There will be a meet and greet with the DeKalb superintendent finalist on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 10 a.m. at the DeKalb administrative center at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd, Tucker.
Here is her pending contract, which lists the salary as $275,000. It gives her $2,600 for monthly expenses. It allows her $750 for her car/gas/travel each month. It gives her $2,000 a month for temporary living/relocation costs during her initial six months on the job.
Here is an interesting provision considering that the past school chief awaits criminal trial:
With respect to criminal actions, whether they involve misdemeanor or felony charges, the BOARD may, but is not required to, reimburse the SUPERINTENDENT for some or all of her defense costs if the SUPERINTENDENT is acquitted or the charges are dropped.
Here are the details from the district:
The DeKalb County Board of Education is pleased to announce that the board’s finalist for superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, will visit with parents, community members and others on Saturday, Aug. 27. Dr. Atkinson will share her vision for the school system and meet with parents, community leaders and other DCSS stakeholders.
“We’re pleased to introduce Dr. Atkinson to our community of parents and concerned citizens,” said Thomas Bowen, chairman of the DeKalb County School System. “It was Dr. Atkinson’s desire to come immediately to share her vision with our parents and citizens, but she is rightfully focused on the start of the school year in Lorain, Ohio, where she remains superintendent.”
Dr. Atkinson will give a brief overview of her vision for the school system and answer questions submitted by community members. “We are confident that once DeKalb residents get an opportunity to hear directly from her, our parents and community members will be impressed with her creative approaches to increasing academic performance,” said Bowen.
I had raised questions earlier this week about why DeKalb parents were concerned about the selection of Atkinson. Several sent me long, thoughtful e-mails explaining their concerns with the process and the selection.
Here are some of them:
I do not care that she is from a smaller district (she’s had experience in larger districts before Lorain); however, the fact that there is some evidence that more scores have gone down rather than up in her district is incredibly concerning. There may be excellent answers to these concerns, but if we do not get a chance to ask about them, then it seems as if something is being covered up. I am very open to hearing what some of these answers might be. She may truly be the best candidate, and I’m open to learning that.
And here is another:
We need change and we need it now. Not four years from now or 48 years from now if you consider that it took Dr. Atkinson 4 years merely to improve a district some 12 times smaller than our own in a single category. We cannot afford to hire someone who will maintain the status quo with regard to nepotism and cronyism. The only highlights I have heard or read about Dr. Atkinson’s career are that she brought in laptops and e-textbooks for grades 6 through 12 and that she built a controversial new high school in her Lorain district.
I saw that one of your readers who claimed to be from Lorain listed an interesting and compelling list of her accomplishments. And if those are true, Dr. Atkinson instantly becomes more appealing as a potential leader for DeKalb. However, if those accomplishments are true, why then, can’t the members of our Board of Education give us a single reason they want her as our new superintendent rather than accusing parents of racism and being unsupportive of our elected officials?
I and most of the other parents I know are very open-minded and we welcome dialogue about this issue with our elected officials. However, they refuse to engage with us in this discussion and that, I fear, is the most troubling sign of all that Dr. Atkinson, while I’m certain a very nice and sincere individual, is not up to the task at hand.
And this final one:
When we make inquiries as to Ms. Atkinson’s specific qualifications from the BOE’s perspective, members should be able to provide justification for their own support of the candidate. So far, I and parents that I know have been directed to a Lorain newspaper piece, the same one you published in your column, as a matter of fact. Did you know that the author of this article is listed as one of Ms. Atkinson’s references on her job application?
The very reason that many people doubt this candidate is because of where her support is coming from. The two board members who have written letters of opposition were the same two members who last Spring brought unethical behavior by other board members to light. They were subsequently publicly chastised by the board chair, Thomas Bowen while the members who were actually accused of acting unethically and leaking confidential information to the press about another candidate were not. So you see Ms. Downey, when those same unethical board members support a candidate and cannot provide even a basic rationale for why it is that they do when pressed about it, it causes parents to doubt the candidate. Then when Mr. McChesney & Ms. Jester speak out in opposition, it causes even more doubt. When we attempt to get more information about this candidate, such as her employment contract and other evidence that she is qualified and none is produced, it causes even more doubt.
In a perfect world, we as Dekalb taxpayers would trust our school board to back a highly qualified candidate for superintendent, but as you well know, Dekalb county is far from a perfect world. We have a board who has run amok. They have no ethics code and no accountability for behaving badly.They are completely out of control and do not feel that they owe their constituents anything. We have less than 10 days left to impact this decision. The board is forcing our hand. We have no choice if they refuse to cooperate with us and justify this recommendation than to oppose it.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog