Superintendent Search Update

The Fact Checker has posted an in-depth update regarding the DeKalb County (GA) School Superintendent search.

PROACT was hired as the superintendent search firm at the 12/17/2014 board meeting. PROACT gave an update at the 01/12/2015 board meeting. Since December, they have been working with DeKalb Schools Chief of Staff, Ramona Tyson, and her staff to identify key members of the community as well as identify locales, times and schedules for public engagement sessions.

Dozens of community meetings are being scheduled for the first two weeks in February. PROACT is also working with the central office to put together an online survey.

Various members of the community have asked that the administration step away from the process and follow best practices by letting a community search committee drive the search. Atlanta Public Schools had a successful superintendent search using a committee composed of stakeholders that included parents, board members, community representatives and business leaders. DeKalb’s Parent Councils United (PCU) has called for DCSD to use a similar method and cited the APS Superintendent Search Committee Framework …

Read the rest, including an explanation of Atlanta Schools Superintendent search at the Fact Checker >> Superintendent Search Update

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13 Responses to Superintendent Search Update

  1. FWIW, we have it on good authority that in fact, ProAct was not the only interested bidder originally. There was an initial request for qualifications, for which at least 4 companies submitted proposals, including Ray & Associates, the firm that conducted the last search, which was a fiasco, full of media leaks and railroaded by Gene Walker’s demands for an African-American superintendent. [NOTE: We already have a problem with media leaks on this board, regarding Stan Jester’s fingerprinting (non)issue…]

    For reasons unknown, the school district put those original 4 bids aside and created a second request for qualifications. Bidders could not tell what was different in the new request and their phone calls for clarification went unanswered. Therefore, they did not create new proposals, leaving their original proposals in submission. However, the school district tossed those and only claimed to have had one interested bidder the second go round – ProAct. We find that very suspect.

    Now, we are told that Ramona Tyson, who was hand-picked by Crawford Lewis as his successor after resigning prior to being indicted on charges of fraud and racketeering (factual) in order to protect the jobs of high-ranking individuals (our opinion), is leading ProAct around by the nose – hand selecting the ‘community’ members to sit on the search committee. Again, we find that very suspect.

    We aren’t even cautiously optimistic at this point. We can hardly wait to see who they finally place on this ‘community’ committee. Stay tuned…

  2. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – I’m not sure that the school board or the Dekalb County Commission understands the gravity of this superintendent search. It is extremely important that representatives from Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Druid Hills, Lakeside, and Tucker be included in this community search committee. They represent 40% of Dekalb County by population and at least 50% of its tax base. These communities have been outspoken critics of the way the Dekalb County School System is being governed and managed. These are not bad people. They are reasonable, but they want the Dekalb County School System fixed. It has been badly broken for years and little improvement has been made.

    I have been to numerous community meetings and one stands out. It was one sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association in which they have invited Michael Thurmond to speak. This meeting was during his first few week as superintendent. I thought that it would be tense, but this Dunwoody group were polite, respectful, and asked some very good questions. This was the meeting in which Mr. Thurmond promised to get back with the specific 600 positions that he said had been eliminated. Since that meeting, I don’t think that anyone has heard from or seen Mr. Thurmond.

    The majority of those who live in these communities want to get out of the Dekalb County School System. Dekalb County has already lost the very lucrative Dunwoody and Brookhaven tax base. It is well on the way to losing Druid Hills completely. And Lavista Hills and Tucker are not far behind. Already, Decatur wants to annex portions of unincorporated Dekalb that presently have a significant tax base. In short, if the next four years see as much progress to leaving the DCSS as the past four years have shown, Dekalb County will face a financial crisis. Accordingly, it is essential that the DCSS reach out to these communities and insure that it listens to their residents and heed their advice.

    I was very discouraged after reading Mr. May’s letter to Melvin Johnson specifying who he thought should be on this “citizen” committee. I hope that someone at the school board and the County Commission understands the absolute importance that the superintendent search process get it right this time.

  3. Teachermom says:

    Community meetings are a joke. They are offered in place of real community representation in the process. The only transparency here is the fact that we can all see right through rigging of the selection of our next superintendent. History repeats itself.

  4. Cap22 says:

    Proact is behind all these problem superintendent coming to Georgia and seem to have some affiliation with Broad Supes Academy, yet school boards keep choosing them.

  5. We don’t have a voice in the selection of principals, teachers or assistant superintendents, vice principals, counselors or education “coaches.” We don’t have a voice in the removal of beloved school staff plucked suddenly from one school and sent to another, or political districts gerrymandered to allow a chosen few to gain the most favorable odds. Do we really think the community will have a say now?

  6. This all points to why the constitution needs to be changed.

    A builder/ developer has recently asked me to help him find a couple of houses to renovate and flip. The first one he gave me was listed as Dunwoody. But a closer search was it was Doraville and near Dunwoody. The house was listed for $200k yet had $5,200 in taxes on it. I told him no was it was not in one of the better Elementary or Middle schools. There were a few good elementary’s in the new cities that he could take a chance on. I later found an original house in Brookhaven that I told him while it has a higher price tag, it has a better elementary and it has a City that wants to start its own district.

  7. McDonald Observer says:

    A $200k house in Doraville with a $5,200 annual tax bill is almost certainly a rental property (i.e., no homestead exemption).

  8. thedeal2 says:

    Don’t forget that our board only has until June 30 to have a new superintendent in place. Thurmond’s contract is up June 30. So either his contract will be extended, an interim will be hired, or they somehow are going to hire a new one when they haven’t really even started. I highly doubt there is any way to get anyone but someone who is already in the system on board in 5 months. More embarrassment.

  9. howdy1942 says:

    It has become increasingly obvious that this superintendent search has not incorporated best practices that would unite our community, that would insure that the best possible candidate regardless of race would be selected, and that we would use an open, honest process to select that superintendent. I don’t know what the truth is regarding the number of firms that were interested in offering their services to find our next superintendent. If, for whatever reason, that process was short-circuited, then we have a much more serious problem at the Dekalb County School Board than I envisioned.

    The last superintendent search was a disaster. It produced three candidates, but leaks from someone on the school board embarrassed two of them to the point that they withdrew, leaving only Dr. Atkinson. Eighteen months later, the same school board that hired her forced her out. When something like that happens, there can be no doubt that the search conducted by that school board was an abysmal failure. That same school board hired an “interim” in secret without any input from the community. Even though that interim was supposed to serve one year, we find that same “interim” is still with us after two years. The same administration that led us into a deep, dark hole is also still with us. Even if this search did, by some stretch of the imagination, get its act together, I doubt that we could attract a top tier candidate. There is a wide gulf between a large part of our community and this school board and this search process has done nothing the narrow the breach. Legislation has been introduced to allow communities within Dekalb County to create their own school system. The old, historic community of Druid Hills wants to join Atlanta and take its schools and taxes with them. Two new cities are likely to be formed this year. And all of that has been caused directly by the Dekalb County School Board.

    So, we are where we are with just five months to go until we find ourselves at June 30. As of this moment, we are hearing about Ramona Tyson leading an effort to “involve” members of our community in this selection process. That is the same Ramona Tyson who, for whatever reason, could not put together an acceptable response to even a few of SACS’ questions. Given the letter from Mr. May, the ability to attract but a single bidder, and the appointment of Ramona Tyson, I seriously doubt that any such community involvement will be little more than perfunctory that will intentionally avoid input by the very people who ought to be involved. After all, the school board could have asked an outside party, such as the Chamber of Commerce, perhaps the Mayor of Decatur, perhaps the Police Chief (who is highly regarded in his profession), or perhaps the Mayor of Dunwoody and the Mayor of Stone Mountain, or some other party outside the school system to work with this single bidder to develop meaningful community participation that would be accepted and respected. The leadership of this school board just does not seem to get it.

  10. Excellent points Howdy. We would add that we have a plethora of ‘community input’… there is nothing new to dig up here. The ‘community’ has provided thoughtful, helpful, sincere input on a number of occasions – the Charettes, the Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Citizens Task Force, the Fireside Chats, etc, etc. All the administration needs to do is read through all of that past input – it is the same message over and over and over again.

    In fact, DSW bloggers once wrote our own 2020 Vision – it’s four years old and it still stands as our statement of what we would like to see happen in our schools. There is no need to discuss it again or write up anything new.

    Monday, February 7, 2011
    “Without a vision, the people perish…”

  11. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – It is very apparent that this school board knows who it wants to the next superintendent. This whole search process is not serious – it is just a formality. I suspect that it will be Beasley, Tyson, or Thurmond (for the third time). Maybe even Simpson.

    To continue on my theme, I really admire Chick-fil-A and visited its Stone Mountain location today for lunch. The service was simply outstanding. I made a comment to that effect to the manager and he responded “it all starts with hiring good people”. How true! At my home Tucker location, I have often observed interviews taking place. Maybe this school board ought to ask Chick-fil-A how they do it because they sure seem to interview and hire some very talented and courteous people.

    As I said before, I personally know two people who are presently superintendents of mid-sized school districts whose performance is far better than that of Dekalb. I have expressed my thought via email to members of the board without providing their names. And I won’t unless I can be assured of absolute confidentiality. But it doesn’t matter – it’s been almost a month and I have yet to hear from any of them.

    Enough said.

  12. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    Stakeholder engagement meetings scheduled:

  13. concerned citizen says:

    Howdy, how prophetic you are – Beastly, Ramoona, Turdmon, and thiefson – DeKalb’s best and brightest.

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