Saltzman vs. Roberts wouldn’t be a fair fight, but the TV reporter asked a fair question about nepotism in DeKalb school board

Update on Tuesday:

Zepora Roberts issued a statement apologizing to Wendy Saltzman: “In anger and frustration, I inappropriately threatened the reporter. I apologize to the reporter, Wendy Saltzman, for my outburst.”

As a reporter, you get used to people calling you names and accusing you of conspiring against them.

Wendy Saltzman of CBS Atlanta

Wendy Saltzman of CBS Atlanta

But I have never had any elected official threaten to slug me.

Having seen both DeKalb County school board member Zepora Roberts and CBS Atlanta reporter Wendy Saltzman, I think the fourth estate would have won any smackdown. I would guess Saltzman is 40 years younger than Roberts, one of the grand dames of the DeKalb school board.

This saga began Friday with Saltzman peppering Roberts with questions about her two daughters working in the school system, a fact that many posters here at Get Schooled have raised repeatedly about not only Roberts, but other DeKalb board members.

DeKalb School Board member Zepora Roberts

DeKalb School Board member Zepora Roberts

“I have no more comments to say to you. And don’t you come to me, or I’m going to slug you,” Roberts told the reporter.

But the statement that ought to inspire greater concern is what Roberts told AJC reporter Megan Matteucci, complaining to her that she is being “singled out” since board members Eugene Walker, Pamela Speaks and Sarah Copelin-Wood also have children who work in the district.

Last time I checked, DeKalb had nearly 750,000 residents. Why can’t we find nine who don’t have family members employed by the school district to serve on the board of education?

That is the real problem here, not Roberts’ brushoff of an persistent TV reporter.

No one should serve on a school board if an immediate family member works for the system as an administrator, as does  one of Roberts’ daughter. That is now state law under the school board reform bill pushed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and finally enacted this year. But Roberts and current office holders statewide are not under the new rules.

Senate Bill 84 states:

No person who has an immediate family member sitting on a local board of education or serving as the local school superintendent or as a principal, assistant principal, or system administrative staff in the local school system shall be eligible to serve as a member of such local board of education. As used in this paragraph, the term ‘immediate family member’ means a spouse, child, sibling, or parent or the spouse of a child, sibling, or parent whose employment as the local school superintendent or as a principal, assistant principal, or system administrative staff in the local school system began on or after January 1, 2010.

According to Megan’s story, SACS already has asked DeKalb schools officials to answer questions about hiring practices, training, conflict of interest, nepotism, procurement policies and the superintendent search.

I think those are critical areas in DeKalb.

135 comments Add your comment

Dekalbite

August 9th, 2010
9:50 pm

That’s the main reason so many BOE members are hanging on and trying to hang on to the Interim Superitendent – they are protecting their family members. These are not classroom teaching positions. They are lucrative non-teaching supervisory positions.

Francis Edwards, past DCSS BOE president (seemingly forever) has a daughter running the PDS TV station, a son-in law running the Transportation Department, and a son who is a Network Liaison Specialist in the IT Department to the tune of around $350,000 in salary and benefits (source: Georgia Salary and Travel audit).

They are in a panic thinking if they are voted out, a new superintendent with no DCSS ties will come into the system and their relatives jobs will not be secure. Very sad for students and taxpayers.

Mike

August 9th, 2010
9:52 pm

All of our Board members have multiple relatives working in the schools. All were spared on the recent RIF too. Common practice isn’t it?

Mike

August 9th, 2010
9:54 pm

Thought that law was overturned recently also.

Maureen Downey

August 9th, 2010
9:58 pm

@MIke, The governor only signed the bill in late May. http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/05/30/governor-signs-bullying-and-school-board-reform-bills/

I have not heard that it was overturned.

Maureen

Echo

August 9th, 2010
9:59 pm

The “friends and family plan” exists in every school system. What is sort of interesting is that as a teacher, I feel like the problems have become more abundant. It’s almost as if school boards and other administrators have decided to go on the warpath to protect their own interests at the expense of teachers. A natural consequence of this is that more teachers are starting to feel kicked around and are in the process if fighting back.

It is only a matter of time before all of the indiscretions of the “leaders” are put out there for all to see. My principal made statements in the first pre-planning meeting that I think shows the general feeling toward teachers: “If you aren’t happy here the new school will open next year, you can leave. There are plenty of unemployed teachers out there who would be happy to have your job.” This was his solution for the teachers who “bad-mouth” the school in the outside community or complain about how things are run. I have another solution, and he isn’t going to like it.

Mike

August 9th, 2010
10:03 pm

Sorry, didn’t mean overturned. I read something about it though in reference to the lawsuit filed by Simmons in Gainesville and another board member in Bartow County after they were barred from running for reelection. It was a bill sponsored by Rogers. Something was changed.

Lynn43

August 9th, 2010
10:05 pm

This is a sad thing to have people who are Board members only to promote their personal interest instead of serving to hep children.

Mike

August 9th, 2010
10:08 pm

smart is as smart acts

August 9th, 2010
10:18 pm

In DCSS training is not available for everyone due to false job classifications which runs rampant in this school system. Now that “and other duties as assigned or needed” or “but not limited to”, employees are now forced to perform any number of task outside of their job classification. What is the point of a job clasification if you must take on any and all duties while recieving the same pay. This is wrong and it certainly feels wrong. That’s why many are waiting, hoping and praying that Mr. Elgart will realize that with all the smoke going on in the last few years that there definitely is a fire!!! Many employees have been shopping for themselves as well as the school or center of employment for many,many years and on various Pcards. Do the neccessary footwork and you will find this to be true.

Lily

August 9th, 2010
10:30 pm

Three out of the five board members in my system have immediate family in the school system. At one time, a former superintendent had employed every single member of his immediate family. Qualifications are often overlooked and since GA has relaxed the requirements for uncertified teachers, this has opened the door to family members to enter the teaching profession. No teaching certificate…no problem, we’ll give you a provisional.

Question: If a board member has an in-law serving as an administrator and the administrator has been tagged as the next superintendent, would this violate SB 84? We’ve been told that the bill wasn’t passed and that it will not “apply” to this situation.

Allen

August 9th, 2010
10:31 pm

As if to show just how much they care about this, check out who the Board just appointed to run Clarkston High School. Yep, another family member.

She may well be qualified, but why isn’t the position of principal something advertised for competition rather than just a slot in which to insert a family member needing a promotion?

Watching the watchdog

August 9th, 2010
10:31 pm

“Having seen both DeKalb County school board member Zepora Roberts and CBS Atlanta reporter Wendy Saltzman, I think the fourth estate would have won any smackdown.”

Let’s hope the AJC continues to honor the fourth estate with watchdog reporting and especially watchdog commentary that calls for accountability. Seems the AJC is making excellent strides with the former, but still struggling with the latter.

I’m just glad for the AJC’s sake it isn’t based in Clayton County, because with this “smackdown” talk, Marky Mark certainly would have been squawking about yanking accreditation.

Yvonne

August 9th, 2010
10:42 pm

Zepora must go….My child recently asked ,after seeing the clip on tv, if she would be punished. Sad commentary for an official who should be a role model. I was sure to explain to my child that her conduct was not acceptable behaviour.

ScienceTeacher671

August 9th, 2010
10:44 pm

I think a school board member threatening assault & battery on a reporter (or anyone else) in a public venue is a huge problem, but maybe that’s just me.

Is there a system in Georgia where the board doesn’t employ family members?

Young Jeezy

August 9th, 2010
10:49 pm

It is really difficult to gain employment in DCSS without knowing someone on the inside. Why?? Most everyone seems to be a little fickle like me from what I’ve seen.

Harold

August 9th, 2010
10:56 pm

Go to this thread on the blog DeKalb Watch. The moderator, Cerebration, collected the names of the DCSS Friends and Family Plan. I actually think this information was compiled and given to Wendy Saltzman. It’s just too coincidental:

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/06/friends-and-family-plan.html

Dekablandsickofit

August 9th, 2010
10:57 pm

It is time to start over with the Dekabl BOE and all their relatives. Clean start for all, especially the children, teachers and taxpayers. ENOUGH!

Nikole

August 9th, 2010
11:22 pm

School level employees are expected to act in such a way that they do not cause the district any more harm in the public eye. The expectations should extend to the Board. Ms. Roberts has many candidates running against her. I hope that is not to her advantage.

B4Life

August 9th, 2010
11:43 pm

Young Jezzy is right. Unless you have an inside connection, it is very hard to get a job AND keep it in DeKalb Schools. Nepotism and cronyism run rapid in the system. I’m a former employee hired “outside” the club and it was evident from day one that I would never fit into the culture. The level of incompetence is incredible. The unfortunate part is that the students suffer because they don’t necessarily have the BEST people working with/for them. A clean sweep is sorely needed!

Henrietta

August 9th, 2010
11:49 pm

Enter your comments here

Henrietta

August 9th, 2010
11:49 pm

THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT JOB YOU ALL ARE DOING EXPOSING ALL OF THE CORRUPTION IN THESE JOBS. I WOULD BE INTERESTED TO KNOW HOW MANY OF THESE PEOPLE LIVE IN AND SUPPORT DEKALB COUNTY. IT’S EASY TO SEE WHY PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF WHO HAS LIVED IN THE COUNTY ALMOST 30 YEARS AND IN GEORGIA SINCE BIRTH CAN’T GET A JOB, HONESTLY. THANKS FOR THE GREAT WORK YOU ALL DO – AMEN.

THE PIZZA SCANDAL (CUNNINGHAM KNEW IT WAS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND THE BOOK SCANDAL (SIMPSON SHOULD HAVE PUT THEM IN THE BOOKSTORE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE).

BURRELL ELLIS WILL BE A ONE-TIME CEO, I DO PRAY AS THE AJC REPORTED HE’S SHADED AND ZEPHORA ROBERTS SHOULD BE FIRED, THREATENING A REPORT FOR REPORTING THE TRUTH – GREAT ROLE MODEL FOR THE KIDS.

insidedive22

August 10th, 2010
12:05 am

J Wilson HR, has many family and friends in the system. His wife, sister-in-law, god-brother and his sister. Dr. Tucker is his godfather. And let’s not forget all of his ”women friends” he has ”helped” on the way.

Furlough

August 10th, 2010
2:23 am

I am so sick of the gangsters thats running the DCSS, now most qualified people are not gonna get a job because the people thats running the joint have to get their unqualified friends and family members the top paying jobs first. Most of the people working in the HR Department are not HR Certified, they got in trouble in the school building and this is were they were placed to run the HR department. This is a shame, thats the reason why the school system is in the shape that it is in. I agree the new superindentant needs to clean house from the HR department on over the the service center, on up to the board memebers.

steve

August 10th, 2010
5:52 am

I don’t know anything about this board member, and she might have been engaging in many unethical (or at least questionable) activities. On the other hand, I don’t consider these reporters to be saints, either. Their report isn’t always complete, and they often quote you out of context – or worse.

Other Counties?

August 10th, 2010
6:10 am

I would have more admiration for any reporter who took the time to expose more than just DeKalb or Clayton Counties. I’ve heard similar things about Cobb, Paulding and Bartow Counties. It seems a little odd to focus on lower-income counties, when the same things are happening in the higher-income counties.

Color me confused

August 10th, 2010
6:45 am

other counties

I think the citizens of DeKalb have made the effort to get the media involved. Wendy Saltzman is always looking for a good story. Contact her with your information and see what happens.

By the way, barely half of all DCSS schools made AYP. Perhaps the extra scrutiny is justified.

mike

August 10th, 2010
6:48 am

So what. This goes on in every county. It is a problem when the news station seem to target only the darker complected counties. Since living in this city since Maynard was first elected, we know which newspapers and news station have always targeted a certain segment of the metro population depending on what the story was and their own agenda. Over the years reporters have gotten to the place of because I am a reporter I can ask anything anyway I want and be generally disrespectful.

Dunwoody Mom

August 10th, 2010
7:05 am

Wendy’s job was made easier due to the fact all of this information has been talked about and talked about via the blogosphere.

Now, I challenge the media, print or electronic, to try and investigate and ask the “tough questions” of Alvin Wilbanks and his reign at Gwinnett. That won’t be so easy.

NWGA teacher

August 10th, 2010
8:05 am

Yes, this sounds shocking, but it’s not unusual. When the heat is on, get rid of a few more teachers and administrators, then reshuffle the central office deck and reassign the friends and family to fill those newly opened positions. When the hubbub dies down, promote them. No problem.

Virginia

August 10th, 2010
8:23 am

I am very disappointed in the behavior of Zepora Roberts. I have lived in DeKalb County for over 23 years and have applied for several positions in the DeKalb County School system. I now understand why I have not been hired, since the school board and other school officials look out for their relatives and friends. My Master’s degree and 20 plus years of experience does not count for anything in a school system that is corrupt. Thank you for exposing the DCSS!

Waffle House Fight Club

August 10th, 2010
8:29 am

I know who I am NOT voting for next time.

any county

August 10th, 2010
8:30 am

This goes on in many counties across the state. The only thing is that they are not close enough to Atlanta to get the media’s attention and local media protect their school system. An example from Hall County- Hall closed Jones Elementary but elected to keep on a board member’s father as a sole custodian of the closed property. Hall is now using the property for classroom space, but why have the board member’s father stay on? He may have been the most qualified, but it didn’t look very good to the general public that was upset over the school closing anyway.

Waffle House Fight Club

August 10th, 2010
8:31 am

OK….Again, it’s time for the parents of children in DeKalb County schools to ask questions. Inundate them with e mail and phone calls. make a presence at board meetings. Let them know the free ride is over as well as their status as elected officials.

Amused in Gwinnett

August 10th, 2010
8:42 am

It should be interesting to see what comes up in Wilbanks’ kingdom and how he and his spin doctors twist the findings of the investigations!

chillywilly

August 10th, 2010
8:49 am

Roberts, Cunningham, Walker, & Woods are downright incompetent and should be litterally kicked out of office. If you asked either one of them how do you boil water, their first response is “lets form a committee and see how to do it”. It’s time to clean house at Dekalb & APS. I’ve never seen so many dumb people “in charge” in my life. And while you’re at it, get rid of that “no people skills principal” at Bob Mathis Elementary.

Dr NO

August 10th, 2010
8:55 am

This is typical Dekalb County citizenry behavior exhibited by a the, here again, typical group of mental midgets and dumb-bells. Saltzman should file charges against this BOZO the clown impersonator as should BOZO.

PS…I wondered what a Zepora was and sadly, not that I expected any less, now is know. Perhaps a doing a comedy routine of Ronald McDonald imitations lies in her or his, unsure if this zepora is male or female, future.

EnoughAlready

August 10th, 2010
9:13 am

Please, these are critical areas in every job market, government agency and school system.

If you guys spent as much time looking at other school systems in the metro area, like you do with(Atlanta, Dekalb and Clayton); I think you would find things are about the same all over the area.

I won’t hold my breath.

Saltzman vs. Zepora

August 10th, 2010
9:21 am

Three words: pay per view

Atlanta Media Guy

August 10th, 2010
9:33 am

My wife and I tried 5 years ago to expose the fraud in DCSS, bogus demographers reports, no discussions with DeKalb planning, numbers that do not add up, rampant nepotism and the lies. A former DCSS beat reporter for the AJC was given all the documents we had uncovered ourselves. She went right to Clew, CLew squashed the story and the reporter wrote an article calling us “vociferous and loud” This was also the time when Moseley used his infamous “background noise” quote. Maureen please let Megan M. know that she is doing great work and not to stop. We’re finally making headway!

Tyson, Turk, Moseley, Mitchell-Mayfield, Thompson, Ramsey, Beaseley, the Guilroy’s, the Edward’s family members and the rest, please do the DeKalb taxpayers a favor and resign! The voters will handle the BOE, but as long as these bozos are in office the above mentioned will always have their jobs. Vote for change this November, we must demand the resignations of the former supers cabinet, they all remain to this day.

To Yvonne above, my son asked the same question. He brought home the Student Handbook that he and the parents must sign and return. It talks about threats and bullying will result in Suspension and/or Expulsion. Ms. Roberts what you did is inexcusable and not a very good example for the 97,000 students of the DCSS. My son even asked if Ms. Roberts can get away with saying something like that on camera and does that mean students that do it can get away with it to? Ms. Roberts set the example and resign!

Dr NO

August 10th, 2010
9:34 am

If you guys spent as much time looking at other school systems in the metro area, like you do with(Atlanta, Dekalb and Clayton); I think you would find things are about the same all over the area. I won’t hold my breath.”

Into the self-asphyxiation craze are ya…you kinky devil. On the other hand your opinion is wrong. ATL, Dekalb, S Fulton, Clayton are the nasty dirty exception and the reason is the voters who elect school boards and the employees. Thats fact my friend.

Political Spectator

August 10th, 2010
9:41 am

I will never defend DCSS. I worked there many years ago and will NEVER worked there again. I will say that I think the reporting is a unfair. I challenge the AJC to research the board members in other districts in the state of GA and note the number of family members i.e spouses, children, cousins, aunts/uncles and even neighbors that are given preferential treatment. There are reasons the state passed the Nepotism law; the act of hiring family members is happening all over the state of GA not just in DeKalb.

Megan Matteucci has made a name for herself with one sided reporting. Unfortunately, Ms. Matteucci’s career is an example of investigative journalism being a thing of the past. I am sad to write that because not only do the citizens of the metro area suffer but citizens of the United States suffer when investigative journalism is not considered the crown and glory for a journalist. This sensationalistic, see how many comments I get, blog type journalism sickens me.

I challenge the AJC to engage in some investigative journalism and report how many board members have relatives and/or close friends that are hired in a school system through out the state. If a statewide investigation is too daunting, start with the 10 largest school districts in GA.

Just a thought...

August 10th, 2010
9:48 am

If the AJC and Channel 5 will not report the nepotism that is going on in other counties. Maybe some one will create a “report nepotism facebook page” so that the entire state can report what is going on in their school district.

1911A1

August 10th, 2010
9:58 am

Rampant nepotism/cronyism isn’t limited to DeKalb schools or school systems in general. What we’re looking at is how government works across the board, all the way from small towns to Washington, DC! Politicians taking care of their own and not giving a flip about those of us who foot the bill.

Witness

August 10th, 2010
10:00 am

Dekalb County School System, were do I begin. I work for the system and I know that if you do not know someone you will not get anything done. I have witnessed parents make request for their children and the administration would deny the request on the spot. When their friend or relative make the same request I was told to comply. I was told to destroy applications to make room for their friends and family. Forget that no child left behind. If you were not a relative or friend your child was left behind. I know of one department were there are 5 family members. We had 110 applicants for a position but we did not look at any of the applicants. The boss would just tell us that this person will feel the position. I remember an IT applicant with high qualifications applied for a job, but I was told to hire a person that was once a mechanic with no IT experience.

November

August 10th, 2010
10:06 am

The kind of people administering these systems (APS, DCSS, FSS, CCSS) are not capable of doing what they’re hired to do. Folks, they’re ruining our school systems (excuse me, I should have said…..”they have ruined our school systems”). I would not let any of them walk my dog (If, in fact I had a dog)……they would probably screw that up too. My advice to any of you parents with small children about to enter any of the systems mentioned……”get out of the area as fast as you can or find a good private school you can afford or home school your children”. Your children will not get a quality education in any of these systems. Nothing is going to change in these systems unless and until the idiots are all gone. Please vote today and on November 2nd.

Disclaimer: The above is my opinion that certain others may not share

DeKalb Educated

August 10th, 2010
10:07 am

Yes, othe counties have the same problem but should it be tolerated and ignored? No. I will pay my taxes to DeKalb County on August 31st. A letter will go with it expressing my displeasure at the incompetence and total disregard the electd leaders have provided for the school children and the tax payers. This is serious. We have teachers who do not have lab equipment. We have bathrooms without paper towels and flu season is approaching. We have classrooms with leaks and mold is growing. Yet, the board can promote family members who have no qualifications to be in six figured incomes? They need to be removed. DeKalb – go vote. Write letters. Demand change. Demand someone be accountable for the mis-management of our tax dollars and the total disregard for our school children.

FED UP with DCSS and BOE!!!

August 10th, 2010
10:27 am

I am so glad other people are as fed up with this DCSS mess as I am! Nepotism…..the engine driving the DCSS.

Let’s also take a look at the Callaways. Mom, Dad, Son, daughter-in-law, and other family all raking in (stealing) about $500K from taxpayers.

Then let’s look at the Tartts. Baby brother Tartt is a principal and allowed to continuously allow his partner, I mean staff, to steal money (no receipts, cash only transactions – but they can SANG!). Many ongoing issues with the PTA which Tartt hids behind…..I am waiting for RICO to catch up to them as well.

Baby Boy also stole his principalship. Mommy was a former director and good friends with Crawdaddy. Interesting because of the 5 candidates granted an interview, 2 were outside of the county and he was the only one who did not have a doctorate yet – and the least qualified. Another assistant principal already at the school did not even get an interview despite being highly qualified. This lead to the asst principal suing for age discrimination and WINNING. I am not sure how much we taxpayers had to pay just to have an esteemed Chief Learning Idiot at the helm. The state PTA and GA School Council associations were not able to stop any of this!

Even more disturbing, RAMONA TYSON has her CHILDREN at this school! I don’t have much faith in her as an administrator if she places her most valuable assets at such a corrupt place!

Older Baby Boy Tartt contracts with the county to provide parent involvement seminars for the county. Funny because he was divorced before his child was even school age, maybe that’s where he gets his experience. I am sure he is probably getting paid even more of our money for some bogus work. Someone should really check that out as well.

SCW also instructed her daughter on how to sue the county (and WIN) when her granddaughter wet her pants during P.E. She was not allowed to go to the restroom because there was only one teacher a class of about 50 kids. The other P.E. teacher was helping her cousin-in law (Tartt) with his administrative functions or was hiding under a desk in the music room.

The soap operas have nothing on DCSS…..if it were not such a serious task as educating the next generation, it would be a comedy show.

Here's One

August 10th, 2010
10:38 am

SCW has a daughter working as the “school nurse” in an elementary school. My daughter (who was in second grade) had to look up symptoms to her ailment on WedMD one day and tell SCW’s daughter what to do.

True

August 10th, 2010
10:43 am

“Megan Matteucci has made a name for herself with one sided reporting”

This much is true. Don’t think Maureen is going to wade in and defend one of her own here, lest she and Matteucci be embarrassed with documented evidence of violations of the law Matteucci ignored during her reporting on the Clayton County school board, because the AJC was targeting selected board members.

Even if you make the case that the members the AJC targeted should have been, it doesn’t change the fact the reporting was one sided as it ignored the illegal actions of other board members, even as evidence of their illegal actions showed up all over the internet.

FED UP with DCSS and BOE!!!

August 10th, 2010
10:44 am

@ Here’s One…..that’s funny because SCW told me once she did not want her daughter working for DCSS…..I guess with the economy the way it is, she back peddled. She will be making six figures in the near future!