Monday, November 3, 2014 Board Meeting

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday, November 3, 2014:

2:00pm Work Session
Cabinet Room
Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

5:45pm Community Input Session
J. David Williamson Board Room
Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

7:00pm Business Meeting
J. David Williamson Board Room
Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

The meeting agendas can be accessed online by going to:, click on Leadership, go to eBoard Home Page and click on the date for the meeting agenda\information.





a. Education Support Professionals Day Recognition
Presented by: Mr. David Campbell, Board Representative, District #5
b. National School Psychologists Recognition Week
Presented by: Mr. John W. Coleman, Board Representative, District #1

1. Dunwoody High School Homecoming King & Queen
Presented by: Mr. Michael L. Thurmond, Superintendent
2. Connections for Classrooms Grant
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology


1. Approval of Minutes
Presented by: Mr. Michael L. Thurmond, Superintendent
2. Approval of Monthly Financial Report
Presented by: Dr. Michael J. Bell, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance
3. Approval of Monthly Human Resources Report
Presented by: Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer,
Division of Human Resources
4. 2015-2016 School Calendar
Presented by: Ms. Stacy E. Stepney, Director, Pre-K Program, Division of Curriculum &
5. Vendors That May Exceed $100,000 per Policy DJE (CLICK HERE for a little history on Policy DJE)
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information
Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instruction
Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operation Officer, Division of Operations
6. Strategic Consulting Resources, Inc. (SCR) Professional Services – Agreement for Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI) Approval
Presented by Dr. José G. Boza, Jr., Director, Leadership Development & Charter
Schools, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
7. Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI) Professional Services – Agreement for Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI) Approval
8. Action on the DeKalb P.A.T.H. Academy Renewal Charter Petition
Presented by Dr. José G. Boza, Jr., Director, Leadership Development & Charter
Schools Department, Division of School Leadership & Operational Support
9. Property and Equipment Breakdown Insurance
Presented by: Mr. Ronald B. Ramsey, Chief Legal Officer, Division of Legal Affairs
10. Microsoft EES
Presented by: Mr. Gary L. Brantley, Chief Information Officer, Division of Information
11. SPLOST Projects
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
a. SPLOST IV Project: Kingsley Elementary School Roof Replacement Design-Build
Contract Award
12. Facilities
Presented by: Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations
a. Briar Vista Elementary School Playground Donation Approval
b. Dunwoody Elementary School Facility Upgrade Donation Approval
c. Capital Outlay Project Application for Fiscal Year 2016
13. PLACEHOLDER – Board of Education Comprehensive Plan
Presented by: Dr. Melvin Johnson, Chair

1. Amendment to the Bylaws & Policies: Board Policy BAB, School Board Governance and Board Policy BBI, Board-Staff Relations
Presented by: Dr. Melvin Johnson, Chair

OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)

1. Election Day ~ Tuesday, November 4, 2014
2. Student Advisory Committee Meeting, 9:00am, Wednesday, November 5, 2014, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
3. SPLOST Oversight Committee Meeting, 6:00pm, Thursday, November 13, 2014, Conference Room, Sam Moss Service Center, 1780 Montreal Road, Tucker
4. District-wide Parent Engagement Session, 8:00am, Saturday, November 15, 2014, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex,
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
5. District-wide Administrators Academy, 8:30am, Tuesday, November 18, 2014, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
6. Schools Closed in observation of Thanksgiving Holiday ~ Monday, November 24 – Friday, November 28, 2014
7. Administrative Offices Closed in observation of Thanksgiving Holiday ~ Thursday, November 27 – Friday, November 28, 2014
8. District-wide Administrators Academy, 8:30am, Tuesday, December 2, 2014, Auditorium, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain
9. DeKalb Board of Education Work Session (2pm) Cabinet Room, Community Input Session (5:45pm) & Business Meeting (7pm), Monday, December 8, 2014,
J. David Williamson Board Room, Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain



Read a few more important documents at the links below >>

The graduation rate data from the state

2014 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate – State District School by Subgroup

“Teacher Retention Plan”
Reply-Teacher Retention Initiatives and Reply-Retention Dec_BOE Responses

Below is a “Governance Handbook” received via ORR from the Board Retreat listed on this meeting agenda >>

Governance Handbook 2014-2015_BOE Retreat

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27 Responses to Monday, November 3, 2014 Board Meeting

  1. Download the Governance Handbook we have linked in the post. It was produced for the Board Retreat. One of the first highlighted, added paragraphs says,

    “Under Georgia statue, the DeKalb County Board of Education, as a governing body has the
    exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the
    district. (O.C.G.A. 20-2-50)”

    Really, it says statue. And it lays claim to exclusive power to govern schools – all schools.

  2. It goes on >>

    Only decisions of the full Board acting as an entity are binding on the Superintendent.
     Decisions or instructions of individual Board members, Board Officers, and committees
    are not binding on the Superintendent.
     If Board members or committees request information or assistance without Board
    authorization, the Superintendent may redirect the request to the full Board for
    authorization if, in the Superintendent’s opinion, the request requires a material amount
    of staff time or resources or is disruptive or unreasonable. Board members, however, will
    not be refused information that the District would be obligated to provide to a member of
    the public.

  3. Out of respect for the role of the Superintendent as chief executive officer of the District and for
    the smooth and effective functioning of the organization:
     The Board will never give direction to persons who report directly or indirectly to the
    Superintendent, except in those instances when the Board may interact with the District’s
    internal auditor.
     The Board will not evaluate any staff member other than the Superintendent, except
    upon the request of the Superintendent.
     Except as required by law or as requested by the Superintendent, the Board will not
    participate in decisions or actions involving the hiring, evaluating, disciplining, or
    dismissal of any employee other than the Superintendent.

    Um… didn’t we get rid of the internal auditor? We only had one for a very short time. And, what is going on with the Hotline? Is that still in operation? Dr. Atkinson put these in place. We think they were dismantled before she cleared out her first drawer.

  4. “To further that aim, the Board and the Superintendent will:
    1. Exercise honesty in all written and interpersonal interactions, seeking with great care to
    avoid misleading information.
    2. Demonstrate respect for the opinions and comments of each other.
    3. Focus on issues rather than on personalities.
    4. Maintain focus on the Vision, Goals, Strategic Plan, and Board Annual Priorities.
    5. Communicate with each other in a timely manner to avoid surprises.
    6. Criticize privately, and praise publicly.
    7. Maintain appropriate confidentiality.
    8. Openly share concerns, information, knowledge, and desired outcomes.
    9. Make every reasonable effort to protect the integrity and promote the positive image of
    the District, Board, Superintendent, staff, and each other.
    10. Respond to requests and inquiries in a timely manner.
    11. Give each other time to think through issues and, equally, the time to finish verbal
    statements and responses.
    12. Share credit for successful District initiatives, actions, and awards, and avoid blame for
    the failure or ineffectiveness of legitimate District initiatives or actions.
    13. Assume good intent on the part of other Board members and the Superintendent.”

  5. Download the document with the teacher surveys showing the answers as to why over 800 teachers left the system last year >>

    Teacher retention remains at the fore front of what we do as a District. However it is just not the retention of all teachers, it is the retention of the right, high quality effective teachers. As you know last year the district lost more than 800 teachers. According to the exit interviews a number of reasons cited, include but not be limited to:
    Salary-The district has not seen a step increase or cost of living adjustment in 6 years. Until this administration the number of work calendar reduction/furlough days were steadily increasing. This year 2 calendar days have been restored.
    Leadership– The uncertainty surrounding the BOE with the Governor’s removal of 6 members in addition to the infighting and removal of Superintendent Atkinson. SACS accreditation. Due to the constant and ever changing demands, principals who are more focused on the managerial tasks of administration.
    Organizational Culture and Climate– Poor school cultures and working conditions.

    Ward-Smith’s responses to these reasons include excuses such as needing to hire better teachers up front (insinuating that these quitting teachers weren’t good teachers anyway), strengthening the wording of the contracts so that teachers will be legally unable to quit, hiring more teacher trainers, better evaluation tools, restoring 2 furlough days and creating “An environment where expectations for teaching are clearly defined and observed. Additionally, the Bridge Initiative as well as the Strategic Plan will support and address this action.” (This one infers that these quitter teachers just didn’t understand their job expectations.)

    She very strangely adds this as her last bullet point >> I proclaim it!- Full District Accreditation. A Sound Board of Education. A visionary Superintendent.

    … Obviously, if you simply proclaim it, it will happen…


    Our suggestion? GET RID OF TEKSHIA WARD-SMITH — and hire a professional HR leader with years of corporate experience!!!

  6. It is absurd having all the meetings on one day a month, then cramming everything on the consent agenda with public comments after the consent agenda.

    At least it looks like the worthless Coleman is going to show up. He must being going to be going to be going to praise Gov. Deal in his recognition speech somehow. He must insure his wife keeps her job in the Deal administration. This is the number one reason to vote against Deal, vote for Carter.

  7. concerned citizen says:

    Smith’s comments are as worthless as she is. She “proclaims,” does she???Why, oh, why, is she in charge of anything? Very, very sorry excuse for a professional woman. Sadly, look at the damage she has done. Replacing certified teachers now and into the semester is IMPOSSIBLE! It can’t be done. Ask any principal who isn’t in the exciting and substantially qualified supt’s pocket.

  8. concerned citizen says:

    I just read the document Smith wrote. It’s full of fragments and absurdly worded crap. Who let this piece out of the system for the public to see? This is more than embarrassing; it’s low-level thinking and expression.

  9. teachermom says:

    Ward-Smith appears clueless and unqualified to address teacher retention.This is not a teacher retention plan. Actually it is just the opposite. It seems to be aimed at putting more pressure on teachers! Talking about how to get rid of and manage bad teachers will further destroy morale. This plan has a rubric that is more focused on getting rid of bad teachers and putting pressure on those who are left than on how to address the results of their survey which included poor pay and work life. Put additional pressure on teachers and they will go. Teachers are not leaving because they are unqualified or poor teachers.

  10. dsw2contributor says:

    concerned citizen – “Why, oh, why, is Tekisha Ward-Smith in charge of anything?”

    Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: That is why Tekisha Ward-Smith is in charge of HR.

    Some background: back when he was the HR director, Mr. Jamie Wilson was directed to do illegal things. He refused. The Palace then retalliated against Mr. Wilson by demoting him back to Principal and doing other things to Mr. Wilson that are not public knowledge.

    The Palace also promoted Tekisha Ward-Smith to HR Director because they needed someone to do the dirty deeds that Mr. Wilson refused to do.

    Mr. Wilson had (or hired) legal counsel. Wilson’s attorneys got in touch with at least one of DCSD’s legal firms and pointed out the blantant retaliation suffered by Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson then ended up with a settlement that included paying him a HR Director’s salary. That is why DCSD continues to pay for two HR directors: Mr. Wilson, the former HR Director, obtained a settlement.

    In exchange for his confidentiality agreement, Mr. Wilson gets to have a cushy (for a principal) assignment. His elementary school has a lower enrollment, minimal socio-economic problems and, during most Board meetings, his school is represented by the empty chair.

  11. howdy1942 says:

    I had to laugh – “proclaim”. Who is this lady to proclaim anything? It is just unbelievable that she is in charge of anything. Outside of the Dekalb County School System, she would be unemployed (except for perhaps Dekalb County).

    Good teachers, especially those with experience, can easily find jobs in other neighboring counties. In fact, they have. Dekalb badly needs someone who understands the importance of hiring and retaining good teachers and that begins by offering competitive compensation packages. Simply eliminating furlough days and awarding a paltry 1% raise doesn’t cut it – that it far, far below our neighbors. Restore those Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) contributions, provide our teachers with raises to bring them in line with neighboring counties, cut out all of those superfluous “make-work” administrative jobs for “friends and family”, get out and listen (really listen and act) to teachers and principals, and develop a plan to recruit teachers locally. It seems like that would be common sense.

  12. DecaturMax says:

    Howdy, you hit the point perfectly. Other systems want our best and not our worst teachers. It is well known that Dekalb as some of the worst teacher CE. TWS is delusional if she really thinks we have lost the bottom 1/6th of teachers this year. Top teachers have opportunities and choices not the bottom 1/6th. Dekalb schools tend to identify the worst teachers as those with complaints. They don’t want good teachers with complaints.

  13. Dekalb is trying to turn a teacher-district “contractual” relationship into indentured servitude. It’s practically that already.

  14. Here is the Ward-Smith line that stuck out to me the most!

    “hiring more teacher trainers”

    If Ward-Smith did her job and hired the best teachers, they would not need to be trained! Is this code for more 6 figure salaries for the Frauds, Friends and Family plan at the Palace?

    The Palace must be cleaned out and with all the corruption inside our county government I see no change in the future. These people in the Palace think the stakeholders will just go away, well I don’t think everyone will go away. The years of the Clew’s, Edward’s, Walker’s and Ramona will never go away until the Palace is totally cleaned out!

    DCSD mired in the muck of mediocrity for over 12 years with no end in sight! UGH!

  15. Word Wall says:

    Teacher Retention plans usually contain the incentives and positive motivators to KEEP teachers. TKEs SKOs, PLU coaches and a little lecture about how to follow the rules when you QUIT are not parts of a credible “retention” plan. The absence of any reference to the new Dekalb Merit Based pay initiative shows this document is heavily flawed. Surprise!

  16. momfromhe11 says:

    regarding “hiring more teacher trainers”

    Wasn’t there a “Mentor / Master Teacher” program at one point in our history (not terribly long ago? This was where one or more of the experienced and able teachers in a school would help and advise newer teachers, or teachers who were having difficulties in the classroom. There was a bit of a salary boost and a lightened teaching schedule that came with it. Seems to me that this would be less expensive than hiring Teacher Trainers who are not currently experiencing the classroom, don’t know the culture and student body makeup of the school or county. Not to mention having the trust of those they are mentoring.

    Who ditched that and went with the boondoggle we have now?

    @WordWall – right on.

  17. Just Wondering says:


    Was there any comment about the Health Insurance being offered this year? Better benefits would help in retention. No pay raises, no steps, insurance increasing, more demands from the state, larger class sizes, no TSA, no Social Security,

    The little pay increase we have been given will be used for insurance.
    In terms of the insurance,
    The 2014 year was the first time that we have not had any choice of providers. We only had Blue Cross. At the beginning of 2014, you could not even get to speak to anyone. The phone lines were jammed. I saw my doctor during the 1st week of January 2014. His his office called and could not reach anyone.
    Historically, we have paid the same price for the same cover, even if the insurance was offered by different providers.
    For example we paid the same for HMO’s regardless of the providers.
    It seems like the state is trying to force into taking Blue Cross Blue Shield. The .BlueCross HMO is approximately 130.00 United’s is 181,00 I called United. They stated that it was not there choice to charge 50 dollars more amount for an HMO than Blue Cross. Of course that makes sense, why would they charge more for the same coverage.
    This has nothing to do with Obama Care.

    ‘How is this fair?

    Educators formed a group last year and protested our lack of options. There website is:

    I am sorry, I am getting away from the subject.
    TWS is over HR and Staff Services

    My point is that perhaps HR& Staff Services could spend some time working on better benefits for us. ( Working on getting our TSA restored. Working on getting our Step restored. )
    As many of you have stated, we lost some excellent teachers. There are still many excellent teachers in DeKalb. Everyone wants to be treated with respect. At the end of the day, we all have bills that must be paid.

  18. Just Wondering says:

    “it seems like the state is trying to force us ….
    They stated that it was not there choice to charge 50 dollars more for an HMO than Blue Cross.

    I am sorry. I have working on dinner. Trying to watch the news and check on everyone’s day.
    I hit the enter key before I finished my comments.
    I am sorry, It has been a busy day.

    I just wanted to communicate with all of you.

    Thank you for being here. It is good to have a place to share information.

  19. DeKalb Observer says:

    A review of the meeting agenda does not show which calendar is going to be approved. There’s no way to tell when school will begin or end. Camps are booking now. What is the story on this – do we have a calendar or not?

    Did they approve a calendar for the 2015-16 school year?

  20. Weary Worker says:

    By her response to teacher retention it is obvious that Ward Smith is unaware of any realistic Human Resources policies or standards. I would think that if you have risen to a level where you are incompetent you would keep a lower profile.
    Reviewing her responses she comes off looking like some pandering lackey to a third world despot as her first step towards increasing retention is to use more fear and intimidation.

    Most of her other ‘solutions’ have nothing to do with HR, such as TKES and are not responsive to what teachers really desire in a career. Additional paid trainers are promised instead of lower class sizes and bringing back laid the hundreds of laid off paraprofessionals. No mention is made of increased benefits. The use of “prayerfully” in conjunction with pay raises is insulting to all involved. To her it appears that teachers getting pay on par with other systems is not something DCSD can control but is an act of God.
    School culture is brought up but nothing is said of holding responsible administrators and her own department for the lack of teacher retention.

    The nonsensical final proclamation further proves she is worthless and an embarrassment to the school system.

    Ward-Smith is out of her league. She has no proven experience in HR or in being responsible for the biggest expense of a near billion-dollar budget. But putting an overpaid shill or a puppet such as her in charge of HR is the surest way to ensure and continue a pattern of patronage and corruption.

  21. “Evaluation Instruments- Last year was the initiation of the TKES. This year this
    instrument will be utilized to assist with on ramping and off ramping marginal

    So teachers are to be “ramped” like…what?…cattle, crates, cages, etc.?

    Methinks Dekalb finds all of its teachers to be “marginal.”

    And I agree with a previous comment regarding the use of the word “prayerfully.” I find it disgusting, not because I’m anti-religious, but could you imagnie a seasoned, trained HR professional using such language, especially in a public school environment? Perhaps she should have written, “Restoration of 2 work calendar reduction days, with[in a moment of silence], a 1-3% raise for FY2015.

    As Creedence Clearwater Revival sang in “Bad Moon Rising, “I hear the voice of rage and ruin.”

  22. sawyerbrown says:

    My neighborhood’s high school has been without its leader for a week. Students and parents did not stage rallies and protests like 10 years ago. Any parent or teacher care to let us know something?

  23. Teachermom says:

    Here is what a friend got from Lakeside about the principal. It’s unclear what the “personnel” issue is:

    Lakeside Parents:

    Good afternoon. Questions have arisen concerning Mr. Clyne’s absence from the building, and I wanted to make you aware that he is away due to a personnel matter. Mr. Clyne has assigned Mr. Rogers, Assistant Principal, to lead the building in his absence, and Mr. Rogers will be in communication with the school district’s Regional Office should any need arise. I want to reassure you that the outstanding teaching that you have come to expect at Lakeside will continue to occur each day. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

    Trenton Arnold
    Regional Superintendent
    Region II

  24. Wha?????! That is weird. What is a ‘personnel matter’?

  25. sawyerbrown says:

    Thanks Teacherman. I have to ask if the removal is justified and if it has to do with strange behavior at teacher meetings or football games.

    I occasionally attend the football games with a friend whose child graduated in 2010 or 2011 when this guy was an ingratiating and marginal assistant principal. My friend can’t understand how this guy is now in charge.

    At the games, he apparently has become a caricature who prances in a Western costume with a huge black hat and calls himself “The Douche”. Funny thing, no one recalls him being this strange before he was took charge.

    If he is doing a good job educating the students and leading the school, I can forgive… Is he?

  26. sawyerbrown68 says:

    Sorry, I posted in the wrong conversation.

    Mr. Arnold states “that the outstanding teaching that you have come to expect at Lakeside will continue to occur each day.”

    There will not be any outstanding teaching left after outstanding teachers leave more because of poor principalship than because of Central Office misadministration and they are not replaced by outstanding teachers during the May-June hiring seasons.

    How well do think Lakeside do with hiring new outstanding teachers over the last two summers?

    No prospective outstanding teacher was even aware of the opportunities at Lakeside because nothing was posted. So these teachers, if they existed, went to other lucky schools.

    Seriously, it takes no more than two poor hiring cycles to decimate the outstanding teaching Mr. Arnold refered to.

    I work hard to pay for my monthly mortgage. I can’t afford for real estate values to go down because of deteriorating neighborhood school. Since good hiring is occurring at Henderson Middle, Briarlake, Sagamore, Pleasantdale along with Dunwoody HS, Chamblee HS, I can’t rightly say it’s a DeKalb problem.

Comments are closed.