Writing on behalf of herself and three other DeKalb school board members, Nancy Jester is asking the public to support Robert Duron for school chief. Duron is in San Antonio now, and Jester and company are unhappy about a TV news story depicting him in a less than favorable light in the Texas district.
I received a comment on the situation and the role of the press in the DeKalb school chief search from Bill Armstrong, president of the school council at Huntley Hills Elementary School. I asked if I could post his concerns here. With his permission:
“This is outrageous, and starting to look even more like APS: dysfunctional, ineffective board, divided to the point of total break-down. This second leak to sabotage the superintendent search, as the first, I suspect is coming from one of the board members who haven’t signed on to this, or someone at their direction. At this point, I think WSB and Richard Belcher are not fully serving the public interest, and are clearly being used as instruments to manipulated the system: becoming participants in the story. As I said before, I’m virtually an absolutist when it comes to the First Amendment (especially the press), but at the very least this series of events is worthy of debate regarding journalistic ethics. I am torn, the press should be free, but the education of DeKalb’s children is being directly affected, and to their detriment.
And here is the Nancy Jester note:
I am writing on behalf of the DeKalb Board of Education members Don McChesney, Pam Speaks, Paul Womack and myself.
Unfortunately, on Friday someone leaked information about the superintendent search process to the media.
You can view the story here. The leak included the name of a candidate and violated confidentiality. Had this action not been taken, we would not be writing to you today. Everything that we are writing about is already available to the public.
We are writing because we feel compelled to set the record straight on this candidate. We ran for our positions to do something and not be something. We believe that we must hire a leader from outside of our system. This is not to say that we do not have capable people within our ranks. We have many wonderful employees.
Unfortunately, we also have real structural impediments to success combined with a lack of public confidence and a myriad of perception problems.
When we began this process we thought that we were on our way to finding a qualified and dedicated professional. Our search firm provided us with a host of diverse and worthy candidates. As you know, our search has already been plagued by leaks that were purposefully made to undermine the will of the board and caused candidates to withdraw from consideration. This was a great loss for DeKalb from a superintendent perspective and it damaged our ability to attract candidates.
We are convinced that the latest leak has made DeKalb radioactive to potential candidates. These actions have damaged the students, employees and the taxpayers of DeKalb County. Furthermore, they have potentially damaged a candidate who did nothing other than graciously accept our invitations to speak with us.
We want you to know that from the beginning, Dr. Duron emerged as our number one choice. It was abundantly clear to us that he had the temperament and experience to lead our district. We independently reviewed his record. We familiarized ourselves with the accountability standards in his state. We examined the population of his students. We read the impressive references that were written on his behalf.
We would like to set the record straight on Dr. Duron’s record. His district has seen steady improvements under his leadership. He has even proved creative and resourceful in obtaining grant money for inventive ways to tackle achievement problems and re-purpose once closed schools. We have put together a PDF that you can download from the blog tab of www.nancyjester.com. You will see that with a significantly poorer district, Dr. Duron has outperformed DeKalb with respect to AYP standards. In DeKalb (2010) we had 5 failing subgroups for AYP as a system. Dr. Duron’s district had only 1 sub-group that failed.
There are some members of our board that would have you believe that Dr. Duron isn’t a qualified candidate because his district received a label of “academically unacceptable” from the TEA. Please review the website PDF for clarity on this matter. You will note that Texas standards include a completion rate. Districts must track all students even if they leave your district and move out of the state or country. Each district is required to document that a student that leaves is enrolled in school elsewhere. SAISD missed their “completion rate” standard by 9 students that they were unable to locate. Please note that for the academic year that just ended, Dr. Duron’s district is projected to meet this standard and receive the “academically acceptable” rating from the TEA. Again, you can see this documented in the PDF on my website.
We ask you to stand with us and support Dr. Duron. He is a qualified professional that will serve and represent our district well. He will bring accountability, ethics and innovation to DeKalb. We cannot wait. Our children cannot wait. If you agree with us, please email the board. Here are their addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org EUGENE_P_WALKER@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us email@example.com
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog