Legislation To Help Failing Schools In DeKalb

From the Fact Checker blog >>

Governor Deal unveiled a plan Wednesday allowing the state to assume management and operations of failing schools. This post was adapted from How Nathan Deal’s bid to rescue failing schools would work by Greg Bluestein at the AJC.

The enabling legislation creates an Opportunity School District which would pick up 20 failing schools each year. The overall number would be capped at 100 and the program would start in the 2017 school year.  The Opportunity School District would be led by a superintendent who reports directly to the Governor and would be outside the jurisdiction of the Ga DOE and State Superintendent.

What schools would be taken over? Schools that score below a 60 on the state’s College and Career Performance Index three years running which includes 27 of DeKalb’s schools listed below.

Once the decision to intervene is made, the superintendent of the new district can choose between four options:

  • Direct state management of the school
  • Shared governance with a local school board
  • Conversion to a charter school
  • Closure of the school

The opportunity school district’s superintendent would pick the school leadership team. Each opportunity school would have a nonprofit board to oversee its governance.

27 of the 141 schools in need of recovery in DeKalb:

2012 2013 2014
Browns Mill Elementary 54 55 51
Canby Lane Elementary 58 58 47
Cedar Grove Elementary 57 53 58
Cedar Grove Middle School 58 48 54
Clifton Elementary 52 54 46
Columbia Elementary 53 52 49
Columbia High School 53 58 56
Dunaire Elementary 58 59 50
Miller Elementary 53 53 50
Fairington Elementary 50 56 55
Flat Rock Elementary 50 52 58
Flat Shoals Elementary 42 54 50
Freedom Middle School 56 59 52
Knollwood Elementary 47 41 54
MLK Jr High School 57 60 60
Meadowview Elementary 42 44 53
Midway Elementary 52 46 48
Oakview Elementary 48 58 51
Panola Way Elementary 58 44 51
Redan Elementary 50 50 48
McNair Elementary 47 50 42
Salem Middle School 56 50 58
Snapfinger Elementary 50 55 56
Stoneview Elementary 49 47 45
Toney Elementary 56 50 48
Towers High School 57 48 56

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39 Responses to Legislation To Help Failing Schools In DeKalb

  1. Peace says:

    Ralph Simpson was the former principal of Tower High School and was recently promoted to Area Supt. because he supposedly did so well with turning Tower around but Tower is on this list for state takeover?

  2. dsw2contributor says:

    DCSD’s Dirty Little Secret: ALL of REGION FIVE needs to be taken over by the state.

    Currently, only two Region 5 schools have CCRPIs above 60…. and those two are just barely about 60: Cedar Grove HS has a 61.6 while Columbia MS has a 62.0.

    Here’s the CCRPIs for all Region 5 schools:

    Cedar Grove HS 61.6
    Cedar Grove MS 54.3
    Cedar Grove ES 57.5
    Oak View ES 51.0

    Columbia HS 55.8
    Columbia MS 62
    Columbia ES 49.1
    Snapfinger ES 55.7
    Toney ES 47.5

    McNair HS 43.9
    McNair MS 45.5
    Clifton ES 46.2
    Flat Shoals ES 49.5
    Kelley Lake ES 55.4
    Meadowview ES 52.9
    McNair ES Dis. Ac. 42.2

    Towers HS 55.8
    Bethune MS 53.5
    Canby Lane ES 47.4
    Knollwood ES 53.8
    Midway ES 47.4
    Rowland ES 52.8

    A list of the DCSD schools, grouped by region, is posted on this page:

  3. dsw2contributor says:

    One other point: A child in South Dekalb [DCSD Region 5] spends her entire school career (K-12) in failing schools.

  4. DeKalb Observer says:

    We were almost #1…

    . . . but City of Atlanta beat us out—cause they have one more failing school that DeKalb!


    And, coming in at a strong No. 3, is Richmond County. So, Dr. Angela Pringle should feel right at home!

    Sad. Sad. Sad.

  5. d says:

    Schools don’t fail and since we see where the concentration of schools clearly is, we can see the larger problem. If the OSD is (Heaven forbid) approved, only 20 of the 141 schools they liated state wide would be taken from local control (ie us) and given directly to the crook of a governor we reelected. Sorry, I am not the least bit optimistic about this plan being successful in helping children. I will say to the break up the district group, note there was not one Gwinnett or Cobb school on the list. Size isn’t the issue. It’s “leadership” that needs fixing.

  6. Peace says:

    You made a good point d.

  7. howdy1942 says:

    Is there an easy way to break down these schools by district?

  8. Nikole Allen says:

    As a Region 5 teacher I am opposed to the Governor’s plan. Most of you will never understand what it’slike to work as hard as you possibly can in a failing school and fall further and further behind each year. (OAN: I’m very critical of the awful choices Dr. Simpson made, but review the data to determine if Towers improved under his watch. They did. He also helped turnaround school culture and climate, which is paramount). This region has the highest homeless rate in the county and an extremely high rate of transience among students. I watched my school excel when it was a primary school with a class size reduction grant and fall deeper into the abyss every year since the grant was ended. (Check the data on Midway Elementary). If this county and state truly cared about turning around failing schools, they would:
    1. Focus attention on this Region. Ask the teachers and Principals what is needed to see growth and change here. We know better than anyone. And it’s community schools that provide wrap around services.
    2. Fund the necessary innovations. The governor does not need to create a new layer of government. Whatever funds and special treatment he wants to give these struggling schools can go directly to the school.
    3. Staff these schools appropriately. This is an issue of equity, not equality. Severe behavior disruptions mean that you need more staff to ensure a safe and orderly environment. Smaller class sizes are key when dealing with students that are several grade levels behind. Proper staffing to ensure interventions are in place for struggling students and acceleration is in place for gifted students is needed.
    These are just a few of my thoughts. I’ll be sure to share them at he next Board Meeting, but I need the entire teaching body of Region 5 to stand with me. I go to county meetings and we all have the same complaints, but no one has the courage to say anything. Please excuse any typos as I’ve typed this on my phone during my lunch.

  9. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    Some very good ideas, Nikole. If the public and teachers are vocal and continue to be, then maybe, just maybe, the administration and board will listen and make better decisions for the students, and not the central office.

  10. Dekalb Inside Out says:

    @Nikole, The administration could do those things now if it wanted to, but they choose not to. That seems to be the whole point of this thing. We all look at these failing schools and ask ourselves why are the classes so big, the principals so crappy, etc… You and I can’t do anything about it, but the Governor could with this law.

    What are you afraid of happening?

  11. @Frustrated >> “If the public and teachers are vocal and continue to be, then maybe, just maybe, the administration and board will listen and make better decisions for the students, and not the central office.”

    That statement made me sad. That is what we have been doing for over a decade. And nothing ever changes. The system is corrupt. The goal is not to make better decisions for teachers and students. The goal is to create and dole out more high-paying jobs for friends, family and insiders. Period.

  12. Peace says:

    Nikole: My heart goes out to you as a teacher because I get a sense that you really care. I know we have serious disciplinary issues in our mostly black schools. Teachers are upset and morale is at an all time low. It begins with the leaders and parents. There are outside organizations who want to work with our kids, this does not cost anything. Fraternities and Sororities are mobilizing due to the grave situation in our black schools to mentor and work with our kids. My son attended Stephenson Middle last year and I removed him due to the lack of leadership at that school. Innovation is what I am talking about. Partnering with groups who want to give back to the communities and make a difference. I work for a large corporation downtown ATL. We have a school that we have partnered with for many years. Every two weeks my company provides a bus to transport the employees to mentor the kids. The students spent the day at my company last week to “shadow” employees at work to see what they actually do. I even suggested this to Stephenson last year and no one moved but they always say “we need help”. I suggested going to the companies in the surrounding areas, big and small to develop a “buddy” program. If you really want help you will knock on doors to get it, sometimes at no cost. I am sure there are many other educators like yourself but there are many who don’t give a hoot either.

  13. Nikole says:

    @ Dekalb Inside Out—I’m afraid of the Governor just turning schools over to for-profit charters and creating new unnecessary jobs for friends. Whatever innovation he wants to propose, can be proposed and implemented RIGHT now.

  14. Nikole says:

    One more thought. In order for the Governor to create this Recovery District, we have to amend the constitution to do so. This could result in Dekalb cities actually being able to split from Dekalb and create their own district. Maybe I’ll shut up about it. I’ve always said that if other parts of the county split, Dekalb would be forced to address the issues in Region 5.

  15. FormerDekalbParent says:

    Not really related to this thread, but Ijust saw where Gwinnett now has an EXTRA $21.5M for school improvements by reworking their bonds….a lkarge district actin g properly for their students. Lessons to be learned is fiscal resposnsibility….

  16. Teachers Matter says:

    Why, when failing schools are discussed, are failing parents not included? Teachers and administrators can’t do it alone. We already do everything short of bringing the kids home with us. The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. Which leader has the courage to do that?

  17. dsw2contributor says:

    ^ Sorry, “Teachers Matter”, but the above is a cop-out. Teaching children who have “failing parents” is part of the job of being a public school teacher.

    The DCSD gives considerable resources to children with “failing parents” — we have useful stuff, like the free Breakfast and Lunch programs, School Counselors, School Resource Officers who make home visits, and School Social Workers who can and do make referrals to DFCS. (We also have questionable things like the Parents Centers….)

    If you’re not willing to be part of the team taking on “failing parents”, then get a job at a private school!

  18. Teachers Matter says:

    I’ve been part of “the team” for over twenty-five years, so please don’t question my dedication or credentials. My point is if you have a child, you are then a parent. What’s wrong with expecting the responsibility that comes with that label?

  19. Well it looks like the Cities are willing to take Regions 1 and 2 off the Dekalb school Board and Administrators Hands. Brookhaven is even willing to take Crosskeys with the new Chamblee Charter High school.

    Then the Church of the perve and confidence man push schemes on his parishioners Eddie Long, and it’s members will only have those children who their representives bus the votes in for.

    ( An aside how many noticed that the NY times uncovered that Crefoe Dollar was amongst the owners through a series of shell corporations or LCC that owned a condo at the end of Central Park in NYC for Multi Million dollars. He was in the company of out law Russian Billionares, Chineese gov’t officials, Malaysians, etc…)

  20. We can’t speak for Nicole, but we can tell you what we are afraid of. We are afraid that Governor Let’s-Make-A-Deal will be as inept with failing schools as he was when he named new, unelected members of the DeKalb County School Board. He left on the board the only two board members who had been called out by name by the Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS) as interfering with the operation of schools in their district by violating SACS rules on when, how and for what purpose may board members visit schools in their district. Those two board members were Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson. Deal removed Pam Speaks and Nancy Jester — the only two board members to vote against Cheryl Atkinson (who turned out to be just another failed superintendent and who left stealthily under a well-compensated cloud after allegedly destroying one or more cell phones that may have contained damaging evidence of wrongdoing) and to vote for doing right by our children. Meanwhile, District 1 was left without elected representation by a committed public servant (Nancy Jester). To “represent” District 1 Deal appointed the husband of a woman who had worked for him — someone with no qualifications, obvious or otherwise, and even less interest in DeKalb County Schools. We are afraid that with Deal’s history of corruption (google “corruption and Governor Nathan Deal”) Georgia’s failing schools won’t fare any better than DeKalb County Schools in Deal’s hands.

  21. @AnotherComment >> Interesting. Can you share a link to the story about Creflo Dollar?

  22. @Teachers Matter >> We agree and we have stated many many times that poverty, poor parenting skills and generations of single-teenaged-motherhood need to be addressed before education can even begin. These issues cannot be resolved by the school districts. In fact, money can and should be diverted from the ‘judicial’ system to programs to work on these kinds of issues – that so often simply lead directly to the penal system.

  23. For Nikole: They do ask teachers and administrators what matters. Then they make a point of ignoring what they have heard because it would require them to spend money already allocated for the many pet projects we regularly read about on this blog. Children first? Not in Dekalb County. But it makes (or made) a good slogan.

  24. Not sure where to put this >> [Update to Lavista Hills Cityhood efforts]

    In sports there are no “do overs” and there is a limit to the number of time-outs a team is allowed.

    Every time another group, government agency, elected official suggests a time-out, those citizens and communities its2late-001.jpgthat have been playing hard and within the rules are penalized. Reforming DeKalb County is critical – and cityhood is part of the solution!

    While other counties and communities who have operated more functionally over the past decade have the luxury of momentarily calling a “halt in the play,” DeKalb’s leadership has stripped us of the benefit of yet one more time-out;

    Time-outs called in recent memory include:

    1- The indictment of the Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County on corruption charges with the first trial ending in a hung jury and the County awaiting a retrial;

    2 – The resignation of the longest serving DeKalb County Commissioner and the subsequent guilty plea entered by her for systematically bilking her constituents out of $90,000;

    3 – The failure of the DeKalb Commission to come to an agreement to replace a sitting commissioner who was appointed by the Governor to serve as interim CEO;

    4 – the resignation of State Court Judge Barbara Mobley who was under investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission over improprieties in office;

    5 – The failure of DeKalb County Commission to address a strong ethics policy and enforcement;

    6 – Misuse of purchasing cards by DeKalb Commissioners.

    7 – TODAY – another former DeKalb official (Zoning Board of Appeals) accused of bribery.

    8 – The list continues to grow….it’s too late to wait.

    We believe that DeKalb’s elected officials have repeatedly called for a halt in play to serve their own personal interests. Further, we believe that citizens who are calling for yet one more time-out, however well intended, are misguided in their believe that such an effort will be productive.

    It is too late to wait! No more time-outs. It’s time for citizens to vote for a the new City of LaVista Hills, and put an end to the culture of corruption in DeKalb County.

    Please contact your legislators TODAY! It’s easy, effective and NECESSARY!

    1) Copy and paste email addresses below into Address Line
    2) Copy and paste into Subject line: #2late2wait – YES to City of LaVista Hills
    3) Copy and paste the message below and include your name and address in signature line

    Dear Senators and Representatives:

    Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

    NOW is the time to allow citizens to vote for cityhood! The LaVista Hills cityhood bill will be in front of you soon – please vote YES to allow citizens a referendum to determine their future.


    Include your name and address

    40 – Fran Millar – senatorfranmillar@gmail.com
    42 – Elena Parent – elena@elenaparent.com

    81 – Scott Holcolmb – scott@repscottholcomb.com
    82 – Mary Margaret Oliver – mmo@mmolaw.com
    83 – Howard Mosby – howard.mosby@house.ga.gov
    84 – Rahn Mayo – rahnmayo@gmail.com
    86 – Michele Henson – michele.henson@house.ga.gov
    87 – Coach Williams – earnest.williams@house.ga.gov
    88 – Billy Mitchell – billy.mitchell@house.ga.gov

  25. In other news >>
    The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch Saturday, urging Georgians to stock up on non-perishable foods and to rethink travel plans.

    “Urging” might be an understatement. The weather service ended its alert with an apocalyptic all-caps declaration: “NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR THIS WINTER STORM. … DO NOT WAIT FOR THE WARNING!”


  26. DeKalb County to Check Student Records for Measles Vaccination

    “We have teams that are going out into the schools and they are actually checking the permanent files of the students to make sure that those documents are present,” Dr. Vassane Tinsley with the DeKalb County School District told WSB TV.

    DeKalb schools say the exact immunization percentage in the district is unknown, but estimates it to be in the high 90th percentile, according to the news outlet.

  27. Lots of change is about to occur in DeKalb County >>

    New study: Smaller city of Stonecrest deemed “fiscally feasible”

    The next step toward incorporating Stonecrest is to have a bill presented to the General Assembly and Lary said the Alliance is working on that. If the bill passes, a cityhood referendum would be put up for a vote by residents in the proposed area.

    “All we want is for the citizens to have a say as to whether they want a city or not,” said Lary.

    Meanwhile, the Concerned Citizens for Cityhood of South DeKalb, is awaiting its study from the University of Georgia, expected this month. The group unveiled its name for the proposed city two weeks ago. They plan to call the city Greenhaven.

    Kathryn Rice, who chairs the group, said Greenhaven would become the second-largest Jason Lary shows off the proposed city seal and map for the City of Stonecrest. city in Georgia with a proposed population of 300,000 living in South DeKalb south of U.S. 78. The target area does not include Stonecrest. Greenhaven is one of several municipalities being proposed in DeKalb, including Tucker and LaVista Hills.

  28. And then >>

    Your Help Is Needed to Move Tucker Toward Cityhood

    Under the Gold Dome
    The legislative session is underway and community advocates are busy at the Capitol ensuring your voice is heard in moving Tucker closer to cityhood. There are still several steps to complete before Tucker residents are given the opportunity to vote on cityhood. Like last year’s session there will be times when you’ll need to contact legislators and attend hearings, so we will keep you informed along the way.

    Feasibility Study Update is $15,000
    Tucker’s Feasibility Study update is in progress with the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State. The cost to update our study is $15,000. The House Governmental Affairs Subcommittee recommended this action, and we believe that understanding the financial possibilities for Tucker with our new boundaries is a necessary step in building a strong foundation for our city.

    Meeting with the full House Governmental Affairs Committee will be one of Tucker’s first formal steps in the legislative process this year, and we want the committee members to be confident moving the City of Tucker forward.

  29. Just Wondering says:

    Fulton County has used a private company to run its Alternative Schools. WSBTV did a report about the concerns that parents voiced about this option.

    Based on this report, private companies are not always a good solution.

    May the Lord bless teachers like Nikole. We all know that there are factors other than the school that can hinder the progress and education of students. People never want to look at those factors outside of school that can impact learning.

    I do not see the state as a solution for the many problems our schools face.

  30. September says:

    @Just Wondering. Alternative schools are a last resort for students who can’t make it in a regular school. That means they had chronic behavior problems and very likely their behavior was interfering with classroom instruction or student safety. I’m not defending this program. These students need and deserve access to effective teachers and counseling. The problem is that they must be willing to take advantage of the services that are offered. The sad reality is that you can’t make someone do the right thing. The only thing you can do is provide a consequence when the individual does the wrong thing and positive reinforcement when good things happen.

  31. Dekalb Inside Out says:

    How do we know if an alternative school is failing or succeeding? By nature, an alternative school will have very low scores and stats.

  32. Just Wondering says:


    My intention was not to make a statement one way or another about an alternative school. I have had experience working in an alternative school and appreciate the challenges of that setting. The point that I wanted to make is that turning schools over to a private company is not always a good solution.
    I am sorry. I probably used a bad example.

    I appreciate the comments. It is so important that in these times we communicate with each other.

  33. Peace says:

    The sad part about what is happening is that many of the schools in the “so call” Title 1 communities are not informing parents of services they are suppose to offer students. This is one of the reasons I believe the Feds are chiming in about their money. I even question the number of students who should really be on free or reduced lunch. Some of these schools throw the free lunch applications at you and strongly encourage you to complete them. I did not even know what a Title 1 school was until last year. Some parents and I were discussing this week of students who parents have their own businesses, drive luxury cars and their kids are getting free lunch and have done so for a long time. Who is really checking and validating if they really qualify and when they no longer qualify?

  34. FYI, The Governor also left on Melvin Johnson who had also been newly elected. He removed Pam Speaks even though she had also been re-elected, supposedly because the voters should have known better than to send her back since she was on the former board. However, unlike the ones that the Governor kept, Dr. Speaks had not been accused of any of the wrongdoings mentioned in the SACS report and was never accused of doing anything inappropriate.

  35. Kim says:

    Your friendly neighborhood Cross Keys troll here … @Another Comment re: “Brookhaven is even willing to take Crosskeys with the new Chamblee Charter High school.”

    What on earth does that mean?

    @Peace re: “I did not even know what a Title 1 school was until last year.”

    My family is a member of a community school that is 99.5% Title I. Please come and visit me any time you would like to see what a Title I school is. The only luxury cars you will see will be of DCDS employees. -kim@crosskeysfoundation.org

  36. Haha. That’s funny Kim. How could Brookhaven take over Chamblee HS? The ONLY high school inside the city limits of Brookhaven is Cross Keys… Chamblee HS is in the city of Chamblee…

  37. Kim says:

    Yeah, I am totally confused about the comment and genuinely looking to understand the intended meaning of it. All is well. Confused is my normal state when it comes to public education dialogs.

  38. Well, people (anothercomment), for clarity – Cross Keys HS would be in the City of Brookhaven. Chamblee HS in Chamblee. Dunwoody in Dunwoody. Tucker in Tucker. Druid Hills may annex to Atlanta. Lakeside would be in the City of Lavista Hills. It looks like Miller Grove would be in the City of Stonecrest. And Cedar Grove and Stone Mt high schoools may both be within the boundaries of the proposed city of Greenhaven (formerly South DeKalb).

    To catch up on all of the cities proposed click here >> Our guide to new cities in DeKalb County, Georgia

  39. Edna Walker says:

    Your idealized job description for teachers sounds good. Unfortunately, you don’t seem to be aware that teachers are not just allowed to “teach public school students.” In essence, teachers are expected to be parents, social workers, rabbis, ministers, DEA agents, counselors, and still expected that their students will test high in the subjects and qualify for AP classes. You can’t teach because of behavioral issues fostered IN THE HOME and brought to school. It’s hard to teach when your students have been out with their own sick children and are already far behind, or the ankle bracelet from the sheriff is buzzing in your classroom.

    At the same time, I have seen programs in DeKalb County for parental involvement go vacant for almost the entire school year. Go figure

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