Can the DeKalb school board reinvent itself in 30 days?

This is the digest form of the four-hour state Board of Education hearing today on whether or not to suspend the DeKalb Board of Education. If want all the details, scan my live blog from the hearing.

The DeKalb board is fighting for its survival after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the district on probation last month because of board mismanagement, meddling, nepotism and fiscal failings. The General Assembly passed a law in 2011 that gave the governor the legal power to remove errant school boards who jeopardize their district’s accreditation.

After the hearing during which every DeKalb board member testified, the state Board of Education delayed voting on recommending that the governor oust the fractious school board, instead approving a consent agreement and giving DeKalb time to show improvement.

But not as much time as the school board wanted.

It was clear some state board members were exasperated with the ongoing problems in DeKalb and doubtful that the nine DeKalb school board members had the ability to transcend their differences. But it was also clear that some state board members were reluctant to dissolve a local school board that includes three newly elected members who only took office 10 days ago.

At the start of the marathon hearing, lawyers for both the state Department of Education and the DeKalb school board urged the state board to sanction a consent agreement that would have allowed the board three months to initiate reforms recommended by SACS.

But the state board declined to grant DeKalb three months to right its ship. Instead, the state board approved a consent decree that gives DeKalb 30 days to register some progress rather than the April date sought by the county.

After approving the consent agreement, the state board immediately told the DeKalb board to return on Feb. 21 to report on its progress at which time the state board could choose to vote on suspension.

This gives DeKalb only 30 days to register some significant progress.

“If they’ve done a rock star job, we can give them to June,” said state board member Mike Royal. “Does that mean we have to vote to remove or not to remove in our recommendation to the governor. No, but April kicks this can too far down the road. This is a critical situation that is upon us now. It is not new and there are 98,000 children in DeKalb County depending on us now.”

However, the DeKalb board attorney maintained that 30 days is insufficient to produce change. ”We believe a two month or a two-and-a-half month process is fairer,” said DeKalb attorney Rocco Testani.

He asked state board members to consider what nine board members could realistically accomplish in 30 days.

Testani was assisted in making his case by the DOE attorney Jennifer Hackemeyer who warned that DeKalb citizens may be confused if the state board signs a consent order giving the DeKalb board three months to make progress but then turns around and brings them back in 30 days and vote on their fates.

Hackemeyer reminded the state board about what they were facing with Sumter County. (The Sumter board filed a civil lawsuit in November against the State Board of Education and Gov. Nathan Deal.)

In defending his board, DeKalb Chair Eugene Walker told the state, “We have had a number of rumors that confounded our ability to govern. People would rather listen to the rumors than look at the records. I admit at times we can be cantankerous but we have honest and decent people on that board. We don’t have people taking money.”

State board member Wanda Barrs raised thoughtful points on what actions will produce the best outcome for DeKalb. Is it ousting the entire board, including three newly elected members, in a month’s time? Or is it working with the board through better guidance and monitoring over three months?

Note that the Clayton school board was ousted and replaced by Gov. Sonny Perdue, but the problems in the district persist, just with a new cast of characters.

In addition, there may be a legal question to whether the state can oust brand new board members who were not in office when SACS placed the system on probation.

There were several comments today at the hearing about the absence of DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, who had a family medical emergency. But it was not just her physical absence that was commented upon; state board member Wanda Barrs pressed DeKalb school board member Pam Speaks on whether Atkinson had the “capacity” to help the board.

“I don’t think it is the superintendent’s role to fix our responsibilities as a board,” responded Speaks. “I do think the superintendent has the capacity to work  in conjunction, in collaboration, with the present Board of Education to allow the board  to carry out their role and responsibilities as well as for her to carry out her roles and responsibilities.”

A refrain by many DeKalb board members was that they did not knowingly violate any policies. Several expressed puzzlement over some of the SACS criticisms. All the veteran board members said that they did undergo the required board training, and believed their actions fell within the confines of their board duties and responsibilities.

That line of defense — we didn’t know what we were doing was wrong — did not go over well with some state board members.

State board member Brian K. Burdette wants a list of the training that every DeKalb school board member has undertaken,  telling them: “Everyone says they had the training. If they had it, it didn’t work. If it had, we wouldn’t be here. As a board  member, you are supposed to know what you can and cannot do. If you don’t know, it is up to you to find out and police yourselves. It is incumbent on you all. It is not incumbent on SACS. It isn’t incumbent on this board. It is incumbent on you to fix it. ”

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

199 comments Add your comment

red herring

January 17th, 2013
8:44 pm

every school board, supt., principal, all county school administration and their office staff should be reviewed and downsized to a point where their county taxpayers can afford them. their salaries are in line with that of our governor and in some cases with that of the president of the usa. it is outrageous what we pay these people and their staffs as well as what we pay them in perks—cars/homes/credit cards/etc. the average citizen/taxpayer can’t afford this —nor do they themselves get any such gravy trains including retirements and healthcare. colledge/school/state govt/etc employees should not receive much better benefits and retirement than the taxpayers. it just should not happen.

Wilbur

January 17th, 2013
8:48 pm

The way your question is phrased it makes the board the most important thing. As though if the answer is that that the board cannot change in 30 days, we should allow them longer. Let me suggest that if the board does not change in 30 days that the governor should dissolve the board in the best interests of the children of the county. In the end, the fate of the squabbling, petty, venial mini-politicans that sit on school board does not matter very much at all.
Might your question be better phrased, “Can the children of the county wait longer than a month for the pseudo-adults on the board to clean up their act?”

mountain man

January 17th, 2013
8:54 pm

They could start by firing their Superintendent Atkinson.

Say it again!

January 17th, 2013
8:59 pm

Amen, Mountain Man!!!

sam123

January 17th, 2013
9:04 pm

No, they can not reinvent themselves in thirty days and they don’t even know where to start. When certain board members came forward they portrayed how incompetent they were. I think that is when the state board said that they could not wait until April 30th to make a decision….these people need to go. It is too bad that the new members and some competent board members could be included in the dismissal of the board. I agree with Walker. They are on there way out.

sam123

January 17th, 2013
9:05 pm

They are their way out.

DunMoody

January 17th, 2013
9:05 pm

Teacher Reader

January 17th, 2013
9:09 pm

Atkinson, Ramona, the plagiarist, any secretary making more than a teacher half way through their career, every person Atkinson brought on, every person who already had the job that Atkinson’s people replaced, and so on all need to be let go, and let them know now that their contracts will not be renewed, but Atkinson and the plagiarist need to go NOW!!!

If the board doesn’t do this, than they need to go as well in February. Our kids need to be thought of first.

Also by firing all of these people, the board could afford to pay and keep our greatest assets, our teachers and teacher aides much better. It would really change the morale in the schools, which is just pitiful right now.

Blue Ed

January 17th, 2013
9:20 pm

I second that with an emphatic “No!”

The Dekalb County School District is corrupt across so many dimensions. From the Board to schoolhouse administration a culture of corruption has thrived. The students and the teachers are the victims.

No one, not the local Board, not the State Board, not the Governor, not the neanderthal State Legislature, knows what teachers endure day to day in the Dekalb meatgrinder to achieve an elusive “Victory (snicker) in the Classroom.” And to pay this hot shot attorney to represent the Dekalb Board before the State Board (and other hot shot attorneys to sanction their dirty work), teachers have their lost pay, their future retirement income, and their commitment to a noble calling.

If Deal doesn’t do it, karma will.

GETtheCELLoutATL

January 17th, 2013
9:22 pm

Teacher Reader, I don’t think the board can fire anyone other than the Superintendent. They just bought her a new vehicle. They should have fired Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson when they learned about the financial errors and staff members not implementing budgets. Instead, they gave her a raise. When the previous Superintendent Crawford Lewis was indicted on charges of running a criminal enterprise, they should have fired him. Instead, they kept him as their leader and only after public pressure did he step down voluntarily to answer the charges and personally put Tyson into the Interim Super. role. Instead of firing him, they gave him a raise and we are still footing his legal defense (out of the general fund which is supposed to be used to pay teachers and buy books) as well as paying for his prosecution (by the county DA’s office).

I wish someone on the state BOE would ask for clarification from SACS about what exactly the “proper channels” are. And someone should tell the board members and the Superintendent that they don’t sound like heroes by announcing plans to go wireless. Most other school systems that have done this have determined it was a bad idea and have had to spend a great deal to convert back to secure, wired connections.

Taxpayer and Teacher

January 17th, 2013
9:23 pm

We and I do mean we are NOT SIGNING CONTRACTS for this animal circus of idiots. They are going to be shocked at how many people give those contracts right back to them. Who wants to stay around and not know if the school district is going to remain accredited? Besides, if you work in a district that has lost its accredidation your time does NOT go toward your retirement. So you are underpaid and no retirment credits…Really? And rumor has it that we will be getting another pay cut next year to make up the deficit. So, I guess that means that the teachers are going to have to pay for the missing book money…Please, these people are CRAZY!!!!!!

Student Advocate

January 17th, 2013
9:24 pm

“Note that the Clayton school board was ousted and replaced by Gov. Sonny Perdue, but the problems in the district persist, just with a new cast of characters.”

If the palace isn’t purged, nothing changes. Morale stinks. This week its the plagiarist. Its a new verse to the same song, every week or so. You do the right thing by the kids, and what do you get? A muzzle, a dozen more kids in your room, and more useless educrat paperwork. Someone else gets the raise. (or free doctorate.) Teachers are fleeing…wait to see how many do not sign their contracts.

GETtheCELLoutATL

January 17th, 2013
9:25 pm

MominDunwoody

January 17th, 2013
9:39 pm

It is unconscionable that the State BOE has given the DeKalb BOE another thirty days. To do what exactly? The clock is ticking. It is immaterial whether or not we think that AdvancED is the be all and end all. It is the agency that the state has chosen to accredit our schools. DeKalb County School System is on probation, and if things continue as they are, the school will lose accreditation in 11 months.

At that point, it won’t matter how great the teachers are, or how dedicated the principals are, or how many AP classes our students take, or how they perform on standardized tests. All that will matter is that they attend in an unaccredited and disgraced school district.

The items enumerated in the AdvancED report are only the tip of the iceberg with what is wrong with DCSS. Why just today it was reported in the AJC that our esteemed superintendent has pronounced that a proven plagiarist will not lose his $117K job. Still, no one knows where $12 million went that was supposed to buy textbooks. Graduation rates are abysmal. Redistricting plans are an absolute mess….

Is DCSS too big to fail? Is Governor Deal and the state BOE willing to take a chance by sticking with this dysfunctional group that has had a hand in driving this district into the ground? Shame on them!

The Deal

January 17th, 2013
9:46 pm

I hope they can’t reinvent themselves. They don’t have the skill to do what really needs to be done. They are like plumbers trying to do brain surgery or a cable technician trying to be a dentist.

The only thing they have time to do is work all of the angles of their political connections and try to use influence to change enough minds on that state board.

There is no way that the people who created this mess can get us out of it. Three members does not a new board make. It doesn’t even really change the historical voting pattern.

Inman Parker

January 17th, 2013
9:52 pm

What an utter disgrace.

Teacher Reader

January 17th, 2013
10:16 pm

Get the Cell Out, I understand that the board can’t remove anyone other than the superintendent, but the rest of the motley crew need to go. If just the board goes, and the palace isn’t cleared as well, than nothing will change, as much that is wrong with the board is also happening in the palace and has for sometime.

I don’t blame teachers for not signing contracts. That really needs to happen, so that tax payers, board members, and people in charge of education at the state level understand how big of a problem we really have here.

We can’t expect the kids to care about their education, when the adults running the show show them time and time again that they don’t care about them.

N. GA Teacher

January 17th, 2013
10:20 pm

It sounds like DeKalb has too many board members (and their appointed senior admins) with personal political agendas and gains as the primary goal instead of educating the children. The first priority, especially in a high-povery district, is to devote the lion’s share of resources to the front lines of education, which means decrease class sizes, increase the number of adults in the classroom (paprapros, parent volunteers, coteachers) , and use administrators to support discipline and order, not intimidate or harass teachers. The funds to maximize adults in the classrooms can come from elimination of unnecessary central office personnel, reduction of senior administrative salaries, and other cost-cutting measures.

concerned parent

January 17th, 2013
10:23 pm

@getthecelloutatl… You sound very un-informed in your statements. To say that the district shouldn’t go wireless is the most ridiculous thing I think Ive heard on here in a while. You can’t be serious. Name me one district that has a regret of moving to a wireless platform? Your either to old to know what wireless is or means or your just ignorant and really don’t know better. AMAZING!!!

concerned parent

January 17th, 2013
10:27 pm

@getthecelloutatl… You sound very un-informed in your statements. You can’t be serious. Name one district that has a regret of moving to a wireless platform? Your either to old to know what wireless is or means or your just ignorant and really don’t know better. AMAZING!!! To say that the district shouldn’t go wireless is the most ridiculous thing Ive heard in a while on here. Stop embarrassing yourself on here and please vet what you say.

LOGIC

January 17th, 2013
10:39 pm

Having been at the hearing today and having twangs of sympathy for these representatives who have become part of my weekly soap opera, I really had to remind myself that we were there for the children. God Bless, Dr. Walker who held his own and made some good points, but each board member fell sadly short of inspiring any of us that they know how to lead or can actually be taught. Again, I was sad to see Ms. Wood have to answer so many questions. We know she has been reelected because she does love the children and speaks from the heart when it comes to taking care of her district’s children. Sadly, she did not present herself as knowledgeable or capable to help drive such drastic change. Mr. Cunningham made valid points about all the distractions the Board deals with – RICO indictment of CLew, Heery-Mitchell, superintendent searches, etc. HOWEVER- they have been dealing with these issues for years and have not shown proof of reaching out to their chain of command to be proactive. They collectively helped drive the district into the ground because they were being reactive and not proactive as everything crumbled around them.

Ms. Speaks stayed above so much of this but that makes her guilty too because she has been there so long. Ms. Jester was just a random experience. Her dissertation did little to show that she was capable of collaborating and her praise of Atkinson day after the big plagiarism story was strange.

The newbies had little to offer.

I hope that the State BOE gets details from SACS on details. I hope they ask for each member to disclose each and every relative in the system, review all the votes and call for interviews from the PTA Councils who have seen the indiscretions first hand. When monies raised help pay for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, there is a problem.

Can you imagine what we could have if another 10-20% of our tax dollars went to the teachers and the students? We may bring our teachers back to what they were making 5 yrs ago – adjusted for inflation and new payroll and social security taxes.

I look to learn from history and Clayton scares me and I do not take the Governor’s ability to unseat or suspend this board lightly. I do think that DeKalb is capable of finding interim members to help draft the policies needed to get the school system back on track. We believe in local control, our schools and our teachers, but we are tired of waste and the fact that our children are bearing the brunt of the mismanagement and lack of children. As Ms. Barrs confirmed with each member, all of the longer-term members have completed training for the last two years at least. Thinking that we can have these folks stay on and drive success is pretty far-fetched.

I would ask the State BOE how much are they and the state willing to sacrifice when DeKalb is home to the CDC and Emory. This embarrassment has gone on too long and a chain of command needs to be established to help systems as large as DeKalb not to get to this point. If they sacrifice our children, public education will die a precipitous death in metro Altanta.

Private Citizen

January 17th, 2013
10:40 pm

boardsown

January 17th, 2013
10:51 pm

the dekalb board–beyond hope—totally corrupt to the core. the entire board’s looking out for themselves, hoping to cash in big with deals and favors with all that taxpayer money—classic atl government. It just never changes in this crooked city.

Sandy Springs Parent

January 17th, 2013
11:07 pm

Very few people who work at at the CDC or Emory with School age children live in Dekalb County anymore. Those that do, have moved up to the Lakeside High School District. The older employees live within 5 minutes and recall the glory days when they all sent their kids to the crown jewel of North Druid Hills High School.

masr

January 17th, 2013
11:48 pm

No, they can not reinvent themselves (over night become competent; wise; honest/ethical; mature; committed to excellence; desire to improve all of DCSS and not just serve their favored minions; exhibit expertise, knowledge, ability and a desire to fix problems, find solutions, and don’t fix blame; demonstrate that they are more concerned about the good of the community/students and NOT their own power, prestige, outer apparel and flashy automobile)
The problems in DCSS have to do with more with lack of integrity, character and ingrained morality on the part of leaders (and the electorate) than anything else.
DCSS can not be fixed.

frankie

January 18th, 2013
2:10 am

NO IT CAN’T…..It has had 2years since the Atlanta School Board SACS issue, in those 2 years it has done NOTHING substantial and for that the entire groups shoul step down, and give our children a chance to graduate from highschool without worrying about accreditation.
They are ruining other peoples livesb ecause of their indiscressions and false pride….

STEP DOWN ……GIVE MY CHILD A CHANCE….

John Friedricks

January 18th, 2013
5:22 am

I watched most of this hearing via web feed. Walker was unimpressive, defensive, and combative. Copelin-Wood was so unimpressive that the state board did not even bother to follow up with further questions. Jester gave the impression that she possessed some understanding of things but also admitted that she is powerless amongst those who are entrenched in power. Again, Copelin-Wood was just so bad! She has to be removed at once! You could not see it on the feed, but the meeting had to be stopped for a moment because of some kind of disruptions from the gallery. Apparently “noises and facial gestures” were disrupting the meeting and the chair had to address them on the record. The vote was delayed to ensure “due process”. It was difficult to watch but you couldn’t help but stare at it like a bad wreck on the perimeter.

concernedmom30329

January 18th, 2013
6:26 am

Honestly, Copelin-Woods is the board member who actually cares about students the most (of the 6 returning board members). She has not aged well.
She has never been a very effective board member, in part because of deficits in her own education, but she use to try. She would ask the superintendents about test scores, low performance, etc. She could never get traction because she didn’t ever have all the information.
It is also worth pointing out that she is the only board member to consistently oppose all these pre-packaged programs like America’s Choice and Success for All. She understands that there is something inherently wrong with these purchases but she has never been articulate enough to express her thoughts and convince others.
Sadly, her community contains some of the lowest performing schools in the state. They have been allowed to wallow because she is so ineffective. She was singly focused on just a handful of schools. Now I am afraid she is so out of it that she is mostly unaware of what is going on.
She needs to be pushed to resign by her own community but as you can imagine there aren’t many engaged citizens there.

Private School Guy

January 18th, 2013
6:38 am

Will BOE members please stop with the “I’m doing this because I love the children”. You should be doing this because you are competent at managing a budget of nearly a billion dollars. If you love children go volunteer at a school. They have very few teacher assistants anymore due to your gross financial mismanagement.

Jan

January 18th, 2013
6:58 am

Asking the BOE to reinvent itself in 30 days is like asking a zebra to change its stripes.

These issues and behaviors are too entrenched. Even getting rid of the BOE won’t help since the problem goes so much deeper. We need a complete administrative palace-cleaning at DCSS.

Done in Dekalb

January 18th, 2013
7:00 am

The morale is so low at our school. The latest AP to get their online Argosy degree wants to be called “Doctor.” Sure. We all got emails with the excited congratualtory message: “Dr.”So and So”, has accomplished…blah blah woof woof. As if it meant anything whatsover. The system is shot full of these phoney time serving careerists with their phoney online degrees from top to bottom. The board is just the visible layer of a dumbed down system with dumb administrators, all in the dum dum club. Pay is great, though, I hear.
You just realize, after working for a profit most of your life, that these mopes could do absolutely nothing else. Phoneys. Yeah, right, I’m going to call you “Doctor Mope”, from now on. Not this lifetime.

Wondering Allowed

January 18th, 2013
7:32 am

Anyone know if Atkinson had a real excuse, or if she came down with the Plagiarist’s Defender Flu? Short of a family member obit in the next two days, I’m thinking she dodged having to show her incompetent self at the meeting. Likely yet another reason (this week) she has shown herself to be the wrong person for the job.

agent

January 18th, 2013
7:40 am

Anyone want to wager that in the unlikely event one of the board members does get ousted, there will be a discrimination lawsuit filed?

Agent

January 18th, 2013
7:46 am

Anyone want to wager that in the unlikely event one of the board members does get ousted, there will be a discrimination lawsuit filed.

Dr. John Trotter

January 18th, 2013
8:17 am

Well, well, well…

It appears that the State Board of Education has already been given its marching orders…get rid of the DeKalb Board of Education. It looks like a done deal…and Mrs. Atkinson didn’t even show up for the meeting.

Let’s see now. If SACS wants to continue to be the Union for Superintendents (remember that SACS stands for Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents), then perhaps it ought to visit Bibb County. The school board keeps voting in 4 to 4 split decisions all night…like it did last night. I hear that Superintendent Romain Dallemand left with security last night. His so-called “Macon Miracle” is more like a “Macon Nightmare.” It is a joke, and the teachers hate it. But, we don’t hear from SACS about this situation, do we?

Or, do we hear from SACS in Cobb County where the school board members fight like cats and dogs…over such great and heavy issues like school calendars. Ha! Or, what about their 57 illegal school board meetings? Nah…no big deal because this is “advisor” Glenn Brock’s home school board. After all, he is apparently Mark Elgart’s best buddy when it comes to accreditation, right?

I remember when Clayton County’s all-white 11 person school board used to scrap and fight all night (well after midnight!) over all kinds of issues. The late Larry Foster who used to sit on the State School Board as well as serve as the attorney for the Clayton County Board of Education was right there in the mix. Did SACS ever come calling? Nah. Never heard from Mark Elart and SACS back then. And the school board survived until the next election…and the children got along admirably.

I remember the Greene County Board of Education being split and fighting big time over the Lake Oconee issue and the push for a new charter school out there. Yeah, it just worked itself out O. K….like it is supposed to without SACS or any other outside influence group meddling in the local affairs.

What about when ole Alvin Wilkinson in Gwinnett County didn’t file the required report for about 45, 000 serious disciplinary incidents with the State? Did Mark Elgart and SACS rush in or even issue a feint warning? Nah. No big deal. After all, this is the “Great Gwinnett,” and even Eli Broad recently issued a reward for Gwinnett being such a great “urban” system. Ha!

Apparently, for SACS to get involved, the issues have to be laced with race. Ouch! Some will get fighting mad about this statement. But, you know that I am just going to tell the truth. You see…when things can’t get worked out politically (because one side doesn’t have the requisite votes), well, then you call in SACS. Let SACS do the “dirty work.” Heavens to Betsey! DeKalb is now on “SACS probation.” Surprise, surprise! Hey, we now have to get the Governor involved! Our kids’ future is at stake! Those kids who made a perfect score on the SAT at Chamblee High School need the Governor! No, they need Mark Elgart and SACS to stay at home in Alpharetta! That’s what they need! They don’t need any more outside influence groups getting involved in the real politick of the DeKalb County Board of Education. The triumvirate of SACS-Governor-State Board will screw things up big time…beyond all recognition. This “cure” is worse than any conceived “ailment.” They will make it so that no parent in their right mind would ever want to move into DeKalb County and place their babies in the DeKalb School System. The DeKalb School System will become even more of a hiss and a byword.

Let Mark do it. Let Mark do it. Let Mark Elgart do it now! Let him destroy one more school system…one more community! I bet that no matter what…Mark Elgart would NEVER, NEVER put the Fulton County School System “on probation.” Heck, he’d have to face too many mommas in the Produce Section of the Alpharetta Publix. They would be white with anger! Have you ever seen white anger?! Ha! It can be pretty nasty. Like it was over there at the Marietta Square a few years ago…when the locals strung up ole Leo Frank in the Townsquare…not far from the Big Chicken. They were so mistakenly caught up in anger that they drove on old dusty roads all the way down to Milledgeville to wrestle him out of the local jail down there and brought him “home” to Marietta! Amidst an atmosphere of Bar-b-que and fiddlin’, they hanged Leo Frank amid great celebration.

White mob action can be very nasty. Very nasty. I have seen it personally. Up close. Directed right at me. Just because I helped a few folks get elected to a school board. I remember telling a wild, clamoring mob, foaming at the mouth with vitriolic racism: “The first redneck who lays a hand on me will find his a*s in jail!” I think that this very direct statement shocked many in the audience, both black and while – and the reporters too! The “reporters” reported that I used “profanity.” I just used language that rednecks understand. They understood me, and they understood that I was not afraid of their getting in my face, shouting, pushing up against my body, etc. The Jonesboro police officer repeated that I had a right not to be pushed and that I was right in that if anyone laid a hand on me, that they would be going to jail.

Yes, yes, yes. I have seen the mob action many times. It’s pretty much race-based. When white folks acted or still act fools on the school board, I have never seen SACS darken (no pun intended) the door. Clayton County is a classic example. When the school board was split down the middle with Republicans and Democrats (all white, mind you), it was a better show each week than Georgia Championship Wrestling, but I never saw Mark Elgart in the stands eating popcorn. Never. He never showed up. Just let those crazy white folks in Clayton County work out their own problems. Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls. That’s just ole Clayco. They’ve always been a little crazy about their politics down there, even though they have Spivey Hall! Ha!

Well, I could go on and on and tick off some more people, but let me go get another cup of coffee. Oh, by the way, did you notice how arrogant-looking these appointed State Board member were yesterday? All stuffy and full of self-importance. Heck, they are just appointed people. Yes, appointed. They haven’t been elected to jack-sh*t. So, they gave a lot of money to someone’s campaign and got themselves appointed. So what.

Hamilton

January 18th, 2013
8:20 am

Then they can spend their own money on their attorney. I’m sick of taxpayers having to pay the legal bills for the collective of idiots running DeKalb County AND DCSS.

catlady

January 18th, 2013
8:22 am

The “tell” was that the board members spent time defending themselves, instead of addressing the problems. Should have sent the recommendation on to the governor immediately! And the new board members, all they needed to say was, ‘You know I took office a few weeks ago, but I am committed to moving this board forward.” That they said more is also a “tell.”

Atkinson also should be dismissed, but I guess that is up to the new board.

Nichole

January 18th, 2013
8:33 am

ABSOLUTELY NOT. As an employee of this district, this has been a long time coming and personally, Im sick and tired of this. We work long hours for little to no pay, get talked to and harrassed by the board any kind of way.Enough is enough. They should not have gotten until Feb 21st. They should have been unseated last night, the only way that DeKalb will regain its dignity and get back on track is if the state department and the SACS committee stop slowpoking around and MAKE CHANGES. What else is there needed to bust these people up?! Is it going to take an entire walkout for them to see we are sick and tired? Atkinson needs to go too. I have YET to see any changes. Shes sneaky, conniving and a poor example of a leader. You can google her resume and see that she has a track record for moving around. She means DeKalb no good, and as a result, students and employees are suffering at the hands of her.

Maureen Downey

January 18th, 2013
8:37 am

@John, Wanda Barrs did ask for a reprimand of people in the audience for inappropriate responses but it was not clear what she saw that bothered her. And another state board member commented that he had not seen or heard anything. Those of us at the press table did not see or hear anything that would have merited Barrs’ concern. I assume that it may have been folks shaking their heads in dismay over what was being said by the DeKalb board member at the podium — I think it was Walker at the time — or audience members mouthing something like, “No, no, no” as he spoke
But there was no audible interruption of any speaker.
Maureen

Private Citizen

January 18th, 2013
8:46 am

They’re really got the meeting videos ported via proprietary Real Player format? And I’m going to have to spend a half hour dealiing with this? http://uk.real.com/realplayer/other_versions.html And had to go to the UK Real Player website just to find the Linux version?

Meanwhile Mr. Barge, I must give him credit, ports his videos via YouTube or other standard format. These meeting videos should be in something other than Real Player format that requires their proprietary player. Even on the Real Player website, they are trying to sell software to for people to download files from YouTube and Vimeo. GA DOE, or whoever, please! Stop with the DRM Real Player format for videos. Its 20 years obsolete! Help!

Dunwoody Mom

January 18th, 2013
8:48 am

This present BOE cannot even begin to change in 30 days. The culture of the BOE (past and present) and this school district is too entrenched. To borrow a phrase from another DCSS parent, It’s time to “reset” DCSS. A new BOE, a new Superintendent and a brand new educational system in this county, (I think Nancy Jester’s Portfolio District bears a look). Even with a new BOE and Super, the same issues will still be before us.

I attended the hearing for a few hours before I had to leave to go back to work. I do believe that the State BOE and others got a first hand view of the total dysfunction and lack of grasp of the issue that characterizes this BOE and that is why they did not approve the agreed upon 11-point Consent Degree. Dr. Walker clearly had no grasp of reality and I believe he did a lot of damage to his credibility and that of the BOE (if they had any); I thought Pamela Speaks did ok with what she had to work with. Marshall Orson spent his time reminding the State BOE that he and 2 others were new to BOE; admitted he had visited “his” schools. I left as Jay Cunninham began to speak.

Note: to Dr. Walker and Marshall Orson, you are to represent all students, not just “your” districts. A point brought out in the SACS report, that obviously even the new members did not grasp.

A long sufferring DeKalb parent

January 18th, 2013
8:49 am

At what point can we all say enough is enough? The most recent DeKalb School superintendent and staff going to trial for corruption, the DeKalb School system on probation by SACS for the first time in its history, no clear answer for $25 million borrowed from banks for textbooks and the school board can’t show evidence that any books were purchased and the list goes on and on. It’s time for the Georgia BOE remove the DeKalb School Board and let the Governor decide which members (probably the members who just got elected) can remain on the Board. Please Governor, the citizens of DeKalb County deserve better than this!

Private Citizen

January 18th, 2013
8:51 am

Is there a reason to put inconvenient heavy Digital Rights Management on public meeting videos posted for the public to see? Are you afraid someone is going to make a rapper spoof edit? Or is it prohibited for people to have a copy? Real Player proprietary format – What a Pain in the Neck. Call A Chiropracter! Owe! This is like sending people to a toll both in Utah in order to see the video, and tell them to bring some quarters.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

January 18th, 2013
8:52 am

@sandy springs – thanks for that observation, too bad it’s irrelevent to the discussion.

@momindunwoody – Dunwoody mom? Sounds like it.

@concernedmom – SCW has only ever cared about race, bottom line. She needs to go ASAP, along with Walker & Cunningham.

Prediction – Orson and McMahan will help Walker (despite himself) to get the three months to try appease SACS. Unless some other dramatic issue arises, this will stay status quo.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

January 18th, 2013
8:55 am

@Dunwoody Mom – there you are. Does Jester represent all districts, or just Dunwoody?

Dunwoody Mom

January 18th, 2013
8:56 am

Well, I admit I was shaking my head and rolling my eyes early on, especially when the State BOE legal counsel indicated she wanted the prior agreed upon 11-point Consent Decree to be adopted. It as so disheartening to believe that this BOE would be given any more time to clearn up its act.

skipper

January 18th, 2013
8:57 am

Others in other arenas have been given a time limit, but that is because the ability may have been there but the results were not reflective of it. This board, on the other hand, does not (as a unit) have the cumulitive ability from the get go. The very things (nepotism, etc.) that have been mentioned above re-enforce that. As so many on this blog and others have pointed out, qualifications on an education front are not necessarily a pre-requisite for election to a school board. The election of often incompetant people is a reflection on the population. Apparantly, the attitude of “keepin’ it real’ is much more important than the education of the kids. You may deduct what you will from my statements, but this board and school district in general are a mess!!

Fred in DeKalb

January 18th, 2013
8:58 am

Dr. Trotter, your post will fall on deaf ears. I read one of your other posts in an earlier blog about the legal issues with regards to removing constitutionally elected officials. Due process is the law. Many attacked you for bringing that up. There is a mob that is looking for others to do their bidding and they will criticize anyone that gets in their way with facts and history.

Dunwoody Mom

January 18th, 2013
9:00 am

A “mob” Fred? Really?

Atlanta Media Guy

January 18th, 2013
9:01 am

Like I have been saying since CLew was indicted, EVERYONE AT THE PALACE MUST GO! We need a total cleansing at the Palace, or nothing is going to change. Sure the BOE is to blame, but so is the waste and fraud being displayed every day on Stone Mtn. Ind.

EVERYONE HAS TO GO! Ms. Tyson you are no longer wanted by the majority of the DCSD stakeholders, why are you still stealing from our kids education…..I think you have done enough to destroy our district and as interim YOU DID NOTHING TO CHANGE THE CORRUPT CULTURE!

DCSD where mediocrity is celebrated and has been rewarded for over 10 years!