Atlanta school board members marching off the same cliff as Clayton counterparts and dragging students with them

With Atlanta’s accreditation in jeopardy, the five-member majority of the Atlanta school board that is operating in probable violation of the law ought to come to its senses and comply with the state attorney general. In refusing to acknowledge that the policy change they forced through to enable them to elect a new chair and co-chair violated their charter, the five are putting the children of Atlanta in the crossfire.

And those kids have already paid enough of a price because of the self-serving and illegal actions of adults in the system.

The cheating by some APS teachers and administrators on state exams has cast a shadow on the legitimate achievements of Atlanta schools. It has tarnished the reputation of honest teachers and sparked tensions with the governor who has now sent GBI agents into the schools to investigate cheating.

This week, Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED, warned that his accrediting agency would be concerned if the board continued to operate in conflict with state law. If the APS board does not resolve its conflicts by Dec. 1,  he said his agency will make a recommendation to its governing body concerning the system’s accreditation status. A loss of accreditation undermines the ability of APS high school students to qualify for scholarships, including HOPE.

To Khaatim Sherrer El, Yolanda Johnson, Courtney English, Nancy Meister and Brenda Muhammad, this is not about taking a stand. This is about taking the children of Atlanta into account and acting in their best interest.

The five board members have every right to question how Superintendent Beverly Hall has handled the CRCT investigation. They should ask hard questions. They should hold her and her staff accountable.

But they should do so within the confines of the law under which they were elected and under which they must operate.

Their policy change and their coup d’état were deemed in conflict with the law by Attorney General Thurbert Baker earlier this month. Baker ruled that the board’s governing charter — last revised in 2003 and approved by the General Assembly — spells out six specific situations when a board chairman or vice chairman may be removed from those positions in the middle of the two-year term. None of those six justifications was present when the five staged their revolt in September and commandeered leadership of the board, ousting Chairwoman LaChandra Butler Burks and replacing her with El.

This is not the moment to engage in a court battle with the Atlanta Public Schools in free fall and GBI agents roaming the halls.

The APS board is headed down the road taken by the dysfunctional and damaging Clayton County board of old. It ought to reverse direction now before it ends up in the same dismal place — with the schools losing accreditation and parents losing faith.

116 comments Add your comment

Dr NO

October 27th, 2010
1:34 pm

yea…isnt it funny!!

Al

October 27th, 2010
1:40 pm

…..and this is the same school system which Joe Martin brags of leading. I know he is not a current member of this board but it just seems the Atlanta School System has not done well with him or without him. They need to get their act together or Ol’ Joe will sue them also (like the failing lawsuit he pushed schools to foot the bill.)

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
1:49 pm

“Atlanta school board members marching off the same cliff as Clayton counterparts and dragging students with them”

Every single board member on the Clayton Co school board is black and they purposely got rid of white people. Just saying…

Aiken Faque

October 27th, 2010
1:49 pm

This is just sad, sick and so funny all at the same time.

money

October 27th, 2010
1:53 pm

“if the board continued to operate in conflict with state law”, the case would have to go to court to see if they overstepped their bounds. The AG is just an opinion; must like his opinion on Obama care and guess what a judge says the Indiviual mandate may not be Constitutional, but our AG says it is. Hall must be calling in some big favors for SACS to cover HER “yes” board. 300,000 dollars a year; yes, 70000 dollar bonus; new car with driver 200000; travel priceless…… yes, yes , yes……..

Dr NO

October 27th, 2010
2:03 pm

I think “Cupcake” Hall makes more than her hero Obama…is that correct?

Dr NO

October 27th, 2010
2:12 pm

“Every single board member on the Clayton Co school board is black and they purposely got rid of white people. Just saying…”

And as I recall the mantra was “NOW its our turn”…LMAO!! What a group of jerkoffs.

Proud Black Man

October 27th, 2010
2:14 pm

“Every single board member on the Clayton Co school board is black and they purposely got rid of white people. Just saying…”

If thats true why don’t the white citizens of Clayton County file a lawsuit? Just saying…

Atlanta Mom

October 27th, 2010
2:18 pm

Surely, surely, five people would not put their egos before the good of 48,000 students. Surely.

DeKalb Educated

October 27th, 2010
2:19 pm

If next week’s election do not make some valid changes on the Dekalb School Board, you can save these headlines for next year when DeKalb fails our students again and uses our tax dollars to support their bone-headed decisions.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

“If thats true why don’t the white citizens of Clayton County file a lawsuit? Just saying…”

Because they moved.

Dr NO

October 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

Atl Mom…ABSOLUTELY they would. After all most of them are ministers, preachers, bishops and God has spoken to them in they hearts and advised them they are doing not only work for the children but work for God!

Praise God, HO GLOOWREE!!

Dr NO

October 27th, 2010
2:21 pm

“Because they moved.”

LOL…yea they did.

Doble Zero Eight

October 27th, 2010
2:22 pm

It is obvious that the board’s paramount concern has nothing to do with the best interests of its students. Unfortunately, the board members appear to be a bunch of self serving egomaniacs.

Ormewood Native

October 27th, 2010
2:29 pm

Sadly (and this from a graduate of 12 years in the APS) this is the trend in Atlanta city governence and governence of the schools in the city. This once proud system is a shambles, a political toy for egregiously silly board “members” who are more interested in political posturing that in teaching children. God, what a mess this city has become!

Proud Black Man

October 27th, 2010
2:50 pm

“Because they moved.”

Really?

“As of the 2000 census[3], there were 236,517 people, 82,243 households, and 59,214 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,658 people per square mile (640/km²). There were 86,461 housing units at an average density of 606 per square mile (234/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 37.94% White, 51.55% Black or African American, 0.32% Native American, 4.49% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 3.55% from other races, and 2.08% from two or more races. 7.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_County,_Georgia#Demographics

Ok I see I’m dealing with a racist fool now. Have a nice day.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
2:54 pm

“Ok I see I’m dealing with a racist fool now. Have a nice day.”

Yes, Black Man, you are a racist.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
2:55 pm

“As of the 2000 census”

Black man, can you not count? This is 2010 not 2000.

A Very Concerned Parent

October 27th, 2010
3:09 pm

Just saw the last APS Board of Education re-run on the APS Chanel 22.

Apparently, District 1 rep. pleaded with her fellow 4 members to return power back.

If this is true, why doesn’t she just change her vote? She is the board member that made the initial policy change motion back in July. For all those out there that care, please contact her at BMuhammad@AtlantaGa.Gov

SDK

October 27th, 2010
4:05 pm

PBM, PWM, & cracker

Where did YOU go to schools?

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
4:09 pm

SDK

You tell me where you went to school and I will tell you. Deal?

A Very Concerned Parent

October 27th, 2010
4:10 pm

Can we get back on topic and stay there?

Here are the additional emails for the furious five rogue board members.
BMuhammad@AtlantaGa.Gov , yolandaj058@gmail.com , cenglish.english@gmail.com , khaatimsel@gmail.com , nancymeister@beacham.com

The Booger Bear SACS Man (aka Zacchaeus)

October 27th, 2010
4:18 pm

It’s all a game. If you can’t beat them at the polls, get SACS to take away their power. Hey, Mark and I have to take care of the Chamber folk! Yipppppppppeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! We gonna mess with Atlanta now. Corruption? Who cares? Cheating? Who cares? Hardly an ounce of classroom discipline? Who cares? It’s all about who controls the money.

Who elected SACS, anyway? This function of accreditation should be under a state organization like the Board of Regents. After all, SACS uses state employees to go around “visiting” and “evaluating.” Heck, what do the ladies who work at the SACS office do? Invoice the school systems! What else?!

SACS is a private organization and not accountable to the people of Georgia. But, when it comes to control on the school boards and who controls the purse strings, then ‘Lil Mark Elgart comes ‘a runnin’. Mark Elgart…Fake. Beverly Hall…Fake. SACS…Fake.

Mark Elgart, get back up in that Sycamore Tree!

Rich

October 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

Next the school board will say that they problem is not enough money. It is always the answer with the schools, but when they get more money they can not solve any of the problems. At some point it is not the money, it is those running the systems. This is true for all of the local school systems.

AJ

October 27th, 2010
4:53 pm

APS students and parents have an uphill battle in front of them. It’s really very sad. The parallels with the sorry mess in Clayton County are impossible to ignore. This is what happens when a group of voters decide that being from a particular race is a prerequisite for service. You get a pool of candidates that are generally limited in terms of qualifications. I urge the parents, students, and voters in Atlanta to start looking for the best candidates, rather than the best black candidates. You may like what you see!

Missing the Point

October 27th, 2010
4:54 pm

“Every single board member on the Clayton Co school board is black and they purposely got rid of white people. Just saying…”

That is NOT true. If you are going to make a statement like that, at least get your facts straight.

Rich

October 27th, 2010
4:56 pm

Race is not the issue, attitude is.

ADL

October 27th, 2010
5:00 pm

I think it is a pretty good bet where those 5 board members went to school!!!

Maureen Downey

October 27th, 2010
5:02 pm

@AJ. I can assure you that race is not a factor in incompetence or integrity. Hang around the Legislature for a while and you will agree that those traits transcend any one race. I won’t recite recent history, but there are plenty of lousy white legislators with limited qualifications.
Maureen

Stop, Look & Listen!

October 27th, 2010
5:02 pm

The legislature meets in January and the first order of business must be abolishing the elected BOE in every county but Gwinnett. The board should be an appointed body with specific qualifications and duties spelled out by law. No “activist citizens” who do not possess the qualifications required to set policy for a school system should be allowed. This job requires a specific skill set that is sorely lacking in 95% of the members of BOE’s across the state. Time to revist this outdated notion and go to a professional board. Could you imagine Microsoft or Walmart holding popular elections among the workers to seat a Board of Directors? These companies would fail within 12 months if they did this. Why, then, do we entrust our children’s future to Bozo, Groucho and Casper?

Angus

October 27th, 2010
5:13 pm

I live in-town and have a 4th grader in an APS charter school who will never set foot in an APS high school (read: we will be moving). The only real investment I have in Atlanta is my home that has lost a good chunk of value already. With all that said…..

Let the loss of accreditation begin. It may be the only way possible that APS will ever lose it’s title as the single worst, half-billion-dollar-a-year-taxpayer-investment in the state of Georgia. Out with the BOE, Hall, and the legions of do-nothing bureaucrats in the central office. We need a fresh start where our kid gets something resembling our $13k per investment.

It’s funny that you, Marueen and others, only want to blast the five – like things were all roses before the coup.

Former Springdale Park Elementary Parent

October 27th, 2010
5:13 pm

@ Bear: Kvetching about Elgart doesn’t make our Board any less dysfunctional nor Bev Hall any less compromised.

Let’s recap:

Our BOE gave Hall carte blanche, and in return Hall presided over the biggest cheating scandal in the history of public school standardized testing; a SECOND multimillion dollar technology spending scandal and the complete disintegration of the Program for Exceptional Children (special ed) which will ultimately cost APS millions in lawsuits and the loss of federal funding. (In scandal terms, the PEC is in the bullpen, and has just finished its warm-up tosses).

Panicky and in disarray after the cheating scandal, our Board swan-dove into pig s##t with its handling of the “Blue Ribbon Panel” investigation, which impressed actual grown-ups on the state level so little they essentially tore it up and threw it back in the Board’s face.

After that very public bit of humiliation, embarrassed Board members started attacking each other in a way that has quickly become more tedious than an argument between Proud Black Man and Proud White Man on the demographics of Clayton County (or any other issue, for that matter).

Bev Hall and her $100k driver must be ecstatic that our BOE exists. I thought it impossible that someone else could make her look competent by comparison, but the BOE proved me wrong.

And so it turns out that Bev does indeed have a personal relationship with her Savior.

It’s just that his name is Khateem Sherrer El.

Public school guy

October 27th, 2010
5:31 pm

The BOE is incompetent.
The administrators are incompetent.
The teachers are incompetent
The Students are incompetent
T

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
5:35 pm

“That is NOT true. If you are going to make a statement like that, at least get your facts straight.”

Prove me wrong then.

Public school guy

October 27th, 2010
5:37 pm

let me finish…
the parents of the students are incompetent.
The families of the students are incompetent
The community of the families is incompetent
The BOE is from the community.

to fix…
The Community does not stand for incompetence and rises to correct.
The families do not stand for incompetence and rises to correct behaviors
The parents do not stand for incompetence and rise to correct.
The students not stand for incompetence and rise to correct.
The teachers do not stand for incompetence and rise to correct.
The administrators do not stand for incompetence and rise to correct.
The BOE becomes competent.

Sadly this will never happen

Public school guy

October 27th, 2010
5:40 pm

PWM – Just stop. You have qualified yourself already.

Stop, Look & Listen!

October 27th, 2010
5:48 pm

This should be a forum for the civilized, instead, one or two neanderthals have invaded this space and insist on vomiting all over the rest of us. Please move over to one of the hate boards at Rush, Sean, Randy or the FNC and stop trying to infect the rest of us.

Pompano

October 27th, 2010
5:50 pm

So Mark Elgart now considers himself to be the equivalent of a GA Superior Court Judge. Who is this guy to appoint himself the Judge & Jury to resolve a Legal dispute? Is he some self-appointed scholar on the GA Constitution?

This is an item that should be decided by a Judge – not some megamaniac who wants to get his name in the paper anytime he disagrees with a local School Board.

How did this organization get selected for providing Accreditation for GA Schools? This guy seems more corrupt – and power hungry – than all of our dysfunctional School Boards combined.

Public school guy

October 27th, 2010
5:55 pm

Stop, Look, & Listen – you have qualified yourself as well.

Maureen Downey

October 27th, 2010
5:56 pm

@Angus, I would never say things were roses, but losing accreditation is not something the system needs to worry about right now. I am not sure why the board majority can’t continue to push its agenda even if it returns leadership to the former chair; it is the majority.
Maureen

Just Wondering

October 27th, 2010
5:58 pm

What needs to be done is to have the Atlanta BOE chair elected as an at-large position for residents to select. Board self-selection of the chair out dated. In the interim, the five have taken this as far as they can and any attempt to subvert (which is the motion under review to create a Governance & Operating Committee of three with a chair that acts on behalf of the district) will just make matters worse.

BTW Springdale – the foolish five started this well before the report went to the state. They used the current situation as a power grab and nothing else.

Disgusted parent

October 27th, 2010
6:05 pm

After the Clayton County debacle, wasn’t the law changed so the governor could remove board members. Maybe now’s the time to exercise that authority.

gogitthem

October 27th, 2010
6:17 pm

first of all, Mark Elgart is a arrogant SOB who has no place in this argument. If SACS is more concerned about the composition of a board rather than wide spread cheating and fiscal fraud by APS, they need to be abolished as well. Frankly, Dr. Hall and her den of thieves, leeches and cronies need be shown the door after refunding any and all performance bonuses. Ms. Downey, how can you call yourself a voice of reason when you preface anything you say negative with how much APS has improved before any facts come in about the breath of the cheating. Believe me it is far reaching and no one will be able to quantify the actual effect of this debauchery. The APS students are damaged goods and I, for one, as an educator wear the stench of this mess as we, the front line employees have indeed a scarlet A and no other school system will touch us. Our careers begin and end with APS and we are the second significant effected group, the first one being the children.

Bravesfan79

October 27th, 2010
6:19 pm

Proud Black Man: Theres no way you can tell me Clayton is only 51% Black!! I think 80% is more likely. And shouldn’t you be more concerned with saving your own race of women than arguing with “evil white racist”?
Last time i checked, it wasnt white peoples fault that Murder was the #1 killer of young black men, and the #2 killer of young black Women.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
6:33 pm

“PWM – Just stop. You have qualified yourself already.”

Explain please.

Proud White Man

October 27th, 2010
6:34 pm

“Please move over to one of the hate boards at Rush, Sean, Randy or the FNC and stop trying to infect the rest of us.”

November 2 is gonna suck for you.

Steve

October 27th, 2010
6:41 pm

PWM – the explanation is clear. You have identified yourself as a bigoted man with a single interest. Having logged that interest, please allow the rest of us to continue the discussion.

Shannon

October 27th, 2010
6:51 pm

Elgart acted on the state attorney general’s ruling. An accreditation agency would pretty much become a laughingstock if it didn’t.

money

October 27th, 2010
7:01 pm

@Pompano

exactly… SACS is basically saying “WE ARE THE LAW”

Plain And Simple...........

October 27th, 2010
7:05 pm

Isn’t the SACS one of the (if not the only) governing body that colleges and universities across the country recognizes as the school board “accreditation” police? And if my memory serves me correctly when Clayton Co. school board lost it’s accreditation that some of the graduating seniors
had a difficult time getting into out of state colleges……..