DeKalb School Board member’s pay withheld amid fight over background checks

School Board Stan Jester believes that nothing in state law requires him to submit to a background check conducted by DeKalb County Schools.

Now he says the school system refuses to give him his paycheck and has refused to create a county email account for him. That means his constituents can’t contact him about School Board business using the official county email account, and he isn’t included on some emails that go to the other board members.

Decaturish asked DeKalb County Schools about this, and a spokesperson said a detailed statement would be forthcoming.

Jester believes the school system’s actions are retaliation for his refusal to comply with a background check requirement.

“I think it all goes back to the fingerprinting,” Jester said.

Read more here >> DeKalb School Board member’s pay withheld amid fight over background checks

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42 Responses to DeKalb School Board member’s pay withheld amid fight over background checks

  1. dsw2contributor says:

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

  2. thedeal2 says:

    How many statements is Quinn Hudson going to have to churn out this week?

  3. Sarah says:

    Yet we don’t withhold paychecks from board members who can’t be bothered to attend their once a month meetings? This county is so messed up. Mr. Jester has my support 110% but I am afraid he is fighting a losing battle. So sad.

  4. We think Stan’s problem is that he doesn’t want the school district to handle his fingerprinting. He wanted the GBI and Dunwoody Police – professional organizations to run the reports – which they did. He thinks there is a conflict when he – in reality, the ‘boss’ of the superintendent – goes to the central office HR department (under the superintendent) to be fingerprinted. The staff really doesn’t have to handle that for the board. We really have to wonder why this has become such a big deal – Stan submitted his fingerprints to the GBI and DeKalb police and had a background check done by Dunwoody Police. To us, this just looks like posturing by a superintendent who sees this as some kind of personal affront.

  5. nannerpuddin39 says:

    Are they saying the county does a better job fingerprinting and background check? PLEASE. Stan, you know you are right! Hang tough with these idiots maybe it will become so obvious the guv will have to act! We know SAC will do absolutely nothing!!

  6. Stan, should get a lawyer because it is illegal for them to withhold an elected official’s Pay. He was sworn in and provided a background check and got fingerprinted by the Police. He turned that in. Federal Wage law is being violated. In his Federal Labor violations lawsuit ( Morgan and Morgan take these on Contingency) .

    I worked for a Federal Agency, for a while when our old finger printing equipment and we didn’t have an appropriation to purchase new computerized system, our Human Resourses office sent job applicants directly to State Tropper Locations and had them get their own finger prints taken and a multi- state GCIC background check run and bring the original back.

    I have noticed that Emory has applicants for Medical School, Physician Assistant and various applicants who will do clinical rotations in school to submit their background checks through an independent website provider.

  7. Weary Worker says:

    The fingerprinting is done to keep people in that department employed. The DCSD police security department is bloated and ineffective. However I feel that the system has become a magnet for criminal behavior and attracts all sorts of folks with bad intentions and hopes of skimming tax payer money. So they figure anyone who wants this job would have to be a criminal. But even though this has become a distraction I feel Jester is right. This also goes back to my belief that no board members should be paid.

  8. whyaminotsurprised says:

    They want the background check to be federal, not just state. Can’t he just go get a federal check done? Then he’s paid; the board is annoyed, but has no more argument; we all move on.

  9. Why? Do these agencies [GBI and FBI] keep separate fingerprinting database? If so, that’s a whole ‘nother issue…

  10. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    One open question is still whether board members are employees or not. References to GA law stating that BOE members are not employees have been made. Plus, who cuts checks for the board – payroll or AP? It seems to me that pay for board members is non-employee compensation payable by AP and reportable on a 1099.

  11. Eventually someone has to say, “Enough!” to the bullying from Thurmond and his lackeys. We support Stan Jester in drawing a line in the sand, so to speak.

  12. Just Wondering says:

    OMG
    With all the major issues that we have going on in the DCSS, why would they make an issue out of this? Mr. Jester has had a back ground check. How quickly we forget. Does anyone remember that last year a teacher at DeKalb School of Technology South had to resign. Students found information about him by searching his name.
    There are good things about our school system. There are also areas that need work. For the sake or our children, staff and the entire county we must learn a way to focus on the serious issues.

  13. FormerDekalbParent says:

    Obviously, Stan was DISRESPECTFUL of the Superintendent and that is why he is being punished because it is all about the genuflection done to the almighty great and powerful Michael Thurmond…..

  14. dsw2contributor says:

    ^ Speaking of major issues, Channel-11 has a report about a problem with the Dekalb County School System’s handling of immunization records:

    “DeKalb County health officials say they were unaware that a local elementary school was out of compliance when it comes to state vaccination records until 11Alive News reported state statistics Tuesday. Now, the County’s Health Director says she’s considering sending vaccination teams to schools where students are not vaccinated.

    The Georgia Public Health Department reports Dresden Elementary School has 49 kindergarten students with no proof of vaccination on file, and several other schools have up to 14 each.”

    http://www.11alive.com/story/news/health/2015/02/11/dekalb-county-checking-schools-for-vaccine-infractions/23261661/

    The article also says that Dekalb County Public Health Director Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford is considering “sending vaccination teams to schools where students are not vaccinated.”

  15. howdy1942 says:

    Given that the Dekalb County School System has so mishandled personnel information in the past, I would not provide them with any personal data not required by law. Remember the last board divulging confidential information about two of the last three superintendent candidates? There are many examples, but the DCSS just cannot seem to protect confidential information.

  16. whyaminotsurprised says:

    @dekalbschoolwatch –> Yes, there is apparently a difference. The GBI search apparently does not include the FBI database, which includes problems from other states. At least, that’s what the DCSB claims. I haven’t looked at Mr. Jester’s actual background check to see, nor compared it to what the County normally does.

  17. Here’s what it says at the GBI website >>

    GCIC was the first state criminal records repository to have an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) which creates or updates criminal history records as a by-product of the fingerprint identification process. The current system supports electronic fingerprint submissions from the local agency and to the FBI. There are 103 agencies transmitting arrest fingerprint cards electronically to GCIC. With the service these 107 agencies provide to surrounding local agencies, GCIC receives electronic submissions from approximately 351 agencies. This represents over 83% of the total criminal fingerprint card workload and 15% of the applicant fingerprint card workload. GCIC currently receives an average of 1,000 electronic criminal transactions daily. This real-time processing of arrest information makes current, up-to-date criminal history information available to the criminal justice community.

    https://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-crime-information-center

    Are there any lawyers out there that can tell us the difference between the FBI and the GBI’s fingerprinting databases?

  18. Stan Jester has posted a reply to an email from the chair regarding his background check.

    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/wp-content/assets/documents/FingerprintEmails/02142015.pdf

  19. Ella says:

    I have nothing against Mr. Jester. However, this is petty. The DeKalb County School System pays the school board member’s salary. They give them insurance benefits. They are employees of the county and state just like any other school employee. It is true they are elected and represent the people. However, the pay comes from the same place that teachers, principals, bus drivers come from. They all have to go through this process. What is the indication here? Is Mr. Jester too good to do the same thing that all other employees of the school system does?

    I think this sends the wrong message to all the employees in DeKalb County Schools. It is unnecessary drama. Mr. Jester did not even have a race to run as no one else in district 1 ran for this position.

    I feel strongly that DeKalb School System has so many issues that need to be solved and spending time on such a petty issue is sad for all the school children in DeKalb County. The petty things like this needs to stop and let’s get back to the important things like providing our children in DeKalb County the education they deserve. Whether Mr. Jesters concerned are warranted or not this is going to be a waste of time on his part and is embarrassing to DeKalb County citizen as a whole. Maybe the governor needs to remove him from office. Maybe Mr. Jester wants the drama to continue and is putting his petty interests over what is best for the children.

  20. Dekalb Inside Out says:

    @Ella. It is against the law for members of the board of education to be employees of the school district. All over the state elected officials are paid and have insurance benefits but aren’t subjected to background checks.

    It is against the law for the Governor to remove just one school board member.

    Personally, I would rather not remove the only board member that has asked to restore TSA and give teachers a pay raise lately.

  21. howdy1942 says:

    It seems to me like this issue is easily resolvable. Has to school board or any governing authority ever voted on the “fingerprinting” or “background checks” required of any elected school board member? Have they been written down? If so, what is the agency or body authorized to make those checks? To what agency or body does that information go (if it is required)?

    Mr. Johnson has stated that this is a “practice” of the school board. “Practice” does not equal “requirement”. Either this is a requirement passed by a legislative or duly constituted authority or it is not.

  22. FedUp says:

    Do background checks and fingerprinting really matter? There are plenty of teachers and coaches in DeKalb County who have criminal records that are still working with our children.

    http://georgia.arrests.org/Arrests/Gaynell_Troy_6469560/

  23. @Ella, Melvin said it was policy to background check employees and practice to fingerprint board members. Those are two completely different things. I’m hoping you can understand that, but I expect the administration to understand that.

    There are all kinds of people up there paid by the district that aren’t employees or background checked like general counsel and every vendor up there. By the way, let’s not forget Jester had two background checks and published them … that’s more than I can say for anybody else.

  24. howdy1942 says:

    Like Eugene Walker, Stan Jester was elected to serve on the Dekalb County School Board. He did not seek employment by the Dekalb County School System. He is employed by the people of District 1. He nor any other serving board member are constrained by any of the policies, practices, or edicts of the Dekalb County School System. As a serving board member, he is paid by the people of Dekalb County. We need to remember that the Dekalb County School System owns nothing – all of the resources of this County belong to the people. That is true of any corporation. For example, General Electric owns nothing – all of its resources are owned by the shareholders.

  25. Gregory Walker says:

    Unfortunately, the more I’ve seen posted on this subject, the more ridiculous it seems on both sides. Yes, Stan is not an “employee”, in the sense that a teacher is an employee. But, he is “employed” by the DCSS. That is indisputable – he gets a check from them (something, by the way, he has refused to directly acknowledge in any correspondence or in a public forum when directly asked, prior to this dispute about withholding his pay).
    One does not have to be an employee to be employed by an entity like DCSS (and, no, despite the snarky replies in the past, he is not employed by the people of District 1. He was elected by them. There is a distinction).
    So: if he knew, ahead of time that a background check by DCSS would be required, (and presumably, he read the DCSS rules and regulations before throwing his hat in the ring to be elected) then I’d actually argue, like any vendor responding to an RFP with the School System, he should have registered his concerns prior to running for office. Not after.
    Lastly, and most importantly: if this were another member of the Board raising these objections that this blog was much less sympathetic towards, would you defend their rights to the hilt the way you’re defending Mr. Jester? I cannot possibly imagine anyone would. So, is this about principle or about personality?
    And, really, don’t we all have much bigger issues to tackle than this?

  26. Aw says:

    The better question is why would one get a background check from Dunwoody and the GBI In the first place? Is there a skeleton in the closet in ther states?

  27. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    General Counsel is paid from the school district checkbook, yet none of them have background checks. It is against the law for a school board member to be an employee of the school district.

    What law or policy has Jester broken?

  28. Gregory Walker says:

    DeKalb IO – he’s not a vendor; the General Counsel is a vendor. Vendors are not subject to the same requirements.
    What’s frustrating about this is that I think Stan has a point about the seeming contradiction in the Code. But, instead of working behind closed doors, with the other members of the Board, to discuss the issue, figure out if they need a ruling from the State on the “employee” clause (which I’m sure the Attorney General would have answered), he decided to tell no one else on the Board what he was going to do, bucked the Board’s own procedure (which everyone else had abided by) and then started down this long, convoluted road of publicity. Which is simply going to make it harder for him to build any consensus later on – he’s set himself “above” the Board as a whole. I don’t understand the reasoning behind the strategy overall…

  29. Some clarification: Stan decided that he did not want the school district to do his background check and fingerprinting, so he went to the Dunwoody and DeKalb police and the GBI. He had all of these background checks completed and they are posted on his website. He did not do anything else and did not make an issue of it – someone from the school district or board went to the press and Stan was shocked to find a WSB news camera at his house.

    We are not sure if the FBI records are different from the GBI but it appears they could be. Read more here >>
    https://gbi.georgia.gov/obtaining-criminal-history-record-information

    Another clarification: School board members are paid a salary ($18,000 rings a bell, but we aren’t certain of the amount). They can choose to buy the health insurance through the school district but they have to pay for it in full. We don’t think they are entitled to any other benefits like say, county commissioners and state reps who get pensions after serving a certain number of years.

    Interestingly, due to a loop hole in the law, Elaine Boyer is entitled to collect her full pension even though she pleaded guilty to charges of bilking county funds. Further, the ‘preacher’ she funneled money through, Rooks Boynton was never charged with a crime.

    A particularly disturbing snippet from the AJC article >> Boynton is a former University of Georgia football player who ran unsuccessfully for DeKalb County offices in 1980 and 1984, and then shifted his focus to infusing Christianity into local governments. For several years he owned a home in Clarkston, but for part of the time Boyer was paying him, he claimed residence in a three-story luxury home on the beach of St. Simons Island. He listed that address in voting records.

    Can you say, Scot free?! Seems to be the DeKalb way… Someone gets a get out of jail free card in every one of these corruption cases… Crawford Lewis got his from the school district trials for racketeering by testifying against Pat Pope. However, his ‘testimony’ was useless, and basically a rambling description of his fear that his wife would find out about his affair with his deputy superintendent.

    Seems to be who you know and who is on your side determines whether or not the hammer comes down in DeKalb.

  30. Dekalb Inside Out says:

    Gregory, please show me the board procedure you mentioned that says board members are subject to background checks.

    Ella,
    1. Everything you said is completely inaccurate.
    2. If all DeKalb County employees are subject to background verification and judges and commissioners are county employees (as you say), why aren’t they subject to background checks?

  31. Stan Jester says:

    I’m happy to answer any questions and get this behind us.

    Like DSW said, I did two background checks and published them online. I just don’t think I should be investigated by the agency I was elected to oversee. The leak to WSB confirms my concerns.

    Board members can get on the district health insurance plan, but they have to pay full price. They don’t get the employee rate.

    One of the real pains in all of this is I’m not given access to my school district email. A majority of the board is working together to resolve these issues.

    State law and policy are very clear and I don’t see the contradiction. If anything, “practice” contradicts policy and law which is another concern.

  32. sawyerbrown68 says:

    There is an employee discount on healthcare? I was under the impression that DeKalb County no longer subsidized any plans.

  33. sawyerbrown68 says:

    Mr. Jester is blissfully incorrect.

    The Georgia law (law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-20/chapter-2/article-3/20-2-51) referenced by Mr. Jester and embraced by others on this blog emphatically speaks to the “eligibility” of citizens to serve or stand for election or appointed on any public board of education in the State of Georgia.

    The clear intent of O.C.G.A 20-2-51 (if you have read it yourself) is to prevent a powerful conflict of interest and undue influence of a school district “employee” simultaneously holding a seat on the board and another “employee” position from receiving preferential treatment as an administrator, teacher, or support emplyee (or for a close relative in high positions!) because of his/her position as a public school board member. Read the statute before continuing.

    As you can fairly see with your own eyes, this law does not prevent Mr. Jester ( a previous non-employee) from becoming an “employee” upon assuming his office (office=his only employment with the Dekalb County School District).

    Those of us who blindly accept Mr. Jester’s arguments ( I did for a while because of my socio-ethno-politico background**) would not have accepted the same argument from any other Dekalb School Board members representing South of Memorial.

    Let our interests coincide with our honor!

    (**Per http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/american-denial/implicit-association-test.html, I have a strong automatic preference for X people compared to Y people)

  34. We totally agree sawyerbrown, however, and we would have been very concerned if Stan refused a background check. But he did not, he was just refusing to let school ‘officials’ (read that; HR department) do the deed. He instead opted to get his own background checks done, (Dunwoody Police and the GBI) which is what many employers have people do. So it’s not a matter of Stan not wishing to do a background check, it’s a matter of should he have to have HR do it? And yes, many of us are very mistrustful of DCSS’s administration, having been personally betrayed by them and lied to by them in the past. We have heard many stories – some that would curl your hair. So we had no issue with Stan’s acquiring a background check on his own. He even posted them on his website – only to be continually criticized for not complying with the school district’s methodology. Maybe if he would acquire one from the FBI to add to his collection people would be satisfied?

  35. Ella, we agree with DeKalb Inside Out. We cannot allow your inaccuracies to stand because some people will read them as the gospel truth.

    BTW, we find it very interesting and more than a little revealing that none of the DCS board members have posted their background checks. Apparently only Stan Jester has nothing to hide. Stan has posted his background checks in full and has called for the other board members to do the same. They have not. If they have nothing to hide, why wouldn’t they?

    Quite frankly, given DeKalb County Schools’ abysmal record with identifying employees who could harm our children, we think that background checks for every employee and all board members should be posted online for all to see. Social Security numbers and, possibly, phone numbers could be redacted.

  36. Stan Jester says:

    DeKalb Schools Policy GAHB (B.11) states that you may not be employed by the school while on the Board of Education. Policy GAHB (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.”

    Board policy is clear that I may not be an employee while on the Board of Education. Furthermore, Policy GAK(1): states, “Criminal background 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.”

    The district is not deciding whether to grant me regular employment. Georgia law has qualifications for elected office, including not having a “conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude”. Every candidate has to submit an affidavit attesting to meeting these qualifications. This is why most if not all school board members across the state are not subject to background checks.

    I would support a change in the policy that requires school board members to have background checks as long as it’s not the school district performing the background check. I would furthermore support a requirement to publish said background check online.

    Health Insurance Plans
    Here are the rates teachers, employees and families across the state pay for health insurance:
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2014/08/2500/

    When Nancy was on the board, we did health insurance through the school district and paid over $1000/month. Board members don’t get a pension either … nor should we … we are not employees.

  37. Stan Jester says:

    A friend just sent me the 2015 board member health coverage rates. View Complete Chart Here

    Monthly Rates for “YOU + FAMILY”
    BCBS Gold – $ 2,492
    BCBS Silver – $ 2,246
    BCBS Bronze – $ 2,066
    BCBS HMO – $ 2,326
    UHC HMO – $ 2,540
    UHC HDHP – $ 1,998
    Kaiser HMO – $ 1,470

  38. sawyerbrown68 says:

    For the purpose of FICA and taxation the Feds and Georgia treat Board members as employees.

    Likewise, for the purposes of background checks, Board members are treated as employees.

    For retirement and insurance, Board members are part time employees therefore do not qualified for either.

    If I follow your argument, substitute teachers are not employees. Yet, they plainly are.

    I respect that a Board member works long and hard on behalf of the students, teachers, and parents. For that you have my respect and thanks.

  39. @sawyerbrown >> The board members are not ’employees’ of the school district. They are elected officials. They are the superintendent’s boss. He is not theirs. Yes, their salaries are paid from school district funds, but that’s as far as it goes.

    And Ella, again, you are so wrong on so many points. Please do not go around stating wrong information as if it’s gospel and you ‘know’. You don’t know. Obviously. For example, as Stan showed, the board members are not given health coverage, but they can buy a policy – at full price. They get no pension or retirement from the state. They simply get more or less a ‘stipend’ for their time, which we think should actually amount to $0. They should be volunteers. This should not be seen as a job for people who can’t get one otherwise.

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