Clayton early release days: Is it reasonable to change school schedule this late in the game?

At its meeting tonight, the Clayton school board delayed Clayton Superintendent Edmond Heatley’s proposal to release students early every Wednesday to create teacher planning time.

The board’s vote to delay seems a wise course of action given the abbreviated timeline for the dramatic shift in the school schedule.

Under the proposal that Heatley unveiled to the board eight days ago, elementary schools would be release 60 minutes early, middle schools would be released 75 minutes early and high schools would be released 90 minutes early.

Clayton parents argued it was crazy to spring this change on them just days before classes resume. Clayton students return to class Aug. 13.

Heatley ought to have consulted his counterpart in DeKalb. DeKalb’s Cheryl Atkinson found similar parental resistance when she floated three calendar options that all included a Wednesday early release. Even thought Atkinson put forth her proposals in April, DeKalb parents complained that it was too short notice to change the 2012-2013 calendar.

As Clayton board member Jessie Gorrie said, “With parents, the first complaint they have is the loss of instructional time. “[Arranging] after-school supervision for their children is a second concern.”

Other relevant questions were raised by Sid Chapman, president of the Clayton County Education Association: “The overall feeling is that there wasn’t enough input and time to work out the details…The big question is how will it affect the students and is there enough instructional time? Would that really be beneficial to the students? How will it affect families in terms of kids being released from school that early?”

In an interview with the AJC prior to tonight’s meeting, Heatley seemed confident the early release would happen, saying, ‘If we have to delay a month, we’ll delay a month.”

Not sure  Clayton parents will be any happier with the idea in a month.

According to the AJC.

“The issues is not whether professional development is needed,” Valencia Stovall told the board. “The issue is how it was presented to stakeholders.”

Board members then debated how to respond, including whether they even had the authority to block the plan. After consulting the board’s legal counsel, members concluded they could block Heatley’s plan if they used their authority over the district’s strategic goal of involving the community in decision-making.

Heatley said he plans to hold public meetings about the issue soon and then announce whether he will move forward with the plan.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

63 comments Add your comment


August 6th, 2012
11:19 pm

Are all the superintendents in this area clueless?

A reader

August 6th, 2012
11:20 pm

If the school systems want more time for planning and professional development for the teachers then the system needs to PAY for it in terms of increased salary for the teachers. Already teachers salary it the first thing cut, in terms of furlough days, when the budget needs cutting. So now the administrators realize that is not a good thing overall for education, so instead of decreasing teacher furlough days they want to decrease student instructional time. Ridiculous!!

seen it all

August 7th, 2012
12:23 am

“Loss of instructional time.” One hour a week– on Wednesdays. This is so funny. What it’s really about is the loss of babysitting time. That’s the problem. School is more babysitting and daycare than learning and growing. Teaching in Clayton County Schools is like teaching in the ‘hood. I’ll be honest– I can’t do it. If I’m going to be in a combat zone, I should get premium pay. That’s why I work overseas. The job is shack and the students and parents are HORRIBLE, but the pay is great.

Parents crying over one hour week. They can’t deal with getting shorted one hour of babysitting a week. Babysitting is why the children don’t know anything. The way I see it, if I’m going to have to deal with children who can’t read, write, add, or spell, I might as well deal with it overseas. At least I don’t have to deal with nasty, ghetto, hoodish attitudes. I don’t have to look at nasty thugs with their pants down to the ankles- like something out of a cartoon. Teenaged girls dressed like prostitutes on the street. Don’t walk down the hallway of a Clayton County middle or high school. It was dreadful 10 years ago when I had the misfortune of “teaching” at one of their superthug middle schools. I was almost committed by the end of the year. True story– some years ago I had to attend a meeting that was taking place at one of their middle schools. I noticed all of the students taking their lunch trays and lining up to go somewhere. I asked one of the teachers what was going on. She said that the school was on lockdown. Lockdown? What’s that? Apparently all the students had to eat lunch in the classrooms because there was a big food fight the day before. The sight of that was incredible. Lines of students walking down the hallway like prisoners because they couldn’t behave like normal people. The school operates on lockdown– like prison. The only thing missing is a tall fence around the school. They already have cameras and guards (”school resource officers”). That’s CCPS for ya.


August 7th, 2012
12:49 am

Clayton County needs to open a search for a New Superintendent..This one seems to have serious issues with time management. Surely, this was not a well
thought out plan at ALL. After the many years of struggle with that school system, one would surely think all of its issues would be resolved by now.

Why is that the African American children must pay the ultimate price of failure, for such poor Leadership at every turn in their education?

Another comment

August 7th, 2012
1:36 am

Private schools and catholic schools all get out one day a week, usually wednesday an hour early so the teachers can have meetings and training. Parents are encouraged this is the time for you to take your kid to any doctor or dentist appointments so they don,t miss school. The over involved parents of these schools love it. If they need child care they either pay for the after school program, have a nanny pick up their kid or arrange for thir kid to go on a play date.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

August 7th, 2012
4:30 am


But what’s “reasonable” got to do with many local BOE decisions?

In Richmond County, the local BOE moved principals last week- with schools’ opening next Monday.

What the...

August 7th, 2012
5:31 am

no great choice

August 7th, 2012
6:33 am

Does Heatley read the paper? I am guessing no. The reaction to Atkinson’s proposal should have been a big red flag to him. Similar parent and student populations.

Holly Jones

August 7th, 2012
7:02 am

Why are these decisions not made in the spring for implementation the following year? Why the last minute shake ups? What, did Heatley just wake up one day last week and say, ‘I’ve got it! We’ll let the kids out early on Wednesdays!” There are arrangements that have to be made for child care, even if it’s staffing after-care at the schools. And I wonder where the funds for extra pay for after care workers will come from, if it’s offered at CC elementary schools.

My other issue is- releasing high schoolers an hour and half earlier just gives them that much more unsupervised time to get into trouble. Not all of them, of course. But, let’s face it, teens don’t generally have the self-discipline to use that extra time to study, get a job, even help out around the house. Walton has early release on Wednesdays, but the school also uses that time for clubs and other enrichment activities. And, I’m sure there are Walton kids getting into mischief as well.

Pride and Joy

August 7th, 2012
8:01 am

Teachers often complain about not being able to teach students who aren’t there — a complaint that when the child is absent, they can’t be expected to teach them; yet, here we are listening to teachers advocating for less instructional time.
We hear complaints on this blog all the time about not enough instructional time for late and tardy kids but that isn’t ever the issue when a proposal is put forth to shorten the teacher’s working day.
My childrens’ teachers required us to pick up our kids BEFORE they were supposed to be let out of school and they would be furious if we picked them up on time…and then later I’d see them shopping at Target.
I feel Mary Elizabeth (a blogger here) wouldn’t do that but many APS teachers do.
Make up your minds, APS teachers. Either instructional time is important or it isn’t.
It can’t just be unimportant when it lets you out of work an hour early.

Pride and Joy

August 7th, 2012
8:04 am

Holly Jones, you ask a good, honest question “Why the last minute shake ups?”
Because they hoped to sneak a fast one on you. THey hoped you’d be distracted from watching the Olympics and getting ready for school and hoped you wouldn’t notice and not object. If they did it over the Spring, most parents would notice and would protest in bigger numbers, which would make the news and it would be sure to show a lack of support for this idiotic idea.
Repulsive, isn’t it?


August 7th, 2012
8:07 am

Too quick. Although teachers sure could use that time for planning, ESPECIALLY elementary teachers, who, if they are lucky, get 25-35 minutes per day, you can’t pull that out at the last minute. I think elementary should have the longest Wednesday planning, by the way. High- and middle school already get a large planning block daily. Now, the Dekalb plan was presented in PLENTY of time.

Parents need to always have a Plan B, but so many don’t have a Plan A.

Pride and Joy

August 7th, 2012
8:10 am

To seen it all, your comment is a disgrace and a slap in the face to the men and women overseas in real combat zones. You said ““Loss of instructional time.” One hour a week– on Wednesdays. This is so funny. What it’s really about is the loss of babysitting time. That’s the problem. School is more babysitting and daycare than learning and growing. Teaching in Clayton County Schools is like teaching in the ‘hood. I’ll be honest– I can’t do it. If I’m going to be in a combat zone, I should get premium pay”
Men and women overseas is REAL combat zones get real bullets and bombs shot and thrown at them and they really die and lose limbs. THey do it for LESS than a teacher’s salary and they work 12 months a year without seeing their families and in 100 degree plus heat…and guess what… they don’t get off an hour early on Wednesday to “plan.”
Your attitude about teaching and the profession and the children is deplorable.
…and by the way…even though the women work in extremem danger — we don’t get combat pay. The men do but not the women. How’s that for fair? Yet, they don’t have a blog to complain about how much they hate their job and everything that goes with it…and the pay ain’t great.

Mountain Man

August 7th, 2012
8:14 am

I see a lot of posters who think that schools should not be babysitting services and that the school should set whatever schedule they want and parents should adapt to it. I hate to tell you, but it is the majority of families now where BOTH parents work. It is rarer to see the old 50’s style family where dad works and mom is home, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, and takes care of the children, and is there whenever they need her.

NOw, whenever the school makes these changes, parents have to scramble to patch together child care at these odd times when schools are out – that includes teacher work days, but also includes thaos frequent breaks that now are taking the place of summer vacation. There are numerous options that have been developed for summer vacation – camps and such, but not as many for week-long breaks, and VERY few for Wednesday afternoon off. This is especially true for older kids 10-16.

Schools should think of parents when they make these decisions.

Pride and Joy

August 7th, 2012
8:17 am

Catlady, you said about parents “Parents need to always have a Plan B, but so many don’t have a Plan A.”
I know you know Appalachia country, well let me tell you a few things about Atlanta.
My friend, someone with a Masters degree, was out of a job. He got a job at Target stocking shelves for a pittance for the maximum number of hours allowed, 30, which means, they didn’t want to pay him benefits. He worked with women, black mothers who were doing the same work he was. After their 30 hours at Target, some went to Wal-Mart to do the same thing. In other words, working two jobs. Who was watching the kids? Usually grandma or a cousin or a friend, all piece mealing the child-care together.
It’s unfair to criticize all parents as lazy dead-beats who don’t have plan A.
Many cannot afford plan A or B.
Just like the poster who says how easy the Catholic school parents have it, they send the nanny or pay for more after care or jsut go on a play date — all of that costs money. Money is what most people don’t have, just like in Appalachia.
Just like all teachers are not the same.
All parents are not the same, either.

Are You Serious

August 7th, 2012
8:35 am

I attended public schools well over twenty years ago. I don’t EVER recall getting as many days out of school as the kids do now? Every time I blink my son tells me he’s out for this break or that planning day…. May I ask what the heck are the summer months used for? I mean to my knowledge everyone else works twelve months a year. Perhaps, the educators who stress to the student to use their time wisely, should follow their own advice!


August 7th, 2012
8:45 am

“But, let’s face it, teens don’t generally have the self-discipline to use that extra time to …get a job…”

Who’s hiring for one or two hours once a week?

Once Again

August 7th, 2012
8:53 am

You wouldn’t tolerate this from a private day-care provider.

And Mountain Man, the barefoot and pregnant comment is insulting to every couple who by whatever means makes is possible for one spouse to be home (including doing without). If you understood the economics of government spending, Federal Reserve-caused dollar devaluation, and other factors you would understand that full employment in a household has more been FORCED by the government than a voluntary choice for all involved.

HoneyFern School

August 7th, 2012
9:18 am

A better idea: the first school I worked in had teams of teachers, and once a month each team of four had the ENTIRE DAY off to plan, as a team. Kids still came to school, but everyone in the school held some sort of class (everyone – principal, cafeteria workers, librarians), and the kids rotated through each class (cooking, art, PE, whatever, like a SEM-model).

This day was invaluable. Because it was all day (not a measly hour), we could plan long-term as a team, have any PD we needed and also plan as individuals. This time was absolutely precious.

Want to be innovative? Stop thinking so small.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
9:32 am

Don’t you just KNOW that some of the same parents who complain about “loss of instructional time” let their kids watch 20-25 hours of television a week?

Here's a Solution

August 7th, 2012
9:46 am

School should be Monday-Thursday start times can begin between 7:30am and 8:00am and end between 5:30pm and 6:00pm. There will be no need for after school care. Athletic, tutorials and extra curricular can be the last period of the day. Fridays could be used for makeup days, teachers training and planning days as needed. By using this method the money saved by using school buses 4 days a week instead of 5 days would be a great benefit. Also, how much learning is done on Fridays anyway?

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
9:47 am

This is the same Sid Chapman who worked to abolish a teacher’s right to remove a severely disruptive child from the classroom? And teachers in the Clayton County Education Association want to know why discipline is out of control?

living in an outdated ed system

August 7th, 2012
9:48 am

Regardless of whether I support the change or not, this is actually a perfect article that reinforces the notion that mature organizations (i.e., schools) rear change and will resist change at every turn. Traditional public schools have no ability to make any kind of change, albeit easily.

Thank you for confirming what we all know about our outdated public education system!


August 7th, 2012
10:03 am

Florida has been using early-release Wednesdays for staff development for years. A lot of good it has done them. The kids coming out of their schools are dumb as stumps!

Atlanta Mom

August 7th, 2012
10:05 am

What about early dismissal for middle and HS only? Those children do not need child care.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
10:07 am

Heatley had more red flags raised on him than you’d find in Red Square on May Day. Yet this board, in its INFINITE wisdom, hired him anyway.

If Clayton parents were REALLY concerned, they’d be less worried about an hour on Wednesdays and MUCH more worried about the teaching conditions Heatley is creating M-F. No, not because of the teachers, but because the teaching conditions are directly related to YOUR CHILD’S learning conditions (but somehow in our rush to “blame the teacher” most have forgotten that irrefutable fact.)

Happy St. Pat's

August 7th, 2012
10:11 am

@HoneyFern School: Now that’s a good idea. Maybe you have substitutes, so it costs a little more. Maybe involved parents can contribute a day here or there in a support role, with sufficient notice.

You have to wonder what is really behind Heatley’s move. The “planning” story is somewhat plausible, but doesn’t explain the last-minute timing.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
10:13 am

“Lines of students walking down the hallway like prisoners because they couldn’t behave like normal people.”

Yet Sid Chapman worked to abolish the teacher’s right to remove a severely disruptive student from the room? Was that to benefit the teachers and students in the Clayton County Education Association or was that to make life easier for ADMINISTRATORS who don’t want to deal with discipline problems?

Yet teachers still use this as their voice to represent them?

Isn’t that like a chicken saying, “That PETA is so radical; I think I’ll let Truett Cathy be my advocate for better conditions; he seem much more reasonable.”

Sometimes, you get what you FULLY and RICHLY deserve.


August 7th, 2012
10:22 am

It’s isn’t like the kids were learning inside the classroom anyway…

Dr. John Trotter

August 7th, 2012
10:27 am

Heatley is one horrible superintendent. Why in the world did then chairperson Alieka Anderson and current chairperson Pam Adamson lead the charge to hire this cat from Cali? MACE got out there with picket signs, warning them not to hire this man. But, noooooooooooo, the board members listened to Glenn Brock, “education attorney” (as he calls himself) with the school board. Yes, Brock brought him, another brilliant product of the Eli Broad Foundation. Two years in the classroom. A former Drill Sargeant. By the way, can’t school board members use Google? How hard was it to find that Heatley had major problems in Chino Valley, California? It took me about two minutes max. Ha! I have written about Edmond Heatley extensively.


August 7th, 2012
10:29 am

Top public school priorities (in descending order):

1) Free child care

2) Education

Dr. John Trotter

August 7th, 2012
10:31 am

@ Beverly Fraud: You are so right about the teaching conditions. Our mantra at MACE is this: “You can’t have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.” It’s basic theories like this that Edmond Heatley apparently has a fundamental and systematic lack of understanding. He seems to want to treat professional educators like some 18 year olds coming into Marine Boot Camp.

Pride and Joy

August 7th, 2012
10:47 am

Atlanta Mom, you said “What about early dismissal for middle and HS only? Those children do not need child care.”
Middle schoolers don’t need child care? You really let your eleven year old go home alone?

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
10:48 am

Looking at places like Clayton, and the decisions they make, can you really blame those (like some in the charter school and voucher crowd) who want to manipulate the law (possibly even circumvent the law) to take advantage of their tax dollars in such a way that allows them to avoid the dysfunctional educational monolith?

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
10:56 am

@Trisha, there are some who want to learn; and some who want to teach. But as much as we blame the “teachers’ union” for making life to cushy for teachers, the “teachers’ union” here actually worked to ABOLISH the right of teachers to remove severely disruptive students from the class-even for a day!

Yes the TEACHERS’ UNION actually did that!

But did teachers complain about that? Are they even aware of it? As much as “we the people” like to play “blame the teacher” there truly ARE some things you can blame the teacher for.

And in this case, the clayco teacher who is a member of CCEA who complains about discipline problems and poor teaching conditions ought to look at themselves in the mirror.

As for the poor clayco child who wants to learn, about the one thing they can look in the mirror and say is “One day this will all be over; l need to learn as much as I can so I can CHOOSE to be somewhere other than here when I grow up.”

Howard Finkelstein

August 7th, 2012
11:03 am

“create teacher planning time.”

Just more signs/confirmations of Clayton Countys continuing incompetence. Thats parents, teachers, politicians, students, adminstrators etc. They are all in it together.


August 7th, 2012
11:18 am

Dr. John Trotter @10:27 am – Sir, of just what little I have read recently about Mr.Heatley so far. I am inclined to agree with your position. Mr.Heatley seems to be an accident looking for some place to happen. Right now, it appears to be in Clayton County. The Clayton County school system is the last place in Georgia that should have more incompetent Leadership at the school systems helm. Mr Heatly’s, military style of management and leadership may have been the overriding reason for his selection, I would suspect.. That kind of Leadership will only further provoke confrontation with Teachers and Parents alike. I am not going to comment on the Dysfunction of the always contentious Board members who have personal agendas of their own, that is also in the mix here. Ultimately, it will be the Students of Clayton County who will reap the Failure of ALL involved.

What is needed and required in Clayton County, is a competent educator that has REAL LEADERSHIP skills and proven effective school system management qualities foremost. My question to the selection committee, Board members and parents, ” Have you ever heard of GOOGLE?”

His most recent decision and the handling of it does not BODE WELL for Leadership that inspires confidence at ALL going forward. This was a classic example of LEADER not prepared for the JOB at hand.

Starting a new search NOW, is an idea that should be given serious consideration, before the real issues of POOR LEADERSHIP are put more on display for all to see. There is nothing wrong in admitting to a MISTAKE and an error in judgement, the problem comes about, when you know it and DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!

Concern Mom

August 7th, 2012
11:20 am

Prinde and Joy: I agree with you Middle and HS do need child care. I would not send my 12 yr old home alone not in these times. They should have thought about this some time ago so that the parents can make arrangements for this. Back in my day they had teacher planning time after school or before school. Mddle and HS students to not have to be in school around 8:30 they could start there teacher’s planning before school. People making the decision don’t take parents into consideration when they are make these decision.. I am all for teacher planning time. But we need to come up with a better way. Taking time away from these students learning. Yes I said learning there are a lot of students that are really doing this.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
11:31 am

“Mr Heatly’s, military style of management and leadership may have been the overriding reason for his selection, I would suspect.”

@Bernie, if so how completely ironic that Heatley is apparently SPINELESS when it comes to discipline is his school district?


August 7th, 2012
11:48 am

Beverly Fraud @ 11:31 am – Your comment completely missed the point. But seeing many of your comments posted here, its not an unusual occurrence.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
11:52 am

Clayton County Public Schools-DEFINITELY one of The Four Horsemen of the Incompetence.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
11:58 am

@Bernie, explain specifically how it misses the point. If they brought a person in for his “military style” how is it NOT ironic that his system has let discipline go COMPLETELY out of control.

Please explain how that is NOT ironic.

set the record straight

August 7th, 2012
2:04 pm

Just to set the record straight……….State BOE dropped this new style curriculum in the laps of all Ga. School districts this summer…..

Just to set the record straight……….Common Core is huge and potentially a saving grace to public education…..

Just to set the record straight……….Regardless of who the Superintendent is or was going to be these days and times in society would have mandated the cuts and decisions being blamed of Heatley…….

Just to set the record straight……….the only factual thing said is Heatley’s climate changing leadership style…. Change is good and needed.. Passive leadership needs to stay at the nursery…

Just to set the record straight……….John Trotter is a lunatic and all that follow him are like the Island of Misfits remember the broken toys and their destination in the Christmas

Just to set the record straight………. Really now really is 1-1.5 hours on Wednesday going to devistate our communities…. mis educate our children …..cause the type of hardships that you all are screaming I got 2 children in school and I’m going to make it happen… Now what I am going to do is monitor this new style of educating..

Just to set the record straight…… I bet 100000000.oo to 1 non of the Bloggers will ever go into the schools or classrooms and witness the new Core Curriculum way of doing business…. Bunch of Loser type losers who talk and don’t hold nobody accountable….. Talk trash when Core Curriculm training doesn’t work….
Just to set the record staraight…

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
3:27 pm

@Bernie? Bernie?


August 7th, 2012
3:30 pm

It’s been my experience that, whenever anybody begins their comments with a qualifier such as “To set the record straight…” we’re about to read a point of view that has little to do with setting the record straight. Sort of like hearing, “With all due respect…” when the next comment is anything but respectful.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
3:48 pm

@Just maybe the problem is that someone like John Trotter who said “You can’t have good learning conditions until you have good teaching conditions” who has called out Superintendents such as Beverly Hall and Crawford Lewis as being “gangsta” (YEARS before the AJC was willing to) is considered a “lunatic.”

Not sure how being right on Hall, right on Lewis, right on cheating, and right on discipline leads one to be labeled a “lunatic” but then again, this is public education we are talking about.

Beverly Fraud

August 7th, 2012
3:49 pm

Bernie? Bernie?


August 7th, 2012
4:57 pm

Pride and Joy-I appreciate what you are saying. However, I still think all parents have to keep a running Plan A and Plan B if they have children. Now, once the school publishes its schedule, it should keep to it (barring a flake of snow, of course). But, ultimately, parents have to provide care for their children. That’s not a good or a bad, it is just being a PARENT.


August 7th, 2012
5:29 pm

After spending 12 years with CCPS, nothing surprises me anymore! Expect the unexpected!

Pride and Joy

August 7th, 2012
6:03 pm

catlady, having a plan A and a plan B is always a good idea whether you are a parent or not, especially when dealing with money but we parents have few options.
There isn’t an optin for Plan B.
Let me explain:
When our children get sick, we are not supposed to send them to school until 24 hours after their fever has subsided.
I work and get paid by the hour. I have no benefits. there are no “sick days” for me or my husband who is in the same situation. So we stay home with our child when we can but we suffer. I cannot call off a meeting with my client — I’d be fired.
We hire babysitters – they get sick too and they aren’t available on a moment’s notice. I am also part of the sandwich generatoin, taking care of my parents and my own children. They are often sick too and are very frail and old.
So what do you do when your child is sick? there is no option B and many times no option A.
Yet, I am the lucky one. I make a solid middle class salary. Many aren’t so lucky.
They go hand to mouth. They cannot afford child care. They have latch key kids.
do you know who Don Lemon is? He is a black TV journalist. His mother could not afford child care and while whe worked Don and his siblings was left in the care of his grandmother, who was old and frail and could not protect him from the older boy who repeatedly raped him.
The vitriole on this blog over parents is astonishing.
With the economy in the toilet, people have very few options, and of those, many do not have a plan B.
I don’t either. When my kids are sick, I can’t earn a living. When I am sick, I work sick and I feel certain I spread my illness to others. What other choice do I have? I try to work from home but that isn’t possible due to my line of work.
we’re all hurting financially in this country.
I wish teachers would stop the knee-jerk reaction of “lazy parent.”
It doesn’t win the teachers any good feelings from parents.
It only draws more battle lines.