Does a split vote undermine new DeKalb school chief?

DeKalb made it official. Cheryl Atkinson is now the school chief.

DeKalb made it official. Cheryl Atkinson is now the school chief.

Does Cheryl Atkinson leave Ohio and begin her tenure in DeKalb already at a disadvantage because of the 6-3 vote today by the school board to hire her as the district’s new leader?

Boards members Nancy Jester, Don McChesney and Pamela Speaks opposed hiring the 30-year veteran who now leads the Lorain city schools in Ohio. Jester and McChesney had released long public statements a few weeks ago expressing concern over her track record in Lorain.

As one poster wrote this morning after the board vote: Is 6 to 3 the kind of ringing endorsement that SACS is looking for? A 6 to 3 vote on a superintendent from a dubious-at-best little school system (one high school). I just mop the floors in one of our big high schools here in DeKalb. I am not known to be a scholar but I know that I have a lot of common sense, and I am a deacon in my church. I know something about leadership and what moves people. I also know when the pastor is more interested in what is in the collection plate than what is in a man’s heart or what food is on the family’s table. Something is just not right about this superintendent selection. Something in the milk just ain’t clean.

I can’t read anything in anyone’s heart, but I wonder what’s on Atkinson’s mind now that she has to deal with the public doubts conveyed by that split vote. 

On other other hand, plenty of Georgia school superintendents glide into office on unanimous ballots by their boards of education and still end up in mortal combat with members. A  unanimous vote doesn’t assure successful or even civil relationships in the long run.

Congratulations to Dr. Atkinson. We wish her and the 100,000 students of DeKalb well.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog


130 comments Add your comment

chillywilly

August 29th, 2011
1:23 pm

A 6-3 vote works for me. I wish Dr. Atkinson and Dekalb County Schools much success.

amazed

August 29th, 2011
1:31 pm

Works for me too. Those 3 let her know they have concerns and expect performance. It doesn’t undermine her.

Dunwoody Mom

August 29th, 2011
1:33 pm

The people who voted against her and those of us who were not in favor of her selection will not be doing the “underming”. We care enough about the children of DCSS that failure cannot be an option and we will support her as long as she follows through on the things she promised on Saturday.

Now, my guess is that if Dr. Atkinson goes against the wishes of Tom Bowen and Eugene Walker, well, that might be where the undermining will take place.

It is imperative that the voters of DeKalb remove these BOE members that continue to want the status quo to continue in DCSS.

November 6, 2012

August 29th, 2011
1:41 pm

Just another nail in the coffin.

Parents for DeKalb Schools

August 29th, 2011
1:44 pm

If you are a parent or concerned citizen that wants to support Dr. Atkinson’s execution of her vision as set forth on Saturday and ensure that the Board backs every piece of this vision, then connect with us at http://ParentsForDeKalbSchools.org.

Together we will make a difference and ensure the best possible education for all of DeKalb’s children.

Mistake

August 29th, 2011
1:44 pm

This decision will ensure other systems stay ahead of Dekalb in performance. Garbage in, garbage out!

Lee

August 29th, 2011
1:51 pm

What do you want, a fake unanimous vote just for appearances or board members who vote their conviction? I prefer the latter.

Calling Buffalo Chips

August 29th, 2011
2:05 pm

Why is this conversation even taking place? Why does anyone ever care in the slightest who the superintendent is?

Hasn’t Maureen instructed you that the teacher is THE most important factor, above ALL else in a student’s success?

For that matter why does SACS even threaten to remove accreditation based on the actions of a school board if the teacher is THE most important factor, above ALL else, in a student’s success?

Hasn’t SACS been schooled by Maureen on this?

howdy1942

August 29th, 2011
2:24 pm

I was very disappointed that my representative, Paul Womack voted for her. Just as North Dekalb did in voting Redovian out, I look forward to working to vote Womack out. Dekalb County Schools will not change until we replace people like Womack, Bowen, Copelin-Wood, Walker, and Cunningham with people like Jester. We will have that opportunity next year.

In the long run, it probably doesn’t matter. If the Atlanta and Georgia economies, then the Atlanta and Dekalb County School Systems must improve drastically. With Republicans solidly in control of State Government and the Governor’s office, I expect to see a revision of our Constitution that will redefine school districts. And with a new Republican President, I wouldn’t think there would be much of a challenge to such a change. You cannot force people to pay taxes into failing systems that they abhor for any sustained period of time.

So be it, for now.

Jackie

August 29th, 2011
2:45 pm

What a great day in DeKalb! Welcome, Dr. Atkinson! We look forward to working with you for our children. As long as you have 6 votes, we can move forward.

Dekalb_Parent

August 29th, 2011
2:52 pm

The clock starts now to see how long before the buyout or indictment appears for this latest DeKalb leader. Good luck.

Dacula

August 29th, 2011
2:56 pm

How many options did Dekalb have?

AMHS Dad(Former Ivy Prep Dad)

August 29th, 2011
2:58 pm

Now that the politics are out the way, it’s time for some old fashioned teaching and learning to commence. It’s a new day in Dekalb.

David

August 29th, 2011
3:00 pm

Give the lady a chance. The educational problem is not just a local one it’s a state one and Georgia has fallen short for the longest. I welcome any one who is not from here to come and clean up this mess that you people have made. Especially if they are from the north or midwest.

chillywilly

August 29th, 2011
3:02 pm

@howdy1942 – You already have a Republican Governor that obviously has some very serious ethic issues. I don’t particularly care for Walker, Cunningham or your “Wonder Woman Jester”. Your Republicans have been in control for a while and look where we are as a state; at the bottom of the education barrell. We won’t even talk about the mess that your former Republican President “W” got us in, but sensible voters remember and will surely NOT elect one in 2012. You’re not in charge anymore so get with the program and cut out all of this constitution revision crap. This is a new day and people are not going to just sit by and let you revise a constitution to fit “your needs only”.

Dr. Atkinson was not my choice either, but it is what it is and she has to be held accountable and make a positive difference.

catlady

August 29th, 2011
3:04 pm

She’d better get used to it!

chillywilly

August 29th, 2011
3:11 pm

@David – Beverly Hall & Kathy Augustine are from the north. The last thing DCSS needs is another “northern pirate” to run its school system. At least Dr. Atkinson has some southern experience and I’ll take that any day over a northerner like Beverly Hall or Chicago’s Delores Cross (former Morris Brown College President) who destroyed the college.

Smart Board

August 29th, 2011
3:13 pm

The word “undermine” in the title implies that a difference of opinion is negative. I think it’s refreshing not to have a board in “lock step” agreement. This should translate into the new superintendent crafting policies and procedures that will build greater consensus among board members, staff and the community.

Just imagine if we had a board such as APS, that for most of her years, gave full endorsement to the destruction wrought by Beverly Hall.

plow

August 29th, 2011
3:27 pm

I lost one child in the DeKalb School System, what’s one more. Right?

@ - chillywilly

August 29th, 2011
3:27 pm

Our teachers and children need protection from goons such as Hall and Augustiine. We need watchdogs to keep the likes of such from iinfiltrating our schoold district. We don’t need brute management, stealing, cheating and lying. Above all, we must have a wholesome environment for children and teachers.

Thank God we have board members who stand up and think for themselves.!

thomas

August 29th, 2011
3:31 pm

If you showed the Dekalb School Board a shiny red apple, half would swear it was green just to undermine the others. There are reality TV families less dysfunctional than our board, and they’ve elected someone who does not foster much faith for Dekalb’s immediate future. Why do we care about the board, someone asked, when the teacher is the most important person in the child’s education? Because the board holds sway over the opportunities that teacher has to connect w/ our kids. When your County is close to losing accreditation because of the behavior of people such as principals, superintendents, and administrators, you have to care about more than just the role the teacher plays in your child’s education. It all rolls downhill, and our kids are at the bottom, unfortunately.

Politi Cal

August 29th, 2011
3:34 pm

Give her time to prove her competence; get input from classroom teachers and assistant principals, not just building principals. Only listen to those parents with no obvious ax to grind; keep the Superintendent far away from anyone associated with the clergy. No, I’m, not anti-Christian, I’ve just seen too much meddling by ministers of the Lord in the business of schools. Finally, “you shall judge them by their fruits.” Let;s watch the graduation rate in DeKalb County for ‘12, ‘13 and ‘14. It needs to be up, or she (and the Board that hired her) needs to be OUT.

THE MOST IMPORTANT . . .

August 29th, 2011
3:36 pm

@Calling Buffalo Chips; THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in a student’s success is neither the Superintendent nor the Teacher, it is the PARENT(s). A child’s parents (or parent) are/is the most important key in child’s educational success. Involved, educated, responsible and loving parents are the absolute key to a child’s success!!! So many so-called “parents” need to stop treating school as daycare and expecting the school system to “raise” their children!

Monkey Jenkins

August 29th, 2011
3:48 pm

As long as she is black, right?

Greg

August 29th, 2011
3:52 pm

The only thing the board has to do is offer a lucrative consulting contract to Dr. Elgart to ensure SACs goes along with the selections and the vote.

The working poor (Educator)

August 29th, 2011
3:54 pm

I find it hard to swallow that she gets $70,000 in perks plus her $275,000 salary and the teachers of DCSS can’t even get a $50 increase for the rising price of gas and has Dr. Atkinson settled the discrimination lawsuit filed against her in Ohio!

Melanie

August 29th, 2011
3:54 pm

Thank goodness, no Brad Bryant for Jester , McChesney , Speaks and Cerebration to
” CELERBRATE” ! I say anybobdy butt Brad is a winner for DeKalb.

alm

August 29th, 2011
3:56 pm

If ALL 9 board members put the needs to the students before their own personal wants/needs then she should not have a problem. Oh wait this is DeKalb.
Even is she was not your first choice for superintendent everyone in DeKalb has a responsibility to help the system succeed.

Melanie

August 29th, 2011
3:57 pm

Thank goodness, no Brad Bryant! Anybody but Brad has to be a winner. Speaks, McChesney, Jester and Cerebration can continue to block Atkinson but she will prevail with the real parents.

Ha

August 29th, 2011
3:59 pm

Remember ICN gets all the IT contracts and you will get a new flat screen tv.

Tiger

August 29th, 2011
4:03 pm

chillywilly: A lot of the people who have reservations about Cheryl Atkinson are, like you, Democrats. Many, if not most in some areas, of the white people in northern DeKalb County, particularly those whose children attend public schools, are Democrats. And much of the white in town Democratic population is “from the north”. And these white in-town Democrats are increasingly disturbed by poorly run local government, schools, and other public institutions that are primarily run by blacks in metro Atlanta. It’s not just Republicans.

Hammer time

August 29th, 2011
4:07 pm

$275,000 down the drain. Name one objective that she’s required to meet in order to keep her salary. She failed to accomplish any noteworth objective in Ohio with a school system that’s a fraction the size of Dekalb. Come on 7600 students where kids went from being on academic watch, to continues improvement. WTH!!!! $275,000 and hirer property taxes to pay another under performer. You all and the board of ED are so stupid and irresponsible.!!!!

Glad I Am Retired Teacher

August 29th, 2011
4:17 pm

I noticed she seemed to great pride in the fact that she made staff reapply for their jobs at the end of the year. My question is then, “Why does she get a three year contract?” More educational administrative BS. Man am I glad I am retired.

Melanie

August 29th, 2011
4:27 pm

Glad I’m Retired: I am glad that you are retired too. Did you not know that every Supt. in the State of Ga. is under a 3 year contract which is usually renewed each year to maintain the 3 years by law (as Max) as long as the Board is pleased with the Supt.When they are not pleased, they will either let the contract run out or do a butout. A Supt. is not going to walk away from a job that is secure to one that is not.

Curious One

August 29th, 2011
4:33 pm

Dekalb’s school district is in a ditch and likely just dug it a bit deeper ! The Board needs to step up, shut up and manage up this lady – The kids deserve some serious leadership and accountability form the Board. good luck Dr. Atkinson !

walkman

August 29th, 2011
4:39 pm

Just classic. Atlanta School board here we come. Total disfunction. Not because of the 6-3 vote, but because one of the members in the for category suggested that a member of the against category should look for another job simply because she didn’t go along with he “majority”. Sorry Dekalb schools; you are going down hard.

giving up

August 29th, 2011
4:41 pm

It seems she is fully qualified look at her track record and look at the last two super’s.

Jesse on Base Two.

August 29th, 2011
4:41 pm

What do I have to say? You bought it. Now you have to pay for it. You break it. You own it. This whole scenario reminds me of what an old man told me in Downtown Decatur off Sycamore Street this past Saturday. He said: “In life, I spent most of my money on beer and women. The rest of it, I wasted.” Most of the media’s attention is on Dr. Atkinson. What really matters is what happens in the school buildings? Are there really morons running the schools? Or, are the weak principals allowing the students to run the schools? Will Dr. Atkinson address these questions? Will she support the teachers? Will she acknowledge that the first thing that she needs to do is to set a tone for establishing discipline in the schools?

Isn’t the train depot quite quaint in Downtown Decatur? Makes me want to matriculate at Agnes Scott…or to study theology at Columbia Seminary.

Who my baby daddy?

August 29th, 2011
4:49 pm

Wont be long until she leaves with a nice payout. Then we wont be able to attract many qualified candidates as this board is a joke!

Kadijah

August 29th, 2011
4:50 pm

Excellence for dey chirrens! Also, don’t forget it takes a village to raise a child.

pete

August 29th, 2011
4:54 pm

only time will tell for the kids of Dekalb county , just pray for the best for the kids

Brandy

August 29th, 2011
4:58 pm

Maybe they should have hired the Bishop Eddie Long, he likes kids.

GUNGA DIN

August 29th, 2011
4:59 pm

how much money have they set aside for the inevitable buyout of her contract ??

Rose

August 29th, 2011
4:59 pm

Guide me over Great Jehovah! I’m a pilgrim thru this barren land. I am weak but thou are mighty..Hold me with thy Powerful Hand. Bread of Heaven feed me til I want no more. God Bless You , Dr. Atkinson, you have a job set before you. But with God’s help, and the parents’ involvement, you will do just fine. I support you.

Reality Bites

August 29th, 2011
5:09 pm

Hey APS, dont feel bad we here in Dekalb just got us a Bev Hall too. Looks like we are the new leaders for “Who can embarass the city of Atlanta?”

starlight

August 29th, 2011
5:12 pm

Smoke and Mirrors! She is incompetent window dressing. Knows how to project herself, dresses the part, but no competence!, as her history shows. Low character, low-down personality. Just a matter of time before the buy-out. Cheryl can only hide what she really is for a matter of time. So proud of the 3 bd. members who were bold enough to vote their better minds. At a Disadvantage?? No way.
She is at an advantage all the $275G way. NEVER should have been considered.

Capsized in DeKalb

August 29th, 2011
5:15 pm

She stated that she will have a 5 year game plan in place in 90 days. The report said she starts at DCSS in the middle of September. That gives her until the 2 week holiday break in December to get her plan in order. We will see what is in store for DeKalb by the holidays.
Good luck Doc.

Mitchell

August 29th, 2011
5:17 pm

DeKalb’s motto: “Eh, it’s DeKalb, what do you expect”

Who care’s if she is from a tiny school system, with only 1 high school – lololololololololololololololol

At least she is black.

yapdog

August 29th, 2011
5:17 pm

chillywilly, its not racist Republicans that has harmed our so call kids in the systems, its liberals, unions, black liberals and Democrats. What has the bigotry Republicans offered, school choice, charter schools and vouchers all opposed by Democrats, union teachers and liberals. Atlanta skool systems, Clayton and Dekalb all ran by majority black influnce and what do you get, probation, resignation with buyouts, poor SAT scores and cheating scandals.

Very Passionate About Our Schools

August 29th, 2011
5:22 pm

@Dunwoody Mom: Now, my guess is that if Dr. Atkinson goes against the wishes of Tom Bowen and Eugene Walker, well, that might be where the undermining will take place.

I agree but Copelin –Wood and Cunningham and Womack to an extent and Edler to an extent belong in that mix as well.