DAY THREE

Day-3This is the third day of service for the new DeKalb Board of Education… And these are the headlines thus far for 2015 >>

New, smaller School Board to take oath of office on Jan. 5
DeKalb’s new and smaller School Board will take the oath of office on Jan. 5.

The 2015 board, reduced to seven members from nine by state legislators, will be the county’s first elected board in two years.

Stan Jester, District 1; Marshall Orson, District 2; Dr. Michael Erwin, District 3; Jim McMahan, District 4; Vickie Turner, District 5; Dr. Melvin Johnson, District 6; and Joyce Morley, District 7, will be sworn in at a ceremony at the district’s headquarters in Stone Mountain.

Jester talks budget, down-sizing for DeKalb school system
Jester, who ran unopposed in the May primary, said putting money and focus back into the classroom and balancing the system’s budget were his reasons for seeking the position.

“My focus has always been the classroom and pushing money back into it,” he said. “I believe that we need competent leadership with a decentralized approach to governance, personnel and financial decisions and I believe we need to maximize the amount of money going to the classroom and minimize what we spend on the central office.”

Jester said his goals now include advocating for reducing class sizes and giving county teachers a raise.

Numbers on CCRPI vary between DeKalb, Decatur school districts
Scores for the College & Career Ready Performance Index have been released and the City Schools of Decatur again surpassed the state average with a cumulative score of 87.3; the state average is 72. The DeKalb County School District has a cumulative score of 61.9

DeKalb school board member refuses fingerprint check by district
Stan Jester, a newly-elected DeKalb County School Board member, says he will only submit to a fingerprint and background check done by the DeKalb County Police Department, not the school district.

“It is a conflict of interest to be investigated by the agency I was elected to oversee. It should be done by a third party. That is what I have done,” Jester said to Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman in an email.

If new DeKalb board member wants to go to mat, do it for kids, not background check
By Maureen Downey

I appreciate political gadflies. Most reporters do.

In my 30 years of covering local government in three states, I’ve seen some notable gadflies in action. Gadflies enliven dull county commission meetings. They provide great quotes to perk up a school board story. They infuse drama into budget hearings.

Here’s what they often don’t do: Accomplish anything of note.

Because when you’re always battling, you aren’t building. It takes consensus-building to get things done. Shaking your fist in the air is not as effective as extending your hand.

Stan Jester ought to keep that in mind.

+++

Sigh. So essentially, our test scores are in the tank, especially when compared to Decatur (in DeKalb) and the rest of the state. Yet, the news of the day is swirling around the fact that one new board member, Stan Jester, declined to be fingerprinted by the DCSS staff. He did secure a background check from the Dunwoody police and posted it on his website, as well as schedule a fingerprinting appointment with the DeKalb County Police, however, this somehow irked the powers that be (administrative? other board members?) so much that they ‘leaked’ this ‘story’ to the press. And sadly, the press ate it up. Well, it did manage to take the spotlight off of the test scores. But… really?

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This entry was posted in DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, GA Legislature / Laws / O.C.G.A., Georgia Education, Michael Thurmond, Stan Jester and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to DAY THREE

  1. DeKalb Observer says:

    Gee. What would have happened if the news ‘reporters’ would have ignored Henny Penny and simply said, ‘that’s just not news, we’re sorry.’

  2. Maureen referred to Stan as a ‘gadfly’…

    Full Definition of GADFLY (from Merriam Webster)
    1
    any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
    2
    a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism
    Examples of GADFLY

    Synonyms
    annoyance, annoyer, bother, nuisance, gnawer, nudnik (also nudnick), pain, persecutor, pest, tease, teaser

    That wasn’t nice…

  3. We are highly, highly suspicious that Melvin Johnson actually wrote this email to Stan >>
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/wp-content/assets/documents/FingerprintEmails/1222b2014.pdf A lawyer wrote it, in our opinion. [CLUE: At the last board meeting, Johnson kept asking people not to make him ‘ad live’.] Wonder how many tax dollars that ‘research’ cost us?

    As Stan pointed out in response,

    Good Morning Melvin,
    I did some research last night and this is what I found. The IRS statute requiring a person to be an employee is only for financial reporting purposes and is in conflict with everything else in state law and DeKalb board policy. DeKalb Schools Policy GAHB (B.11) states that you may not be employed by the school while on the Board of Education. This is also in state law OCGA § 20-2-51 Section C.2 saying “No person employed by a local board of education shall be eligible to serve as a member of that board of education.”

    I would also like to point out that DeKalb Schools policy GAK(1) says, “Criminal back ground check information shall be used by the District only for the purpose of determining whether to grant regular employment or to terminate such employment with the District.” DeKalb schools is not determining whether to grant or terminate employment for me. As stated in policy, this is the only purpose the background check is to be used.

    Stan

    Further, Stan points out that the Board’s own policy forbids employees from serving on the school board >>

    Policy GAHB: Staff Political Activities
    In section A (Definitions) (A.1.): “Employee(s)” means all individuals employed by the DeKalb County School District.”
    In section B (Employee Participation in Political Activities) (B.11.): “Employees may be candidates for the Board of Education, but may not continue as an employee of the District while serving as a member of the Board of Education. If an employee is elected to membership on the Board of Education, he/she shall either retire or resign, prior to being installed as a Board member. If the employee does not retire or resign, then the District will deem him/her as retired or resigned in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 20-2-51. ”
    O.C.G.A § 20-2-51:
    Election of local board of education members; persons ineligible to be members or superintendent; ineligibility for local boards of education; ineligibility for other elective offices.
    ( C)(2): No person employed by a local board of education shall be eligible to serve as a member of that board of education.

  4. And this full response on Stan’s website, emailed to the Board Chair on December 30 is most interesting >>
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/wp-content/assets/documents/FingerprintEmails/12302014.pdf

    In it, we learn that >>

    A 2013 WSB investigation into School Resource Officers (SROs) around the metro area (http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/2-investigates-school-resource-officers-troubled-p/nXrsw/) concluded that 20% of DeKalb SROs had been investigated by POST (the state agency that certifies and investigates police officers). In the WSB report, Gwinnett Schools Police Chief said that he will not hire an officer with a POST investigation because POST only investigates an officer that has been arrested, hired or heavily disciplined by another police agency.

  5. decaturparent says:

    This was Johnson’s attempt to put Stan Jester in check from Day One. It didn’t work very well. Now he knows Jester won’t be intimidated by pathetic leaks to the media. I would like to see the other board members post their background checks online like Stan has done. Why doesn’t WSB challenge them to do so?

  6. Johnson — with help from our taxpayer funded school system attorneys. $$$

  7. Concerned Dekalb Mom says:

    I may be in a minority here, but I’m disappointed in Mr. Jester. If history tells us anything, there will be significant issues that will require Mr. Jester to stand alone for, or against, the entrenched “powers that be” in the DCSS. I wish he had saved his first altercation for something that was truly meaningful for the teachers and students in DeKalb. Getting anything done, as Marney mentioned, will require working WITH other school board members, not against.

    Some have said that Mr. Jester has illustrated that he won’t be pushed around. I wonder if the other members of the Board see him instead as someone who won’t get along, either. And I’m not talking about getting along just to get along…compromise is the key. Losing battles 6-1 or 5-2 for the duration of Mr. Jester’s tenure gets nothing done for the people of DeKalb.

  8. thedeal2 says:

    Concerned, it’s a pipe dream if you think Joyce Morley and her ilk are ever going to compromise. Didn’t you see how they reacted to the request for community input into the superintendent search? She said citizen input would “muddy the waters”, as if they have been doing some amazing job thus far There is an entrenched majority, and it doesn’t matter whether there are 5 , 7, or 9 members, they will keep the majority. Stan is no dummy; he knew this when he got on the board. His job, on behalf of his supporters, is exposure and accountability. He is not going to win on the big issues, and he knows that. He is not going to flip anyone, just like Nancy didn’t and just like Marshall can’t. The best they can do is expose and educate.

  9. September says:

    Do other elected officials in Georgia have to do a criminal background check before they can take office?

  10. Stan correctly pointed out, you only have to sign an affidavit. Similar to the affidavit that large members of our minority communities have no problems signing that state they meet the income requirements for free and reduced lunch. Ironically, many do so while leaving the income blank and trusting the school employees to fill in the form. At the last public school my child went to their were 24% white and Asian students, ironically all all 76% of the Hispanic and Black students at the school qualified for reduced or free lunch. I traced some of these children to living in houses that had a value on the tax rolls of over $1 million dollars, double mine and double a great many of the white and Asian parents homes.

    Just like those who seem to have no problem with the affidavits for residence, yet they live in Clayton County. Sure, they are renting a car from the airport for the whole school year every year.

    Stan will help point out more reasons why the legislature will remove 8 words from the constitution and we will all get to vote on it. It will win. We will see more cities in Dekalb and Fulton. Druid Hills is gone unless some fools wake up fast. The black elite of Cascade Rd and South Fulton want to leave Fulton County, and they have made clear they will not be King City.

  11. dsw2contributor says:

    Below is my response to Maureen Downey’s January 7, 2015 blog entry “If new DeKalb board member wants to go to mat, do it for kids, not background check”

    Maureen,

    I strongly disagree with your conclusion that “A routine criminal record check — standard now for new school board members in many states — is not” one of the critical issues facing the Dekalb County School System (DCSS).

    You could not be more wrong.

    Thanks to Dekalb County’s ongoing public corruption problems, EVERY single public office holder in Dekalb needs to be subjected to full criminal background checks.

    Jester’s argument that DCSS performing a background check on him would be a conflict of interest misses a much bigger problem: the school system’s background checks are A JOKE! That is because the background checks are performed by DCSS Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith’s department, NOT the school system’s police department. The “bad joke” should be obvious to anyone who read the AJC’s coverage of Horace Morris and Rodney Winston.

    The State of Florida banned Horace Morris from teaching in 2009 after he entered a nolo contendre plea to a single count of child abuse; DCSS missed that when they hired him to teach Criminal Justice at DeKalb County High School Technology South.

    Rodney Winston had faced a charge of sexual battery seven years before he was hired by DCSS to be a janitor at Lithonia Middle School. Last summer, Winston was arrested and charged with child molestation and sexual battery after two students at Lithonia accused him of inappropriately touching them this summer.

    I wish your headline had been something like “Incoming Board Member Jester had a criminal background check performed by an actual police department — why don’t we do that for all board members?” After all, the School Board is responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars and for hiring the next permanent School Superintendent.

  12. @dswcontributor AMEN to that!

  13. Again, we are not concerned about Stan’s background check and fingerprints. He had those done – by the Dunwoody and DeKalb police. We are very concerned that there are high ranking insiders who would run off to the media and create a firestorm over a non-issue like this — and worse, the media actually responded by making this ‘the news item of the day!’

    For god’s sake… help us!

  14. Gregory Walker says:

    Hi all – I do hope your New Year’s are all starting off well (personally). I do have one question that, in reading through everything, I am genuinely confused on: is a member of the Board (an elected official) simply an employee of the County and not the School System? I’ve taught before and, for that semester, I’m an employee of that institution (not the state, if it’s a public university) for the duration of that semester. If I understand Stan’s objection to be rooted in his contention that, by default, he (or any Board member) cannot be both an elected official/member of the Board and be an employee of the system, who is the actual employer (because, as someone else has noted, he is drawing a paycheck)? If it’s not DCSS but they (the Board) still receives a check from them, then it would seem they would almost have to be a 1099 vendor of sorts.

    (the precedent in the corporate world is that some Board members, say of ATT, are paid consultants – not employees of the company, but subject to some of the restrictions or conditions an employee may be).

    I think the answer as to the actual employment status would be well settled long before this election – either you are or you aren’t. In either case, if the School System had a requirement for a background check performed by their own staff for non-employees who work closely with (insert whichever group you want in here – the kids, staff, etc.) and that was known to all of the candidates in advance, then yes, Maureen would seem to be on point. There’s probably much bigger fish to fry.

  15. Gregory Walker says:

    I should add – reading through Stan’s own posts, there seems to be an inherent conflict I don’t see the answer to (which is being partly repeated): if you’re elected – and by definition cannot be an employee of DCSS – who are you an employee of? The answer to that should end this entire ‘controversy’…

  16. Who is the employer of any elected official? The people! [Seems we may need to revisit American history.]

    Here’s a good place to start >> American Politics Today

    And here >> The Key Work of School Boards
    A Framework for Improving Student Achievement

    We have identified eight essential and interrelated action-areas that together form a framework for effective school governance. We call this the Key Work of School Boards, and its purpose is to focus and guide efforts to improve student achievement by integrating all of these components into a systematic process.

    The eight Key Work action-areas are:

    Vision:
    Establishment of goals for student achievement is the starting point for a successful school district. http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/vision
    Standards: Statements that define and explain educational expectations are the foundation for successful schools. http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/standards
    Assessment: Only by measuring outcomes against performance standards can districts ensure improvement. http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/assessment
    Accountability: Assigning responsibility for educational outcomes at all levels must be a matter of district-wide policy. http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/accountability
    Alignment: A district’s vision, goals, and priorities must be matched with communication, planning, resource allocation, and implementation.http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/alignment
    Climate: Through their policies and actions district leaders set the tone for attitudes and behaviors of staff and students. http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/climate
    Collaboration: Successful school districts require partnership among board members, parents, businesses, political leaders, the media and the community at large. http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/collaboration
    Continuous Improvement: Constantly seeking new ways to improve education is what separates the good school districts from the great ones. http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards/continuous-improvement

    For each of these component action-areas, we’ve provided resources, training materials, networking opportunities, and research to help districts achieve more effective school governance.

    [DSW Note: NO $50,000 a month lawyers needed!]

    Helpful Links:
    The Center for Public Education at NSBA
    Department of Education Statistical Site
    – See more at: http://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/key-work-school-boards#sthash.sVB8MjWq.dpuf

  17. howdy1942 says:

    Once again, I don’t live in Stan’s district, but I agree with what he wants to do – reduce classroom size, increase the portion of the budget going to the classroom, downsize those positions that do not directly affect the classroom, increase teacher compensation to retain and attract quality teachers, restore community support for the Dekalb County School System, and recruit competent leaders. Whether or not he even has fingerprints is of little concern to me.

    Today’s AJC trumpeted the decision by Mercedes to move its headquarters to the Atlanta area. Dekalb was not one of the sites considered. Why? The answer to that question rests, in large measure, within Dekalb’s school system. Can anyone honestly say with a straight face that we have had a single competent superintendent this millennium? Can anyone honestly say that we have even had any degree of effective governance during this time? What has been the trend of test score results, of graduation rates, or of any other measure of progress? What has been the trend of community support for the DCSS during this period of time?

    This past school board did very little to change the quality of our schools or any of the trends mentioned in the previous paragraph. It did not even restore those TRA contributions that were abruptly taken away from our teachers. It has done nothing to reduce legal expenses. In fact, our teachers are now suing the DCSS and the DCSS wants and additional $2.5 million to fight its own people. It did absolutely nothing during its 20 months of service to even initiate a search for a qualified, permanent superintendent. It did nothing to reduce the size of the bloated central office. It did manage to buy administrators new cars, however.

    Quite obviously, the DCSS has been on the wrong path and remains on the wrong path. Stan has stated the obvious – if areas north of US 78 were able to vote on leaving the DCSS, the DCSS would be history. People in my neighborhood yearn for that opportunity. Druid Hills, Dunwoody, Lavista Hills, Tucker, Brookhaven – all know that we can do much, much better.

    My biggest beef with the DCSS is its arrogant attitude toward the community that it is supposed to serve. Our police force, our fire department, and even our sanitation department have all held numerous meetings in our community to answer questions, listen to suggestion, and build positive relationships with us. Interim CEO Lee May has sponsored numerous community meetings. As a result, potholes have been fixed, neighborhood watch organizations formed, and sanitation services have improved. Whatever your experience has been, these groups have listened. The Dekalb County School Board just doesn’t seem to care.

  18. Good comment copied & pasted from the AJC post on the subject >>

    ErikaHarris

    I’m curious…. So much time and energy is being spent on a story about Stan Jester and the background check and fingerprinting he did have completed well before the media jumped all over this…. But, he has done it. In the meantime though, no one has raised a word over our current superintendent, Michael Thurmond, who holds the highest position in a school system with no degree in education and likely has taken no classes towards an administration degree, or any education degree for that matter – which, from my understanding from our own DCSS, is required by law. We remain silent about this? We remain silent about the fact that DCSS has hired a superintendent search firm after a botched and questionable at best RFQ process – the same firm that was fired by the City of Atlanta. No one has raised a question about the stuff that is directly and immediately affecting the quality, credibility, and future of our leadership. Is anyone asking questions about System Charter, IE2, Status Quo? Because that, that directly impacts each and every one of our children. But, we’ll pick on this? All I can say is… Sigh. Only in DeKalb.

  19. Excellent points by Ericka. Other issues we ignore (as does the media) – our school system administration and board are in an on-going legal battle with the teachers over the decision to stop making contributions to their retirement annuities. This was a contribution that was promised and implemented for over 30 years until Dr Lewis and Ramona Tyson cut it in order to balance the budget. This annuity was in exchange for Social Security, which teachers do not participate in at all. This saves the school district a bundle of money – they do not have to contribute the legally required 6.5% (their fair share) of SS tax – NOR do they contribute to teachers’ annuities. [They do contribute to the state’s Teachers Retirement System.] In addition, apparently, substitute teachers were scarcely used in 2013-14, as the powers that be instead made teachers juggle covering for absent teachers by teaching those classes during their planning times. Again – millions saved off the backs of teachers! Now they are proposing to set aside [at least initially] $2.5 million to pit taxpayers against taxpayers as we fight the folks in Druid Hills in their effort to annex into the City of Atlanta. The media is nearly silent on these issues. But dammit – they will charge to the end of the earth to get that Stan Jester’s fingerprints!!

  20. Check out the latest list >> Best High Schools in Georgia

    First on the list is Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology (serving about 1,000 students)
    The list goes on with

      Columbus High School, Columbus

    • Northview High School, Johns Creek
    • Johns Creek High School, Johns Creek
    • Lambert High School, Suwanee
    • Brookwood High School, Snellville
    • Walton High School, Marietta
    • Buford High School, Buford
    • South Forsyth High School, Cumming,

    • North Gwinnett High School, Suwanee

    • Decatur High School, Decatur

    • Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee

    • North Oconee High School, Athens

    • Davidson Magnet School, Augusta

    • Milton High School, Milton

    • McIntosh High School, Peachtree City

    • Chattahoochee High School, Johns Creek

    • Savannah Arts Academy, Savannah

    • Kennesaw Mountain High School, Kennesaw

    • DeKalb School of the Arts, Avondale Estates (Last on the list, a specialty “boutique” DeKalb magnet school with an application process and about 300 very lucky students in 8-12th grades and a teacher-student ratio of 1:8 to 1:15)

    NO OTHER [LARGER] DEKALB SCHOOL HAS MADE THIS LIST. THIS IS HISTORIC FOR DEKALB. NO LAKESIDE. NO CHAMBLEE. NO ARABIA. NOBODY ELSE FROM DEKALB.

  21. Why does it say “Johns Creek” like they have their own school system? Or Peachtree City? This list isn’t telling us what system these schools are in.

  22. Okay, found it: Johns Creek is in the Fulton County School System. Approx. 96,000 total enrollment and 46% free/reduced lunch eligible, $878,000 budget for 2015, 101 total schools, 7 of which are start up charters.

  23. Weary Worker says:

    The last time I was finger printed by DCSS the person at police services could not operate the finger print scanner and took over an hour trying to get my prints. I can understand why Jester wanted to do it elsewhere.

  24. howdy1942 says:

    We may not have any of our high schools that are ranked among the best in Georgia, but I’ll bet our administrators have the newest cars! And I’ll bet that our administrators are more highly compensated than the administrators in those districts that are ranked.

  25. nannerpuddin39 says:

    Yes, Weary Worker if you have had experiences with DCSS you understand why Mr. Jester chose to have finger printing done by professionals! I DO NOT understand why the TV news or papers don’t report anything about the teachers’ retirement fund or all the money spent on legal services.

  26. Beverly Fraud says:

    Remember this whenever Downey pontificates on an issue:

    -she said (on her blog) that in her opinion discipline wasn’t a “pressing issue” in classrooms today.
    -she said, even AFTER the cheating scandal was exposed in HER newspaper, that Beverly Hall should remain superintendent for the “stability” she provides the district.

    Yes she really did write BOTH those things-keep that in mind when she wants to pontificate about “gadflies” or otherwise wax philosophic, with a supposed gravitas about education issues…

  27. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    MJ is only trying to neuter Jester before he gets his hands on the books. The DCSS Police Force is a farce and a waste of money. DCSS leadership tried the same thing with Jester’s wife when she kept asking staff questions about pertinent fiscal issues. It is time for sunshine at DCSS, open those Palace gates and let the true folks, who are paying for this boondoggle of a system, to get a look at the costs for the Palace populace, compared to the money getting to the classrooms.

    I hope those 8 words in the Georgia Constitution are changed so that the good folks of Chamblee, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Doraville and the new proposed cities in DeKalb can have a say in the direction and spending of THEIR own school districts. The F&F’s have had too much power for way too long and the only way to stop this massive over spending is to kill the system that enables them. Why is Ramona Tyson still with the district? Most of her decisions, along with Clew’s P-Card, have gotten us into this mess! Why does she get an unlimited expense account? I bet teachers could use some of those funds to supply their rooms with the things they need to teach!

    It is time to have that saying, “It’s always been done that way at DCSS.” placed into the dust bin of history, along with all the F&F’s that rule the roost! I find it hilarious that COX Broadcasting (WSB-TV) and Publishing (AJC) keeps the Jester fingerprinting story in the headlines. What is their agenda? Why can’t we find quotes from folks who are from Jester’s district about what he is doing? I think I know why, the support for Jester is huge! I can tell you, many in Jester’s district are fed up with the management of the school system. From Clew’s Crew, which is still firmly entrenched at the Palace, to Thurmond’s mumbling, bumbling ways of the past and his friendship to the largest DCSS F&F enabler, Dr. Eugene Walker. Nothing will change until the folks who run the Palace are gone! This could take years to do, since these F&F folks will most likely sue to keep their jobs and steer even more or OUR money to the lawyers, who seem to be the biggest profiteers of our schools and most certainly not the teachers who actually face our kids everyday.

    DCSS mired in the muck of mediocrity for 12 years and counting!

  28. dsw2contributor says:

    Atlanta Media Guy – “MJ is only trying to neuter Jester before he gets his hands on the books.”

    Maybe AMG, but I think this is mainly about SACS – “DeKalb School District leaders are hoping a SACS report expected at the end of January will lead to full accreditation”:
    http://crossroadsnews.com/news/2015/jan/02/dekalb-schools-hoping-full-accreditation-sacs-soon/

    Read that article and note the 8th paragraph – “In remarks before the board in July, AdvancEd CEO Mark Elgart said the district made “material progress” toward solving its governance and financial problems but still has work to do to improve student performance.”

    DCSS’s internal spreadsheet of CCRPI scores [ <— Hint! Hint! Hint!] makes it blatantly obvious that DCSS still has a tremendous amount of "work to do to improve student performance". If Mark Elgart sees that data, he will keep DCSS on "warned" status.

    So I think attacking Stan Jester about his fingerprints is actually a preemptive move. DCSS is trying to make the media incorrectly think that SACS's keeping DCSS on "warned' status was caused by "board governance" problems.

  29. howdy1942 says:

    Whatever the case may be, I sincerely hope that this whole fingerprinting matter can be resolved before the school board meets on Monday. Given the confidentiality breaches by the Dekalb County School System, I would also be concerned about entrusting my personal information to it.

    Stan was elected by the people of District 1 – he is not an employee of the Dekalb County School System. There is a vast difference between a “practice” in the DCSS and a rule, policy, and/or law that has been duly enacted by authorized elected officials in a proper forum. In the latter case, there is an accompanying responsibility to guard this confidential information and insure that only authorized personnel having a clear need to know have access.

    This matter should not be an agenda item at this Monday’s meeting. If there is a statue requiring a member of the school board to provide fingerprints, then so be it. If not, then any such proposed requirement needs to be researched, formulated, and presented.

    Arguing this case in the media is not in the best interests of the residents who live in Dekalb County. As one resident, I want this board to focus on searching for a new superintendent, on finding a negotiated resolution to the Druid Hills matter, on resolving the teacher lawsuit, on improving student achievement, on increasing community support for the DCSS, on finding ways to heal an obviously divided community, on reallocating expenses to the needs of the classroom and away from lawyers and administration, on retaining and attracting quality teachers, and on obtaining full accreditation.

    So I encourage all members of this school board to settle this fingerprinting matter among yourselves and not have this as an agenda item. Our people and our students have suffered long enough.

  30. Sadly, it appears the Board Chair has continued to make this non-issue a top tier issue. Stan has long ago complied with the requirements and submitted a background check from the Dunwoody police dept as well as fingerprinting by the DeKalb police and FBI. But for reasons (yet) unknown, the Board Chair continues to push Stan around via email. Check out the conversation below that we received via FactChecker >>
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2015/01/3386/

    From:MELVIN JOHNSON

    Date: Fri, Jan 9, 2015 at 2:05 PM
    Subject: Follow-up: School Background & Fingerprinting Check
    To:stanjester@gmail.com

    Mr. Jester:
    It is my honor to welcome you as a member of the DeKalb County Board of Education. It was my pleasure seeing you and your family, and the Honorable Supreme Court Justice Nahmias during the Oath of Office meeting held Monday evening.

    I share the sentiments expressed by Justice Nahmias prior to him administering your oaths, wherein he expressed his hope that we, as board members, will execute all we do with complete integrity, real wisdom, and always bearing in mind that our only concern is the interests of the children, students and citizens of DeKalb County. With those interests in mind, I write to follow up regarding your background check and fingerprinting. Since my last correspondence to you regarding the matter, I now understand from public sources that you have stated that you are happy to submit to both a background check and fingerprinting. I thank you for understanding the seriousness of this matter.

    As I have previously shared, it is the practice of our District that all Board members submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting in the form required by O.C.G.A. § 20-2-211.1 and Board policy, which requires both a state and federal based fingerprint check. Accordingly, please ensure that you have submitted to both a Georgia and federal fingerprint-based background check. The DeKalb County School District Office of Public Safety, of course, remains willing to assist you, in the same manner that agency provides for all other Board of Education members and DCSD employees.

    Though you have sent me a link to your blog indicating that you submitted to a background check with the Dunwoody Police Department, I ask that you request actual copies of your criminal background check and state and federal based fingerprint results be forwarded directly to Donald Smith, Director of DCSD’s Office of Public Safety. Or you may contact Mr. Smith to complete your criminal background check and state and federal fingerprinting by email at donald_smith@fc.dekalb.12.ga.us, or by phone at 678-676-2150.

    If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and your willingness to serve. I look forward to working with you.

    Melvin Johnson

    +++++

    Stan’s reply >>

    Mr. Smith,

    As I previously indicated to Dr. Johnson, I have had a background check by BOTH the Dunwoody and DeKalb County Police Departments. I specifically asked that the DeKalb PD do a fingerprint check for me. Their fingerprint check and its results are also on my website.

    Please tell me the GCIC Purpose Code used in the background checks for Board of Education members. I’ll make sure that the purpose code used by the DeKalb County PD is the same or reports the same data pursuant to the GCIC’s rules. That will give everyone clarity that the check that I have had done is the same or reports the same or more data than the checks on every other member of the board.

    Thank you for your help in this matter,

    Stan Jester

    +++++

    And when the Chair ignored Stan, Stan apparently replied again >>

    From:Stan Jester [mailto:stanjester@gmail.com]
    Sent:Sunday, January 11, 2015 11:30 AM
    To:donald_smith@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
    Cc:’MELVIN JOHNSON’
    Subject:RE: Follow-up: School Background & Fingerprinting Check

    Mr. Smith and Dr. Johnson,

    I have not heard from you regarding my last email. In order to facilitate an even easier dissemination of my fingerprinted background check, I have researched GCIC report dissemination rules and policies. You can contact the DeKalb PD directly and ask for them to give you the results of and/or access to my check. In doing my background check, the DeKalb PD contacted the GBI directly and asked for their guidance in which purpose code to use in doing my background check. I hope this gives you confidence that the check was done correctly.

    As you know, the fingerprinted background checks in Georgia are completed by using GCIC and their terminals, pursuant to their rules guided by CJIS and state and federal law. This is the same for DeKalb PD and DCSD. When you run a check it queries certain databases pursuant to GCIC rules. You can view GCIC’s policies, including sanctions for misuse of the GCIC/CJIS system at this link:
    http://xlms.gbi.state.ga.us/xlms/uploads/GCIC%20Policy%20Manual.pdf

    Again, you can find my background checks at these links:

    DeKalb County PD fingerprinted background check:
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/wp-content/assets/documents/FingerprintEmails/DeKalbPoliceDeptFingerprintBackgroundCheck.pdf
    Dunwoody PD background check:
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/wp-content/assets/documents/bgcheck12232014.pdf

    I am in compliance with all legal requirements and policy for my service. Additionally, I have gone the extra mile in an attempt to be collaborative, transparent and disclosure oriented, and have received the broadest background check allowable pursuant to the law. My background check queries all GCIC and CJIS databases pursuant to their policy framework. I have posted these results on my website.

    Please confirm that you have received this email and understand that I am in compliance with all legal and policy requirements. Furthermore, I provided you additional information, not required of me, in a collaborative gesture to demonstrate collegiality without compromising my closely held principle.

    –Stan Jester.

    +++++

    All has been quiet in response. We assume this is because the Board Chair and his attorney$$$ are plotting their next move in ‘how to solve a problem like Stan’… We so hoped that rather than leaking nonsense to the press, the Board Chair could act like a grown up and focus on dealing with the issues relevant to the Board of Education and their charge to educate the students of DeKalb, provide them the most optimum learning environment possible and attract and retain the best teachers for them. But no, we have to keep our lawyers busy! Stan long ago submitted the requirements for a background check as well as fingerprinting. At this point, this is nothing more than the Board Chair functioning as bully — using our taxpayer dollars to do so.

  31. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    I think I know what Melvin Johnson’s problem with Stan is! Stan is going to expose the waste at DCSS! With all that is going on in DeKalb (Cityhood Drives and GA Constitution change) MJ has to stop it or the DCSS F&F gravy train will run dry. If the staff has issues with Stan’s questions, then maybe it is time for them to look for new work in another school system. Stan was elected by his constituents to ask these questions and expose the waste, just like his wife did.

    It is time for SACS to step in and suggest smaller districts.. But SACS will not because they get a lot of money from DCSD. If you ask me, the DeKalb taxpayer money that goes to SACS is more like hush money than anything else.

    SACS is an old used up organization, they bully systems into paying them fees and to buy materials from their parent company, AdvancED. They claim to be a not for profit, but one look at the salaries for their leadership, someone is profiting from the taxpayers. SACS has done nothing to improve DCSS. If they had, we would not have endured this long arduous 12 year journey into mediocrity.

    HIRE A SUPER WITH NO LOCAL TIES! FIRE ALL CLEW CREW NOW! FIRE ALL F&F HIRES! CUT ALL TIES WITH NEW BIRTH! CUT THE PALACE BUDGET BY 50% AND SEND THAT MONEY BACK INTO THE SCHOOLS! Will everyone suffer during the transition? Sure! But until something actually changes at the Palace, nothing is going to change at DCSS.

    We do not need “coaches for teachers”. We need good teachers that expect to be paid, given merit raises and have a retirement plan that DCSS promised and fully funded for the years Clew and Tyson balanced the budget on the their backs!

    Wouldn’t this be a good start?

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