It’s Groundhog Day — AGAIN! — in DeKalb County Schools

This was your one chance DeKalb County.  Never again will there be an opportunity to have a clean sweep of the school board and you blew it.

You voted for same-old-same-old. In every district, except district #1, the incumbents garnered the most votes.

You voted for a board that supports a bloated central office.  You voted for ignoring corruption.  You voted for continued ineptness.  You voted for greed.  You voted to continue treating teachers disrespectfully.  You voted for cover-ups, secrecy, and non-responsiveness. You voted for a board that endorses the administrative leadership of DeKalb schools.

In addition, you essentially told anyone in the future not to bother spending their time, energy and money running for a school board seat the old-fashioned, American way – by grassroots campaigning. You weren’t listening. You are too busy and too apathetic to be bothered to find out who these candidates really are and what they stand for. You just ‘bought’ the media message pushed out by the board and the superintendent that ‘all is well’ now and they have magically fixed everything! Come back and tell us you believe that after the next round of test results and graduation reports. Come back and tell how happy you are with your child’s new ‘temporary’ teacher – placed there by an insider temp agency paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ‘supply’ teachers – as if they are office materials.

If you think anything will change for the better now, you are sadly mistaken.  Why should the same system administrators who drove DeKalb County Schools into the ditch do anything but more of the same?  You told them you like it! Or worse, you let them know that you simply don’t really care.

  • Only 54,973 voters in DeKalb County decided the fate of a billion dollar enterprise.  Want statistics?  Here they are:  10% of the eligible voters in DeKalb County voted.  In fact, the number of voters equaled approximately 55% of the number of students in DeKalb County Public Schools.
  • Only 24,815 people voted for a clean slate and a chance to save DeKalb County Schools.  That is less than 5% of the eligible voters in DeKalb – a group about ¼ the size of DeKalb County Schools student population

DeKalb County, you were so apathetic that the number of voters did not even equal the number of public school students.

  • If you voted for an incumbent in the school board race – shame on you!
  • If you did not vote at all, no excuse is valid – shame on you!



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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64 Responses to It’s Groundhog Day — AGAIN! — in DeKalb County Schools

  1. EAV mom says:

    I know the results are frustrating, particularly the pitiful turnout rate. However, the bright note is that in several districts the incumbents are forced into runoffs. While they may have gotten the most votes, more than 50% of voters did not vote for them. Now our goal is to turnout the vote in July and get some new blood on our board.

    I’m in District 3 and was mainly just grateful to see that Willie Mosley Jr did not make the cut. He is absolutely no different from Sara Copelin-Woods.

    Instead of being frustrated that Erwin didn’t get ousted, I am instead going to be reinvigorated in getting Atticus LeBlanc elected. In fact, I have already reached out to him to see how I can help.

    We can all be frustrated and give up, or we can continue to work to make a difference. I will never understand why the vast majority of people relinquish their precious voting rights, but I for one will continue to try to implement change in any and every way I know how.

  2. Great to hear EAV!! We agree!! These candidates need heavy support – in terms of your time, energy and money. It’s not easy in the least to run a true campaign for any political office. Please support these candidates – vigorously!!

  3. bettyandveronica1 says:

    We knew it was doomed when the vote was scheduled for May instead of with the General Election. Whoever came up with that nugget knew what they were doing.

  4. Only District 3 and District 5 will have meaningful runoffs. District 4 will choose the lesser of two evils — either McMahan or Carter. District 4 will not have a meaningful runoff.

  5. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Good golly. Who is the troll with the thumbs down?

  6. Ella says:

    First of all there is nothing evil about Karen Carter. She is educated, knowledgeable, caring, and a good choice for district 4 school board candidate. She is someone I have gained a great deal of respect for since getting to know her the last two months. There is absolutely nothing evil about her. She has no DUIs. She does not use illegal drugs. She does not hang out at places a school board member probable should not hang out. She did not attend colleges or universities but instead has many degrees from universities. She is an ethical and professional class act.

    John is a great guy. I enjoyed meeting him.

    Now dekalbschoolwatch you indicate in your previous post that if I had not ran in the district 4 race, then John O. would have been in the run-off. This again was inappropriate at best and based on no sure facts and based on no definite truths. I had ever right to get into the race and you have every right to feel as you feel. But this is just how you feel. I understand you are bitter your guy did not get elected on in the run-off, but this is really taking it a little too far just like the article regarding Marshall Orson. It is indication of being a sore loser. I realized early in the race that the supporters I might have had were also supporters of Jim McMahon and Karen Carter. Jim actually hangs out with many of my husband’s high school friends. It was tough for many of these friends. Both Jim and Karen are also able to get into the schools also as setting school board members. They go to graduations. There go to school programs and are introduced. They are invited to speak at Civic Associations in the community. Chances are never good that a candidate can unseat an incumbent to start with and district 4 had two incumbents.

    In conclusion, I talked to Karen Carter on Saturday and I told her I would endorse her in the run off. I talked to her by phone today and I will be actively working with her campaign in June and July. Karen is a highly qualified candidate and cares deeply about improving the schools in DeKalb County. There is nothing evil about her just because the person you supported did not get in the run-off. Regardless of what you might think of me I am not a sore loser. Instead I am actively continuing to fight to improve our local schools. I feel I am doing this by supporting Karen Carter for district 4 DeKalb County School Board.

  7. It’s a saying Ella — the lesser of two evils… have you never heard it? It doesn’t mean we actually think she is evil…

    Truth be told though, you really did peel off votes from the anti-incumbent crowd. We’re very sure that Jim and Karen were happy you ran.

    And no – we are not bitter – nor was John Oselette “our guy”. We just really wanted a fresh new board. REALLY.

  8. Oh – and no apologies for our post about Marshall — We have a problem with the fact that Marshall Orson along with most of the ousted board members secretly hired a new superintendent behind closed doors with no public knowledge or input. Do YOU think this was ok? Are YOU ok with our elected officials breaking their own policy and acting as if they personally know what is best for everyone?

  9. Teachers Matter says:

    Dekalb voters, we needed you and you let us down. You send us your most precious possession (your children) and expect us to do great things for them with little to no support. Believe me, we try, but the war continues to escalate. We needed reinforcements, and you refused to send them. You left us with commanding officers who care nothing about their troops. Will we be the first blamed when things don’t improve? Count on it!

  10. September says:

    Ella had a right to run. There is no guarantee that her votes would have gone to John Oselette. I did vote and I was disappointed that the turnout was low. The school board election should have been held in the general election.

  11. Concerned Dekalb Mom says:

    I feel pretty certain that anyone reading these posts actually voted. Preaching to the choir.

  12. You are exactly right Concerned Dekalb Mom. It’s doubtful anyone who consistently participates in this blog voted for an incumbent. This post really is geared to everyone else – the ones who voted for incumbents – and worse, the ones who didn’t vote at all. Of course, they aren’t going to read it – so we’re just blowing in the wind in reality…

  13. concernedmom30329 says:

    There was no grand conspiracy about the date. Non-partisan elections in GA are held during the primary. The Justice Department notified GA last year that the July primary and August runoffs were to close together to allow soldiers stationed abroad to vote in both. (not enough time to get ballots out and returned in the three weeks between primary and runoff.) This only had to impact federal elections, but state officials decided that the cost of holding an extra election was to great so they moved the entire kit and caboodle.

    Frankly, I wish they would have left the primary and July and move the run off to September, but I am thinking the Republicans (and it would have been the Dems if they were currently in charge) want their candidates to have maximum time to campaign for the general election in November.

    Voter turnout was terribly low and ballot placement of the school board candidates on the ballot was horrific. Last (or nearly last depending on where you voted and what ticket you pulled) on a 6 page ballot makes it easy for folks to lose interest.

  14. Miss Management says:

    “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” -Mark Twain

  15. Sarah says:

    Did anyone see the article in Peach Pundit about the runoff for district 4 and how it will be the most important vote in the runoff election? Ugh….Karen Carter says there is no bloat in Central. I will not be voting for either one. Investing my time now in finding non-$20,000/year/child alternatives to schooling my 3. Here’s the link (I think):

  16. Ramona Rules! Great day for the Palace! Ugh!

  17. howdy1942 says:

    Like so many on this blog, I am greatly disappointed in the voter turnout. Given the problems that have defined the Dekalb County School System for so long, there is no excuse. How long does it take to vote? I stopped by to vote on the way to lunch and it took perhaps five minutes. Fill out a form, present your driver’s license, get a voter card, walk over to a machine and submit responses to perhaps seven screens. That’s it! There is no better tribute that any of us can make to our veterans than to exercise that simple right.

    I will vote on July 22 in the runoff for one of the two candidates in District 4. Given their record of the past year, I’m not impressed with either. I do want Dr. Carter to explain why she voted to deny the Druid Hills Cluster by giving some specifics – what does she think specifically would have happened had that Petition been approved. Why should Druid Hills have not been given the opportunity to try? What would have been the specific impact on kids who don’t live in Druid Hills that would warrant a “NO” vote? What specifically indicated that the negatives outweighed the positives? What evidence was there that it could not have been a success? Does anyone know of any single vote by the school board this past year where McMahan and Carter differed?

    I was present on the night of that Druid Hills vote and now we will virtually have the same board selecting the next superintendent. I’m not expecting much. Thurmond will probably present his candidate (perhaps himself!) and that will probably be it. Given the conduct of the past board during the selection process of Dr. Atkinson and the attitude of the current board, I would not expect many good candidates to even allow their names to be considered.

    I’ll vote on July 22 and wait and see. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised (Hope so!!). But I think that we need to really get to work exploring other options. I’m going to redouble my efforts to find ways to resolve the cityhood issues that existed between Tucker, Lakeside, and Briarcliff. We have so much to gain collectively and individually by presenting a common agreement to the next Legislature. And we need to explore new avenues to approve charter petitions and/or create new or modified school districts. As I say, my expectations of the Dekalb County School Board and its administration are now much lower than they were on Monday.

  18. Does Karen Carter actually say there is no bloat in central? What about Jim? I voted for Oselette (sorry if spelling is wrong) because he recognized that our money is going to the wrong places. I am voting for whomever supports getting something good to finally happen to teachers. (And , no! that absurd one percent increase is not good — it is yet another insult. Although I am now retired, I still do volunteer work and know teachers are still being told (not asked) to do more every day.) If neither candidate is for putting our money into students, schools, and teachers, then what is the point of voting at all?
    So what can do we now? I am thinking that in addition to writing on this blog, we should encourage everyone to write on other blogs and mention the issues we care about and mention this blog so we can get our ideas out to a greater population and get more people reading this blog too. Maybe this is not a fresh idea; maybe others are already doing it. But telling each other that the vote was low (when WE most likely all voted) will not help anyone. So any ideas about other blogs we could read and participate in that might benefit us?

  19. The people I wanted to help the most are the hardest to get to the polls. And one thing that will be a consequence of this election is that it legitimizes Governor Deal’s appointment power and makes him look like an effective leader. This election broke my break not because of my personal loss but because of what DeKalb County will end up loosing.

  20. jackiehar says:

    Somebody, please google Bridgemon H. Bolger! Can you believe he even got 1 vote!

  21. EAV mom says:

    I don’t know much about Bridgemon but the only real negative I found when I googled him was that he was convicted of marijuana possession ten years ago. Considering the past of many folks in DeKalb this seems rather minor to me and certainly not enough to disqualify him from getting “even 1 vote”. I would be interested in learning more if there are other details you can share?

    I certainly agree with his comment above that keeping the incumbents legitimatizes Gov. Deal and I for one think his appointees stink!

  22. Google me and you will see that I am a dedicated servant of the public. Yea I been to jail a few times when I was young but that mostly because I refused to be denied my rights in a racist justice system. You can try to make me out to be something I am not a thug, a gangster, or worse. And that is what many people do to our black males in our schools. You only see the worst of a person with out looking for the greatness that lies in every child of God. Does Google tell who I am or do you only see the worst and ignore the good jackiehar? Did you even bother to look at this My past does not define me and I only can stumble if I focus behind me instead of the path in front of me. I want to help those on the wrong path get on the right one. I did it and that is why my candidacy was so dangerous. Because I am living proof that you can excel in spite of your tribulation and that ordinary people have the power to foster extraordinary change. I made small ripples that will eventually turn in to waves. Mother Teresa said it best “Society is not composed of those whom are already Saints but of those who aspire to become such. With this in mind lets us be patient with each others faults and failures”.

  23. Teachers Matter says:

    I’m with bettyandveronica1-who is voting thumbs down? If those people see any positives in this county to counter the negatives, then bring them to the conversation.

  24. howdy1942 says:

    Sarah provided a very good link to that provides one opinion about differences between Karen Carter and Jim McMahan. In a nutshell, Carter believes that the central office is sized about right when compared to neighboring school districts and she believes that salaries in the DCSS are competitive. I would like to know the basis for saying that Jim McMahan wants to place more emphasis on the classroom and less on administration.

    A note to everyone – all of us DO need to vote in the July 22, 2014, and insure that the next District 4 school board member will truly represent the people of the District. I can live with a 50% vote by eligible voters, but we need to do a lot better than 10%.

  25. howdy1942 says:

    Please read Maureen Downy’s article in today’s AJC (online).

    Apparently Brookhaven is onto something. Maybe Druid Hills will want to consider this route for building its charter school.

  26. Thanks, howdy! Just to clarify, though, while there certainly will be run-offs on the ballot that we all can and should vote on — only those people who live in District 4 may vote in that district’s runoff between Jim McMahan and Karen Carter. However, since the school board is a non-partisan election, if you live in District 4 it won’t matter if you take a Democratic or Republican ballot. Both ballots will have the school board runoff for District 4.

  27. anothercomment says:

    What is even scarier for DeKalb, is that Vernon Jones made it into a runoff for Sherriff , This is after the same Grand Jury that recommended the indictment of Burrell Ellis, clearly found that the patterns of corruptions at the Water Department and through out DeKalb County began during Vernon Ellis’s 8 year reign of destructruction on DeKalb County. The Grand Jury report specifically recommended that another Grand Jury be called and further investigate Vernon Jones, et al… Can the DeKalb voters not even be bothered to read the published Grand Jury report prior to voting.

    Additionally, during Vernon’s reign their were at least two incidents reported on channel 2, in which young women claimed they went to his house after a date, and he did not understand the meaning of the word “No” and forced them to have sex with him. This situation commonly called “Date Rape” was alleged by multiple young ladies. Yet, these cases would be made to go away. So do we want a man, who is clearly power drunk, that he insisted on being called “Mr. CEO” ( Lianna Levitan never did, she also came to every ground breaking and mundane event driving her own car, just like Ted Turner and Jane Fonda did). Were people not paying attention, during his reign to his crazy behavior. How could one even think of having a person of questionable moral, ethical, and legal charater with no law enforcement experience in the Sherrif position. I guess the question remains, will there be a hit on the other candidate, between now and the election?

    These results are appaling. Seeing Joyce and Marvin pass through made one want to vomit. Of course the church of the teen molester minister ( of Greed) was probably out in force pushing for them. That church can not loose it’s strangle hold on the board, the central office, rental of its facilities or direct tithes.

  28. @jackiehar If you are concerned about Bridgemon Bolger, you must have been apoplectic for all those years that Jay Cunningham was a school board member. It’s hard to believe Cunningham, with his background, even officially qualified to run for office. Frankly, Mr. Bolger’s self-reported (on this blog) indiscretions seem relatively minor.

  29. anothercomment says:

    Good thing Dunwoody kept Tom Taylor and Fran Miller in Office.

    I would expect with this blunder of the school board vote, along with the State Supt. races. We see the push on for Milton County in the next session. I would also see that the Part of DeKalb County that is from Brookhaven North, will want to combine themselves with the Sandy Springs and North Cities of Fulton County.

    We will also see the continued Cityhood for the 3 DeKalb Cities, along with others in Fulton, Cobb, and elsewhere. The move will continue to get rid of the ridiculous restrictions in the GA Constitution that limits the number of School districts.

    More Cities will rapidly follow Brookhaven, as having Great Schools is the biggest deterrent to corporate relocations. Midmanagers making $80K-$100K a year can simply not afford $23K plus for 2-3 children each, which is the cost for ITP private schools. Trends are indicating that the big Fortune 500 firms are moving back ITP. They are moving to Lindberg, to the Georgia Tech area, right at Hammond and 400. They have found that Duluth and points North do not work for International Corporations. They need to be 30 minutes from Hartsfield. They need to be accessible by Marta. Their Top Executives like Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Vinings. These workers will want to live close in, especially if they are coming from more progressive states. The same with recent college graduates. The country as a whole is more purple than red. With younger employees skewering more blue. They simply do not want to live out in the Red Right looney ville. A Good public school option is needed for the middle class close in. Not just in outer Mongolia.

  30. Tim McGaughey says:

    Two big “winners” in DeKalb’s May 20 School Board Primary are (1) the Legislative scheme to oust ineffective local School Boards and (2) Governor Deal, for devising the proper way to implement a replacement.

    The statute was untried in any large System. It survived a strong legal challenge.

    Then Governor Deal and the Board nominating committee performed a magnificent job of attracting and selecting talented replacement Board members.

    But that wasn’t enough. The appointed Board members had to prove acceptable to voters. Had all, or even some, of the appointed Board members been deeply unpopular, the whole replacement mechanism would become suspect. The fact that all four appointees who ran for office came in first in their election (even beating an elected-but-ousted Board member in one case) shows that these appointees are acceptable to the voters.

    The great news is that the replacement scheme works. When implemented skillfully, it is an effective “reset” for a Board that is not functioning well. No one is pleased with all aspects of the replacement, but it is better than not having that mechanism. If you disagree, go talk to someone in Clayton County.

    Tim McGaughey

  31. jackiehar says:

    The voters of District 4 have spoken loudly and clearly. Now on to the Governor’s race.

  32. Word Wall says:

    Atticus Leblanc ran a good race, survived, and deserves strong support going into the District 3 runoff election!

  33. d says:

    Just my personal opinion (and I may be wrong), but I doubt the city schools amendment will really go anywhere any time soon. It really is just a DeKalb-centric thing and you have to convince reprensentatives from 158 other counties that it is in the state’s best interest. I don’t see that happening. I checked the DeKalb and state-wide results a few times. Nancy Jester had a huge lead if you looked at the DeKalb only results. That obviously didn’t reflect in the rest of the state. The same, I think, will apply to city schools.

    One other thing that needs to be considered – if board members get too involved in dealing with the bloat, they risk crossing the line that got the last board in trouble. The board has one employee – that is the Superintendent. Everyone else in the district works for the Superintendent. So regardless of who is elected in July, the focus of the community is to ensure that the board focuses on finding a superintendent who is focused on the classroom and not a jobs program. The board needs to remember for whom they work.

  34. From the Aha! News —

    Teachers were told in a 3:30 PM DHS Faculty Meeting today that Tom McFerrin will replace Noel Maloof as the Dunwoody High School Principal. Maloof is leaving the DeKalb School System and will be the new Principal at Decatur High School. McFerrin most recently served as the Assistant Principal of Instruction at DHS.

    All texts, tweets, emails, and personal messages I’m hearing from DHS parents, students and teachers are FAVORABLE about Tom McFerrin so I wanted to share this good news fast!

    From the AJC

    By Dunwoodyschooldaze

    Awesome, awesome, awesome choice! Mr. McFerrin is a Dunwoody High graduate, a former Dunwoody High teacher, and current Assistant Principal for Instruction!!! Thank you Mr. Thurmond!!!

    Also >>

  35. Ned says:

    This past week was a disappointment to be sure. In my district the throughly execrable and anti-teacher Joyce Morley was re-elected, so I definitely rank among the disappointed, even though I recognize her 2 opponenents had their own flaws and didn’t run very efffective campaigns. But keep your chins up folks–there are some positives if you look at the bigger picture:

    None–not one–of the old board appears to be coming back, unless you count Stancy. 🙂
    The board is down to 7 from 9.
    A few races still have to be decided–there’s still some chance for improvement. [If nothing else folks, think about whether you’d really want Vernon Jones at the county jail. As sherriff I mean.]

    Finally, consider that we may have placed too much faith in an all-new board. Didn’t we expect the appointed 6 to make a huge difference? Before that weren’t there high hopes for Jim McMahon, and going back a little even for Donna Edler? The board has limited power in the face of an concretely entrenched culture of corruption and personal irresponsibility. Remember the Easter ‘party’ that trashed a county park? The response of my county commissioner, otherwise best known for bouncing personal checks, was to suggest a meeting to talk to these kids. How about having them pick up their own trash? Our problem in DeKalb is bureaucratic in part, financial in part, but the biggest part may be beyond the ability of ANY 7 elected people to address in the near term.

    Anyway, that’s my rant for the night.

  36. Frustrated citizen says:

    There is a school in the Tucker cluster that really had some problems last week. They had the kindergarten honor’s event. No administrator was present. The parents were out of control and were shouting profanities over frustration concerning taking photos of their children. Finally, some parents went to the principal and demanded that he come into the event or they would call the news. By then all the students were out of control too. He called off the progam and told the teachers to take the students back to their classroom. Then, later in the week he did not even come to the fifth grade graduation. You would have thought that he would have learned his lesson!
    Something has got to be done!!

  37. howdy1942 says:

    @Frustrated citizen – If this situation occurred as you described. Mr. Thurmond needs to find out what happened and take action. I would suggest that you directly communicate this matter with him and ask him to respond to your communique.

    Your description of the incident indicates a complete breakdown in management that posed a direct threat to their children. Given all that has happened in schools lately, this incident whould not be dismissed lightly. Where were the teachers when all of this was happening? The principal needs to answer some serious questions. Were I a parent, I would want to know how this situation is resolved.

  38. What is the name of the school? What is the principal’s name? Until people are willing to start naming names — until you are willing to start naming names — of documented events and issues like this one NOTHING will change in DeKalb County Schools. The ONLY way to reach DeKalb County Schools is public embarrassment — in this blog and in the news media. If anyone captured the melee on their cell phone, please send what you have (anonymously is fine) to We will publish it.

  39. Howdy — Obviously you were/are aware of this disturbing situation. What is the name of the school? What is the principal’s name? Until people are willing to start naming names — until you are willing to start naming names — of documented events and issues like this one NOTHING will change in DeKalb County Schools. The ONLY way to reach DeKalb County Schools is public embarrassment — in this blog and in the news media. If you know of anyone who captured the melee on their cell phone or video camera, please ask them to send the video (anonymously is fine) to We will publish it.

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