Teacher Contracts

Good morning, All!

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

There are several issues to address this morning   so there is no confusion
or misinterpretation regarding DeKalb School Watch’s comments concerning
teachers and their contracts.  (A copy of the law governing teacher contracts will be placed in DSW Archives.) Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and have a seat.

1.  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.

2.  Several of us on the DSW staff have 20+ years of experience in dealing with the DeKalb County School System — as long-time parent volunteers, PTA officers, parent council officers and former employees of DCSS.  As such, our perspective may be different than yours.  After a great deal of deliberation we can no longer, in good conscience, suggest that teachers “stick it out with DeKalb County Schools” until things improve.

3.  There will be no improvement in student performance and achievement in DeKalb County Schools until there is a dramatic overhaul of the Central Office and the Board of Education, including but not limited to:

(a) replacing all Central Office personnel with a bare bones temporary staff until a budget fully funding the classrooms is approved first.

(b) fully funding the classrooms by bringing teachers up to their correct pay scale including withheld raises, withheld Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) contributions, payment for all furlough days, and paid pre-planning and post-planning days.

(c) fully funding the classrooms to include up-to-date equipment; current textbooks; current, abundant and robust technology; necessary supplies; and relevant field trips.

(d) after accomplishing a, b, and c (above), hiring only the bare minimum of Central Office personnel (with no contract), at starting salaries typical of those found elsewhere in Georgia (none paid more than 90% of the salary of the highest paid classroom teacher with the same degree and years of experience as the Central Office employee).

(e) with the exception of the superintendent whose salary should not exceed 175% of the highest paid classroom teacher in DCSS and schoolhouse principals whose salary should not exceed 110% of the highest paid classroom teacher with the same degree and years of experience as the principal, the salaries of all other employees should not exceed 90% of the salary of the highest paid classroom teacher with the same degree and years of experience as the Central Office employee).

(f) studying all the school board candidates in the upcoming election(s), then identifying and voting for the best school board candidate from your district.

This is “rip off the Band-aid®” time.  It will hurt momentarily, but ultimately leads to healing.

We completely understand parent concerns about losing teachers to other school systems who are willing to accord teachers the respect and salary they deserve and have earned.  However, we cannot and will not continue lying to DeKalb’s teachers and imploring them to stay until things improve.  Frankly, students are not well-served by unhappy teachers who feel taken for granted by parents and persecuted by inept administrators.

For the next few years parents and community members must step up and contribute time and money to halt classroom deterioration until Items 1, 2, and 3a – 3f (above) can be fully accomplished.  A suggested contribution of $100/student/family/year is a good place to start.  Give more if you can.  If that seems high to you, check out the tuition for private schools. If your school has a 501(c)(3) foundation, that is the place to contribute money to be used for supplies, technology and field trips so that it does not appear that teachers are receiving more taxable income than they really are.  And you get a credit on your income tax for a charitable contribution to a 501(c)(3) organization. If your school does not have such a foundation, now is the time to start one.

Parents and community members can also step up and volunteer their skills.  There are plenty of needs that can be handled by a volunteer outside of school hours (i.e., evenings and weekends).  If you are available during school hours there is even more to do.  Your child(ren)’s teachers can tell you exactly what they need and how you can help.

Each one tell one: If it is to be, it is up to me.

–William H. Johnsen



About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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43 Responses to Teacher Contracts

  1. concerned citizen says:

    Thank you, DSW; your statement will help every teacher and parent to make up their minds to reality. We have totally bombed out as a functioning school system, and the time to put our mouths where our money is now, right now. Conditions are not going to improve unless the functions you set are put into action. There is no hope for our teachers and children without total removal of all you have so correctly identified. I know it took a lot of courage for you to make this staggering, honest statement, and I thank you and encourage all teachers to do what is right for them – leave. There’s no reason Gwinnett needs to go to Alabama to recruit since there are still so many highly qualified teachers languishing in worn-out DeKalb.

  2. Word Wall says:

    The status quo is a no go….

  3. Well said….parents listen to what is being said by people with dealings with this do-nothing group! All they care about is their pay check!!

  4. Teachers Matter says:

    Wow! I’ve been in this county for over twenty years and have never heard the needs of teachers and students stated better. Thank you, DSW, for looking out for us. It helps to know that someone is-sad that it isn’t those in charge.

  5. idabelle25 says:

    Thank you DSW!!! It is glad that people are fighting this and speaking up when our employers are constantly working against us!

  6. teacher33 says:

    Wow! Thank you for your support! As a teacher of 33 years I have never felt such support! I can’t tell you how much it means to me. We have to sign our contracts soon, and the consequences for not signing or for breaking the contract to pursue other better paying jobs have increased in number and severity. I’m guessing they are afraid we will all leave and are trying to scare us. As a single mom it does threaten and scare me. But I truly am thankful that someone other than teachers understands what is happening to our children and to their teachers.

  7. IntheTrenches says:

    This blog is a Godsend!

    Thank you for your uncompromising support of the DCSD teachers. The demands you outlines above are spot on. No chance on God’s green Earth that the BOE would EVER limit the Palace’s staff and executives salaries based on a portion of the highest paid teacher but how else can the BOE EVER expect to be taken seriously when in claims to care about student achievement?
    I’d pay anything to be a fly on the wall if Thurmond, or whatever Friend and Family crony follows him, gets wind of being paid 175% of the highest paid teacher! Again, it will never happen but that’s the only way this system can claim to really care about education rather than scratching each other’s backs.

    Thanks again, DSW2!

  8. mike_p says:

    DSW2. I am a regular and frequent reader of this blog. On occasion, I contribute also. I have been silent for an extended period. This entry encouraged me to write again. Not a lengthy piece of my own, but a message of support. I agree wholeheartedly with your proposals. Thank you for setting them forth. I hope the proposals will be taken to heart, and enacted. Regardless, well done.

  9. DSW2Contributor says:

    Parents: HUNDREDS of DCS teachers have broken their contracts during the middle of the school year and left DCS. I don’t know the current number of teachers who have left, but it was approaching 500 the last I heard.

    If you have any pull with your Board representative, please, please, please — we are begging you — please convince your representative to ask Tekisha Ward Smith for the exact number of teachers who have broken their contracts. Please also ask them to pose the question during the public part of the meeting.

  10. firstgradeteacher says:

    Thank you. As teachers, well I will speak for myself. I love my students and I really like my school. It is bittersweet having to send resumes’ to other school districts. However, at some point you have to look out for yourself like everyone else. Things have to get better prior to all the good and experienced teachers leaving. Our students deserve good teachers.

  11. tracy says:

    I have always sent a ream or two of copy paper to my kid’s teachers. Now that my kid IS a teacher, I know even more about how much they pull out of pocket. Send them an Office Store gift card 🙂 and yes, do ask if you can volunteer to help in any way. Help grade papers, even! Those multiple choice tests are easy to check 🙂 180 kids per grading period – that’s a whole lot of tests.

    Ask the teachers what supplies or resources they need. Find a speaker to come and talk to a class about a career application of the subject matter. Bring them a sandwich 🙂 Come help clean the classroom. Dry erase markers. Tape. Ask how you can help – there are many ways!!!

  12. tracy says:

    And although I agree with most of this post, I am not so sure about the suggestion to cut the principals’ pay. I went through a lot of consideration about this back when Wayne Chelf was promoted and scapegoated at Lakeside, and I thought he was paid fairly at the new position, even if it was 30% more than his assistant principal job. I would expect a principal to be paid better than a veteran teacher, because you are paying for a skill set that is marketable in a business environment. I know some teachers who have advanced degrees from obscure places and longevity and still cannot communicate concepts effectively.

    As for the superintendent – I think the position could be filled somewhere between the principal’s pay and the current pay for the job. The majority of the central office positions did not exist 20 years ago, and probably don’t need to exist now. How many of these positions are the result of the “no child left behind” program? They increased far faster percentage-wise than student enrollment did over this time. Had we spent that money on classroom instruction and enrichment, instead of making sure that all students waited for the slower ones to catch up, would we have the number one system in the state today?

    The principle of “other people’s money” used to mean that one had to be very wise and far more conservative when spending it than when spending one’s own funds. Nowadays it seems to have morphed into seeing how much and how fast one can spend money that one does not have to replace.

    Remember all that has transpired at election time, and primary time is rapidly approaching. You have to register 30 days in advance of an election to vote. The primary is MAY 20 this year – you have three weeks to register!

  13. You are right, Tracy! Sooo many ways to help our teachers!

  14. Noah S. says:

    WSBTV channel 3 Comcast is covering DeKalb’s teacher contracts tonight at 11:00

  15. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – excellent, well-said! I saw where the new Atlanta superintendent cut administrative jobs in Austin by 25% – I like her already!! I just hope that we can change the entire school board next January while we still have some caring teachers. We can send a strong message on May 20 by voting each and every school board member out of office. That would be a clear warning sign to administrators to get their resumes in order! Perhaps they have a deputy superintendent in Austin that the new APS superintendent mentored! And I hope that they don’t know any sharecropper stories!

  16. howdy1942 says:

    I wish that all Dekalb teachers would simply refuse to sign this contract. That would send a powerful message to any potential replacements – I wouldn’t want to work for any employer that treated its employees with such blatant disrespect. This would force Governor Deal to get involved again and replace this school board. We couldn’t do any worse.

    The administration should stop and think about it – if they would provide leadership worthy of respect, then teachers would not be leaving at such a high rate. It wouldn’t have to resort to such negative actions as threatening teachers with penalties if they left because they would be far happier in their jobs than they are now. They wouldn’t have the incentives to leave if the administration would simply get its priorities in order. Rather than training this school board how to govern, a better expense would be to simply provide them with some basic training on how to treat others with dignity and respect. Do any of these people go to church? Did they ever hear of anything called the Golden Rule? I can’t remember ever seeing such a large number of people so essential to the accomplishment of a mission being treated so poorly! At least not for very long!

  17. Mr. Chips says:

    While we are at it lets not ignore the fact that there will be another major task for teachers next year as we switch to a new grading program. Esis will be gone but not the person who selected it. She is still around and still giving advice. As to what was learned from the Esis disaster? Apparently nothing the new program has been bought and training begins in May but NO ONE ever asked a single teacher if they had any familiarity with the new program.

    For the record, some teachers have used it before and surprise………..they don’t like it very much. I’ll bet Ms. Tyson doesn’t have to worry about furlough days or board TSA suspensions.

  18. We have been unable to confirm whether or not Tyson and/or the superintendent and/or other senior administrators have continued to receive contributions to their TSA accounts. If anyone has actual documentation that shows whether or not Tyson, Thurmond and/or other senior administrators continue to receive TSA contributions, please send it to us. Either scan it and e-mail it to DSW from your home computer or mail a copy to DSW’s post office box.

  19. Horray for Liz Artz at WSB-TV: “Some DeKalb teachers outraged at new contract clause” (Posted: 10:51 p.m. Sunday, March 30, 2014)


  20. Miss Management says:

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

  21. Stan Jester says:

    Board Meeting Tomorrow (Tue 4/1)
    DeKalb Board of Education Work Session (2pm)
    Community Input Session (5:45pm)
    Business Meeting (7:00pm)

    Feel free to sign up for public comments and refer to the data in these two graphs:
    Funding Per Student in DeKalb

    Spending Per Student in DeKalb

  22. Hmmmm says:

    From DCSS E-mail:
    “Additionally, please note that the Professional Standards Commission does not uphold June 1 as the date for which any educator may request a release from contract with penalty. This has been a myth among educators for some time. You may contact the Professional Standards Commission at 404-232-2500.”

    From PSC Website:
    “The Commission has decided that it would not sanction an educator for Abandonment of Contract if:
    The Educator submits a letter of resignation prior to June 1st for the upcoming school year.”

  23. Ella says:

    Teachers in other school system are getting raises this year.

    I know that some of the school board members were very upset last fall when so many teachers left at the last minute. I remember Marshall Orson being very verbal about the issue of teachers leaving at the last minute. However, teachers have always been able to leave a school system by July 1st normally without a penalty. The $750.00 is a pretty strong charge when in reality the contract never has the correct salaries for the teachers and the school system always has a clause so they can get out of the contract.

    I have heard that DeKalb County had approximately 800 teachers leave the system last year. If this is true that is a very large number of teachers to leave in one year.

    I also noticed that DeKalb County is having teachers sign their contract much earlier than other school district. DeKalb County really is working hard to keep the teachers they have.

  24. AnotherDayInParadise says:

    From O.C.G.A. 20-2-211 (b):
    “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.” ( http://web.lexisnexis.com/research/retrieve?_m=8a81f3621df27da8b97e1fc005667dd5&docnum=1&_fmtstr=FULL&_startdoc=1&wchp=dGLzVzt-zSkAz&_md5=31eb6b7f4608e483f98206b4235d9058 ).

    So, GaPSC might be a myth, Tekshia, but state law isn’t. Her reference to O.C.G.A 20-2-211 (a) may be flawed because the code section referenced states nothing about “legal & binding”, as she references in her letter. It states: “(a) All teachers, principals, other certificated professional personnel, and other personnel of a local unit of administration shall be employed and assigned by its governing board on the recommendation of its executive officer. Minimum qualifications for employment of all personnel may be prescribed by the State Board of Education unless otherwise provided by law. Employment contracts of teachers, principals, and other certificated professional personnel shall be in writing, and such contracts shall be signed in duplicate by such personnel on their own behalf and by the executive officer of the local unit of administration on behalf of its governing board.” That’s it. Nothing about holding an employee to a contract. Just about the fact that the contract must be signed by the employee and the “executive officer of the local unit of administration on behalf of its governing board”.

    I’m not an attorney (and I welcome any posters who are to correct me if I’m wrong), but I don’t see why they would reference a date and not discuss the legalities of contractual obligation if that is what they meant.

  25. Cedar says:

    Amen, I say amen.

  26. SACS AdvancED Standards for Quality School Systems (http://www.advanc-ed.org/webfm_send/289) includes this standard:

    Indicator 4.1 – “The system engages in a systematic process to recruit, employ, and retain a sufficient number of qualified professional and support staff to fulfill their roles and responsibilities and support the purpose and direction of the system, individual schools, and educational programs.”

    Clearly, there is no “systematic process” in DCS.

    It is time for everyone to start complaining to SACS again. Their contact information is:

    9115 Westside Parkway
    Alpharetta, GA 30009
    +1 678.392.2285

    Toll-Free Number:
    888.41ED NOW (888.413.3669)


  27. concerned citizen says:

    DSW : The supt and other top administrators do receive TSA, but I can’t prove it. More than anything I know, I know that there are plenty of people who know it and could prove it. However, getting them to admit it is the problem; they’re all so vested! Do any of us believe this crew would admit to the TSA contributions? They do receive TSA contributions. Will someone please come forward?

  28. concerned citizen says:

    OK, Ella, instead of responding to Howdy’s questions, you have chosen again to side with the Palace. It’s embarrassing how duplicitous you are! As a teacher and taxpayer, I distrust you totally. Vote for You? No way.

  29. @ Ella — you said and we quote: “DeKalb is really working hard to keep the teachers they have.”

    Is that a typo? Did you really mean to write it that way? If so –

    Define “working hard.” Do you mean creating a budget fully funding the classrooms first? If not, why not? Do you mean fully funding the classrooms by bringing teachers up to their current pay scale including withheld raises and withheld Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) contributions plus interest? If not, why not? Do you mean fully funding the classrooms to include smaller class sizes; up-to-date equipment; current textbooks; current, abundant and robust technology; necessary supplies; and relevant field trips? If not, why not?

    You are running for a school board seat, Ella. We expect to see thoughtful, meaningful, fact-based answers to these questions — not trite, undefined platitudes.

    So, yes, Ella, DCSS is “working hard to keep the teachers they have” — in much the same way as the Iron Curtain “worked hard” to keep people against their will in the Soviet Union and in much the same way that the Berlin Wall “worked hard” to keep people against their will in East Berlin.

  30. howdy1942 says:

    Yes, it’s time for us to start communicating with SACS once again. There is apparent widespread disgust with the DCSS. The plight of teachers has only worsened over the past year and little seems to be getting done about fixing that. In fact, our teachers are suing the DCSS and that is about as far from addressing the expanse that exists between teachers and the administration as I can imagine! The bloat still exists in the administration. There has been no movement at all to initiating a search for a permanent, qualified superintendent. Other that Heery, legal expenses are still out of control. The crescendo for charter schools and independent school systems is only growing louder. Negative reports in the media are once again emerging. There has been no financial audit of any kind and no effort has been made to answer longstanding questions regarding where we actually stand. The administration has shown its disdain for the public by seeking their “input” when it (the administration) has already made it decision. And neither the school board or the administration seem to be the least bit concerned.

    Before I retired, it was very common at our company for every manager to be reviewed by his/her supervisor, his/her peers, and his/her subordinates – we called it a “360 review”. At the outset, we all feared that review, but after a few years, we looked forward to receiving that input because it made each of us better managers and better leaders. This review was conducted by an outside firm and the specific results were shared only with the individual being reviewed. “Metadata” was shared with managers at all levels of the corporation. Our company and our people were the great beneficiaries. I just wonder, really wonder, what the impact would be on the DCSS administration were they to try it. Who know, things could only get better!

  31. teachermom says:

    Thank you again DSW for dedicating not one but two posts to the plight of teachers in DCSS.. This is the dirty little secret of Dekalb. The administration continues to rob the teachers blind in order to guard their own bloated salaries and benefits. It’s as simple as that. And if anyone wants to say “shame on you” say it to the board and superintendent. They have shown no interest or inclination to even discuss this critical issue.

  32. Don McChesney has posted his answers to Howdy’s questions on his blog. His answers are very detailed. He obviously thought about your questions Howdy — good job!

    Read Don’s responses here >> http://www.donfordekalb.com/2014/03/25/325/#comment-6492

  33. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Looks like a good opportunity to meet John Oselette and Don McChesney …


    Please join Don McChesney candidate for District 2 DeKalb Board of Education and John Oselette candidate for District 4 DeKalb Board of Education on April 2 from 10 AM until 11:30 AM at Einsteins’s Bagels located at 2870 N. Druid HIlls Rd. Atlanta. It is located right at the intersection of N. Druid Hills Rd. and LaVista Rd. across the street from Toco Hills.

    Come have coffee with the candidates and ask them questions about the upcoming races. We look forward to seeing everyone.


  34. Word Wall says:

    Honestly, if you describe the Social Security (lapsed annuity) situation for Dekalb County teachers to people — they are really shocked! I think most Federal judges would find the whole cockamamie set-up to be illegal and unconstitutional….

  35. thedeal2 says:

    Does anyone on this blog know a former central office person who would provide information about TSA for palace people?

  36. concernedmome30329 says:


    DCSS has long suffered because of a lack of whistleblowers — however I think employees paystubs/w-4s etc are public record. Simply pick a few and do an open records request

  37. former dekalb parent says:

    that only tells their annual income…I know that many other employees who are NOT teachers are counted as administrative staff are NOT receiving TSA contributions…and why are we still paying Ramona Tyson a dime…she needs to go! NOW!!!

  38. thedeal2 says:

    Concerned mom, I have never heard of paystubs being published. Pay stubs would reveal much more information than is required to be disclosed, I would think. I was thinking more of a former central office employee who left because he or she was disgruntled or pushed out. I know one, but I don’t have her current contact information, only her former DeKalb contact information.

  39. The only person we know of would be former CFO Perrone. However, he tucked his tail and got out of Dodge in record time. Does anyone know where he went?

  40. concerned citizen says:

    But there are others besides Perrone, who have long ago retired who know about this practice. I don’t know how it could have been kept secret all this time. Some personnel at TSA would know what has happened but may have been made to be silent. We could look back at recently retired upper-level Palace people, such as R. Halford and Robert Freeman, Crawford Lewis (maybe he would give the information in exchange for more reduced prison time, probably Adkinson, Brown, Ramsey, Smith and others who are disgruntled with the Palace. I suggest Ramoona as a likely candidate because she has the information and should be under pressure to resign.

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