Is there a campaign under way to give DeKalb school chief job to Tyson?

DeKalb interim school chief Ramona Tyson

DeKalb interim school chief Ramona Tyson

After a national search, a public Q&A with three finalists and serious negotiations with at least one of them, could the DeKalb school board turn around and award the job to the person already in it?

It is becoming apparent that interim superintendent Ramona Tyson may have changed her mind about taking the job if offered. Initially, she had not expressed an interest in running the troubled system.

(The AJC has a good story on the current status of the search after front runner Lillie Cox of North Carolina withdrew this weekend.)

In an e-mail to the AJC, Tyson would only say: “I have every confidence that the board will find an excellent external candidate for superintendent, and my job will be to support the new superintendent and to ensure a smooth transition. The board has not asked me to consider taking the position permanently, and I have not asked the board to consider me as it continues its external search.”

Even if Tyson chose to actively lobby for the job, I think parents across DeKalb want a new start for their schools. I don’t think they believe the district can achieve a rebirth with a member of the old regime. I am not making any judgments on Tyson’s management of DeKalb over the last 14 months, which seems pretty steady from my distant view.

But her association with indicted school chief Crawford Lewis taints her. DeKalb parents are seeking something new, perhaps even radical, for their bedraggled system. Tyson does not represent a break with the past, although she may well have the skills to lead the district.

I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone in DeKalb schools who mentioned out of the blue that Tyson would be the best choice for school chief, much better than any of the finalists. I thought it was odd to bring up Tyson since she was not in the mix, but I also wondered if this was the beginning of a campaign to recast Tyson as a possibility.

Is she a possibility?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

65 comments Add your comment

Just Saying It Like It Is

April 26th, 2011
4:32 am

I certainly hope she isn’t a consideration but who knows with the idiots on the Board. She is too tainted because of her association with the Crawford Lewis regime.

Tucker Guy

April 26th, 2011
6:08 am

I think the board wants her because she is tainted, just as they are. The charade with Dr. Cox is an embarrassment. If SACS doesn’t see through it and pull Dekalb’s accreditation it will prove they are as corrupt as some people say.

Pierre

April 26th, 2011
6:24 am

It is well-known that many people within the Dekalb County school system, especially in over-staffed, overpaid departments like School Improvement, technology (Tyson’s former stomping ground), and security, would be over the moon if the status quo re-asserted itself with Tyson’s permanent appointment. If she becomes permanent, NOTHING will change, since she is such an integral part of the self-serving, self-perpetuating patronage system (think of it as an African-American Tammany Hall) that has been in place now for at least a decade. The people covertly pushing Tyson are well-represented on the board; you can be sure they are the ones who voted against Cox and who sabotaged her candidacy by leaking information about contract negotiations. If you want a shining example of how participatory government can be and usually is undermined by entrenched power, this supposed “push” for Tyson is it.

really?

April 26th, 2011
6:33 am

While people may have been willing to accept her as permanent Superintendent prior to the charade of the national search, she is no longer acceptable. Someone, either on the Board or very highly placed in the administration, leaked confidential information to WSB and the AJC in order to intentionally undermine the Board’s decision to hire Dr. Cox. The fact that the hiring process was intentionally derailed would taint any new superintendent unless the Board goes back to the drawing board and begins a new national search, preferably using a different search firm

redweather

April 26th, 2011
6:36 am

Although I’m not into conspiracy theories, the leaking of information during the Lillie Cox negatiations looked more than a little suspicious. This is one of those times when I wish the reporter would come clean with his or her source.

Write Your Board Members

April 26th, 2011
6:37 am

I hope not. I respect Ms. Tyson for the job she has done so far, but even she will tell you that she doesn’t know instruction and curriculum, which is key if we are going to have an educator in this job.

How about this? Let’s go outside education and find someone from the business world or military who can deal with a bunch of self-serving incompetent board members.

George

April 26th, 2011
6:43 am

Since when can an employee negotiate grounds for dismissal? Cox would have been bad for the school system. Terminition is easy, if I am not doing my job fire me.

Just Saying It Like It Is

April 26th, 2011
6:49 am

Writing your Board members serves no useful purpose. Except for the two recently elected members, the others are so obnoxious, arrogant and overbearing they won’t listen. Students and teachers are NOT their top priority.

Jaycee

April 26th, 2011
7:05 am

I would like to see someone with a doctorate in education (or equivalent number of years of experience) at the helm. Besides if the short-term experience that Tyson has as an interim makes her qualfied in the long-term, then surely all of the three candidates that many said didn’t weren’t qualfied are over qualfied. I do think she’s done a decent job holding things together, but things are still the same. DCSS needs an educationalist not a technologist to lead.

Jaycee

April 26th, 2011
7:08 am

I agree that it is useless to write the Board members since a couple of them, obviously and embarrassingly, cannot read.

catlady

April 26th, 2011
7:17 am

I would suggest the board do as dictators do when there is a coup: Get rid of everyone associated with the failed regime. While they might be adequate, that they tacitly participated with C. Lewis in his skullduggery (a person of integrity would have resigned) taints them beyond rehabilitation. Get rid of everyone who reported directly to C. Lewis/R. Tyson, and everyone one level below that, immediately. Then, carefully evaluate all other administrators and CO staff with a strict eye toward their complicity in anything morally dubious.

Do I think it is an attempt at a set-up? Yes. Perhaps Deal should step in on this one, too. And while I don’t think SACS should have a part, I do think the GBI should be involved in investigating the leak.

George, she wasn’t dictating grounds for dismissal. She was dictating process for termination–to protect herself from the board who will be mad when their friends and family members are fired.

Just Saying It Like It Is

April 26th, 2011
7:25 am

Right on Catlady – I was just telling a friend – Deal needs to step into this one also. And indeed the GBI needs to do some serious investigating. Our children and teachers are being shoved further down in the cess pool of this Board.

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
7:29 am

A new start? Well the Tyson is not the way to go.

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
7:31 am

On another note. As I understand the DeKalb board made a final appearl to Cox and offered her every concession. She turned the down – FLAT.

LOL…that speaks volumes.

East Cobb Parent

April 26th, 2011
7:42 am

While the election process is not perfect (I have the rep in Cobb that sleeps during most meetings) I prefer it to allowing the Governor to remove elected officials. I do agree with Catlady on her other points. Businesses often operate that way. My former boss brought me from the previous company, replaced all the management and the admin. This is very typical in business.

pmuckle

April 26th, 2011
7:42 am

the entire board need to step down!

Dekalb_Native

April 26th, 2011
7:43 am

1) This is America. We can’t hold Mrs. Tyson responsible for Lewis’ wrongdoings! She too was a victim and has done a GREAT job in stabilizing the chaos in the Dekalb school system.

2) I personally am offended by the search firm’s choice of finalists. There has to be better people across the landscape for the job than people who demand outrageous extras and then turn the job down.

3) All things considered, we may be better served going with Mrs. Tyson -assuming she would take it- and if not, restarting the search from scratch (with a new search firm).

Mikey D

April 26th, 2011
7:44 am

@George:
It’s obvious that Cox was seeking some protections for herself because she had done some homework on Dekalb. She knew that doing what needed to be done (cleaning house) would anger some in power, and she wanted to be sure that she would have the protection to do that heavy lifting and then also be able to start over once the corruption was dealt with. Unfortunately for her, she saw the corruption first hand and chose (probably a wise decision) to stay away from Dekalb. Until DCSS gets more competent board members and does away with at least 2/3 of the administrative bloat, the system will continue to sink further and further.

chillywilly

April 26th, 2011
7:47 am

I’d take Tyson over Cox anyday. If not Tyson, then I’m hoping that Dr. Chuck Fuller or Dr. Glenn Dowell will apply for the position.

chillywilly

April 26th, 2011
7:50 am

If Cox felt she needed all of these protections from Dekalb County, why in the hell did she apply for the job in the first place? Whoever leaked this woman’s shakedown demands, THANK YOU!!

The Deal

April 26th, 2011
8:19 am

There is NO way Tyson should be considered. People, she has kept Beasley in the most important non-super job! He is a used card salesman! She oversaw the most bloated department outside of Audria Berry. IT is ridiculously overstaffed, overpaid, and under-performing. Tyson hired the company that ran this debacle of a superintendent search – all they did was pull three names out of their own hat. They did not do any sort of national search – they were all prior finds of MGT. Tyson also hired the company that came up with the same school closure ideas as her own employee, Dan Drake, and then let those ideas be squashed by Fernbank voices. She got a ridiculously extravagant raise – in line with people who have EXPERIENCE and ADVANCED DEGREES, not people who have agreed to be an interim. Besides not going to jail, how has she been any different from Lewis?

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2011
8:21 am

Ms. Tyson has said many, many times publically and privately that she does not the Super job.

As a parent of 2 DCSS students, I thank Ms. Tyson for bringing some calm to our school system. I believe she has the DCSS ship turned around toward the right direction.

Unfortunately, the Board of Education, does not seem to want to cooperate and do the same.

WAR

April 26th, 2011
8:23 am

pierre

uhm… someone why you feel th school improvement office is overstaffed and overpaid? they dont affect the district’s budget.

WAR

April 26th, 2011
8:23 am

pierre

uhm… please explain why you feel the school improvement office is overstaffed and overpaid? they dont affect the district’s budget.

WAR

April 26th, 2011
8:25 am

the deal

you do know the office of school improvement does not affect the district’s budget… right?

WAR

April 26th, 2011
8:27 am

i love when people say words like overpaid, overstaffed, bloat, nepotism, cronyism… makes me appreciate the fact they have no idea what they are talking about and teaching is still important.

Cere

April 26th, 2011
8:27 am

I am certain that Tyson has been sincere all along as she has continued to state that she is not interested in the job permanently. She has done a very good job of steering the rudderless ship the last year and a half, but she really only expected to hold that rudder for a couple of months. Her arms are tired! I applaud her ability to take the high road in all conversations – she certainly has done the best job ever as the PR rep for DCSS. But she has been “interim” in every sense of the word, and has in fact, gone above and beyond what is generally required of an interim. She has saved face for our board and our system over and over again.

That said, IMHO, she is not the best choice moving forward even if certain board members seem to be pushing that agenda. We need to go back to the drawing board and revisit some viable candidates – people who have a deep understanding of how to educate children well. We were told that over 50 qualified people applied and the board was able to narrow them to 6 at one point, then to 3. Our new superintendent is out there, our board just needs to focus on the task at hand and choose the best one. I have to wonder though if this group is capable of being serious, focused and trustworthy. Some on our board seem to have personal agendas which trump their ability to do what’s best for our children every single time. We need new board members ASAP – members who do not have “relatives in the fight” or a desire to control personal fiefdoms. They are too individually rapacious to work together for a greater good.

WAR

April 26th, 2011
8:29 am

some of you should run for office or at least vote!

drsoul

April 26th, 2011
8:43 am

This entire episode is just another illustration indicative of the entire DeKalb County weakness of finding and electing officials that are qualified and ethical to run any form of government office. Why would anyone, who has done their ‘homework’ want to work within any form of DeKalb government system without protection. Every element of DeKalb needs a total ’sanitizing’….there is the face of corruption and ineptness at every level. But, you can only blame the people who vote and elect the leaders of these systems….that is where the real fault lies forever. The leaders are representative of the people themselves as you are the ones who keep putting these idiots in office at every level.. Look around at the leadership of every government office and system in DeKalb and go back and research newspaper and TV coverage over the past few years…. yes, voters, look in the mirror before you start criticizing others….!!!! I am not even sure that you have the people capable of selecting a new superintendent…this probably should be transferred to an ‘outside’ group who is capable of understanding the qualifications, but moreso, who really CARES about the DeKalb system and not their own personal image and resume or office of power. You all have it wrong…
No intelligent individual would come into this system without a generous ‘exit package’ and salary.. too many clowns running the show for anyone to be effective… Also, go back to Vernon Jones and the present DeKalb government and just see what a joke DeKalb is from top to bottom, in EVERY area. The education system needs to be cast out and started over….the first to find real leaders who are qualified in EDUCATION, then get rid of tenure, then hire qualified teachers…
DeKalb is a ‘national joke’ in it’s entirety of the governmental system leadership…
WAKE UP VOTERS….SHOW THAT YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT DEKALB….in your hands..!!!!

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2011
8:44 am

@The Deal, The Board hired the search firm, not Ms. Tyson. And the search firm is Ray and Assoc, not MGT. MGT is the consulting group hired to handle the 2020 Vision Plan, and, quite frankly, has done a good job in my view.

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
8:46 am

Dekalb_Native

April 26th, 2011
7:43 am

Oh ABSOLUTELY…in this “new” great society experiment gone awry we ALL are victims and should be held responsbile for nothing.

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
8:47 am

ShakeDown Demands. Thats rich.

No matter…a year or two or less the same conversations will be being had with millions more dollars wasted. And it will be funny and I will still be laughing.

Snark

April 26th, 2011
8:49 am

Maybe they should just drop all pretense and name Eddie Long superintendent. :)

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
8:50 am

Eddie Long…LMAO. Good choice. He can buy his way ot out of any trouble that may come along.

tim

April 26th, 2011
8:54 am

Hmmm Schools systems talk about obesity and nutrition concerning the students….. it seems Ramona doesn’t practice what she preaches.

I guess 4th best is good enough for Dekalb County.

Harold@ Maureen

April 26th, 2011
8:55 am

“I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone in DeKalb schools who mentioned out of the blue that Tyson would be the best choice for school chief, much better than any of the finalists.”…”Is she a possibility?”

I’m only surprised that you think this is “out of the blue”. Friends of mine who are in a Support area outside the schoolhouse said the exact same thing the other night when we were out socially. They really want Ramona Tyson to be the superintendent. I think all admin and support employees are nervous about their jobs, but they know Ms. Tyson will preserve those jobs. Believe me – the admin and support personnel do not want anyone who might “shake things up”. Can you blame them? This is their livelihood. This is the source of much of her support. This is basically what Tom Bowen has expressed as well so Ms. Tyson sees eye to eye with much of the BOE. Most of the BOE members have family working for DCSS (although I don’t believe a single one of them work in teaching positions). Literally millions in cumulative income are at stake for them.

My understanding from some highly placed DCSS admin people is that Ms. Tyson actively sought the job of interim superintendent and was offered this position after another Lewis insider turned it down.

Perhaps Ms. Tyson is seeking the job of superintendent and has some BOE members who are actively campaigning for her to get the job. When Dr. Brown was fired and Lewis was hired, the BOE cut some very convoluted deals with one another as one larger faction promised to support an internal candidate IF the other smaller faction would support firing Dr. Brown. Once the firing was done, then the larger faction reneged on their promise and hired Lewis. The internal candidate who was used as the “bait and switch” retired shortly thereafter as he realized that he had been used as a BOE tool to advance Lewis.

Ms. Tyson is honest. She wouldn’t take a nickel that didn’t belong to her. However, she does not have the educational background or business acumen to do the job which is to raise student achievement while investing taxpayer dollars in the most efficacious manner possible. DCSS needs someone who is willing to rid DCSS of the entrenched nepotism and cronyism that has been building for decades. Teachers, especially in the south side, that I’m friends with tell me that our teacher turnover rate is becoming unsustainable as teachers flee the system. Test scores will soon be out and I predict even more Title 1 schools will slipped further behind. In high school, DCSS will probably go from only 3 out of 20+ schools being Receiving schools to perhaps 1 or 2 out of 20+ schools being Receiving schools (i.e. they must accept all transfers from the low performing schools regardless of availability of physical seats).

The parents in the Central and North areas are starting to realize that declining student achievement in Title 1 schools affects their children as well when the NCLB transfers and overcrowding overwhelm their children.

I think the BOE would like to have a fait accompli and hire Ms. Tyson before the scores come out and the ramifications of declining student achievement become even worse. It’s always harder to undo something than to prevent the “doing” in the first place.

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
8:58 am

Yep…Cox smelled a rat, a setup, took the high-road out of here. I dont blame her for not wanting to become involved with these entrenched DeKalb incompetents.

fultonschoolsparent

April 26th, 2011
9:00 am

Over the months that I have been reading this blog, one common subject thread keeps coming up. NOBODY seems to be happy with their school board members. DeKalb members can’t read, Cobb members sleep, Gwinnett does shady land deals, and Fulton manipulates and lies. I’d really like to see a discussion topic about the qualities of good board members and how to find and elect those people. Some of you really DO need to run!

Rob

April 26th, 2011
9:00 am

Will the AJC disclose which Dekalb board members leaked to Cox contract details Saturday morning?

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2011
9:01 am

@fultonschoolsparent…Maybe it should be a requirement that Board members have children in the school system. That’s one way to make sure our children are 1st priority. Once you no longer have children in the school system, your off the board.

@chillywilly

April 26th, 2011
9:01 am

You must be in the admin and support side. You cannot be a teacher and want to keep the status quo.

drsoul

April 26th, 2011
9:08 am

fultonschoolparent….the real problem is that elections are based on elements other than real qualifications.. primarily on ‘popularity’ or for reasons that are more from emotional issues than taking the time to vett the qualifications of those running for office… I really believe that in certain positions, these need to be appointed people, by a commission of people who are professionals who understand the needs and can understand the fit. A superintendent needs both proven educational achievement and proven leadership skills in the management of people and budgets… how many articles do you read of where anyone lately has really been vetted fully and publicly in this manner??? where do these counties really have the resources to do this or where anyone will take a chance to do it…..again, the popularity issues..!!!! We have totally lost the entire value of the system of elections and the value of putting qualified people into office… Our school systems in every county are suffering…it is sad, but until people decide it is really upon them to select QUALIFIED LEADERSHIP, it will not change…

Moving Fast

April 26th, 2011
9:13 am

Ramona Tyson may have done the best job she could as the interim super but she really is not qualified for the position. Everyone associated with the debacle of the latest hiring scenario should resign. The process was tainted. Motives? We can only speculate. Tom Bowen should ask those that leaked confidential information to resign. If no one does then Tom should take the lead and resign. Paul Womack should resign for his outrageous behavior. The problem is the BOE and not really Tyson. They ignored the gas card scam of CLewis. They looked the other way when the bids were going out to allow the Clewis/Pope scandal to flourish. Can anyone on the board read a budget or analyze financial data or understand contract negotiations? The past BOE used their positions to gain favors for family and friends. The Central Office is bloated. A desk audit should be done now. People overpaid and under-qualified should be reassigned. Complete Financial Audit should be done to see how poorly our money is spent on direct education to our children. If CO staff can’t teach in the classrooms or drive a school bus then they should be dismissed. We do not need parent educators or academic coaches. We need to focus on supporting our teachers and educating our students. We need a strong super who can come in and lead. Get rid of the Central Office staff who are not there to support education of the children. We need to improve our facilities and not supply jobs to half the New Birth congregation. The BOE members should be ashamed. New members, Elder and Jester should rake the other members over the coals and demand some change. We elected them to do this. Take the “Godly Womack” out along with the “Spineless Bowen” and get started on some real work to hire a qualified super and clean house so we can focus upon education and not nepotism.

Teacher Reader

April 26th, 2011
9:35 am

Hiring Tyson for the job of DCSS superintendent shows the tax payers and parents that the board cares little about education and the children the district is in charge of educating. Any employee that is heard praising Tyson for the job that she has done, needs to have their job looked at closely and added to the list of needs to be let go. Tyson, has not gotten rid of any of the Palace bloat and in fact it gets bigger next year, with the hiring of more teacher coaches. The office of school improvement, improves nothing by the salaries of those that it employs. The employees do little to truly impact the education that the children receive. Making sure standards are posted does not help instruction. Also many Palace employees salaries seem to have gone up, while teacher salaries have gone down.

This entire process stinks. If end up with Tyson or Beasley the entire district is doomed for status quo or losing accreditation. If losing accreditation means that we get new board members, than l am all for it. Tyson or Beasley or anyone else from within the district needs to go. We have too many problems that need to be fixed and personal relationships need to be put aside, so that the right thing can be done.

Education for All

April 26th, 2011
10:03 am

Maureen, it is time for an expose’ to show what is really going on here. If internal people leaked the Cox information in order to preserve jobs for their relatives, that is corruption and graft on a scale that must be revealed for the good of the children in Dekalb. We need a reporter to find out:
-which board members have relatives working in the system and how many/what positions
-who leaked this information
-while they’re at it, why Bowen put the name of a board member on a letter opposing legislation reducing board size when that board member later revealed that it had been done without her knowledge
-what are all the connections to New Birth Church operating in this system
-what other corruption lurks under the surface.
Can you help make that happen?

Education for All

April 26th, 2011
10:06 am

At this point, a hard hitting expose’ is the only thing that might shame the board into acting appropriately or at least shame voters into voting appropriately. Although, looking at the Eddie Long situation, blind trust of leaders seems prevalent in the African-American community in Dekalb. Just because people are in leadership positions they are not always working in your best interests, folks. Be critical consumers of your elected officials.

Now I know we have had unequal systems in this country for a very long time when it comes to race, that black people were left out of governance which consisted of white political machines for a long time, and that this history is a true tragedy that will taint our nations, cities, and states forever. But the answer is not to react like the oppressed Irish did in Boston and create a new political machine just to benefit your own networks of people. If you can’t see that your own children’s oppression is continued by your support for a system that cares more about patronage than learning, you need to open your eyes. And now that oppression is being inflicted by black folks on black folks when they accept substandard educational environments in exchange for the employment of friends and relatives.

News flash: Rich folks will be fine either way! You could put Lakeside and Druid Hills kids in a one room schoolhouse and they would come out smelling like a rose because of their parents commitment to education. But the middle and lower class black kids are suffering the most from this dysfunction, and they already have several strikes against them due to society’s racial attitudes. Attention Dekalb Voters: in the future, vote for your kids, not your friends/church buddies, next election lets do the right thing and throw the cronies out!

a reader

April 26th, 2011
10:18 am

Stick most of the Lakeside and N Druid Hills kids anywhere else and they wouldn’t be called “rich kids”. Well educated parents – yes, but only for some of them. Lakeside has a huge bussed in population that has a different educational background (although to be fair, those willing to go that far deserve the option). But they’re not rich kids, for the most part. They know that when they actually meet the rich kids.

Education for All

April 26th, 2011
10:29 am

You may be right about that, but isn’t it sad that we have to send kids long distances to a school where there are rich kids with involved parents. Why aren’t their own home schools just as good? I blame cronyism 100%. Because the only kids who get choiced out of their home schools have parents who care enough to be involved. So what they are dealing with at their home schools is dysfunction so deep that even caring and involved parents don’t feel they can ensure their kids get a good education there, so much so that they are willing to fill out all the forms and transport them across a county to a better option (free bus transport for school choice was ended, I thought).

I have noticed at a few terrible Dekalb schools, with high proportions of kids with several strikes against them already in life’s lottery, such as poverty, race, parental apathy, that they are given a principal with no experience what so ever. Then come to find out that the principal is some board member’s or county office person’s relative. This is saying loud and clear that those in charge are willing to throw imperiled children under the bus as long as thier own friends and relatives get theirs. I call that a black on black crime. Are we really okay with this as our status quo?

Cronyism is the key problem, and rooting it out will be the solution. Only then can we begin to work towards systemic change that makes a good education truly accessible to any kid in Dekalb, no matter what school zone or demographic.

Exteacher

April 26th, 2011
10:40 am

Must admit I am stunned with the new developments. However I side with those who think Cox made a wise choice by not dealing with the devil. This is indeed deep yogurt. Tyson is probably an OK person, but she hasn’t the ammo for this job. I do not believe she will expose the corruption that exists because these are her friends, and of course she and all of the board knew what was going on. How could they not know? At this point Dekalb cannot police or fix itself. Though not a fan of Deal, I would love to see him appoint a new superintendent and dismiss the entire board and let this person clean house thoroughly. It is obvious that they cannot fix this problem themselves.

Business as usual

April 26th, 2011
10:49 am

This is the “Over the Rainbow” syndrome that is prevalent throughout K-12 and MOST ESPECIALLY universities. The University of Georgia RARELY hires administrators from outside “it’s own.” The press release usually goes something like this, “After a nationwide search and $200,000 spent on recruitment and executive search firms, we found the best person for the job is RIGHT IN OUR OWN BACKYARD. We have appointed the interim (Dean, Director, Vice President, Provost) to the position because (he/she/it) seems to have the best grasp of our Institution.” Duh.