested in feeling. We need members who are interested in action, relief and repair.

  25. Word Wall says:

    The goal is improving graduation rates and raising test scores — so what works? Endless data surveys, observation protocols, TKES, SLOS, pullouts and more rounds of “thinking map” training? …OR..offering actual classroom teachers a solid middle-class professional salary with normal Social Security? Simple question…

  26. @B&V: Yes, Atlanta stayed focused and was able to find and hire a fantastic new superintendent!!

    Atlanta Public Schools names new superintendent

    The sole finalist to become superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools is Meria Carstarphen, 44, the superintendent of the Austin Independent School District for the past five years.

    Carstarphen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive interview Thursday that she looks forward to the challenge of managing the Atlanta district, which she said is in “turn around” mode.

    “I’m not naive about what it takes to turn around a school or a school district,” she said. “It will take some heavy lifting.”

    Born and raised in Selma, Ala., she started her career teaching in the Selma middle school she attended. She later became superintendent in St. Paul, Minn., and was the chief accountability officer for the Washington, D.C. Public Schools.

    “I’m a daughter of the deep South,” she said. “The South is very important to me. It’s a place that I love.”

  27. concerned citizen says:

    Great for Atlanta but a bummer as usual for DeKalb educators, children, and parents. When oh when will enough be enough for us to cast off this yoke of stupidity that holds us prisoners? To Pay Raise – good on you!

  28. Nikole says:

    Dekalb is so out of touch. Going to APS means I’d actually be on my proper step, which means I’d actually make $12,000 more there than I do in Dekalb. So $750 means nothing to those that end up getting an increase in another county. And I believe the date to resign without penalty is actually June 1st.

  29. @ Nikole — You are correct. The date to resign from DeKalb County Schools without penalty is June 1.

  30. dsw2contributor says:

    BIG RED FLAG about new APS SUPERINTENDENT — According to this blog (https://engagingideas.wordpress.com/tag/collective-bargaining/) from February 27, 2012 (two years ago), Meria Carstarphen worked for Michelle Rhee in Washington, DC.

    Here are four articles about the allegations of cheating happening in DC Public Schools under Michelle Rhee:

    Daily Kos – “Erase to the Top — Michelle Rhee’s DC Cheating Scandal” (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/14/1201734/-Erase-to-the-Top-Michelle-Rhee-s-DC-Cheating-Scandal)

    Esquire: “Michelle Rhee’s Terrible Awful Day” (http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/michelle-rhee-cheating-scandal-041213)

    Washington Post – “Why not subpoena everyone in D.C. cheating scandal — Rhee included?” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/12/why-not-subpoena-everyone-in-d-c-cheating-scandal-rhee-included/)

    Huffington Post – “Michelle Rhee Cheating Investigation Memo Renews Calls For Further Probe Of D.C. Schools ” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/13/michelle-rhee-cheating-investigation_n_3072568.html)

  31. Word Wall says:

    NEWSFLASH: Teachers should go ahead and multiply their “per diem” by 186 — just to check if the new “salary” meets the mandated State DOE minimum for degrees and years of experience….. the new Board should immediately give teachers a Six Percent raise — since 6% is the employer portion of Social Security that the Palace has been dodging… (the last three years without any annuity payments at all)….but I have heard Henry County is nice, they are very interested in education and classroom issues.

  32. concerned citizen says:

    Nikole, that kind of money makes leaving DeKalb a no-brainer. Word Wall, I hear nothing but good things about Henry County, and they love ex-DeKalb teachers and administrators. I believe we’ll see another major turnover again this year, despite the lies of Smith and the Luv Doc! BS is all they know after lying finally peters out…you can only lie so long in face of the facts.

  33. actionnot words says:

    The contract is terrible and open ended as it was last year. However, why would you encourage our good teachers to leave? I believe in our teachers and am an advocate for them but, if they go what are our children left with? I have been an involved parent year after year and have seen the mistreatment and exodus of our teachers. We can moan, complain and advise but if you have a child in this system your perspective may be a bit different.
    I ask you to put your energy in another direction, what can we do to retain our teachers and make their environment desirable and atractive to others?
    Or, because it’s been so bad for so long have we collectively decided to wave the white flag?

  34. howdy1942 says:

    It really troubles me when I see anyone treated the way that the DCSS is treating its teachers. If this cannot be defined as abuse, then it sure comes awfully close. How can SACS, parents, residents, and others ever expect our school system to get better when the DCSS administration seems to be at war with its teachers. Has the administration ever thought about talking to our teachers, discussing the issues as they see them, and then seeking input from the teachers? There might just be some common ground for improvement. In my experience, I found such dialog to be very constructive, often producing new and better ideas than I had ever imagined, and leading to a much more highly motivated organization that produced results that exceeded expectations.

    What does the Director of Human Resources see as her most important function? How about the Director of Finance? How about the superintendent? Isn’t the bottom line to motivate our students to achieve greater levels of accomplishment? And how can you do that unless you take steps to address the basic needs of teachers, listen to teachers, and see what you can do to development and motivate them to achieve higher levels of performance? And just what are you doing to make Dekalb County a place where outstanding teachers would want to live and teach in our schools?

    Were I a board member, those are some of the questions I would ask of a new superintendent.

  35. howdy1942 says:

    Looking and listening to the new Atlanta School Superintendent, I am left to wonder what would now be happening had the Dekalb School Board, rather than just hiring an “interim” and making him a “permanent interim”, initiated a search like Atlanta did. I read the new Superintendents bio as well as what those in Austin said about her and it appears that she is very hands-on and focused on the students. She is an educator and not a lawyer nor is she a politician. She taught in Selma, Alabama – she started in the classroom! She identifies with teachers and with students. What a contrast with the DCSS. The Atlanta Public School System has set an example for the DCSS board to follow. We don’t need any more Crawford Lewis, Ramona Tyson, Cheryl Atkinson, Michael Thurmond types – we need someone who has performed well in the classroom and at all previous assignments. At $275,000 per year plus gracious financial incentives, we should be able to find someone like that who is looking to take on a challenge of a lifetime. The DCSS is in bad shape and has improved little, if at all, under the leadership of Michael Thurmond. And we need to elect a school board that will place the search for and hiring of a new school superintendent based solely on qualifications as the top priority. Do that and everything else will get straightened out.

  36. Free from da cab! says:

    I was one of the rats who jumped ship from DeKalb last summer. I am very happy where I am now. $750 is a small price to pay for JOY & PEACE!!!!

  37. Concerned Dekalb Mom says:

    DSW2Contributor…Dr. Carstarfen left DC in 2006. Michelle Rhee arrived in DC in 2007 and stayed until 2010. Not sure what you are trying to connect between the two…

  38. Concerned Dekalb Mom – Do you have a source for when Dr. Carstarfen left DC? The blog I cited above claimed that Michelle Rhee was Carstarphen’s boss.

  39. decaturmax says:

    With property cakues up at least 15 percent year over year, there is no excuse not to have a financial teacher retention plan. My bet is they announce a raise after the best have left. They will then say they are rewarding loyalty which is more important to the central office than quality.

  40. hopespringseternal says:

    @actionnot words: “Or, because it’s been so bad for so long have we collectively decided to wave the white flag?”

    Yes. This is the part where we start eating our young. Things are bad for teachers (the retirement and contract issues are very real), they’re bad for students. So what is advocated here? Exit Stage Right. Or Left. Leaving these kids in the dust is what will also quicken the dismantling of the system and make the desired case for charter clusters, cutting up the district, whatever the secession-du jour happens to be. And actually makes the citizens no better than palace people, because that means the students have no one to fight for them.

    To the teachers: “hang I there” isn’t working out for you. I understand that. Individually, each of you must do what’s right for your families and no one should treat you like dirt just because you have stewardship over a child’s learning. But to those who strongly encourage a mass exodus?

    Shame on you.

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