DeKalb County School Board Candidates up for election on May 20, 2014: A Review

We have done our best to compile as much information as we can on the candidates seeking election to the school board on May 20. Remember, the two super districts no longer exist (which is why you see two incumbents in District 4), and all seven other seats are up for election to a 4 year term (beginning January 1, 2015). This is a critical juncture. Please review the candidates carefully and make an informed, thoughtful vote — for the future of the children of DeKalb.  Add your thoughts and experiences to the discussion following this post.

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Leadership DeKalb has set up a website focused on the school board election. It highlights all of the candidates for DeKalb School Board. Some have videos and some have written answers to a set of questions. To read more click here >> www.itsforthemdekalb.org

Below are the candidates and their websites by district >>

DISTRICT 1
Stan Jester
Website: www.stanjester.com

DISTRICT 2
Don McChesney
Website: donfordekalb.com

Marshall Orson [Incumbent]
Website: www.marshallorson.org

DISTRICT 3
Jerrie D. Bason
Website: www.electjerriebason.com

Michael A. Erwin [Incumbent]
Website: www.michaelerwin.org

Jarrod Jordan
Website: www.jarrodromainjordan.com

Atticus LeBlanc
Website: www.electatticus.com

Willie R. Mosley, Jr.

DISTRICT 4
Karen Carter [Incumbent]
Website: KarenforDeKalb.com

Jim McMahan [Incumbent]
Website: votejimmymac.com

John Oselette
Website: JohnOseletteBOE

Ella “Coach” Smith
Website: electellasmith.com

DISTRICT 5
Pia “Chaz Afzal” Bhatti

Jesse “Jay” Cunningham
Website: jaycunningham2014.com

R. Alexander Fitzhugh
Website: fitzhughfordekalb.com

Thad Mayfield [Incumbent]
Website: thadmayfieldboe.com

Vickie B. Turner
Website: electvickiebturner.com

DISTRICT 6
Bridgemon Bolger
Website: bolgerforabettertomorrow.com

Melvin Johnson [Incumbent]
Website: www.friendsofmelvinjohnson.org

DISTRICT 7
Kim Ault

Lee V. Dukes

Joyce Morley [Incumbent]
Website: joycemorley4schoolboard.webs.com

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We are only one week away!

VOTE ON MAY 20

or early vote through May 16. Locations and hours can be found by CLICKING HERE.

If you were to vote today, who would you choose for each district? We are taking a simple straw poll. Please vote for the candidates you like best — regardless of whether you live in their district or not. You can only vote in each district one time though.

District 1:
We’re going out on a limb here and predicting that Stan Jester will win handily.

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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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32 Responses to DeKalb County School Board Candidates up for election on May 20, 2014: A Review

  1. anothercomment says:

    Well, I can’t vote in DeKalb, but the pole takers voted as I would. Lets hope that DeKalb does indeed vote as this pole is currently indicating. Even though a couple of these candidates don’t have Web sites. Folks must feel they are better than the incumbent be it voted in or Deal appointment.

  2. howdy1942 says:

    I also hope that this poll is accurate. It it is, then we will have a new day in Dekalb County and we will get our school system on the road up instead of down.

  3. It’s just an unscientific straw poll – but we do hope it’s indicative of how the votes will go. We will keep the polls up until the election. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to participate. And encourage them to vote!!!

  4. Now, this is interesting…

    South DeKalb meeting Saturday focuses on housing
    By April Hunt

    The South DeKalb Improvement Association will host a housing expert at a meeting Saturday to discuss property values.

    Lyonel LaGrone Jr., director of enforcement at Metro Fair Housing Services, argues that banks artificially keep appraisals low in the southern part of DeKalb, compared to other parts of the county.

    The meeting runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Acts of Faith Baptist Church, inside Glenhaven United Methodist Church, 4826 Glenwood Road, near Decatur.

  5. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    I am in district 4 and will be voting for John Oselette. I like his platform the most and don’t agree with the voting history of the two incumbents.

  6. concernedmom30329 says:

    You know, I wonder what percentage of a house value school quality impacts. Because almost without exception, on paper anyway, most high schools in DeKalb don’t look very good. What family in their right mind would buy a home say in McNair or Clarkston High school?
    So I am not sure that the values are artificially low — I think they, for the most part, reflect realistic demand.

  7. anothercomment says:

    It seems like some of the worst incumbents are out their on the pole voting for themselves repeatedly now. Like Joyce Morley and Micheal Ervin. That would be a big tragedy if they win. The biggest tragedy of all if the “I” promoter who can’t shut up Joyce Morley wins.

    The only incumbent who was earned himself a seat is Thad Mayfield.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    I’m not sure that banks have all that much to do with housing appraisals. It has more to do with what properties in a particular neighborhood are selling for and that is based more on what buyers are willing to pay for those properties. And that is based on schools, on the appearance of property, and on crime. Next Tuesday, we all have an opportunity to greatly improve our property values by electing a new school board. Let’s start there on May 20 – doing that will help all of our property values whether you live in North, Central, or South Dekalb.

  9. dsw2contributor says:

    A very telling photo posted on Jay Cunningham’s campaign website:

    (There better not be any thumbs “up” under this post!)

  10. DSW2Contributor says:

    concernedmom30329 — Zillow.com, the real estate website, actually has a schools search tool right on the maps it shows of houses for sale.

    Zillow’s maps have a plus sign (to zoom in), a minus sign (to zoom out), and a graduation cap – clicking on the cap lets you select the school types (Elementary, Middle, High, Public, Private, & Charter) and to select a minimum “Great Schools Rating” score. Zillow then shows you the houses for sale that are served by those types and quality of school.

    I imagine if you set the “Great Schools Rating” high enough, zillow wouldn’t be able to show you any houses in certain areas of South Dekalb

  11. @anothercomment: The poll ‘should’ place a cookie on your computer so that you can’t vote twice.

    BTW, if our poll is any indication, we could end up with a couple of run-offs.

  12. Thanks dsw2contributor! Besides Vernon Jones and Jay Cunningham, who are the others in this photo and where was it taken?

  13. concerned citizen says:

    Great and revealing photo. Great job, dsw2contributor.

  14. Another comment says:

    Who are the others in the photo or are they just a bunch of closet cases?

  15. Another comment says:

    Sorry, your poll is letting people vote as many times as they want, just go on to another story and back. You can even do it within 1 minute. I suspect those in Joyce Morley and Micheal Ervin’s camp are doing it. There pole numbers changed dramatically, no one else’s did. It is a little suspicious, so I tried it. Everyone on this site and every site has been talking about the issues with Morley. So when I first saw her loosing by a substantial margin I thought great.

    The same thing with Ervin who basically doesn’t contribute anything. Running against someone so positive and a Yale Graduate in Atticus. Then all of a sudden Ervin is leading.

    But all the other districts the votes remained the same. So then I decided to try it both today and yesterday. yes I can vote multiple times. People would be big fools to vote for Joyce Morley. They would doom themselves voting for that fool that likes to hear herself speak in meetings.

  16. Thanks for testing the system. We were just restating what Poll Daddy says about their polls. The Patch uses the same program. So, we’ll just treat this as originally stated – a ‘straw’ poll. No Biggie — except in their own little minds.

    Can you imagine how desperate someone must be to cheat on a straw poll just to make themselves look better? That shows a complete and total lack of character and honesty on the part of the candidates who cheat and their supporters. It gives you an idea of what they would be willing to do for themselves and for their friends-and-family if voted into office.

  17. Truth Seeker says:

    I attended the school board candidate forum at Briarlake Baptist Church on Thursday evening. It was an eye opening experience. It was the first time we could see a contrast amongst candidates because the format allowed for it.

    The most interesting exchange occurred between District 2 representative Marshall Orson and challenger Don McChesney. Mr. Orson directly questioned the veracity of a statement Mr. McChesney made about the cars purchased for administrators at a cost of $1.6 million plus. Mr. McChesney quickly pulled out the board minutes and read what Mr. Orson had voted for. It was very clear that the current incumbent must have forgotten his vote. Then in another segment Mr. Orson vehemently defended his vote to increase the SPLOST IV construction allotment to Fernbank elementary of $500,000. Two other candidates from other districts then jumped all over his choice suggesting that he protects Fernbank at the cost of services to other schools. It was quite interesting.

    My feeling about the candidates was that all the incumbents said the same thing. We are good we have fixed the things that are broken and you ought to stay with us. The incumbents however, had trouble defending their somewhat flawed record.

  18. concernedmom30329 says:

    Orson also got his way and spending to IB is being increased. I hope the voters in Briar Vista realize that spending for Montessori was not also increased. Not such a Don fan, but really, really tired of Orson.

  19. Word Wall says:

    Atticus Leblanc is my choice. He’s in district 3 and ready for the COSU…

  20. concernedmom30329 says:

    What is COSU?

  21. Another comment says:

    Leblanc is a Yale Graduate. He has an Urban planning background, as well as an Architecture Degree. This kind of background would be a great benefit to the 100 plus school facility. It could also help bring in some new thought from the forward thinking Yale Urban Planning incubator. thought processes of whether K -8 schools would be best in some areas, but in other areas K -6 with 7-9 middle schools would be better. The whole county is too big for the same model of schools from the top to the bottom and from east to west. I believe that the Yale school was into looking at more consize live able, workable communities with schools, offices and living combined all mixed income. Sort of like East lake. seaside in Florida is a design that in a year round model ( I believe the Yale architects where Kevin roach and John Dinkalo who were first of this concept 30+ years ago! one of my best friends from college got to work for this esteemed firm every year.

    Having some one like Mr. Leblanc with his expertise should certainly prevent any more of these lets fire the world wide highly competent Heery Mitch, so we can bring in more black firms that Pat Ried could manipulate to keep the pay checks going to her friends. Just a whole bunch of nonsense. Their are many competent minority firms out their now, we really don’t need to do set as sides anymore for any project less than $75k, just to teach them and get them in the door. Dekalb , city of Atlanta, the Airport and Fulton County should not be in the business of making the cascade Rd Elite or the South Dekalb Millionare elite a few more millions off of a few more projects.

    We need a Yale graduate with Architectue, Urban planning, and community service on the board. With all the splost a, and decisions on down siding or right siding our facility he would be the right board. Member.

  22. @concernedmom30329 COSU is the acronym for Central Office Shake Up. It’s what I said needed to be done, and would be done if I am given the chance to serve on this board. As a current PTSA President, current School Council Member, and the only candidate in my race with a child still in the DeKalb County School System (7th grader), I see what is happening on a daily basis and I know that unless we have changes at the central office, then we will continue to get decisions that are not about better education, but more about administration.

    I understand why most people on this blog support one of my opponents, and it goes to one single vote that you may have wanted to go another way. I would ask you to remember all of the other votes that were made. It’s one thing to ask a lot of questions, but if they are not the RIGHT questions, then its just not productive. Let me give you two examples and then I will close.

    On a March 3rd meeting, there was a report that we had close to 98% of our teaching positions filled. Many of you pointed out that my opponent asked the questions about getting the list in an excel file, and that he asked the question of when we reached that point etc…. The question that I had at that time because I was at the meeting was this…. If we have close to 6500 teachers and we have 99,000 students do the math. That would be a ratio of 15.23 to 1. So why do we have 30+ to 1 ratios in our schools? So the question that should have been posed to the HR director would have been…. How many of those 6500 have direct contact with the students on a daily basis….how many of those positions are long term subs, or people teaching on a provisional certification? You see it’s easy to just throw questions out there, but when you are in the schools everyday, and you see a classroom of 40 students (Yes when a teacher is absent, and you don’t have a sub, they split the students up among the team – middle school) then do you think that a proper daily education is taking place.

    At that same meeting on March 3rd, technology presented to the board, requesting more money for upgrades because the internet speed was so slow at schools. They said that they needed more $$ to fix the problem. My opponent asked more questions about future cost, and what would the financial impact be etc…. Once again, this is the disconnect. When you are IN the schools, you understand that the internet is ONLY slow for certain sites. When you g to the DeKalb County BOE Website, it is lightning quick. You may not know it (joke), but DeKalb BLOCKS and FILTERS many sites, and what happens on a network is that when you have so many keywords, filters, and things that you are blocking, then that slows your access. Think about it like this. If you type in http://www.anywhere.com the filters check the entire site to see if ANYTHING that DeKalb has blocked exist ANYWHERE in the site. It also checks the links, from that site as well. Once it deems a site super duper safe, it will the allow access (This is the quick version of how net security works) so if anywhere.com has a link to DSW2 website, then the software has to block access to that part of anywhere.com so that you can’t get to DSW2.com So NOW you can see why that little hour glass keeps turning. I’m for safe surfing, but this is selective surfing based on what DeKalb deems proper.

    All of that just to point out that we need to know the right questions to ask, and not allow people to fool us into spending MORE MONEY on stuff we do not need. That money could have went to classrooms.

    So the COSU was something that I said would happen, which is why I have been shut down from many Principals of schools that I have helped for years. I have had people stop talking to me because they said it was career suicide. So yes the Central Office would rather NOT see me on the board because I don’t have anyone I need to “hook up”. In fact I know that we need to unhook a lot of people.

    Now this is not some last minute revelations, you can email the moderators of this blog, and they can confirm that I sent them this information months ago, but asked them not to put it out in the public because I didn’t want to give the the candidates in my race time to come up with answers to the questions I would pose. I asked these and many more questions at our debates which is why I went from the just the PTSA Parent to someone that they knew was a serious candidate. If you have 19 minutes, listen to the It’s For Them DeKalb interviews they are on my site with mine auto starting at http://www.fitzhugh4dekalb.com and you can see the differences. I will help move this county forward with education being first, not administration

    In 3 days, you can help me begin the COSU! Now that would be a great t-shirt. Maybe even better than Mrs. Jester’s shirt 🙂

    R. Alexander Fitzhugh, Candidate
    DeKalb Board of Education District 5

  23. Yes, we can confirm that Alexander Fitzhugh sent us this information regarding his candidacy and his goals as a board member months ago. He also asked us to not publish the information at that point. As we always do when anyone asks for confidentiality, we honored Mr. Fitzhugh’s request to not publish the information he sent and we appreciate his trust in us.

    Just so you know, because we were fooled by Jim McMahan (someone we thought we knew pretty well) during the last school board campaign and election, we made an editorial decision to not recommend specific candidates this time. We do continue to recommend NOT voting for the incumbent in your school board race.

    Please vote for CHANGE (COSU — Central Office Shake-Up) in the election, Tuesday, May 20. Polls (voting places) are open from 7 AM to 7 PM. You have been assigned to a specific voting location. Some have recently changed. If you are unsure about where to vote the Georgia Secretary of State’s office provides that information and it is easy to access. Go here.

  24. COSU is an acronym for Central Office Shake-Up — and that means CHANGE which DeKalb County Schools desperately needs.

  25. ps @ R. Alexander Fitzhugh — that would be a great shirt — “Let the COSU Begin!”

  26. giftbearer says:

    I wish all candidates had a website or at least a Facebook page or free blog, as it makes it difficult for us voters to do our research on who will be the best in this position. Does anybody know where I can find info on Kim Ault and Lee V. Dukes? It’s really important that all candidates state in writing somewhere what it is that sets them apart from the rest.

  27. giftbearer says:

    I had to look pretty hard but I just located some really good comparison videos of the 3 candidates from District 7 interviewed by someone with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The interviewer asks them excellent questions! By the time you watch them all you’ll have a good feel for each candidate, where they stand, and how they would go about improving things; http://www.itsforthemdekalb.org/district7.php

  28. Pingback: The July 22, 2014 school board runoffs: District 3 | dekalb school watch two

  29. concerned citizen says:

    Good job of explaining your position, Fitzhugh. You are right about Mayfield; he never intends to stand up for the children and teachers. He is all about F&F, and any attempt to deceive taxpayers that he dislikes the way Thurmond and the most of the Palace crew operate is phony. He is just as low-down as Melvin Johnson and the rest of the current board.His questions are just slightly shy of dishonesty. He does that well: talking around but never willing to commit to kicking the Palace out. He’s oh-so-polite to everyone but he’s lying through his teeth. If he’s re-elected, he will show his true nature: jackal

  30. Pingback: The July 22, 2014 school board runoff election: District 5 | dekalb school watch two

  31. Pingback: The July 22, 2014 school board runoff election: District 4 | dekalb school watch two

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