And then there were three, two and none. Other DeKalb finalist quits and withdraws from DeKalb search.

Arthur Culver just resigned from his job in Illinois, but also withdrew his name from the DeKalb search.

Arthur Culver just resigned from his job in Illinois, but also withdrew his name from the DeKalb search.

Well, this is getting interesting:

The other finalist for the DeKalb school chief job, Arthur Culver, has resigned as superintendent in Champaign, Ill. He told the local paper that he has also withdrawn his name from contention in DeKalb.

With everything that has occurred in the last several days, I felt it was in my best interest to withdraw,” Culver told the News-Gazette.

So, not one of the three original finalists is still in contention for the top slot in DeKalb, forcing the county to start anew.  I wonder if this bizarre process and all the collateral damage along the way will scare away other prospects.

This very open search process seems to have destabilized Cox in North Carolina and led Culver to resign in Illinois.

Some of the fallout comes from the openness that the law requires and that even strong school chiefs like Andres Alonso in Baltimore decry as too risky.

At a panel here, Alonso made the point with which Cox is probably in full agreement: Once your current system knows that you were considering a job elsewhere, there is a wariness about your commitment and a skepticism about everything you say. I would not be surprised to see Cox take another job soon.

The law requires release of the finalists’ names, but many school systems skirt the law by releasing the name of a single finalist in clear circumvention of the transparency intent. (Fulton just did this,  avoiding the messiness of open government that DeKalb is now seeing.)

Taxpayers deserve input on the school chief as they pay the salary, but it didn’t work in this case. The problem with closing the process and shutting out public — as some of you are suggesting — is that people can get enraged to find out there is only one option for school chief,  and that they had no ability to participate in the vetting.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

210 comments Add your comment

A Conservative Voice

April 26th, 2011
9:45 am

Folks, beware…..you know what’s coming.

Cere

April 26th, 2011
9:47 am

I wish one of these former contenders would go public with what went on behind the scenes to send them scurrying.

Maureen Downey

April 26th, 2011
9:51 am

@Cere, This process seems to have destabilized Cox in North Carolina and led Culver to quit in Illinois. Not sure how many top-notch candidates are going to rush in now to apply. Part of it is the openness that the law requires and that even very good school chiefs like Andres Alonso decry as too risky. Alonso made the point that Cox is probably now experiencing: Once your current system knows that you were considering a job elsewhere, there is a wariness about your commitment and a skepticism about everything you say.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2011
9:55 am

Maureen, I think you hit it….job searches used to be in private and announcements not made until contracts signed. Those days seem to be over.

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2011
10:00 am

Will/should DCSS approach the Super search differently (assuming they go back to square one)?
Will/should they have an open search process, an open forum process? I’m kind of torn since the last go around was such a disaster.

Cere

April 26th, 2011
10:01 am

It does appear that way Maureen and DM. We’re the only system looking for a super that held the process open for public consumption and criticism and we’re the only system to end up with a mess. There were other viable candidates. Hopefully they will come back around if the process offers them a bit more protection. That said, our board must simply act more professional. The major difference we experienced that others didn’t was the fact that one or more of our board members blabbed.

Maureen Downey

April 26th, 2011
10:04 am

@Dunwoody, The law requires the release of the finalists’ names, but many places get around that by releasing the name of a single finalist in clear circumvention of the law’s intent on transparency. (Fulton just did this, thus avoiding the messiness of open government.)
I am also torn as I think that taxpayers deserve input, but it didn’t work well in this case. The problem with not involving the public is that people can get enraged to find out there is only one option, and that they had no ability to participate in the hiring process.
Maureen

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
10:05 am

“But I wonder if this bizarre process and all the collateral damage along the way will scare away other prospects.”

You know it will. The Dog-Catcher may want to think twice before jumping into this debacle.

mitch leff

April 26th, 2011
10:09 am

Maureen Downey for Dekalb Super!

ABC

April 26th, 2011
10:10 am

You know it seems somewhat unfair to the candidates to make the process so public. How would you like it if your current boss HAD to know that you were in the final running for a different job? If you didn’t get the other job, how could you possibly have a good relationship with your current boss now?

I mean, I get that the public deserves to know, but in this situation, it doesn’t seem right to potentially damage the candidates in the current jobs.

In theory, we elect the members of the boards to act in our best interests, right. I know this is somehow idealized, but if we elect them, we should trust them to make the right decisions, no? And I know I am being naive and somewhat idealistic.

However, if I am to hold educators to the same standard as I do the private sector, it seems only fair that we allow those people some privacy in the job search.

rhagans

April 26th, 2011
10:11 am

that’s funny!!! i guess the finalist got a chance to see how f’d deKalb county is and decided to get out of dodge. funny!!!
who in their right mind would let their current employer know that they are seeking a job elsewhere? it just shows how stupid things are here in the good old GA.
i always say that they should put under welcome to GA sign (the place where nothing has to make sense).

Concerned citizen

April 26th, 2011
10:16 am

When are we going to get serious about electing members to the Board that have some knowledge about education. As an educator, it is an insult to the educational system to have some of the members we have on the Board making decisions about education. Some of these members have minimal education themselves, so how can make intelligent decisions about education. It has turned into a power struggle whereby we are failing our students. I might add that it is not just in Dekalb. It is all over. PUBLIC EDUCATION is FAILING because those making decisions about education know NOTHING about education. For example, test scores only show one piece of the puzzle. But you would only know that if you are an educator. So, until the citizens elect members who can make intelligent decisions, we will continue to have this sad state of our educational system. DEKALB CITIZENS WAKE UP.

The Deal

April 26th, 2011
10:19 am

Strangely, I am not always a fan of “the public needs to know everything” because of a situation like this. Then again, if we had a BOE we could trust, we wouldn’t demand to know everything and have to second-guess and research everything they do to see what’s going to go wrong. I am truly stumped by this one. I don’t have a good idea for where we need to go. Maybe if the state took over the system, fired the entire board, put in a true interim to clean the central office per the Ernst & Young audit, and interviewed viable candidates with the appropriate amount of privacy, we would have a glimmer of hope. Our system has enough money, great teachers (who are quickly leaving – need to stem the tide), and a few other positive attributes. We don’t have to be in this mess.

Cere

April 26th, 2011
10:19 am

I think you are exactly right, Concerned citizen.

Cere

April 26th, 2011
10:21 am

I think the announcement of the finalists along with their bios, etc would suffice. The 20 question dog and pony show was over the top and only served to stir up criticisms.

Concerned citizen

April 26th, 2011
10:21 am

The really sad part is that Dekalb County used to be the flag ship for education in this state. Now it has become the sinking ship for education in the state. I am angry……….but I guess you can deduce that……………..

atlmom

April 26th, 2011
10:21 am

concerned citizen: that’s what happens when you elect board members.
The entire system is broken. electing a board to run a school system has proven to be a disaster about everywhere. yet we keep at it…keep thinking that all we need to do is make some small tweaks to the system and all will be okay.
clearly, it’s not working.
not one educator was involved with creating no child left behind.

sliderule

April 26th, 2011
10:22 am

Why do search committees (almost) ALWAYS hire from outside? Why is it always better to find someone with no intimate knowledge of the local situation? There seems to be a plethora of highly paid assistants running around. Are they incompetent or just yes people? Is there no one
that is already familiar with the system capable of managing? Current employees are already familiar with the debacle!

Bryant Koonts

April 26th, 2011
10:23 am

The Dekalb county school board should be fired. Heaven only knows what kind of sham they are running over there. This has probably all been orchestrated in order to dupe the tax payers in Dekalb County into paying even more money for third rate education of our children. They are probably taking advice from the Atlanta school board.

Tonya C.

April 26th, 2011
10:24 am

I say the superintendent should be elected just like the board members. I think term limits for both should be imposed.

Rob

April 26th, 2011
10:25 am

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

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2011
10:25 am

@sliderule, in DeKalb’s case one of the requirements as desired by the stakeholders were that the new Super come from outside of DeKalb.

Dave in Dunwoody

April 26th, 2011
10:26 am

I think the problem is the compensation package not being clear on the front end, and the fallout is a result of the late communication about the package.

Solution: (Just my idea and a proposal for consideration; I’m sure others can improve on it or do something different): Just like other public works projects, identify on the front-end, publicly, the perks, benefits, etc. so candidates don’t have to state their requirements. Then, those interested can toss in their hats, and be vetted privately.

It seems to me that the qualifications aren’t what’s causing the problems; it’s the uncertainty of what the job pays, and the sequencing of communicating that and getting interested folks.

Just my 2 cents. Your mileage may vary.

luangtom

April 26th, 2011
10:27 am

Rats jumping off a sinking ship……sad scenario in DeKalb. If all of these people with their credentials want nothing to do with DeKalb, just what will they eventually get? This is like a baseball team. Y’all can fire or dismiss the manager (superintendant) but y’all have the same team (school board) to work with. It is a no-win situation. The new law dealing with school boards signed by the governor may just be a good thing………..

Yup

April 26th, 2011
10:28 am

Maybe the school board should look in the mirror… anc clearly see the problem.

Bryant Koonts

April 26th, 2011
10:28 am

Dekalb county cant hire within because they don’t have the talent available to run an efficient program. They are all con artist who end up bilking the county and the state for money. State officials should take over Dekalb’s school board before even more damage can be done and while they are at it, fire the current superintendent who has done nothing but extort the system for pay.

Concerned citizen

April 26th, 2011
10:30 am

Education should be about the students, not the adults. It angers me when Board meetings are about board members supposedly taking pot shots at each other rather than thinking about what is in the best interest of students. When positions are held by persons, not because they are the most qualified, but because they are a relative of someone on the board. Come on, let’s stop the madness. What will happen is that Mrs. Tyson will get the job and the same old routine continues. Our board members are not being held accountable. Let’s hold a rally and say to them either listen or we will really get rid of you. BUT NO ONE WANTS TO TAKE THE TIME TO DO THAT. WHO SUFFERS———OUR CHILDREN. I have seen so much by being in this system for so long……if walls could talk………….

Concerned citizen

April 26th, 2011
10:31 am

When will we make board members accountable to the electorate?

Adavis62

April 26th, 2011
10:32 am

Employers now want to know if their employees are committed to the job. We need to understand that it’s an employers job market right now. They (the employers) have the upper hand. Knowing that you have someone openly seeking another position places a bad taste in your mouth. You feel betrayed and then the games begin. “Since you’re looking for another position, I’m looking for someone to replace you”. Unless you have signed contract, or solid job offer, your employer may find someone sooner than you can find or secure that new position. Especially if the person they find will do the same job you, but for less money. It’s a win-win for the employer and a lose-lose for you.

Laurie

April 26th, 2011
10:32 am

I say good riddence to the old candidates. Cox wanted way too much for the position. I can only igamine what the others wanted. Dekalb needs to think a little out of the box for the next group of potentials.

Bryant Koonts

April 26th, 2011
10:32 am

The citizens of Dekalb are the ones that keep electing ill-intentioned people with no real credentials or intelligence to run a program so important. Yes our children suffer the price!

sliderule

April 26th, 2011
10:34 am

Dunwoody Mom:

Not sure what a stakeholder is in this situation (I know what it should be), but he, she, or it is part of the problem. When you initiate extraneous constraints on a problem your solution is flawed. Looks to me like the solution is flawed.

Ann

April 26th, 2011
10:41 am

If you’re concerned that the BOE is doing an “end run” around the taxpayers desire to have a superintendent with no ties to the Lewis administration, contact your BOE members and express your opinion. Click on Cerebration’s “Email the Board of Education” link on the right hand side of the home page of this blog. It takes but a minute to fill the email boxes of the BOE with your opinions.

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/

Ed

April 26th, 2011
10:42 am

I agree that the “20 question dog and pony show” was ridiculous. But if Tyson is now considered to be a candidate she ought to be held to that same standard as others were. It would be useful and enlightening to have Ms. Tyson answer questions directly from the public.

Moving Fast

April 26th, 2011
10:44 am

just like the candidates – away from DeKalb. The problem is the BOE. The problem has been the BOE. We do not trust them after Brown, Crawford Lewis, Pope, the avarice, nepotism and incompetency of their behavior. We worked hard to get rid of Zepora. Now we need to get rid of SCW, Womack, Bowen before we can see some change. Bowen should resign because of his lack of leadership. Womack should resign because he is arrogant and ineffective. SCW? Her record speaks for her. We have two new board members who need to grow a spine and demand some changes. We do need educators running the system. The insiders are incompetent. We need to demand desk audits. We need a serious examination of expenses. Ramona Tyson gets $2,000 for travel expenses? Our children do not have lab equipment for chemistry classes. Come on DeKalb start getting out your petitions and let’s start a recall of all nine. Where is Brad Bryant? Why can’t we appoint him super for 2 years to clean up this mess. There are others but no one will jump in to this mess with the current BOE. Change must start at the top in DeKalb.

Road Scholar

April 26th, 2011
10:45 am

Maureen D: The public did have input by voting in the school board members that now sit on the board. The voters need to know who they can vote for and give them the authority to do their job! The voters could have input on the criteria for selection. All hiring/firing/personnel actions need to be held in confidence.

mastadon50

April 26th, 2011
10:51 am

Dekalb just ducked the bullet on Culver. He has possibly been named in a sexual harassment suit, along with the district. If rumors prove true, he was terminated, without payout of his current contract, for harassment of a former district employee. We will see what the future holds.

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
10:54 am

If could rid the board of Eugene “Gene” Walker the rest might fall into order.

atlmom

April 26th, 2011
10:55 am

elected? really? cause the voters have done such a great job electing the boards?

Dr NO

April 26th, 2011
10:56 am

mastadon50

April 26th, 2011
10:51 am

I wonder if the “Search Agency” is familiar with the term “Due Diligence”…LOL.

Concerned Citizen

April 26th, 2011
10:56 am

It is appalling that any of the 3 finalist were ever seriously considered in the first place. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM has recent experience administering a large, complex school district that even remotely resembles that of Dekalb County. The time needed for the “learning curve” for each of them is a luxury that Dekalb County simply cannot entertain. Dekalb needs a school superintendent who can hit the ground running. And the salary demands of some of the candidates were ludicrous, particularly given their lack of relevant experience. I am thoroughly disgusted with the entire process that took place, as are many of my neighbors.

atlmom

April 26th, 2011
10:57 am

um, get rid of them? who’s goign to replace them? equally bad members?

bill

April 26th, 2011
11:00 am

Why do underachieving fools think that elections will solve the problem. Cynthia McKinney, Vern Jones, the school board and the idoiot that represents you in congress should be a good indication that elections will not improve anything. The school system’s success or failure is based on the raw material of the students and parents.

Just Saying It Like It Is

April 26th, 2011
11:03 am

I personally approached three top notch retired teachers and asked them to run for the School Board. Every one of them said – no way – anybody who would run for the Board with the bunch of morons already on it would be committing suicide.

JacketFan

April 26th, 2011
11:04 am

According to my SOURCES it was Tyson herself who leaked the information to the AJC. You heard it here FIRST. I feel it is my RESPONSIBILITY as a regular blogger on these boards to provide everyone with that information. “What I know, you will know.”

JacketFan

April 26th, 2011
11:05 am

Well, not so much a blogger as a poster, but that’s just semantics. You now know the TRUTH.

frustrated parent

April 26th, 2011
11:06 am

WOW – many of these comments could apply to Cobb county and our board issues. Wishing they would wake up and see the writing on the wall. One of the 17 applicants { in Cobb’s search } has had his name released as the “top contender”. Hope our search doesn’t head down this path – but when you have board members with PERSONAL agendas instead of what’s best for the students and the county this is what you get!!!

amazed

April 26th, 2011
11:07 am

A lot of people would be really motivated to defeat all the incumbents if they appointed Tyson. She may not have personally benefited, but she was hand-picked by Lewis to be his successor and was part of the corrupt administration.

Dr. John Trotter

April 26th, 2011
11:08 am

One of the biggest myths in public education (a myth that I will be addressing and exposing in my book) is that school superintendents should be appointed. They should be elected by the people. You actually end up with a better superintendent. Ever since Clayton County quit electing superintendents (when the law changed in 1994), its caliber of superintendents went down precipitously.

By the way, they wanted badly to get rid of Culver in Illinois. The so-called “search” firm was going to unload their problem onto DeKalb. I suspect that the same thing may be true of Davis and Cox. I have always asked: Why would anyone be willing to picked and traverse the country for a job? For power, control, money, and because he or she is about ready to lose a job.

Kadijah

April 26th, 2011
11:08 am

Excellence fo dey chirren!
Bring back ole Johnny…he dress nice.