APS school chief: Attempt to assign students to schools closest to their homes

APS school chief Erroll B. Davis wrote a letter to parents outlining his guiding principles for redistricting. He is careful to explain that his thinking on this issue has “evolved.” The next round of public meetings on the controversial redistricting plans is the week of Jan. 30.

Here are the guiding principles set forth by Davis:

Ranking of Priorities

Priority One

• Propose boundaries that will be functional for 10 years based on forecasted enrollment.

• Attempt to assign students to schools located closest to their homes. Allow K-8 students to walk where possible. The proximity of ES’s to MS’s should be maximized.

• Attempt to maximize/keep the school feeder concept intact. No more split feeders. Clusters only.

• When evaluating consolidation/closure scenarios and determining which facilities should be retained vs. closed, consideration should be given to minimizing disruption to established educational programming (retain existing IB programs, magnet schools, etc.)

• Ensure student safety and transportation efficiency by using major highway corridors and geographic features as zone boundaries. Give weight to traffic patterns, energy efficiency, etc. Consider time spent on buses.

• Assume NAHS capacity of 2400.

• Minimize impacts on areas that have been redistricted within the last three years.

• Recommend school consolidation/closures in areas where forecasted enrollment does not support multiple schools.

• Attempt to avoid splitting neighborhoods. (Neighborhood boundaries are determined by generally accepted definitions used by the City of Atlanta).

Priority Two

• Favor the retention of newer/larger facilities which have benefitted from recent capital investment in expansion or renovation.

• Retain more accessible, less congested school sites which have better transportation access and can accommodate future long-term expansion beyond the forecast period of this study.

• When consolidating, to the extent possible, avoid closing a high performing school to send children to a lower performing school.

• Don’t eliminate an IB school within an IB cluster.

• Retain ES splitting (K-3, 4-5) as a planning tool.

• Consider SPLOST funded school expansions as a planning tool.

• Be careful in moving students from high performing ES’s to low performing MS’s.

• Balance current utilization of retained buildings to 80% to 90% of capacity.

• In at least one model, minimize the number of transfers across the board.

Priority Three

• Before closing a school, consider the robustness of its partner support.

• No K-8 schools planning until Board reviews/resolves policy issues.

• Eliminate the 9th Grade Academy as a stand alone facility.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

76 comments Add your comment


January 20th, 2012
12:20 am

Horse poop.

Priority1: Keep job and skim as much cash as possible before being indicted.

Priority2: Hire good lawyer to stay out of jail and keep as much of the cash skimmed in priority 1 as possible.

Priority3: Graduate a couple of students.


January 20th, 2012
12:23 am

Or am I overly cynical?

Fred in DeKalb

January 20th, 2012
5:58 am

Yes, you are being overly cynical. Redistricting can be one of the most emotional issue communities deal with with respect to their children’s education. Regardless of the final lines drawn, some will be happy and some will be angry with the decision.


January 20th, 2012
6:14 am

Most of Davis thoughts sound pretty good. I especially like, “When consolidating, to the extent possible, avoid closing a high performing school to send children to a lower performing school,” as well as this “Be careful in moving students from high performing ES’s to low performing MS’s.”

Two Cents

January 20th, 2012
6:54 am

It is time for ALL school districts to stop playing their games and put the kids and what is best for them as top priority. Kids should be and should have been going to the schools closest to their home all the time. Our School Boards, higher echelon administrators, etc. need to get with the program.


January 20th, 2012
7:17 am

These very closely echo the comments we gave on the demographic study, which didn’t follow many (if any) of these principles. If they actually followed these maxims, they might end up with something good.

I wonder if we’ll find out that someone’s pockets were lined by the new northern HS site. It’s at the extreme edge of the City limits and won’t end up being convenient to anyone. Seems like there are plenty of fallow properties out there closer to the middle.

frustrated APS mom

January 20th, 2012
7:46 am

Have you seen the site? It is going to be very nice. I am encouraged about our high school for the first time in my life (and I graduated from Northside which is now North Atlanta back in the 80s). I think it will be worth a little inconvenience. I guess I see things differently – I would be driving the kids right around there somewhere if they were in private school so if it is a great school then it will certainly be worth the drive to get there. It is a great piece of property for a high school campus.


January 20th, 2012
7:57 am

Any change to APS can only be a good thing….


January 20th, 2012
8:14 am

“Retain ES splitting (K-3, 4-5) as a planning tool” – sounds to me like combining SPARK and Hope is still on the table.

Public Schools need Leadership Changes

January 20th, 2012
8:17 am

The APS is a disaster. All of the leadership should have been fired along time ago. Schools should support their students in their community first.

Sticky Wicket from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
8:25 am

It’s this one that needs another caveat ” Recommend school consolidation/closures in areas where forecasted enrollment does not support multiple schools.”

It needs to add “and lease those buildings that are closed but do not sell them.”

Time and again we close schools and sell the property only later we need that property when the population shifts again but because the school board sold teh property, there is literally no where to put the school and that’s what causes all these crazy options that send kids 40 minutes to an hour away from home. That’s nuts!

Take for example the former Bass High School and the former school property that is now Horizon theater in Inman Park. In the seventies the area didn’t need those schools but now they certainly do. If we could reopen those schools we would not need to bus kids all the way to Jackson High School, which is an option now.

We should have closed the school but only leased the property. One could have leased it for office space or retail or a restaurant.

Close schools but do not sell the property. We will need it again later when populations shift. We are a metropolis for goodness sake. We just don’t have spare empty land lying around to build another school.

I must say, though, that Errol appears to be listening to his constituents. Many of these recommendations came straight out of some neighborhood meetings about the rezoning. Let’s just see if he can successfully implement them, especially the parts about not sending schools from a higher performing school to a lower performing school. There is just no way on this green earth (or in Atlanta’s case, this grey concrete) that I would ever send my kid to the cesspools of education known as Tumor elementary and Jackson High school.

To Frustrated from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
8:40 am

Frustrated, you said “Have you seen the site? It is going to be very nice. I am encouraged about our high school for the first time in my life…I think it will be worth a little inconvenience.”

I have never seen the site but I trust you think it’s nice. I’ve heard that too but in matters of convenience you/we must consider this fact – convenience is not really about how far parents have to drive to school it is about how far kids are physically and emotionally apart from school. Studies have shown over and again that children who are involved in school perform better academically. I mean, just anything that keeps them interested in school works well to keep them in and educated. So, for you, who sounds like a reasonable parent, you might have the time and resources and the motivation to take your child to school to participate in things that go on after 3 p.m. or on the weekends or in the Summer…but…it’s those kids who are at risk that need the convenience most of all.

Many kids don’t have parents who either have the money or time and sometimes the motivation that you and I have to get their children to activities involved in school. So if those at-risk kids don’t have the means to get to the school, the miss out and drop out, which causes our society to be at risk of managing another criminal or another undereducated soul who has to depend on tax dollars to get by.

When we put a school, particularly a high school, within walking distance to home for an at-risk, kid, we greatly increase the likelihood that the kid will get and stay involved in something that keeps him or her interested in school. Please trust me, I speak from experience. I was one of those at-risk kids who lived miles from school and had so-called parents that wouldn’t take the time of day for me to get anywhere. I had no bus and no options.

We don’t have buses that will pick kids up at home and take them to band practice in the Summer. We don’t have buses to pick kids up from home to take them to chess club or for the swim team.

I like that you like the new high school proposal. You sound positive and involved. Please remember, though, that not every kid is lucky enough to have a parent likel you.

Good Mom

Former SPARK parent

January 20th, 2012
8:44 am

Erroll Davis is a principled and talented man who doesn’t need this job and doesn’t need our money. He agreed to come in–as a public service–to clean up the carnage after the train wreck that was Beverly Hall and we are lucky to have him. Some parents are still skeptical, but I watched him from inside the USG and he was then–as he is now–a strong-willed, pragmatic, politically savvy leader with a no-BS approach.

To Former Spark from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
8:49 am

From your mouth to God’s ear as we say. Goodness, I hope you are right. Please tell us more of your observations from inside the USG. I would relish some good news. Please share.

To Already Sheared from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
8:56 am

Regarding ““Retain ES splitting (K-3, 4-5) as a planning tool” – sounds to me like combining SPARK and Hope is still on the table.”

I understand the option and why it is there but what I cannot fathom is an elementary school without a playground. Have you see Hope? No playground and no where to put one. Even if the wonderful SPARK and Hope parents raise their own money for playground equipment, there is nowhere to put it. I can’t imagine little children not being allowed to go outside and play, can you?


January 20th, 2012
9:41 am

Okay my problem is this even if the school is close by we are not in a time when we can allow K – 8th graders to walk to school EVERYDAY, with all the pedophiles walking the streets, the bus system still needs to be utilized to the utmost…
And if your child is leaving a HIGH PERFORMANCE EMS, shouldn’t his performance remain HIGH at the MS….even if the MS is not on the “HIGH”performance list….

To Frankie from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
9:57 am

Frankie, i agree that little kids aren’t safe walking alone to school but always riding the bus is not the only option. The parents in my neighborhood take turns walking the kids to school. It’s sort of like carpooling only it’s walk-pooling. It fights obesity and really does contribute to a sense of community, which is a good thing. many times the dogs go with us and we ride bikes too. Because I often have to travel to different offices I still have to drive my car but I park a block or two away from the school and walk in with my children, their friends and I chat with the parents of my childrens’ friends.

You also wrote “And if your child is leaving a HIGH PERFORMANCE EMS, shouldn’t his performance remain HIGH at the MS….even if the MS is not on the “HIGH”performance list….”

No, unfortunately it does not mean that because the peers, teachers, parents and administrators do not go along with the student to the different school. A child’s education is, of course, dependent on the teacher’s skills; the teacher depends on the support of the parents at home and we all need everything to be managed well by the prinicipal and staff.

If my child, who attends a high-performing school, attends a low-performing school where teachers and administrators cheat on CRCT tests, my child is influenced by those without integrity. Why teach them well when you can just change the test scores? Where is the motivation by the school system?

The same goes for the parents. If my child goes to school with other children who come from good parents/guardians they will be influenced by those children. They receive peer pressure to do well instead of hiding their academic achievements out of fear of being teased for “acting white.” You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? Black children, when speaking English properly and when succeding in school are often ridiculed for “acting white.”

Now add to the mix the real possibility that a child may go to elementary school without a playground. How counterproductive is that? Kids need to expel their energy so they can concentrate in class. Heck, adults need it too. We have to fight obesity, something very hard to do when you sit at a desk all day.

It’s for these reasons and more that SPARK parents don’t want to send their kids to Hope and why Mary Lin parents don’t want to send their kids to Tumor’s Toomer and why parents of Grady High don’t want to send their kids to Jackson High School.


January 20th, 2012
10:02 am

Frankie, my kids, and every neighbor kid I can think of, walk to middle and high school on their own all the time. They’ve been walking since they were in 4th grade. They walk in groups. If you look at FBI stats, you will see that violent crime and crimes against children are less common now than when we were kids.

The 24 hour news cycle has ruined childhood.

Understanding Atlanta

January 20th, 2012
11:08 am

Supt. Davis has a good going in assumption. In a city like Atlanta, as populations shift in-town, we will definitely benefit from smaller more intimate elementary schools that support neighborhoods. I also believe that long-term combining SPARK and Hope will allow for greater flexibility and lead to a greater cohesion of the area. I’ve gone through an ES split while in DeKalb back when they had K-7 elementary schools.

Redistricting is hard on everyone and not everyone will be happy with the results. I might be a bit too optimistic, but I do believe that APS will be a great school district holistically across all areas within the next 5 – 7 years.

Grady HS Demographics

January 20th, 2012
11:18 am

As a Grady parent, I am puzzled by the continued statements from the Lin & SPARK parents who do not want to send their children to elementary school with the Hill-Hope community or Lin parents who do not want to send their children to school with Toomer or Coan students for socio-economic factors including low parental involvement or their perceptions that the root of Hill-Hope’s problem is the children.

If you find the thought of sending your children to school with these children from this community repugnant, then I assume that none of you elementary-aged parents were planning to send your children to Grady. Thankfully, those who are at Grady now do not have your values and misperceptions about the children from this community because there is a movement to keep ALL kids at Grady. ALL means ALL and ALL would thus include Hill-Hope, Toomer, Coan and King students.

Mr. Davis’ guidelines leave you in somewhat of a quandry. The guidelins gives you conflicting values to your arguments: the high performing to low performing argument, no split feeder, 80%-90% capacity, K-2/3-5 model and other similar qualities that complicate your ability to argue that ALL children currently zoned to attend their current schools can stay at that school, mostly because the high performing schools are the ones with capacity problems.

Of course, those guidelines are yours to own and massage once you have all figured out what you really value, then you will have to shape your final arguments. Given your demands about being in a homogenous socio-economic student grouping, academic quality, location of school and other things on your list of demands, I would suggest that you might be happier in a private school setting where you get to control all of these decisions for your child.

Public school serves the public. The public includes children from all walks of life and there are those of us who value public school for that experience. Given the capacity issues, which are truly crucial to student safety and well-being (think of all of those science experiments about cannibalism with overcrowded rat cages), ALL just isn’t going to mean ALL.

I just hope that APS will not listen to those who are the noisest in the discussion but actually make decisions that benefit the long-term futures of all of our APS students and not just those who currently hold the golden ticket.

In the know

January 20th, 2012
11:26 am

Well the former principal at Hill did a marvelous job with the children that may potentially may end up at SPARK.

Sure they ended up on the “Severe Concerns” list, but all that really means is they had severe concerns about the honesty and integrity of the staff and leadership.

Principal Skinner

January 20th, 2012
11:37 am

APS to return Fed $$$ due to cheating?

I’ll believe it when the check is cashed by the Feds


January 20th, 2012
11:42 am

Fred – 12:23

Many times, when you tell the exact truth here, a sizable number of people just can’t take it and will go into complete denial.

There is a sickness in GA

January 20th, 2012
11:48 am

@ Grady HS Demographics I just think that the K-2/3-5 model is in the public’s interest. I believe that children in those grade need stability and I do not think the K-2/3-5 model provides that. If you can should me studies disproving that belief I am open to changing my opinion.

I do agree with you though that economically segregating our schools is not in the best interest of APS students as a whole. I just don’t know of a solution that doesn’t evolve long distance busing.


January 20th, 2012
11:54 am

Looks like Jackson is a winner. A good portion of Grady – Lin and Toomer are coming are way and Hope Hill will be going to Inman and Grady – Great!

Grady HS Demographics

January 20th, 2012
12:26 pm

@There is a Sickness. I am not in favor of the K-2/3-5 model; 5/6 split; or a 9th grade stand-alone.

Having high schoolers, the less transitions in a child’s life the better for the child and the child’s family. Middle school is miserable in public or private school because puberty is a horrible rite of passage. Most children have issues adjusting to their horomones, increased classroom demands, fluctuating peer groups, bullying, etc.

Why would anyone want to make these children suffer through more changes unless the educational research dictates that this type of change is a “best practice”? (If it is a “best practice,” then APS should already have it as a norm systemwide and not just in one cluster of schools.)

Sometimes less is more.

@Grady HS Demographics

January 20th, 2012
12:44 pm

Grady HS Demographics wrote: “Given your demands about being in a homogenous socio-economic student grouping…”

Wait a second. SPARK is around 40% non-white with over 40 current students residing in homeless shelters. A substantial portion of SPARK students come from immigrant families where Spanish is the primary language spoken at home. I was room parent for a lower grade class and was involved in making sure that 5 students (in one single classroom) who never brought snacks fpr the long school day received one (federal free breakfast and lunch programs don’t cover snacks, but if you’re a parent, you know that a lot of 5-7 year-olds can’t make it from 7-3:30 every day with just lunch, particular when lunch is served at 10:30) and in making sure that the many parents in our class who don’t speak English get crucial information.

If SPARK were broken into two parts, I don’t think I would have time to be room parent; I’d be driving kids back and forth between schools instead.

It’s possible that there are benefits to kids from lower SE groups being placed in schools with kids from higher SE groups. But to do that effectively, you have to have effective differentiation within the classroom (otherwise, as Mary Elizabeth has been pointing out so well on this blog recently, children being instructed far from their iinstructional level will get bored, get frustrated, feel there is something wrong with them, act out, and so on. … and, in the case of the lower groups, get further and further behind. To have effective differentiation, you need (1) very small classes – does anyone see that happening in APS right now?? (indeed, currently Hope-Hill doe shave small classes; they will certainly lose that if they move into K-2/3-5 schools with Lin or SPARK), and (2) very effective teacher training specifically for differentiation (does anyone see that happening at APS within the next couple of years?).

And so, add on top of the extremely different instructional levels that the kids would be at: classroom overcrowding, high student teacher ratios, teachers driving back and forth between schools that are far apart, students (from both neighborhoods) spending large amounts of time being bused to a school elsewhere, splitting parent effort (and oversight) between two schools …

So anyway, I’m curious since my kids aren’t that old yet. How does the differentiation at Grady work? How, for example, does a teacher teach AP calculus to kids who are on (or above) grade level at the same time as helping kids who are 4 or 5 years behind grade level catch up?

frustrated APS mom

January 20th, 2012
12:47 pm

We have a real problem with the overcrowding at our middle school. I am very anxious to see how they are going to deal with it. It sounds like they will keep our cluster together which means all 6 feeder elementary schools will go into one middle and one high school. I think that is too big. And after one year of trying to get used to it and learn their way around, they will all get moved somewhere else for 7th and 8th. I don’t want middle school to be miserable for my child and I don’t think it has to be. I just might have to pay to make sure it isn’t.

The Phantom

January 20th, 2012
1:35 pm

I still don’t think APS is accurately listening to the SRT3 parents….because:

I didn’t see anything about the 9th Hole Golf School, where NASA/CDC/Emory professionals (because they ONLY live north of the continental sub-divide) will teach all the kiddies about green environmentalism and the horrors of modern-day capitalism.

I didn’t see anything about the Kirkwood Real Estate Speculators cabal and their plans to depress home values north of the impassable Dekalb Avenue and buy them at cheaper prices.

I didn’t see anything about how great it would be to sell Toomer and redevelop the 38-acres of brownfield, since Hosea Williams is a 4-lane road and of course the neighbors wouldn’t mind ERD style traffic.

I loves me some Big Tent…it is so aptly named because it definitely is a circus in there!

Grady HS Demographics

January 20th, 2012
3:15 pm

@@Grady HS Demographics. Grady students who are in AP or Acclerated Math classes must meet academic qualifications, so not all Grady students are eligible to take them. The teachers in these classes do not have to differentiate instruction because the groups are ability-based and generally more well-behaved, serious scholars. AP class sizes are set nationally so that those classes are not overcrowded, but also there may not be a space for all given students who quality for that class or who wish to enroll.

The span of student readiness (you need to consider that students feed to Grady from Coan, King and Inman) in a Grady grade level math, English/LA, social studies or science class (core classes essentially) may include honors, grade level, PEC and repeat students (those who flunked the class the previous year or who didn’t pass the End of the Course Test). The very issues you present in your post as learning concerns (class sizes & teachers trained in differentiation & student boredom or conduct issues) present themselves fully with adult-sized students who are teenagers.

Grady continues to meet AYP most years, so it is doing something right even in an overcrowded environment.

A lot of credit should go to the teachers and above-average students in the classes which include a majority of neighborhood schools where the kids may have been undereducated due to cheating or other factors. They have a much different educational experience than those students who are in a more homogenous grouping due to the educational theme the student chose. Also, at some point, the kids who are too far behind to ever catch up, just drop out.

Grady HS Demographics

January 20th, 2012
3:20 pm

@Grady HS Demographics. Succinctly said, the issues you are concerned about only compound with age and with aging through the system. They do not solve themselves until a kid finally loses hope and drops out. Then, a whole different set of issues presents itself.

Public education needs to serve all of the public from K through 12. In an urban school, perhaps the counseling and support staff and social services are places where APS should provide more help. These kids didn’t sign up for their parents or to live in their neighborhoods.

APS Parent #2

January 20th, 2012
3:44 pm

@The Phantom. What is the Big Tent? Is that something about redistricting? (From your post, you seem like a nut, so I am truly interested in what you would describe as a circus.)


January 20th, 2012
3:48 pm

When I read the part about minimizing redistricting for schools that went through it 3 years ago, I thought it meant that maybe all or part, like Inman Park, of Lin would get spun off to Hope-Hill, which was redistricted 3 years ago. Another possibility, maybe part of SPARK like Poncey-Hi would either go to Hope-Hill or Lin, which would maybe be a “minimal” change to the SPARK population. Then I guess they need to build another middle school (DT Howard seems to have some momentum), and address the Grady challenge, maybe zoning out portions west of I-75/85? Who knows.

@Good Mom, are you saying that Hope-Hill was involved in the cheating scandal? Or Toomer? I know Hope-Hill definitely was not. Not sure about Toomer.


January 20th, 2012
3:54 pm

frustrated APS Mom- I know it’s complicated but there are a lot of properties that are more centrally located for the new HS. Ones that pop to mind are the demo’d apartments in Peachtree Hills, several areas along Piedmont, and I’m sure there are others. When the district currently covers everything E to the train tracks on Lenox Rd (off Cheshire Bridge), some folks will really get the shaft on getting kids to school on Northside Pkwy.

Ed Johnson

January 20th, 2012
4:59 pm

“My thinking has evolved.” –Erroll Davis

Let’s pray the abject poverty of thinking going on among some folk down at the Georgia Legislature would evolve…

Ed Lindsey — HB 731, “Parent Trigger Act”
Ed Setzler — HB 654, “Locally Initiated Funding for Educational-Choice (LIFE) Act” (i.e., vouchers)

What they are doing can only lead to undercutting any good that might come to APS, specifically, and public education in Georgia, in general.

To ALex from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
5:08 pm

Toomer was absolutely involved in the cheating scandal. It was one of the worst offenders. Hope had some high probabilities of cheating as deemed by the erasure analysis but did not make the list of schools to be concerned about.

Hope is an elementary school in the city with no playground. That is a big concern for many parents and I agree a valid concern for elementary students.

To In the Know from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
5:18 pm

In the know, you wrote “Sure they ended up on the “Severe Concerns” list, but all that really means is they had severe concerns about the honesty and integrity of the staff and leadership.”

Do you mean what it looks like you mean? From your comment you seem to say that the integrity of the staff and leadership is not a big deal, just nothing to worry about…that’s like telling Marie Antoinette, at her beheading, not to worry about the guillotine chopping her head off because it was just a little headache.

To Grady HS Demographics from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
5:22 pm

You say “I just hope that APS will not listen to those who are the noisest in the discussion but actually make decisions that benefit the long-term futures of all of our APS students and not just those who currently hold the golden ticket.”

Who holds the golden ticket and how can I get one?

To Grady HS Demographics from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
5:33 pm

Grady you say “I am puzzled by the continued statements from the Lin & SPARK parents who do not want to send their children to elementary school with the Hill-Hope community or Lin parents who do not want to send their children to school with Toomer or Coan students for socio-economic factors including low parental involvement or their perceptions that the root of Hill-Hope’s problem is the children.”

How about the cheating? I wouldn;t want my kids at Toomer because of the cheating. A handful of teachers and the principal are suspended but please don’t try to convince all of us that all the staff who are left had absolutely no involvement in this incredible injustice and corruption.

By the way, where do YOUR kids go to school?


January 20th, 2012
5:34 pm

Yes Toomer was invovled in the cheating. A new principal took over in the Spring of 2009 and along with the parents changed the school. This year the school is cited as having one of the greatest gains in the State http://gov.georgia.gov/vgn/images/portal/cit_79369762/180557958Greatest%20Gains%20FINAL.pdf


January 20th, 2012
5:48 pm

IT was the fall of 2009


January 20th, 2012
5:49 pm

@Good Mother, could you point me to the evidence that “Hope had some high probabilities of cheating as deemed by the erasure analysis but did not make the list of schools to be concerned about.” I think you may be referring to Hill actually, but I’d like to see where you get this from. I checked the ajc’s database because I was curious (never heard that allegation about Hope-Hill before), and I don’t see what you’re talking about.

Hope-Hill may not have a playground, but that’s something the school is working on. And they have a gym plus access to all of the MLK Historic Site facilities like the pool and tennis courts. Sounds like quibbling to me.

No way

January 20th, 2012
5:59 pm

Virginia – Dream on. Mary Lin will stay at Inman and Grady.

Marie Antionette

January 20th, 2012
6:33 pm

@Good Mom – if you wouldn’t want your kids at a school where any leaders cheated, then you aren’t a Springdale Park parent. The SPARK principal was the principal of CW Hill and it was listed on the schools with alleged cheating. A few of those teachers also tracked to SPARK.

If you’ll read the state’s CRCT report closely, it doesn’t seem like the state as thoroughly investigated that principal or staff at the staff at that school because by then, Hill had been closed and merged into Hope & the principal moved to SPARK. You can’t clear someone without a thorough investigation.

Has any parent ever filed an Open Records Act to find out if APS took any actions against her after-the-fact since anyone who was following this closely really was left with the impression that this was a gap in the state’s investigation that should have been closed by either naming her or clearing her? Or was Mr. Davis’ statement that no principal or teacher who had been implicated in cheating just rhetoric? (Just because she got lucky and landed in a top tier school doesn’t mean that she didn’t have an issue at Hill and so it would be nice if APS would on its own close the gap on this as well as any other teachers or staff which the state skipped over.)

Our children deserve leaders with integrity.

SPARK to Hill-Hope

January 20th, 2012
6:39 pm

@Marie, you have made the perfect point.

Hope-Hill and SPARK make great K-2/3-5 pairings since the SPARK principal has connections with families in the O4W and understands how to teach those children. (Since the state didn’t implicate her, I’ll take it that her gains were genuine since SPARK students scores are quite high.)

Hope-Hill and SPARK can then feed to Inman and Grady to keep Grady’s diversity the way those parents like it so much. After all, if you keep MES, SPARK and Lin only at Inman and Grady, then APS will get sued for sure and the parents who claim they like diversity will have a fit.

To Marie Antoinette from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
6:44 pm

Thanks for your comments. I did not know the Hill principal was implicated. I only looked at Hope’s CRCT scores and erasure analysis. Dear Lord I am depressed again.

To Alex from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
6:52 pm

“Hope-Hill may not have a playground, but that’s something the school is working on….sounds like quibbling to me.”

I really don’t like quibbling but every kid deserves and needs a playground. I’m very interested. How are they “working on it?” I know how things go in government, you know like how the Splost money is supposed to be spent on capital investments but somehow the schools don’t ever get expanded?

I will believe it when I see it (the playground) and when it happens, I’ll be delighted to eat my words.

@Toomer from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
6:56 pm

“This year the school is cited as having one of the greatest gains in the State ”

Isn’t that sad? That it had the greatest gains? That means it was so far on the bottom that it had no where to go but up.

The Phantom

January 20th, 2012
7:12 pm

@ APS Parent # 2:


You might think I was being wacky, but I was only sarcastically listing some of the more whacked-out things I’ve read on that forum in the last 6-weeks.

The forum’s stated goal is thus: “The purpose of the BigTent group is to allow members the opportunity to openly discuss redistricting issues, and express their opinions.” But the true goal seem to be an online meeting place for those neighborhoods north of Dekalb Avenue to get together and scheme about how they can keep their schools together and screw everybody else. And as long as they allow Levy and Lockridge (seriously, do either of you still have a child in APS?) to keep speaking for them, the rest of us in SRT3 will just tune them out. If there any sane people in 30307, I apologize for the generalizations, but please let your voice be heard above the noise.

If the comments that have been presented in Bigtent are representative of the majority opinions of “North SRT3″, then myself and others hope they get everything they ask for. I wouldn’t want my kid to be exposed to them if they somehow slipped out of their insular bubble-world and slipped south of the continental sub-divide*; I’m afraid that their entitlement, “I got mine, screw you”, “got to keep the real estate values up” mentality would spread like a contagious disease.

*I couldn’t make this up: some of the discussions centered around Dekalb Avenue being “crossable” on a daily basis if some of the Mary Lin kids are sent south to Toomer/BPA/Whitefoord/Coan. One person brought up that Dekalb Avenue is part of the continental sub-divide, and water north flows to the Atlantic/water south flows to the Gulf. Somehow this was supposed to be a deterrent. Although thousands of people head south to the Target/ERD shopping center daily.

To Alex from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
7:12 pm

” I think you may be referring to Hill actually, but I’d like to see where you get this from.”

OK, here are the results. 2.8% of classes at Hope were flagged. Any school having under, I believe I remember 5%, wasn’t investigated. Look here so you can see all results. Notice Tumor’s Toomer results:

Here’s Hope:
District School Percent Of Classes Flagged Category Atlanta Public Schools Hope Elementa 2.80% Clear


and here’s Tumor’s Toomer:
get this….Hope had 2.8% flagged as cheating and Toomer had a whopping 21.4%.

from: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/GA09spr_WTR%20by%20School_Public_FINAL.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F624A4E037F1FCCCEF972A203ADFF3EFA8382E8A05B2E851FB&Type=D

One blogger pointed out the investigation was waaaay back in 2009…just two and half years ago. Those same teachers are still in that school. I am not convinced the dirt and filth that is corruption and greed has left Toomer elementary school and I sure wouldn’t trust anyone there with the education of my child.

C.W. Hill and CRCT Cheating

January 20th, 2012
7:14 pm

“Since the state didn’t implicate her, I’ll take it that her gains were genuine since SPARK students scores are quite high.”

Really? C.W. Hill was in the “severe” category for cheating, in the category of the schools with the very highest number of classrooms suspected of cheating. The state didn’t clear the school, but just closed the investigation because the school had closed. (After all, as the state report said, there was a LOT of cheating that wasn’t fully proven and thus listed in the report; they had an awfully big investigation and had to go after the low-hanging fruit.) Here’s what the report said:

Principal: Yolanda Brown
There is limited statistical evidence that cheating occurred on the CRCT at CW. Hill Elementary in 2009. Because C.W. Hill closed at the end of 2009, only one witness was interviewed at this school.
For the 2009 CRCT at C.W. Hill, 29.4% of the classes exceeded three standard deviations from the State mean for wrong-to-right erasures. Fifteen teachers had classes exceeding three standard deviations. Although we have concerns, the evidence does not warrant further action.”


Also, what do SPARK scores have to do with whether there was widespread cheating at C.W. Hill?

SPARK to Hill-Hope

January 20th, 2012
7:19 pm

@@Toomer from Good Mom. You are missing the bigger picture. They weren’t on the bottom because there was something wrong with their children. They were on the bottom because under Dr. Hall’s regime, Dr. Augustine, Ms. Few and Dr. Patterson did not always hire high quality principals and teachers for all APS schools.

When the Toomer community was provided a high quality principal (Dr. Jones who came from Centennial Place – which is never on a cheating list) who knew how to run a school, then those students potentials could be maximized.

If the principals and teachers above Dekalb Avenue in MES, Lin or Inman had been those below Dekalb Avenue at East Lake, Toomer or Coan, then those south of Dekalb (SODEK) might be arguing that the train trestle was a natural divide that their children shouldn’t cross over to head to those poor schools to the north.

The most impactful thing on teaching and learning is a high quality teacher who is effective in the classroom. Why are all of you parents placing full blame on the socio-economic factors when that burden should be shared with the Robber Barons of APS who thankfully have left for a vacation out west – Hawaii or Texas?

The Phantom

January 20th, 2012
7:19 pm

I forgot this one:

Funds set aside for legal action, private demographers, etc….to fight APS tooth & nail when they don’t get what they want.

To Spark to Hill-Hope from Good Mom

January 20th, 2012
7:28 pm

“They were on the bottom because under Dr. Hall’s regime, Dr. Augustine, Ms. Few and Dr. Patterson did not always hire high quality principals and teachers for all APS schools.” and “They weren’t on the bottom because there was something wrong with their children.”

I didn’t miss the point. Maybe you have me confused with someone else. A poor education is never the fault of the children in my opinion. It is the fault of we adults who have failed them. By we I mean teachers, administrators and parents.

Corruption and greed doomed Toomer’s children and as long as there is even a vague stench of those liars, cheaters and thieves at Toomer, I wouldn’t send my children there.

I can and have endured a great deal in my life. Sometimes I bring it on myself. I chose to live inside the perimeter. I could easily live outside the perimeter and get a much bigger house and a bigger piece of land. It’s not my children’s fault their mom chose to live ITP. So although some on this blog will willingly send their children to the cesspool that is Toomer, I won’t. I can make sacrifices for myself but it’s unfair to make my kids suffer.

Marie Antionette

January 20th, 2012
7:39 pm

Thanks @The Phatom.

If I had to guess, the kinds of comments that you notie come from parents whose oldest child is still in elementary school (or maybe middle school). If those parents are arguing they “bought their house because it was zoned to Lin/Inman/Grady or MES/Inman/Grady or [fill in the blank],” then they didn’t build the school. They bought into a district. Too bad that they overpaid for their houses and can’t unload them now. It’s really too bad that they don’t realize they are the same parents, their kids are the same kids and their neighborhood is the same neighborhood no matter where they are zoned. With the amount of whining, surely if they redirected their energies, they would have any school in tip top shape in no time flat.

Same whining attitudes exist in adults between trust fund babies (those who inherit and are thus entitled to their way) and the self-made-man millionare (those whose efforts have created something and they know they didn’t get it through entitlement).

I’ve been around a long time and remember when the Morningside parents didn’t want to go to school with the Lin parents because they thought they were hippies and communists; and when North Atlanta’s community would not be caught dead in public school after their kids graduated from elementary school.

My how times have changed. For those of you living south of Dekalb, my piece of advise is to build a Great Wall of China to keep these people out off of the AYSA soccer fields and out of the Edgewood shopping district. Give them what they want – isolation. I feel for their kids.

[...] APS school chief: Attempt to assign students to schools closest to their homes | Get Schooled [...]

No way

January 20th, 2012
10:10 pm

The Phantom (aka monkeybites):

So, if you don’t get what you want, that equates to North of Dekalb “screwing” everyone else? What a joke.

Better Mom

January 20th, 2012
10:55 pm

To Good Mom,

Please remember that your value judgments about where you would send your children are yours. All parents make daily value judgments that impact our children. Not every family can afford to make choices like you. Glad you can take care of your children.

However, calling another community’s school a cesspool does not make your point more valid. It makes you look desperate or cruel. Not traits that my good mother would view as.positives.

The Phantom

January 20th, 2012
11:04 pm

Hey No Way,

I have no idea who/what monkeybites is, so I’ll assume that you incorrectly have me confused with some other poster…

You are confused; I am perfectly content with my school and want absolutely nothing. I just happen to be an active observer in this process, and I call it the way I see it. There are definitely some things from the Sodek (South of Dekalb) positions that I find crazy as well. That being said, Nodek (North of Dekalb) has had six weeks to have a coherent message over there on Big Tent, and the message presented so far has been this:

-The Inman/Grady Cluster cannot be changed…and by Grady Cluster it meant SPARK, Lin, MES. The other schools currently in that cluster were conveniently forgotten. They apparently didn’t have the right SES.

-Nordek don’t trust the data presented by the demographers nor APS, so there were requests to have one of the parents who worked at the CDC to re-run the data.

-Just as a precautionary measure, there were inquiries as to what type of lawyer to have on retainer, so that APS could be sued to maintain the status quo in the Nodek area. How much did the neighborhood group agree to for initial outlay? $20K?

-One of the most persistent posters has been Mr. Levy, who has pushed for the golf-course school/ reclaiming former APS buildings/ anything to keep from having any of the Nodek children from leaving the cluster. Mr. Levy also pushed some agenda about the Kirkwood real estate dealings, closing Toomer, and redevelopment of the brownfield near the school. He has pushed this agenda so much, anyone in their right mind must question what motivation he has to do this & if he has some ulterior motive.

-One of the most inflammatory posters has been Mr. Lockridge, who understandable has an axe to grind with APS over the treatment of his son & subsequent lawsuit. However, spend any time on his personal blog and you’ll understand that he is certifiably racist, no matter how tries to spin it. The man has a serious problem with certain demographics, and frankly I’m not sure why he lives in Atlanta. Glutton for punishment, I suppose…

-A prevalent theme is that moving any Nodek children south is not possible because the distances are too far. Seriously? 1-3 miles is too far? Yeah, good luck with telling that sob story. And the Dekalb Avenue continental sub-divide is too much of a barrier is frankly laughable. People still come to ERD, they come to the zoo, they come to the Ted. I suppose they magically levitate over Dekalb.

-There have been numerous subtle threats about selling houses and moving from APS if the current Grady cluster is changed. Good luck with that too. I suspect some of these kids will be graduated before the real estate market allows that. Wake up, it’s not 5 years ago.


January 21st, 2012
6:44 am

The problem is that nobody wants to send their kids to school with poor black kids. But sadly, Atlanta has a lot of poor black kids. White parents will tolerate these kids up to a certain ratio, but once that ratio is passed, they leave. APS must start to group classes by ability level. You cannot have a kids who are many grade levels apart in the same class; it just won’t work. The issue will become that the lower level classes will become mostly black and the upper level classes will become mostly white and asian. The only way to solve the real issue is for black women to stop having kids while they themselves are uneducated and unmarried and usually unemployed. It is almost impossible to raise a child who is a great student starting out handicapped by not having a father or money.


January 21st, 2012
7:18 am

Yes we are able to cross Dekalb, but not twice a day at rush hour. You talk about other peoples agendas, but what exactly are you pushing for?


January 21st, 2012
3:33 pm

It’s business as usual at APS. Erroll Davis is nothing more than a “male version of Beverly Hall”. The Chamber of Commerce is still calling the shots and Erroll Davis is dancing to their tune.


January 21st, 2012
3:55 pm

Sending kids to schools close to their homes. What a concept!

Better Future

January 22nd, 2012
10:13 pm

@Ted, build a new high school where the Peachtree Hills apartments were demolished? Seriously? There is not enough room there for a football stadium, high school, gym, baseball field, etc. Totally out of the realm of possibility. There might be room for an elementary school at that location, and they have proposed a new elementary school, but then they would be building a new school within a mile of E Rivers, which would be rather illogical. It is too bad the city didn’t stick to their guns when they were considering the Pharr Ct. site. That site would have been fairly centrally located.


January 23rd, 2012
10:01 am

@Good Mother, you are either a complete idiot or just looking for a reason not to send your kids to Hope-Hill. Yes, Hope had 2.80% classrooms flagged, which puts them in the “Clear” category and the same category that Lin is in. By way of contrast, Morningside had 3.20% flagged and Inman Middle had 4.50%. I guess if you go to Lin, you’d still send your kids to Inman Middle right? And I hear that Morningside is a good school, so I don’t hear you ranting about Morningside.

There is another, morally disturbing reason you don’t want to send your kids to Hope-Hill. Shame on you.

To Better Mom from Good Mom

January 23rd, 2012
8:52 pm

Do you object to “cesspool”? Actually, I thought it is rather a tame name for a school where 21.4% of the teachers were flagged for cheating. More than one in five teacher’s classrooms. Yet, many of those teachers still remain at that school. It gives me the creeps to even think about taking my precious child to a school where the teachers robbed these very innocent children and lied to your face and stole your tax dollars.

I am heartbroken for every child and parent who has no other choice than to send their child to this cesspool but take away my first amendment rights? That’s blasphemy.

The right to protest and disagree with the government is a fundamental right in this great country of ours. We must not suppress it for fear of making a few better mothers wince. The real answer to this problem is not to squelch my first admendment rights but rather provide a good education to all American children. The deserve better than Toomer.

To Alex from Good Mom

January 23rd, 2012
9:02 pm

Hey Alex, Lin had zero percent classes flagged and I am well aware of the intown schools who were also cleared but you are heii bent on calling me a racist so go ahead. I know you really want to and if it makes you sleep better at night, then please do…but you still haven’t addressed the issue I have asked you about three times already.

You claim you are “working on” gettting Hope a playground. Please provide the details. I find it hard to believe that all those Hope parents could not get their children a playground for all these years but somehow you can? Where would you put it? There is nothing but a tiny parking lot behind the school. Are you some rich land baron that plans to donate acres of land that can somehow be airlifted behind the school and magically inserted into the city or perhaps you are an Internet billionaire who can afford to be creative and build and pay for a playground on top of the school …or maybe just maybe you are…….
just wanting to find racism so you go looking for it in every ink blot and in every cloud formation.

And of course you have no idea what race I am and what race my husband is or what race my children are. You just assume.

Instead of chasing me down all over the blogs please put your efforts into proving me wrong by doing your dang best to get that playground built. I have friends in the Old Fourth Ward who would really like to thank you and if you need some community support to get it done, please put the information on this blog. I would sincerely like to help.

Good Mom

To Phantom from Good Mom

January 23rd, 2012
9:13 pm

Suavez makes a great point, Phantom, “Phantom,
Yes we are able to cross Dekalb, but not twice a day at rush hour. You talk about other peoples agendas, but what exactly are you pushing for?”

Why is it that many, not all, of the parents in the communities of Toomer and Coan are so desperate to get the students to Lin, ME, Inman Park middle to come south to their schools?

I do mean desperate. I’ve been at several community meetings where Toomer parents are downright <<>> (yes they were almost shouting) because they were so angry that intown parents of Lin, SPARK, ME and Inman didn’t want to come to their school. They were begging and pleading. It was embarrassing.

Why are Toomer and Coan parents so desperate for the other intown parents to come to their school? If it is such a great school, it stands to reason they wouldn’t be desperate for other people to come in.

I think the answer is obvious. The parents of Toomer and COAN desperately want Inman, SPARK, Lin and ME students to come to their school because they want what they consider “good white families” to come in and make their school better…and that, my friend, is racism.


January 23rd, 2012
9:58 pm

The Kirkwood and FourthWard folks thought gentrification would go on forever when they bought their houses and soon they would be living in a neighborhood like Morningside. Then the economy tanked and gentrification stopped. Now they are desperate to force our kids to get bussed down there to improve their schools. Sorry folks, but it ain’t happening. You took a risk and it didn’t work out. Bite the bullet and move if you have to.


January 24th, 2012
9:02 am

Good Mom, your comment, which you now seem to be backpedaling on was “Hope had some high probabilities of cheating as deemed by the erasure analysis but did not make the list of schools to be concerned about.” Either you stand by this comment – “high probabilities” – or you do not. I take it that you do not. Admitting you were wrong instead of changing the subject would be the appropriate thing to do. I’m not sure what made you unfairly accuse the principal and teachers at Hope of cheating, but not for a minute will I let that stand. Members of the Hope-Hill PTA were mentioning how bewildered they were to learn there were rumors going around about how their school had been involved in the cheating scandal. Now we can all see how these ridiculous rumors may have gotten started. You should apologize to them even if you can’t admit your motivation, whatever it may be.

I dont’ know if you are racist. I don’t know if you are classist. I don’t know if you are a pathological liar. I don’t know if you a desperate and had a weak moment. What I do know is that you manufactured cheating “evidence” as a rationale for keeping your kid out of Hope-Hill and then went around on the internet and spread that mistruth. Seems like a moral failing to me.

Sorry not to respond to your whole world-ends-without-a-playground argument since I was distracted by your other gross mischaracterization. I’m not sure where you got the idea that I was personally building a playground at Hope-Hill. If you want to know the status of the playground (or better yet, come to a meeting this week), then you need to call the school’s PTA. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to fill you in on ALL of the recreational activities available at Hope-Hill, the things you keep glossing over beyond a playground. The number for the PTA listed on the school’s website. I’m sure the PTA would welcome any and all volunteers, including you.

Oh, and I sleep just fine at night.

Don't Feed the Good Mother/Good Mom Troll

January 24th, 2012
9:44 am

The post by Alex on Jan. 24, 9:02 am shows the damage that a troll can do. Good Mother/Good Mom has been visiting all of the “Get Schooled” blogs at all times of the day and night for months, writing anything to get a rise out of other bloggers, desperate for attention. Do not feed this troll or pay attention to what he/she writes.


January 24th, 2012
11:58 am

Remember Good Mom, if you don’t want your child pulled out of their neighborhood school and bussed to the fourth ward you are racist.

Always Skeptical

January 24th, 2012
10:46 pm

By the way, Hope Hill has a playground. They use the field located directly behind the school and Ebenezer Baptist Church that is owned by the city parks department. The field was formerly part of the community center that stood on the site previous to the construction of the MLK Visitors’ Center and the new Ebenezer sanctuary The question is currently how to develop it into a dedicated play ground for Hope-Hope


January 26th, 2012
1:20 pm

It is ludicrous to expect parents of kids at Lin/Spark to support any proposal that moves their kids to schools that do not have the support of the families already in those schools.

50% of NEIGHBORHOOD kids don't attend

January 26th, 2012
2:38 pm

At least half of the elementary school age kids who LIVE IN the Old Fourth Ward have families who choose not to send them to Hope-Hill. I don’t understand why APS would think that families who live elsewhere would be more willing than the neighborhood families to send their kids there, when that would require the kids from other neighborhoods to spend hours on a bus each week to be bused in?


January 26th, 2012
4:15 pm

The folks responsible for drawing up these plans are asking themselves two primary questions: (1) what will cost me the least amount of $$; and (2) what will cause APS the least amount of legal/political trouble. While I am sure the announced principles are considered, it is naive to think that the above questions are not the most important.