APS: The failings of adults continue to overshadow education of kids

My former AJC colleague Maria Saporta reports increasing pressure from the business community for  mayoral or state intervention in APS schools, and the parent group Step Up or Step Down wants the APS board chair to resign his chairmanship in the wake of the e-mail exchange I printed a few days ago. In the exchange,  former chair LaChandra Butler-Burks accused Chairman Khaatim Sherrer El of shooting her the bird in an executive session.

In its petition for El to step down from the chairmanship. Step Up or Step Down says: “Given the seriousness of the accreditation issue facing Atlanta’s public high schools, we are appalled at the open displays of animosity and lack of professional leadership by the Atlanta School Board. Board Chair Khaatim Sherrer El should immediately step down from his leadership post and move for the Board to hold elections for new officers. A 2/3 vote should select the new leadership and both El and former Board Chair LaChandra Butler-Burks should recuse themselves from election.”

So, nothing has changed for APS. The craziness of adults is still overshadowing the education of the children.

I don’t quite get what exactly business leaders want the state or Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to do, short of a mayoral takeover. Nor do I quite understand how state involvement would be a boost. I am not sure it can be argued that the state of Georgia has proven itself an engine of educational innovation. Right now, the state is under funding its share of education and still debating what math should be taught.

As I have noted,  takeover of a troubled school system by a new mayor with his own challenges doesn’t seem a sensible move, at least to me. The city of Atlanta, like every other city, is struggling with the sour economy and the demolition of the real estate market. I think Mayor Kasim Reed has enough to do without taking on the schools.

Our new law on state intervention in warring and dysfunctional school boards does not quite allow a “takeover” in the sense of the state running a system. What the law does allow is the state to find citizens to serve on school boards when existing members fail to serve the interests of their students.

Atlanta can turn around its schools. Baltimore is doing it. Hire a great superintendent. Elect a responsible board. Let them work. Stop the cheating on tests.  Focus in one goal: educational excellence.

Here is what Saporta is reporting:

A broad-based coalition of business, civic and community leaders are urging Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to do everything he can to prevent the Atlanta Public Schools from losing its accreditation.

The blue-ribbon Atlanta Committee for Progress (ACP) told Reed March 14 that the school system must become his top priority and that he should explore every avenue available — including state involvement — to break the governance logjam that currently exists on the Atlanta Board of Education.

While leaders fell short of calling for a state takeover of the school system, many said it’s time for the mayor and state leaders to develop a plan of action to prevent Atlanta’s public schools from losing accreditation.

“This has to be dealt with as a crisis,” said Phil Kent, CEO of Turner Broadcasting System Inc. who is chairman of the n Atlanta Committee for Progress. “The idea of Atlanta losing its accreditation is intolerable. I don’t even have kids, but I’m outraged by this.”

In an interview after the meeting, Reed said he had hoped that the city could have worked with the existing school board to come up with a resolution. But there’s been little progress, and now there’s little time to act during this state legislative session.

“That path is not yielding results,” the mayor said. “I’m talking to legislative leaders about a remedy that you can put in place.”

Reed, however, did not offer specifics on what the state and the city could do to solve the APS board governance issues.

“Whatever move I would be involved in would be temporary,” Reed said. “There needs to be some temporary power given to resolving this issue because the city and state can’t take failure of the path we are on.”

The mayor said the message he heard at the ACP meeting was that “this problem has to get to the center of your plate.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has placed the Atlanta Public Schools on probation because of its governance issues. The most significant factor is that the board is split into two opposing groups with the current chairman — Khaatim Sherrer El — holding a 5-to-4 majority. If the board fails to resolve its governance issues, APS likely would lose its accreditation in the fall.
Several community leaders described the situation as a crisis.

“We don’t want the schools to lose accreditation,” said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights leader who has been meeting with members of the black clergy on this issue. “I think we’ve got to have some action. I had hoped that the board would act on its own, and there wouldn’t have had to be the kind of action that might be necessary. But it doesn’t look promising.”

Lowery said APS board members “haven’t done anything” to resolve their differences. “I’m very disappointed that there seems to be a little more concern for power than for merit and integrity,” he added.

Foundation leaders, who have invested millions in Atlanta’s public schools in the past decade, also expressed great concern.

“There’s frustration; there’s a sense of urgency; and there’s a sense of helplessness,” said Curley Dossman Jr., president of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation who is the interim chairman of the Atlanta Education Fund, an entity that had been raising private support for the public school system. “People are wringing their hands to find out what is a reasonable outcome to avoid the devastating loss of accreditation.”

The Atlanta Education Fund had been in the midst of a $19 million fundraising campaign, and it had received pledges and gifts of $15 million.

“It has been very difficult to raise funds in an environment with such uncertainty around it,” Dossman said, adding that the foundation has “suspended” its fundraising effort. “We are unable to get new money coming in.”
Dossman added that he believes the mayor is “looking at every option to bring some sanity to the situation.”

Lowery, however, said he believed that the “last resort” should be a state takeover of the school system. “The mayor ought to use all the influence that he can use short of intervention by the state,” he said. “We all need to put more pressure on the board.”

“There was a unanimity at the ACP meeting that the civic leadership and the mayor need to do whatever it takes to get this on track,” she said. “I think the ACP really pushed the mayor.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

89 comments Add your comment


March 21st, 2011
9:29 am

Wasn’t this the same ‘business community’ that was involved in helping the current slate of Board members? Weren’t they also involved in the intial report of the testing scandal that most believe did not go far enough?

Looks like the business community is looking for a quick remedy to unfortunate lack of engagement in APS by many of the voters. Perhaps more voter education initiatives would help.

Dr NO...

March 21st, 2011
9:49 am

Perhaps dismissing the entire board is the answer. Yes I think so. APS, the city of Atl govt, dekalb, s fulton, clayton is chock full of incompetence and crooks from top to bottom and the only thing they care about is stealing from the public. Glad I dont have to live there.

Ed Johnson

March 21st, 2011
10:17 am

“Baltimore Increases Test Monitoring After Cheating Scandal”

“Baltimore Schools Chief Rumored to be on Chicago’s Short List”

APS parent

March 21st, 2011
10:49 am

One option to deal with this situation, although not an immediate solution, is to run candidates against the current school board members in the next election. Maureen, do you know which board members might be up for re-election this coming November? I understand that the board members are elected for 4 year terms, and many of the current board were just elected in 2009, and so won’t be up for reelection in 2011, but if some of them are up in 2011, I’d like to know who. I haven’t beem able to find this information on any websites.

Jonathan Peterson

March 21st, 2011
10:53 am

“Hire a great superintendent. Elect a responsible board. Let them work. ”

That’s a great idea. The problem is we need a new superintendent starting June 1st. And we need a new board 6 months ago.

As an APS parent, I don’t know if there are 4 board members who need to go, 5 board members who need to go, or 9 board members who need to go. But I know that a couple months have passed, the board is as dysfunctional as ever and the accreditation clock continues to tick.

The state has the power to dismiss the current board with some sort of temporary oversight group, which voters do not have.


March 21st, 2011
11:11 am

I have been following this situation attentively, yet I still do not understand either the precise issues or the positions of the various Board members on those issues. The members themselves have been nearly mute in public ever since the AJC ran the very first articles on APS’ CRCT ‘testing irregularities’, and APS has been remarkably silent since the ‘Blue Ribbon Commission’/coverup was exposed and the state government stepped in. I understand that feelings among our Nine Knownothings have been bruised and that it is much easier for them to issue infantile, self-justifying broadsides like the one Butler-Burks wrote about El’s infamous middle finger salute than it is to answer in the public forum for their actions and points of view, but before we invite in the highly questionable state DOE doofuses shouldn’t we force our local folks to clearly state the problems they believe to be pressing and the remedies they espouse?

It would be very helpful if the AJC called a public debate, perhaps chaired by Reed, Lowery, Dossman and a representative from StepUpStepDown, with the sitting Board and forced them to answer questions in public on the crucial matters at hand. If they were forced to come out of hiding at their “executive sessions” and either display their juvenile stupidity for all to see or actually listen to each other and offer opinions we could better understand the problems and might either begin to move the process or conclude that immediate replacement is the preferred option.

APS Parent 2

March 21st, 2011
11:24 am

@Shar, All APS board members are elected at the same time for a four year term.

It is my understanding that the governor cannot invoke his powers in removing school board members.
Since APS is an independent school system system, per it’s charter, the governor does not have oversight allowed him by the recent state statute. Maureen, are you familiar with this?

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

March 21st, 2011
11:26 am

@Shar: that’s a very sensible way of saying let’s take a little more time to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, and I say that with affection, because yours is a well-thought-out position. But it’s too late for any more attempts to fix his Edsel of a BOE. It’s time for a decisive intervention by the state.

A temporary panel can work with the search firm to install a new super. Let all nine current BOE members run for re-election later — which they’ll undoubtedly do, because they’ve all shown us they lack the capacity to feel shame.

The Least of Our Issues....

March 21st, 2011
11:27 am

is this incompetent Board.

The fact that APS has not lost accreditation for their poor educational program, pervasive cheating, fraudulent awarding of no-bid contracts to relatives and friends, etc. is a small miracle.

The ongoing nonsense with the Board is serving merely to deflect attention from the real issues, so Beverly Hall can coast out in June, and go make a million bucks a year somewhere else.

HS Public Teacher

March 21st, 2011
11:34 am

Please allow true educators to lead.

When will people in GA (and elsewhere) realize that when politicans, business “leaders”, and others get involved in education decisions things just don’t go well?

How about letting classroom teachers give it a go? Allow those that excel in the classroom teaching children a chance to make decisions. They couldn’t do much worse than the current goofballs there now!


March 21st, 2011
11:47 am

Take away the charter for APS. Cut it up and merge it with the other (largely also disfunctional and crooked) systems around it, fire the CO staff, and allow teachers to reapply for jobs.


March 21st, 2011
11:57 am

@Springdale Park, I understand your desire for decisive action – and the tantalizing opportunity to toss the current Board out on their backsides is seductive as well. However, I’m not convinced that the people at the state DOE are any better qualified to lead the system, and I don’t believe that they are invested in the wellbeing of the students in APS. For those reasons, I’d want to force our current moronic, self-pitying, selfish Board members to come out in public to identify what they have wrought and propose solutions.

One huge concern of mine, which might just be the lever we need, is the prospect of these self-interested, lying idiots being entrusted with setting property taxes in the City of Atlanta. That is one power that Reed, who at least thus far has shown integrity and a realistic approach to, should take on. I don’t believe for a minute that any taxpayer in the City can expect “faithful public service” from either this Board or the current incarnation of APS, and the thought of paying to perpetuate the existing system turns my stomach. I’d like to see the money bags out of this Board’s hands and the system unable to continue to extort unlimited funding for their own self-preservation. Reed, with oversight by either the City Council or the state DOE, would be a much more credible steward.


March 21st, 2011
12:01 pm

That the harrassment and intimidation of employees continues (or even just appears to continue) says worlds about what this system does NOT plan to do! Two months before contracts have to go out, it sends out letters, many of whose recepients “just happen” to be POI in the investigation into the cheating and coverup–people who might be able to finger the muckity mucks that put it in motion! That, alone, is evidence that the system is riddled with cancer! Time to recoup the money, starting at the top. Enough has been wasted!

And, as to the civic leaders, shut up already. You have (literally) done enough to poison this well. You have sucked it dry; move on.

Oh Intown Writer...

March 21st, 2011
12:04 pm

Say No To Reed:
He is a professional shake-down artist, and is milking small Atlanta businesses for every dime he can get.
Then he has to get a big fancy car for security purposes?
He’s been posturing non-stop on the national stage, and my concern that he’d be a one-term fly-by i think is proving to be the case.

I am happily awaiting the chance to join the election campaign against Hall-systemic-cheating-patsy Cecily Kinane-Harsch, and look forward to meeting all my intown neighbors who are of the same mindset.

Raquel Morris

March 21st, 2011
12:25 pm

People who are closely following the tangled web of Atlanta politics may have noticed that Robert Highsmith, the outside attorney hired by APS to handle its response to the CRCT investigation, also represented our dear Mayor during his (very close) election.


March 21st, 2011
12:44 pm

Then what do we do about the money? It’s the only drug that matters to Reed, the Board or APS, and the City Council has shown themselves to be untrustworthy in the extreme regarding financial matters. Do we just demand an across the board 15% reduction and then allow the various greedy parties to fight it out among themselves? The current system, in which APS basically has a blank check, has resulted in the highest per-student outlays in the state, and among the highest in the nation, and catastrophic educational performance.

I’m hoping that if the money dries up the business community will be less inclined to push themselves into the procurement stream and that the focus might just shift a little bit from graft to graduation.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

March 21st, 2011
1:11 pm

The Governor has the power to dismiss the Board, and hire replacements- and he should do that. The danger there is that those appointed will be even less accountable to the public. Howver, knowing that their term will/should end 2 years from now, maybe 9 concerned, informed citizens can be convinced to give their time to this effort (Hey- a man can dream, can’t he?).
The Atlanta Educational Fund was, yes, the source of the “blue ribbon” Commission (who gives out these ribbons, anyways?). They should stick to “fundraising.” They should keep their paws off of everything else. The “business community” did get the Board above the level of the kangaroo court it was in the ’90’s, but those we elected were poor choices, as once they got in their offices their positions swelled their heads. None of them- none – has challenged any of Hall’s figures or programs, before or since the multiple scandals – two E-Rate debacles, the phony graduation rates and the CRCT cheating scandal. None have provided oversight, their main function.
And I’ve gotta say, I strongly suspect Hall and her cronies are pulling strings behind the curtains, playing one side against the other in this BOE fight. Notice neither side, the “5″ nor the “4,” are investigating any of the myriad problems at APS.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

March 21st, 2011
1:18 pm

@Oh Intown–count me in.

@ Shar. Okay, you were right–I WAS just hoping for the momentary gratification of seeing this Board dismissed. You’re also right about the primacy of the property tax issue. It’s hard to keep a cool head when elected officials behave so outrageously….kudos to you for doing so.

But if the legislature writes up a law giving the governor (or the mayor of Atlanta) the power to dismiss the APS BOE, can we not find a few temporary stewards to work with the search firm to find a good superintendent, and then hold a special election (with voters hopefully paying more attention this time) to elect a new 5-member BOE? (5 is plenty)?

If we agree that the state DOE should not provide the interim leadership (I’m with you on this), surely we can find a few respected educators or ex-educators to tide us over, yes?


March 21st, 2011
1:32 pm

@Springdale, I fear the answer is no. Such non-Atlantans, non-stakeholders, non-parents, non-teachers, non-taxpayers will automaticallly lack the trust and credibility to choose our next Superintendent, particularly when those of us not-so-cool heads are anxiously awaiting the spectacle of the current one, and her vicioius coven, being led off in chains.

Unelected, disinterested, objective folks choosing our Superintendent are both unaccountable and uninterested in the outcome. I would much rather move now to uncouple the money and the power, to drag as many elected officials as we can into the accountability matrix, and get our gratification from forcing the current Board members to conduct themselves in the full glare of the sun and face the people they have betrayed so horrendously. A special election for all of their seats in November should be being put together now.

APS Parent 3

March 21st, 2011
1:35 pm

The APS board is a mess from the chair down. I think the mayor should appoint an outside chairperson. He can not manage the system nor can Deal. He should not look to the guidance of business leaders but to top educators like college presidents or the chancellor of the university system. The problem with the board is that it is already guided by the business community which only has their profit line at heart and not the kids. Stop looking to the people aiding the problem and not offering solutions.

Once the new chair has been appointed, then let them formulate the hiring committee for the new superintendent. This committe should be made up of parents, teachers and students (PTSA); 2 community leaders (north and south reps); 1 state DOE rep; 2 higher ED reps; 2 business leaders; and 1 city councilman. They should report back to the board their recommendations. The new superintedent should report to the mayor and the chairman of the board.

Maureen, who is Step Up or Step Down, do they meet; and how was this group formed?

Erica Long

March 21st, 2011
1:50 pm

@Chris Murphy,

Unfortunately, Governor Deal does not have the power to dismiss this board since they were all elected before the governance law was enacted. They are grandfathered into their seats until the next regularly scheduled election or a…RECALL.


March 21st, 2011
2:20 pm

While APS certainly has some extreme examples of adults letting kids down, the consequences for children’s education are not unique to Atlanta. Throughout the state of Georgia, school children are not getting the appropriate funding to pay for teachers to provide the necessary school-based education they deserve much less as it is prescribed by the GPS curriculum. School funding has been cut so deeply that it is unfathomable that our current state leadership expects to reduce funding even more. And they are planning to cut funding at the same time as they grant additional tax breaks to businesses and the wealthy. The failure of adults is not limited to Atlanta Public Schools. Kids statewide are losing out.

Inman Park Boy

March 21st, 2011
2:22 pm

I take it from your coments that you are okay with the status quo? How long do we sail this boat before recognizing that it is sinking?

Just Wondering

March 21st, 2011
2:22 pm

The power has always been in our hands and a majority of “us” have sat on them until there’s a problem. As for the Mayor taking over, look at other cities and see how great that has worked. To many here are “Waiting for Superman”, someone to ride in and solve our problems, then we can go back to not challenging or asking questions ourselves as we did prior to the CRCT. If you want to save are kids, you need to step up too.

The “5″, who I frequently refer to as foolish, fooled all of their supporters. Their mantra for the policy change was accountability and transparency and they provided less than the previous chair with back door handshakes and winks to FCTPA and Mr. Delk. Some want to see APS burn to the ground and don’t care if it takes some of the kids with it. Now that the public has spoke out about the decisions, none have made any effort to rescind the policy. That an indicator for me of who needs to go.

The simple act of rescinding the policies that were changed could have been done week one and would have addressed 2 of the 6 SACS items. But we are about to spend money on a policy specialist to analyze how going back might impact what we do going forward. This is from the same mouths that did not hire a policy specialist to make that change.

We need to be in it for the long haul, can’t risk my kids future on quick solutions and temporaries or interims. We need a smaller board of 7 members. 1 at-large seat which would be the chair (similar to county commissions). We need real transparency policies so that “we” can see what is going on, real-time. And we need a district that can admit mistakes, fix them, and improves itself. But it ain’t gonna happen if we keep waiting for a problem.

What's best for kids

March 21st, 2011
2:33 pm

Governor can request that the superintendent be removed. Board is untouchable except for by the people. Vote wisely, my friends.

Dr. John Trotter

March 21st, 2011
2:39 pm

I am not sure that Kasim Reed, Robert Highsmith, and others aren’t whipping up this hysteria for less than pure motives. Their apparent angst should be directed toward the Beverly Hall Administration, not the school board itself. (I never hear a peep out of their about the administration’s egregious and unconscionable actions.) But, Eli Broad and his money-grabbing Broad Foundation (like SACS, eh?) apparently like to work through the mayors in the large urban school systems, according to Diane Ravitch in her latest book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” I was re-reading parts of her very illuminating book yesterday at lunch. The sections dealing with the foundations (Broad Foundation and Gates Foundation in particular) and the systematic cheating that has been taken particularly in the large urban school systems are alone worth the price of the book. The book is very well-documented. You can buy it at any major book store.

By the way, Ravitch notes that the Broad Foundation does not deal in grants but in “investments.” Hmm.


March 21st, 2011
2:43 pm

@ Erica – The citizens can take a Citizen’s Compaint to the governor. He can then hand it to an administrative judge, who can look into the evidence. His ruling could unseat our board members. Yes, the governor CAN in fact make this happen IF the citizens initiate the process.

Dr. John Trotter

March 21st, 2011
2:53 pm

Oh, yes, and before I head for lunch…I do think that this is a systematic and deliberate campaign by well-placed money people to topple a school board duly elected by the people of Atlanta. You may not like certain school board members or all of them, but this is how a republic works — representative democracy in its purest form. I find it ironic that many Northsiders who may view themselves as prime candidates for the Federalist Society apparently want to topple an elected body here in America. Hmm. Money has a strange way of making people change their political stripes. Beverly Hall was (and perhaps continues) giving these pompous Piedmont-Driving-Club-type activists what they want…lucrative contracts. Never forget this…it’s all about the cheddar. Maureen, I’ve been around too long and have seen too much and am too jaded to fall for the Crocodile tears of wafting down Habersham and West Paces Ferry.

Dr. John Trotter

March 21st, 2011
2:56 pm

Sorry. Had a typo in the previous post.

Oh, yes, and before I head for lunch…I do think that this is a systematic and deliberate campaign by well-placed money people to topple a school board duly elected by the people of Atlanta. You may not like certain school board members or all of them, but this is how a republic works — representative democracy in its purest form. I find it ironic that many Northsiders who may view themselves as prime candidates for the Federalist Society apparently want to topple an elected body here in America. Hmm. Money has a strange way of making people change their political stripes. Beverly Hall was (and perhaps continues) giving these pompous Piedmont-Driving-Club-type activists what they want…lucrative contracts. Never forget this…it’s all about the cheddar. Maureen, I’ve been around too long and have seen too much and am too jaded to fall for the Crocodile tears wafting down Habersham and West Paces Ferry.

Glad I could afford to send my children to Pvt. School

March 21st, 2011
3:11 pm

The Least of Our Issues….

March 21st, 2011
11:27 am

Good point, has the system earned decertification?

I don’t see that the “4″ members have clean hands, they are responsible for & part of the cover up.

As some one who’s only dog in this fight is his tax money, I like the “5″ better they have tried up expose and do something about the corruption of the Hall administration.

If we get a new board, how do they go about firing the corrupt, incompitent administrators?

The childeren in the south side have 2 strikes against them to begain, the 3Rd strike should not be APS.

I don’t trust Kasim Reed, he is part of the Jackson machine and has not handled the airport advertising mess in a manner that is best for the taxpayer.

my spellcheck has died, hope you can understand my few points.

Ralph Long

March 21st, 2011
3:21 pm

Unfortunately, the Mayor’s newfound interest in the crisis within Atlanta Public Schools is too little and too late. He has missed the opportunity to step up for our children and show true leadership on this tragedy. I hope that Atlanta parents, taxpayers and teachers are paying close attention.

Seven months ago, when it became clear that widespread, pervasive cheating had infected at least 58 of our city’s schools, the Mayor should have forcefully and unequivocally demanded Beverly Hall’s resignation. Instead, he let months pass by before even suggesting the possibility that Hall should not serve out her term. At this late date in the school year, the majority of the Mayor’s comments on APS have been centered around the internal politics on the Atlanta Board of Education. I have never heard him utter the words CRCT, as if it is not a fact that the Beverly Hall Administration has played a shell game with our children’s education for a decade. Mayor Reed has obviously bought into the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored idea that the actions of nine bickering politicians have done more harm to our children than the educational neglect perpetrated for the past ten years by Dr. Hall and her Central Office regime. The level of timidity displayed by the Mayor on this schools issue leaves a lot to be desired.

If Mayor Reed was serious about what is happening to Atlanta’s children, he would have lobbied the Legislature to address APS governance issues at the beginning of the Session, not the week after Crossover Day. He would have come to the Capitol in January and taken full responsibility for the bill he wrote (and passed) as a State Senator that allowed the Board of Education to abdicate their oversight authority with respect to the APS Superintendent. It’s this lack of oversight and accountability that allows dangerous people like Dr. Hall, Tamara Cotman and Kathy Augustine to mistreat our students, teachers and principals while potentially defrauding the federal and state government.

At some point, real leaders place politics to the side for the sake of what is obviously right. This issue should have been a no-brainer for the Mayor. Instead, he, Beverly Hall and the Chamber of Commerce have let the clock run out on our children.


March 21st, 2011
3:23 pm

Just for everyone’s information:

The Constitution of the State of Georgia authorizes the General Assembly to “provide by general law for the recall of public officials who hold elective office.” This provision is found in Article II, Section II, Paragraph IV. Georgia law allows for the recall of all elected officials. Registration of a recall committee
The relevant legislation requires at least one of the following grounds for calling a recall election:

an act of malfeasance or misconduct while in office,
violation of the oath of office,
failure to perform duties prescribed by law, or
willfully misusing, converting, or misappropriating, without authority, public property or public funds entrusted to or associated with the elective office to which the official has been elected or appointed.

Signature requirement number of valid signatures required for a recall election is 15 percent of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of incumbent being recalled.

Circulation of the recall petition must be completed within 90 days after registration.


March 21st, 2011
3:56 pm

Talk about corruption…when Cotman was first hired she was required to write an explanation to the superintendent and school board as to why a criminal background check uncovered an assault charge against her..she assaulted her sister…they hired her anyway!!!!!!!! She was then put in a high-level supervisor position with no over-sight…and now we are surprised about her behavior…Really????

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

March 21st, 2011
3:58 pm


The APS is not the only GA public school system in which the failings of adults overshadow the education of our children.

it's getting interesting

March 21st, 2011
4:13 pm

Latest word is that Mayor Reed will seek legislative approval that would allow him to appoint ADDITIONAL members to the School Board — apparently the fastest, best solution his office can implement to break the 5/4 logjam and preserve accreditation. No word on who those members would be.

Dana Blankenhorn

March 21st, 2011
4:38 pm

Any person or group who endorsed any incumbent now serving on the APS school board needs to recant. This starts with the Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Reed’s process may be the right interim solution, assuming he can get Chamber buy-in. That should include their explicit rejection of incumbents they endorsed in the past. Not all the rejection-of-reality is on the board, by the way. I’m sure the AJC editorial board has endorsed some incumbents. Time for them to step up and demand those incumbents’ heads.

APS Parent 4

March 21st, 2011
5:31 pm

If we are calling for board member transparency and accountability, can we ask the same for all of the adults who are making a mess of the SACS progress? I’d like transparency from each parent group “claiming” to represent stakeholders. When were they formed; what do their by-laws say; how do they define their membership and/or stakeholders; what are the addresses of their membership; how are they helping the children of APS beyond making issues that further unstabilize this ELECTED board; and do their affiliations or supporters extend to those who are filing the ethics complaints?

From our end of town, this petition and all of the ethics complaints are creative ways to get OUR elected board members who are part of the 5 kicked out of office. The educated parents know that the only way to get rid of elected officials by the voters is by the voters who elected them to office. Have any of these well-to-do-too-much-time-on-their-hands parents ever considered that we like our board members because they are the ones who stood up to Dr. Beverly Hall and the Atlanta Business Community when our children were “CHEATED” out of an education with the CRCT results? Your board member didn’t. I chose not to support the Stepper group because they said cheating on the CRCT isn’t an issue. Would you please leave our board members alone so they can deal with issues that affect our kids – you have no clue what real issues are?

Ask yourself why the Stepford moms including Ms. Harsh-Kinnannee are still emotionally upset at the legal loophole that the 5 used to remove those who failed to investigate cheating….at least they had a court say amen to what they did. As an American, I am tired of one class getting everything and oppressing the rest of us and I take offense at them using worse tactics than the 5 did to change the leadership.

The only creative way that I’ll get in line for with these “entitled” people is if they want to MOVE to my neighborhood and send their kids to my neighborhood schools. They might get the real issues if they saw the real pictures. If they want to move, then I’ll sell them my house at a price equal to what they’d pay for it if it were located in their neighborhoods. Because if they think I’m fool enough to sign their petition, then they are fool enough to pay that kind of an asking price for my house.


March 21st, 2011
5:51 pm

Parent 4 just said it all
The steppers are a front group for the 4 plus riley and patello
Harsch Knaee is just about as corrupt Butler Burke
How about someone start a group to support the 5??
Called …???

Truth for a Change

March 21st, 2011
6:34 pm

@apsparent4 & @wow….I agree. I have a name for the new group – “Truth-for-a-Change.”

If LBB, APS, Dr. Hall and the business community had been “truthful” in dealing with the initial allegations of cheating, then

(1) the entire board would have been in on the decision of how to investigate the allegations;
(2) a disinterested commission (not one led by an organization representing the investors holding a financial stake in the system being invested and thus an interest in the outcome) would have been assembled;
(3) a thorough and swift investigation could have taken place (not one delayed by weeks and months as the reports were vetted (Bill Clinton, no thanks to you that American knows how to be judicious with speech);
(4) the results could have then determined the consequences, including which teachers and staff, if any, had transgressed, but more importantly which children needed help to catch up on missed lessons;
(5) Dr. Hall would have understood that to the Atlanta Board of Education, the children of Atlanta mattered first, because the board would have asked the hard questions starting in January 2010;
(6) Mrs. Butler-Burkes would have been leading the board with integrity, including asking the hard questions and ensuring that all board business was conducted with the entire board (not just her hand-picked few, Dr. Hall and the business community);
(7) The other members of the board would have respected her for this integrity and leadership and they would have had no reason to find a way to remove her from her leadership role;
(8) Because there would be no leadership removal, the issue that won’t die (who sits in which seat on the board dais) would not be an issue because Mrs. Butler-Burkes would still be sitting there;
(9) The board would be singing kumbaya and working on real issues affecting children;
(10) SACS would not be playing kindergarten teacher with 9 adults because 4 of them are sore losers it seems from the entire scope of the AJC articles since January 2010;
(11) Any and all qualified superintendents would be banging at the doors of APS downtown begging to fill the vacant seat when Dr. Hall retired and begging for the opportunity to work with a board that was united on behalf of the children of Atlanta, the teachers and staff of APS and a showcase for the businesses of Atlanta.
(12) Add anything else you think relevant here because by now you get the lesson plan with this list.

Telling the truth. That is one lesson that some on the board need to learn. That is something that Dr. Hall and her staff and any teacher who covered anything up needs to learn. I hope the State investigators teach them all a lesson. Given the Stepper’s self-serving petition which will protect their board member, they better hurry up because if the Steppers keep it up, then there won’t be a board to report the results to when it is completed. I don’t think the vote of Mrs. Harsh-Kinnannee is enough to pass any motion.

I support any who move in the direction of the truth and not in the direction of political convenience. Let’s call the group “Truth-for-a-Change.”

Sutton Parent

March 21st, 2011
6:53 pm

There are two other mothers that are behind this group that are now at North Atlanta..I can’t remember their names but they want all of us black parents out of Sutton…they call them evil and eviler…anyone out there from Sutton or North Atlanta who know these two???

Truth for a Change

March 21st, 2011
6:55 pm

Thank you Sutton Parent for sharing! You give me hope that the truth will come out for a change.

Since you live on that part of town, can you tell me if the parents who have organized this group had their children enrolled in an APS public school since kindergarten to their current grades? Or are these parents private school economic refugees? How many of them have applied their children to private school in case their tactics to get rid of a few board members backfires on them and APS loses its high school accrediation? Are any of them cocktail friends with their board member who is making them take this stance so they’ll get favors back in return? Does anyone else know who funded the 4’s lawsuit?

AJC, rather than giving Steppers a public platform, run the real story behind all of their founders. I would not put it past them to be handing a script to the more colorful of their members instructing them what to read, including they too are organizing members. I have a hard time buying it that these well-groomed white women on tv with their yellow buttons were at a dinner party with these southside parents when they came up with the idea to “found” their group in January….just like I had a hard time buying it when the AJC wrote its story about the CRCT allegations and APS said otherwise.

The truth will set you free.


March 21st, 2011
7:15 pm

Your concluding solution over simplifies the situation – if you’d like to expound upon the HOW that would shed more light on how to turn around the current situation. How do we get rid of the existing board within the confines of the law? It sets a bad precedent if we give too much power to either the city or state government to have their way with a district’s educational governing body. If ‘we the people’ elect the board – we are responsible for being engaged and intelligent voters – Atlanta voters must acknowledge their responsibility in the mess. If an interim fix is put in place – how does the Governor or Mayor go about appointing a temporary board? I’m confident that with a new board, the search for the superintendent can resume – and this superintendent will have educational excellence in mind and discourage cheating.

APS Parent #3

March 21st, 2011
7:24 pm

The 4 took issue with what they viewed as the 5 rewriting the charter with respect to the leadership change by changing leadership. I take issue with anyone rewriting who has power over the ABE. There are laws in existence and I say we follow them.

The voters elect their representatives. The voters who elected them should hold them accountable, not parents who live in other districts. One man, one vote or is this an American form of South African apartheid?

I do not want the Mayor to put my children’s education on the streetcar and drive it down the road. I did not vote for him as a mayor and the last thing I want is for him to pick a board member to represent me. I do not like the Governor taking over either because I like local control. I do want the business interests turning education into another Olympics where the data is more important than the actual results.

I wish the press and the parents would not overblow the squabbles and would not suppress the real issues. I know the emotional and outraged parents sell newspapers, but come on, can we all be more judicious with the arrows we sling?

After all of these emotions which are being jacked up by today’s petition are settled, none of us are going to trust each other or our board. We all should be ashamed as adults. I sure am because do I want to tell my children that any group of adults decided the votes I cast really don’t matter.

Dr. John Trotter

March 21st, 2011
7:27 pm

@ Ralph: Good word, sir. This comming July, Beverly Hall’s Reign of Terror in the Atlanta Public Schools will be 12 years. The Dirty Dozen Years. Awful years. Students cheated. Teachers terrorized. You would think that school boards would learn about importing these educational “messiahs” from New York and New Jersey. Nasty “leaders” is only putting it mildly.


March 21st, 2011
7:39 pm

Too bad that Dr. Hall isn’t elected so that we, the voters, can recall her. I’m still hoping that she takes the early “bird”….and flies to New Jersey on its wings.

APS Parent 4, if the rich folks take you up on your offer, can you send them down the street and let them know my house is “4″ “sell-out” too at their neighborhood prices? (I’ll then be able to afford to send my kids to private school until these parents’ kids graduate from the system. The StepUp parents are mostly high school parents, right?)

Sutton Parent

March 21st, 2011
7:46 pm

the only reason these parents at Sutton MS is because the principal allows them to run the show…there are way to many black folks at North Atlanta for them to go there plus I hear the principal there (who is white) dosen’t put up with any politics…he was once the principal at Inman MS

Sutton Parent

March 21st, 2011
7:51 pm

@Truth for a Change…
I dont live on “that side of town”…however, I do have out of zone papers and they would Love to get me OUT!!

Glad I could afford to send my children to Pvt. School

March 21st, 2011
7:54 pm

So will you south side parents support a WHITE Super? Ms Hall is black and a total failure, who has stiffed black kids.

Change In leadership

March 21st, 2011
8:06 pm

Talking about corruption ….. Kathy Augustine allowed Tamara Cotman to keep her position as Executive Director of SRT 4 after her son brought a weapon (GUN) to school. Guess what nothing happen, becaue Chantel Mullins in Student Placement has him transferred to another APS school. Any other student would have been sent to tribunal then to Forrest Hill Academy.


March 21st, 2011
8:08 pm

@Glad I could afford……. – No offense to anyone, but WHITE folks caused APS problems in the first place. The WHITE controlled Chamber of Commerce brought Beverly Hall here. The WHITE controlled SACS is a joke. Penn Payne, a WHITE woman, was accused of conducting expensive secret investigations for Beverly Hall. APS Technology is headed by a WHITE guy and the last I heard, they can’t find thousands of computers. Beverly Hall’s color has nothing to do with her failure. She’s just bad period.