Speculation mounts that DeKalb school chief is leaving

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

Speculation is high that DeKalb School Chief Cheryl Atkinson is stepping down.

Dr. Atkinson called me yesterday to set the record straight on her reaction to the Ralph Taylor plagiarism case, saying that she never attempted to protect him. Her only concern, she said, was ascertaining that he could be held accountable for actions that occurred while he was a consultant and not an employee of the district.

She explained that she has been dealing with her father’s illness and death, so she had let staff handle the media communications about the Taylor controversy.

Then, I asked her the question of the hour: Is she leaving her job at DeKalb after 16 months?

“I can’t say anything about that,” she told me.

This is not the first rumor that Atkinson was resigning. The earlier reports  turned out to be false.

But I was surprised that Atkinson did not respond to my question with the standard issue, “I am not going anywhere. I am committed to the children of DeKalb County.”

It made me wonder.

Folks are telling me that it’s Atkinson’s choice to leave and that the school board was surprised. The delay in announcing her resignation, they say, is due to finding an interim school chief.

The school board has met in executive session over a personnel issue this week, and meets again Monday, according to this announcement: “The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a called meeting at 1:00pm, Monday, February 4, 2013, in M-201 at the Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center at the DeKalb County School System’s Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain. The called meeting will adjourn to executive session for the purpose of discussing legal and personnel matters.”

So, we shall see. I know that many of you believe Atkinson was in over her head, but I still wonder whether the never-ending crises — some real, some political — kept her from getting to the real challenges in the district. I wonder if she just wearied of the grind.

Before the allegations that I am being an apologist for her, let me point out a reality: DeKalb students are growing poorer. Poverty is a main factor in student achievement, whether in Finland or Stone Mountain or Tucker.

Many of Atkinson’s loudest critics hail from the more upper middle-class areas of the county, and have a different set of concerns about their schools.

But the main challenge in DeKalb remains how to educate children with fewer resources, both in the home and in the schools.

DeKalb is a school system in transition and needs strong leadership. I’ve no doubt that there would be a lot of folks seeking the DeKalb superintendent’s job. I can’t vouch for the caliber of folks who will apply, but many will.

I also wonder about the leadership vacuum if the school board is ousted by the governor. But I don’t see that occurring for many reasons. I would bet the school board stays in place for the time being.

No matter what happens, brace yourselves for a rough 2013 in DeKalb.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

126 comments Add your comment

Principal Skinner

February 1st, 2013
2:02 pm

Ugh:-(
This is like having a band-aid pulled off a fraction per second. Just rip it off, expose the scab to the sunlight and oxygen, and then the healing can begin!

living in an outdated ed system

February 1st, 2013
2:12 pm

Well, my feeling is that Dr. Atkinson should step down due to “job failure.” I think I agree with @Maureen on the salient points – the school system has really screwed things up, because you have a situation where both the school board and superintendent have failed the children. Who would take this interim job right now? Has Errol Davis done an effective job at “stabilizing” APS? Perhaps not. This is really extraordinary and if she stepped down, it’s because she can’t take the heat. It will certainly make the Governor’s decision that much more challenging.

Seems to me like Dekalb may need to be converted into a charter system. Truly sad, and more funding is not the answer, sad to say.

Ernest

February 1st, 2013
2:16 pm

Only commenting about her response about Ralph Taylor, everyone should know that you NEVER discuss personnel issues in public. We live in a VERY litigious society and you must be guarded when asked publicly about someone’s employment status. In the Emory situation with misreporting data, the president indicated he would not reveal the names of those involved. It served no purpose and also would not provide an opportunity for those involved to possibly sue Emory.

It was easy to predict how the Ralph Taylor situation would turn out. Regardless of the evidence, everyone is entitled to due process, whether we want to afford that to them or not. I would speculate after an internal investigation, he was given several options and choose to resign. Remember David Patraeus and the scandal that led to his demise? We see this every day.

Teacher Reader

February 1st, 2013
2:17 pm

Hope she leaves quickly and takes those that she brought with her, and that door gives her a swift kick in the arse on her way out.

Hopefully this rumor is true, the board will be removed, and our kids will have a chance.

Beverly Fraud

February 1st, 2013
2:23 pm

Since one person approved of it (thanks Ros) we will give it an encore…

Cheryl Atkinson as Colonel Kilgore in the DCCS remake of Apocalypse Now.

I love the smell of incompetence in the morning; it smells like…Victory; Victory in Every Classroom.

Rick L in ATL

February 1st, 2013
2:25 pm

As Nancy Jester has pointed out, Atkinson is an expert at excuse-making (”we can’t possibly generate the spending reports the Board wants”) and stonewalling; and now Atkinson’s abysmally poor judgment is also now on full display (no real educational “leader” thinks about it for more than a nanosecond before throwing a plagiarist like Taylor out the door; spare me the lame “we had to consult our HR folks” bull).

The last thing metro Atlanta needs is another whatever-it-is, it’s-not-my-fault school superintendent. Right, Beverly Fraud? : )

By the way, if the DKSS board is not ejected, what is the likelihood they’ll hire yet another glib pretender? I put it at about 99%.

The Deal

February 1st, 2013
2:26 pm

Getting rid of Cheryl would be a good first step in a multi-step improvement process. I still think this system is still too big to manage. If we could get an innovative super who would be willing to hire regional supers with true local control, we could get somewhere. If the state constitution won’t allow smaller districts, then get a super who can replicate that situation within DeKalb.

Mary Elizabeth

February 1st, 2013
2:26 pm

I am posting the following information which was sent to me today via e-mail regarding three Superintendents of School who will be speaking next Wednesday, before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committee, on how their school districts are helping to increase student achievement. Two of the speakers are Superintendents of Charter School Systems. See below:
===================================================

“The Senate Education Committee will meet on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. in Room 506 CLOB. . . .

Immediately upon adjourning the Senate Education Meeting we will begin the Joint House and Senate Education Meeting at 2:00 p.m.-4:00p.m. in the same Room, 506 CLOB.

Agenda for Joint Education Meeting

· Student Finance Commission – REACH program

We have scheduled three Superintendents who will discuss how they are using flexibility and innovations to improve student achievement. They are:

· Dr. Jody Barrow – Ware County Schools

· Dr. Chuck Ledbetter – Dublin City Schools, a Charter System

· Dr. Robert Avossa – Fulton County Schools, a Charter System”
==============================================================

Mike

February 1st, 2013
2:28 pm

does anyone really care?

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
2:38 pm

Perhaps she’s drawing heat from DeKalb School Board members who feel that she threw them under the SACS bus…calling on the union for superintendents, SACS. Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents (SACS). I think that this is part of the problem, Maureen. Plus, she’s obviously in over her head. DeKalb County is no Lorain, Ohio.

Dunwoody Mom

February 1st, 2013
2:40 pm

The BOE that hired Dr. Atkinson in the first place should be allowed to stay to hire the next Super? No, no way.

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
2:41 pm

@ Mary Elizabeth, you might want to check on what the new superintendent is doing in Charlotte to clean up some of the mess that Robert Avossa apparently left up there…dealing with student stats.

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
2:43 pm

By the way, folks, she won’t stay.

southern opinion

February 1st, 2013
2:48 pm

Teachers are going to leave DCSS. Get new leadership and maybe they will stay. Don’t wait until contracts are issued. Showw progress to slow the exit.

dekalbite@Maureen

February 1st, 2013
2:51 pm

“Before the allegations that I am being an apologist for her, let me point out a reality: DeKalb students are growing poorer. Poverty is a main factor in student achievement, whether in Finland or Stone Mountain or Tucker.”

That is true of most of the metro Atlanta school systems as most students are growing poorer due in large part to the Great Recession, but most of them have seen a greater rate of improvement in student achievement, even the demographically comparable ones.

Being a school system with a large percentage of economically disadvantaged students means that you can’t have the luxury of gross budget cutting like a system with more middle class or economically advantaged students. Rather, DeKalb must use great care in who, where and how you cut the budget.

DeKalb County budget cuts have primarily come from the classroom in the form of:
1. Reducing teacher compensation
2. Reducing the number of teachers by allowing teacher positions go unfilled when there is teacher attrition

Both of these gross cuts have been horribly detrimental to our economically disadvantaged students. Attracting and retaining good teachers is difficult in any environment, but when you are asking teachers to teach in schools where student achievement is lagging, you cannot afford to use teacher compensation as one of your main ways to cut the budget. When you increase class sizes to unmanageable sizes as you eliminate teaching positions, you are negatively impacting students who need more individual attention in order to master the content of math, language arts, science and social studies. Economically disadvantaged students have a more difficult time in classroom with 30 to 40 students. Class size matter the most for economically disadvantaged students and students with leaning disabilities.

DeKalb has used a meat cleaver on the budget when they should have been using a scalpel. They should have been protecting the classroom, but they chose to protect adult jobs in the non teaching areas. DeKalb did not have the luxury of cutting teacher’s compensation and eliminating teaching positions like school systems with more middle class students. The last area you cut when your business is in trouble are the core areas of your business, and yet that is exactly what DeKalb has done.

DeKalb needs a Board and Superintendent who will concentrate on ensuring the basics of the classroom which is that every child has a competent, well compensated teacher with a reasonable class size in a clean, safe environment.

Mountain Man

February 1st, 2013
2:51 pm

So Atkinson is backpedaling furiously now over her comments on Ralph Taylor? Too little, too late. If she thought he was wrong, why not fire him? No, let’s just let him resign. Same with the BOE, if they were the least bit effective, they would have fired Atkinson, but , no, they are going to let her “resign”.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

February 1st, 2013
2:52 pm

While I don’t subscribe to some of the cries for blood that are so common to this blog, I do think that Dr. Atkinson has been overwhelmed by the challenges of taking on the superintendent’s role from Day one. She hasn’t done much to endear herself to her constituents either – school calendar, new car, teacher cuts, jobs for texts, not showing up at the State BOE meeting, etc., etc. She just keeps saying “victory in every classroom” and it’s one blunder after another. Folks are sharpening their knives now…

Whatever is decided, they better do it quick…we’re already 15 days into the Board’s 30 days of “improvement.”

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
2:53 pm

Cherry, Henson, Freeman, Brown, Lewis, What’s her name — the interim?, and Atkinson. DeKalb.

Grindle, Fox, Dolinger, Haro, Van Arsdale, Wilson, Cindy L., and Avossa. Fulton.

Crim, Harris, Butts, Canada, Strickland, Hall, and Davis. Atlanta.

Edmonds, Stroud, Lovin, Livingston, Hairston, Colwell, Chavis, Pulliam, Duncan, Thompson, Lee, Heatley, and Jackson. Clayton.

They come and go. I stick around. Ha!

Mary Elizabeth

February 1st, 2013
2:58 pm

Dr. Trotter and all readers,

I offered the information in my 2:26 pm simply as a communication of Georgia’s legislative action, which I will – from time to time – post on this blog. Please know that, unless I state otherwise, those communications of mine will not shared for the purpose of either condoning or condemning the speakers or the agenda, but simply to inform.

However, the information that you shared with me in your 2:41 pm post should certainly be looked into by all readers of this blog, I would think.

dekalbite@Dr. Trotter

February 1st, 2013
2:58 pm

Well, Cherry was the superintendent for 25 years so maybe he did stick around.

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
2:59 pm

In DeKalb, I left off the cat after Freeman and before Johnny Brown. What was his name? He and his twin brother worked in the system. Nice fellow. Halford. Right. That’s his name. Named a stadium after him, right? DeKalb will survive this next round of superintendent selection. Maybe this time they will go a’knockin’ on Dr.Sam King’s door in Norfolk, Virginia. After being named Superintendent of the Year in Georgia while in Rockdate County, he took the superintendent’s job in Norfolk. I bet he would leave Virginia if mama came a’callin’. He started off as a teacher in DeKalb.

Disgusted in Dekalb

February 1st, 2013
2:59 pm

I agree with Maureen that the income level of a household affects student achievement and in that regard Dekalb has an uphill slog. But I disagree that the failure of the system is due to “fewer resources.” $750 million is enough to educate 100,000 students IF it is properly managed. God help us if the current school board chooses another superintendent. We can only hope that the state board recommends that the current board be removed and that the Governor has the guts to follow their recommendation. The replacement board needs to hire a super who will overhaul the system by rightsizing the administration/teacher ratio and restoring teacher morale. The amount we spend on lawyers alone could run some systems in this state.

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
3:02 pm

I understand, Mary Elizabeth. Sorry to have caused some confusion. I thought that you were offering Avossa up as some enlightened educator. I am sorry — I see that he was simply a speaker.

20/20

February 1st, 2013
3:04 pm

Hope Erroll Davis follows. Atlanta is in bad shape as well. The board is paralyzed and Davis can’t be trusted at all!

Mary Elizabeth

February 1st, 2013
3:09 pm

Dr. Trotter,

No problem :-)

The Deal

February 1st, 2013
3:14 pm

@Disgusted, unfortunately DCSD’s entire budget is closer to $1B, which is certainly sufficient.

indigo

February 1st, 2013
3:16 pm

The good news: Atkinson may be leaving.

The bad news: If so, her replacement won’t be any better.

Smoke Rise Mom

February 1st, 2013
3:19 pm

Amen Dunwoody Mom. If a new superintendent has to be hired, the board must be dismissed. They’ve proven they’re not capable of that job. It would be hard to consider the loss of both this super and board a vacuum of leadership. I would call that a fresh start and step in the right direction.

The Deal

February 1st, 2013
3:22 pm

Just today the board approved hiring ANOTHER law firm, this time to handle their state board of education hearing and SACS actions. At this point we should apparently just fire the entire board and replace them with a law firm because that’s where all of our money is going.

Beverly Fraud

February 1st, 2013
3:28 pm

Is anybody out there thinking what I’m thinking; now that she’s had time to “pause and reflect” is this not be perfect time for the triumphant return of Beverly Hall?

Home-tutoring parent

February 1st, 2013
3:34 pm

I just recently discovered Maureen’s column. She’s an “A-grader”.

Here are some things for you AJC readers to consider:

Cheryl Atkinson went to U North Carolina-Charlotte. Not a great college. Try hiring an alum of U North Carolina- Chapel Hill. UNC-CH is a serious university. Or, closer to home, try alumni of UGA, Georgia Tech, or Emory. You have brain-talent, use it to lead your schools.

Most smart people are choosing private schools, or home-education. Why? Figure it out.

What urban, mostly-minority/underperforming student schools should do, are two things:

Go to 240-day school years. (Okay Finland only operates 190 days, but Finnish teachers are selected from the top 12% of university entrants. Also, nearly half of Finnish students do vocational training after age 15, which is to say that academic training fails them.)

In East Asia, 240 days instruction is the norm. Studies have shown that middle-class+ American students read in the summer, and their knowledge increases. Poor students forget what they have learned, and lose knowledge over the summer. Solution: offer enrichment classes, not just remedial classes, for 6+ weeks over the summer.

In a lot of states, 60-year old teacher-retirement is really expensive. Reduce pensions and hire these retirees to teach, and also tech/ engineer retirees. Think about reducing class sizes to 1-2-4-6 students. Buildings and physical space are actually pretty cheap. Who said 1 teacher for every 20-30 students is “good enough”?

Beverly Fraud

February 1st, 2013
3:38 pm

” Poverty is a main factor in student achievement, whether in Finland or Stone Mountain or Tucker.”

Maureen wrote that? The same person who, when she first took over the blog, wrote discipline isn’t a “pressing issue”?

Perhaps she has learned something while at the helm of Get Schooled

Beverly Fraud

February 1st, 2013
3:43 pm

After graduating from the very rigorous 6th grade at the Jethro Bodine School of Education and Brain Surjery, I too was offered a job in Finland, but turned it down because I didn’t want to relocate to South America.

Beverly Fraud

February 1st, 2013
3:48 pm

“So Atkinson is backpedaling furiously now over her comments on Ralph Taylor?”

If she were to backpedal any more furiously, she’d be wearing the yesrej wolley in the Ecnarf ed Rout

No, not a typo. LOL

Cindy Lutenbacher

February 1st, 2013
3:49 pm

Let’s not forget that Atkinson is an alum of the Broad Superintendents Academy–known for towing the corporate line.

Are you kidding?

February 1st, 2013
3:53 pm

I live in the middle of the county and volunteer at my child’s elem school weekly. I see kids with money who have every advantage, and those without, many who don’t speak English as their first language. Many kids who have practically nothing come in with parents whose emphasis is education. And guess what – those kids learn and are some of the best. So let’s skip the “all the money in DeKalb needs to go to the increasing poor” drivel. It isn’t accurate. And it further separates the county.

IMCOVERED

February 1st, 2013
3:56 pm

You came and you made promises to people of not losing their jobs and you did not keep that promise. When you starting making cuts, you should have started at the top where the big money makers were and not in the classroom with the teachers, psychologist, social workers, counselors, and I can go on and on. You came here and got a big raise and took away the life of people that worked in DeKalb for years. Now you get to resign and probably walk away with a big bonus. One thing I do know, it ain’t over until God says it’s over. You remember that. Some of us still may not have a job and still getting unemployment because of your mismanagement, but what you have done to DeKalb County and our children is just wrong. You did not fix the problem lady, you added to it and the Board needs to run right behind you for allowing you to do so.

skipper

February 1st, 2013
4:03 pm

You can blame poverty, etc., and it does carry a little weight. However (elephant in the room) until the overall culture of much of Atlanta (especially the poorer areas) changes with more parental involvement in the actual studies, not just bellyaching about everything, only Jesus himself can improve the situation, and he would probably react like he did when he turned over the tables in the temple. You are asking the schools to do what everybody from LBJ to Superman could not do (especially LBJ, by the way who helped cause much of this mess) and that is save the world. There has been gross injustice in the past, granted. The present culture (see unwed mom’s and mom’s who are 15-16 and absent good for nothing sperm-donors who do not qualify as dads ) will not work….and no this is not specifically about just blacks….it is about culture. A black guy I graduated with is now chief of staff at a hospital (surgery) so it sure is not just about that. But the inner-city mentality and thug culture has taken hold over much of the area….and not a dad-blasted one of the posters on this blog has any idea what to do to improve it, education and all. By the way, I include MYSELF in the number as well. The school system is the red herring here…..its much bigger than the schools.

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
4:07 pm

Ah…there it is again…the Broad’s Superintendents Academy. Ah…sounds so official, doesn’t it? It gave us lightweights like Bobby Avossa and Ho Ho Hinojosa, Edmond the Teffific Heatley, and other giants in public education. Yes, B-R-O-A-D…pronounced like Road. What does it stand for…besides lots of insurance money…like billions? Because Rich Oligarchs Are Demanding…demanding more of the almighty school money. They are salivating. Yes, as Beverly Fraud as suggested, it may be time for a return of the National Superintendent of the Year, Beverly Hall! Ha! Was that an award given to her by BROAD? Or SACS? Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents.

Looking for the truth

February 1st, 2013
4:16 pm

I’m so glad my family got out of DeKalb. Fortunately, we only had one son to go through DCSS when it was an excellent school system.

Now, it reminds me of a train wreck. There will be no survivors among the children and teachers, but the administrators will exit the wrech unscathed.

Looking for the truth

February 1st, 2013
4:17 pm

Sorry, that should be “wreck unscathed.”

skipper

February 1st, 2013
4:24 pm

The entire system is pretty much broken, and you cannot make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t…….the whole dynamics need to be overhauled, and the system there that allows “fools to vote for fools” should minimally not be in the education field………..I believe folks should ALL have the right to vote. The voters in this case, however, are more corrupt than the folks they vote in….or they would actually be more interested in education!

muddy waters

February 1st, 2013
4:33 pm

I knew Atkinson’s head must’ve been getting ready to roll when my comment/post several days ago foretelling her much-needed resignation miraculously “evaporated” from this board.

Maureen apparently didn’t learn from her mistake, continuing to champion Hall when there was clearly something very rotten in Denmark. Then her own newspaper exposed it. Same thing here w/ Atkinson and her plagiarist home-boy Taylor. Sheesh, don’t you read the paper, Maureen?

Beverly Fraud

February 1st, 2013
4:42 pm

@Muddy Waters despite the fact that you disparage Hall, it must be noted that even after cheating was exposed, APS still managed to rate within the top 170 school systems in Georgia, ranking at a robust 169th. That’s quite the legacy, I’m sure you’d agree.

So you can’t say that a decade’s worth of data driven researched based best practices didn’t produce documented results.

SallySally

February 1st, 2013
5:11 pm

Just heard that Atkinson resigned yesterday. Anything in the newswire?

dougmo2

February 1st, 2013
5:29 pm

Maureen perhaps she is fleeing the asylum known as the DeKalb County BOE. Also Maureen please find out why it taking so long for Paul Howard to indict The Beverly Hall Mafia. The silence from the DA’s office about the APS scandal is deafining.

Pride and Joy

February 1st, 2013
5:41 pm

So Atkinson did her dog and pony show a few months ago and handed out unnecessary laptops to kids — cheap trick. Only parents who never pay taxes are impressed with getting a free laptop. For taxpayers like me, if I want my child to use a laptop, he or she can use the one I have at home. I want my kids to learn to actually write with a pencil and paper at school.
The only regret I have with Dr. Atkinson resigning is that I’d like the satisfaction of firing her.
Good riddance to the dog and one trick pony.

Susan

February 1st, 2013
5:51 pm

“Many of Atkinson’s loudest critics hail from the more upper middle-class areas of the county, and have a different set of concerns about their schools.”

That is sooooo not true. Some of her most vehement critics are from south DeKalb. And actually, they DO have the same concerns (in fact, what ‘different’ concerns would they have?) The truth is, they don’t contact you, Maureen like the people in the north end of the county contact you. You are not hearing from everyone. Why? Don’t know. But I tell you true – there are A LOT of Atkinson detractors in south DeKalb. A LOT!!

DunMoody

February 1st, 2013
6:19 pm

To say that most of Atkinson’s critics come from north DeKalb is to denigrate every parent in DeKalb County, every teacher who has to suffer mutely, every taxpayer who sees little return for an ever-increasing tax bill. Disappointed that our news media would play to easy hits (page visits and resulting drama) rather than recognizing that a silent majority is everpresent in this debacle.

Vince

February 1st, 2013
6:37 pm

Atkinson gets a lot of blame for the dour state of affairs in Dekalb. Some is of her own doing and some is not. Has anyone noticed the brain drain of employees leaving the system since last summer? There was much dissatisfaction with the public uproar over Atkinson’s request for a two mil increase in property taxes. Parents overwhelmingly let it be known that they preferred additional furlough days to a $40 increase in their property taxes. The resulting cut in salary (four years in a row) spoke volumes to the hard working teachers and administrators in the county. Those who can easily find work elsewhere are leaving in droves….and just wait until this summer.

That being said, while many respect Atkinson, there is considerable dissatisfaction with some of the staff she brought to DCSS. Someone should teach them that you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

February 1st, 2013
6:39 pm

John Trotter-you call him Bobby?

I think Bob is a much better name for someone so willing to push every bad idea ever created in education.

Do Fulton’s taxpayers have any idea how much he spent on Cambridge Education? Michael Barber’s suggestion on how to divert taxpayer dollars into Mott MacDonald’s privileged coffers while simultaneously accomplishing SACS goal of gutting acadenics without having to issue the report themselves. Every school district they come to at great expense they tell the teachers they cannot teach content anymore.

Also John make sure you read the Gates MET report. It was their participation in Charlotte and Dallas that earned Avossa and Hinojosa their lucrative current jobs. Because Atlanta is not supposed to have beacons of genuine achievement anymore.

Bev Hall won. Hinojosa and Avossa were brought in to make sure Cobb and Fulton adopted APS policies and practices.

And Bob–I know exactly where the term “life skills” comes from in Fulton’s charter. So be honest Wednesday we will be watching and listening.

bootney farnsworth

February 1st, 2013
6:53 pm

this is way overdue

AnnieAD

February 1st, 2013
7:21 pm

Redesigning the system into smalller sub-districts with local autonomy would be a good start.
Parents are more invested when the school clusters operate as a smaller unit. Those Charter System superintendents who have done this kind of work with shared governance would be a food way to start when looking for a new superintendent. Sam King, although not a charter system sup, would be a good one to call home. The Gainesville City sup is from ATL and went to APS and Dekalb schools. Marietta has the charter system also. Surely there is someone who can do something with Dekalb.

Long Time Teacher

February 1st, 2013
8:00 pm

Atkinson never knew what she was getting into. In the first few months she looked like a “deer in the headlights” at board meetings. Superintendent at DeKalb is a terrible position. I pity anyone who gets the job.

red herring

February 1st, 2013
8:12 pm

Ms. Atkinson didn’t take the advice/recommendations of the group that came in to evaluate the problems with the dekalb co. system —they recommended major cuts–particularly in administration—apparently in an effort to make “friends” she decided not to follow those recommendations and form her own (with the assistance of those that probably were among those needed to be cut). she made her alliances and that was her downfall. reminds me of a hospital supt. i knew many years ago– when he first came into the job he held morning breakfasts for all employees that wanted to attend —after about 3 months 100s of employees had begun attending—then he announced the breakfasts were coming to an end—BUT he had a long list of names of people that didn’t have enough to do so their supervisors were given the task of finding them some more work. apparently that’s not the approach Ms. Atkinson took….

RCB

February 1st, 2013
8:27 pm

I pity the next school system that gets her. Remember, she was not the first choice. Or the second.

Dr. John Trotter

February 1st, 2013
8:48 pm

Attentive Parent: I was reading an article the other day about how the new supe in Charlotte apparently feld that he had to reconfigure the stats that were under Avossa’s domain while he was up in North Carolina. I thhk that it was stats about drop rates. I saved the article. Naturally, the stats that Robert (Bob) Avossa had made him look better.

I think ole Glenn Brock brought us Edmond Heatley, Robert Avossa, Michael Hinojosa, et al, right? I wrote an article about him this week.

http://www.georgiateachersspeakout.com

sureshedid

February 1st, 2013
8:58 pm

You are all keeping it so PC. That is so nice of all of you. You probably don’t WORK for DCSD. For the ones that do, such as the teachers who received a letter stating they would receive an increase in pay along with their contracts only to have it retracted at the last minute, then given A CUT IN PAY. Low blow Ms. Atkinson. Morale low, productivity, low. Victory in Every Classroom, surely you jest?

Joella

February 1st, 2013
9:02 pm

We have no names on our organizational chart. If you have a question for HR, you have no idea of the correct person to call. We have never even gotten names or phone numbers. Hr and Staff Services are not very customer service departments. The former staff members will not speak wiht you and the new ones have not been here long enough to know the correct answers.
We have no idea of the jobs that were eliminated at the disrict level. We know that staff in the schools were eliminated and that class sizes have grown. There has to be a record of the jobs and people hired and terminated. We just have never seen it. I do not understand how SACS can investigate the disrict and not talk to people in the school about district level concerns.
When we retire, we are no longer able to schedule an appointment with someone in our “Staff Services” department to dicuss our questions or concerns. Staff in the schools are never asked to give their opinion about District level concerns. I pity our principals. They are the ones that get rated and evaluated. People are mad, and they are easy targets for everyone.
We are not allowed to speak to any of the Deputy Superintendents, the CFO, the CIO or any BOE Member. If you pass a board member and they speak to you, you are unsure of even saying hello. With the new administration it is easy, they do not speak to us at all. They can walk past you and never even give you eye contact.
People that are hired in high level jobs are from, Ohio, Florida and of course North Carolina. On the first day back from Winter Break our Campus Security Officer attended a metting. He returned to report that the SRO’s were talked to in a very harsh and rude manner.
Anyone that can is leaving the school district. At the end of the school year, I will lose my principal, school nurse, AP and several teachers. Some of these people could have left in November, but they realized that this would be unfair to our students.
Is this what the charge was with the new administration. Treat people so badly that they will leave thus saving money on payroll. Well, it is working. The problem is that the very are leaving also.
The new administration has no respect for anyone that has worked in the system. We have lost so many people to the City Of Atlanata, Clayton County and the State Board of Education.
Something has got to change for the better.

Dekalbite

February 1st, 2013
9:37 pm

Here is the organizational chart. Not one name:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/organizational-chart.pdf

Here is the Human Resources page. Not one NON TEACHING title/position with corresponding Saary Schedule:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/human-resources

How can this be? This is information that Human Resources has and requires only a directive from Dr. Atkinson to upload it to the DCSS website.

csdparentteacher

February 1st, 2013
9:41 pm

@Joella – you are so correct. In fact, my time teaching in DCSD reminds me of my favorite television show, “Downton Abbey”. Teachers and staff are the downstairs help and the staff at the palace are the royals upstairs barking orders and mucking things up. Employees are reprimanded in DCSD for contacting anyone above their principals and are threatened with the loss of their jobs should they choose to contact the palace without permission. The next super should make a point of letting every single person in the district know that their work is valued and their opinions are appreciated. That would be an amazing step in increasing teacher/staff morale. If the downstairs help throws in the towel, the palace collapses. That might just be what is happening now.

Dekalbite

February 1st, 2013
10:04 pm

” Employees are reprimanded in DCSD for contacting anyone above their principals and are threatened with the loss of their jobs should they choose to contact the palace without permission”

That sounds like the DeKalb leadership before Dr. Atkinson.

Principals couldn’t complain to anyone that was a level above them in any department that was not meeting the school’s and student’s needs. At one point “upper management” wanted to know if the email system could automatically screen out emails to them from underlings like teachers.

What personnel from the Lewis regime are still in place ensuring the old rules and power structure remains?

hssped

February 1st, 2013
10:13 pm

And I thought Fayette County was a mess. I guess I should be glad I’m not in DeKalb.

JACKIE B.

February 1st, 2013
10:14 pm

WHERE IS THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE 100 JOBS IN THE CENTRAL OFFICE CUT OUT OF THE BUDGET BY THE BOARD, THEN THEIR CRONIES RE-HIRED THEM IN A MAKE-WORK JOB. I BELIEVE THIS BUDGET CUT WAS $18. MIL HOW DID THEY MAKE THAT UP?

My2Cents

February 1st, 2013
10:32 pm

How much is she taking with her? We’re still paying for the last one. Are we still paying for the one before that?

say what?

February 1st, 2013
10:32 pm

She should have cut her BFF. When you have someone who cannot stand on her own merits, education, and experiences running around intimidating staff in the name of the superintendent, you get Dr. Atkinsons short tenure. Her next job, leave Ms. March wherever she lands. People being afraid to use the phone, other people asking ” is this a personal or professional call to the employee?” at the central office. How do you expect staff to be able to help when they fear the march coming their way.

No more SACS, Broad Academy, Brock suggestions for superintendent.The students, taxpayers, and employees have suffered enough. Look to UGA of GSU for a Ph.D or Ed.D graduate who can get the job done.

Dekalbite

February 1st, 2013
10:45 pm

According to the original DeKalb School Watch blog, here is a partial list of who was being overpaid back in 2004 when Ernst and Young did a Compensation audit under Dr. Brown. Lewis came in shortly thereafter and refused to make any adjustments to their salaries except to increase some personnel’s salary. The audit summary was missing as well as the BOE meeting minutes. This raw data apparently came from an Open Records request that finally produced hundreds of loose pages in boxes. DeKalb taxpayers paid $341,000 for this audit and it could not even be located. The recent MAG audit (yet another Compensation audit) was done under Atkinson. That audit was procured under the Open Records Act as well by DeKalb Watch.

Look at the data from that original 2004 audit and realize nothing was done for almost 10 years now. And people wonder why DCSS is running out of money:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/05/back-to-topic-of-ernst-young-2004-audit.html?m=1

Note the second name on the list of overpayments.

bu2

February 1st, 2013
10:48 pm

Atkinson has done a lot of this herself. She upset the teachers with the way she left them in the air on contracts. She did the budget at the last minute. She did the school facility report at the last minute. She tried to change the calendar after things were already set. A lot of this seems to be so that there is little chance to change or question things. But a lot is probably just that she is in over her head. None of these things have anything to do with poverty in the county. Her harshest critics on the board are from the South end of the county.

If she is going, its good. But the timing, with the board status in the air, is not good.

bu2

February 1st, 2013
11:16 pm

Of course, she could be leaving for personal reasons, wanting to get back closer to her family (whereever that is).

Crawford Lewis

February 1st, 2013
11:19 pm

Dekalb set to get a new school thief…errr I mean scjool chief

Ed Johnson

February 1st, 2013
11:49 pm

WhiteWolf of the Bones

February 2nd, 2013
12:05 am

Bibb County is also into corruption, graft, incompetence, illegalities, and out right fraud up the bahooha. Does anyone know of even one good sysem that is run well, and doing the right things, in GA? Not that anyone down here would listen…well, there are some that would, maybe, now that the crap is about to hit the fan.

Dekalbite@White wolf

February 2nd, 2013
12:42 am

Rockdale under Sam King has had great results and satisfied teachers and parents. Also Forsyth, Decatur City and Marietta City are well run, good results and by and large satisfied parents.

concernedmom30329

February 2nd, 2013
6:47 am

Cox wasn’t the right person either. This system needs someone who has experience managing at least a 500 million dollar budget. If they go the way of hiring an experienced education bureacrat, that person needs to have led a diverse system with 50,000 or more students and a budget of at least 500,000 million dollars or so.
Atkinson was over her head. Desperate to get out of her last job, she took this one knowing she wasn’t a good fit.
From day one, Atkinson has struggled with the challenges this system faces even though most were out there to find on a simple google search. It has also been clear to me that Atkinson intensively disliked criticism and this is the wrong job, and maybe career, for that kind of personality

Dr. John Trotter

February 2nd, 2013
8:16 am

I think that our school systems in Georgia have been Brocked enough! They have been SACSed enough. With friends like “education attorney” Glenn Brock and Mark Elgart, our school systems don’t need any real enemies. (By the way, didn’t the DeKalb School Board realize that they were supposed to hire Glenn Brock, not Brother Wilson? Ha!) The school boards’ cups runneth over with the great “advice” from SACS. The “cure” that SACS offers is much, much worse than any perceived aliments. (SACS’s proposal: We’ll solve the drainage problem in the sewer on 28th Street by blowing up the entire city, OK?) What are the real “ailments”? Potential loss of accreditation? Ha! This is a made-up, artificial ailment. This is only an ailment because Mark Elgart and Gang have decreed that it is an ailment.

Georgia schools boards ought to simply say, “Forget SACS!” Yes, “Forget SACS!” SACS is as full of bull as a Christmas Turkey! There’s no real “standards.” “Standards” that are not equally enforced are not “standards” at all. I have challenged Mark Elgart to a public debate (yes, public TV and everything) for many years now. What would be the topic? Topic: SACS arbitrarily and capriciously applies the standards that it espouses. I take the Affirmative, and Mark Elgart takes the Negative. What does ole Markie have to lose? Ha! He has always demurred. We call this being “a-scared” where I grew up.

The Georgia Department of Education, under the elected State Superintendent, ought to “accredit” all schools in Georgia. Or, if the General Assembly wants to get in on the action, it can pass enabling legislation for a Georgia Schools Accrediting Agency which will operate under the aegis of the State Superintendent.

Georgia also has an accrediting agency which has been around since about 1903, the Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC). GAC is under the fine leadership of a highly respected educator in Georgia, Dr. Carvin L. Brown. Dr. Brown was the head of the Administration/Leadership Department at the University of Georgia for many years and is held in high esteem throughout the State. Many very fine Georgia educators serve on the GAC Board of Directors. If I were on the DeKalb County Board of Education, I would be contacting GAC, if the DeKalb schools are not already GAC-accredited. The Georgia Statute says that in order to qualify for the HOPE Scholarship, your schools have to be GAC-accredited or SACS-accredited. Some school board finally has to stand up to SACS.

In Clayton County, I hear that there is a move under hand to try to get the Chair’s position on the school board elected countywide. Currently, the fellow school board members vote for the Chair. Why this move? Well, are the likes of Glenn Brock and Mark Elgart afraid that Miss Pammie (aka Pam Adamson) will not be able to get re-elected in 2014? Ha! Nah…I don’t think that Miss Pammie will get re-elected from her district in Lovejoy. If I had gotten involved in her race last time, she wouldn’t have gotten re-elected. Just a fact, Jack. Didn’t Bear Bryant say that if it is true, it ain’t braggin’? Ha!

bootney farnsworth

February 2nd, 2013
9:41 am

Cheryl needs to walk away for no other reason than DCSS is so tainted if she stayed it would cast an immediate cloud over whatever comes next

bootney farnsworth

February 2nd, 2013
9:44 am

what is it about Decatur City which seems to be very successful that DCSS is not doing?
is it size? is it tradition-was Decatur outside the Jim Cherry friends and family plan (implication its not
an institutionalized thing)?

Lee

February 2nd, 2013
9:44 am

“Speculation mounts that DeKalb school chief is leaving.”

Anyone surprised? Really?

There was nothing in her resume that would indicate she had the background/experience to turnaround a large, metropolitan school district that was in such disarray. A lot of folks said so when she was a candidate but were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt after her hire.

However, it was quickly obvious she was in over her head. Most telling was when she didn’t go in and clean house at the central office, which is what most teachers on this blog said needed to be done.

Now, Dekalb will endure yet another “nationwide” search and hire yet another candidate for all the wrong reasons and in two years or so, we’ll be having this exact same conversation.

Exhibit A: Definition of Stupidity.

Pride and Joy

February 2nd, 2013
10:20 am

I just got wind of a SECOND charter school opening in Dekalb county this Fall. I am going to one meeting and hubby is going to the other today.
THIS is how much Dekalb County tax payers want OUT of the debacle of Dekalb county public schools and APS.

Insider 1.0

February 2nd, 2013
11:21 am

@ bootneyfarnsworth:

You can not begin to compare Decatur City to DCSS. Decatur City is tiny and serves a highly educated and affluent community. Parent involvement is high. However, there are a few things they do (along with Gwinnett County Schools) that DCSS would benefit from. They have a bare-bones central office and hire/groom excellent leaders who are empowered to run their schools. If someone is not cutting it, they are not moved to a similar position or promoted. They are demoted or let go.

DCSS needs to clean house of poor performers and bad practices. This begins with the protection of the incompetent, the promotion of the connected, and the punishment of those who dare to speak the truth. Atkinson has taken a body that was on it’s last breath and drained it dry for her personal gain and that of her friends. Not only does she need to go, all those incompetent and arrogant fools who came in with her need to be turned out immediately. Those who have traded the well-being of their own district to benefit from Atkinson’s regime also need to go. This includes Tyson and Ramsey as well as the current heads of Human Resources, Federal Programs, Leadership Development, and most of the Region Superintendents.

Everyone inside the Palace knows the truth about how dirty this administration is. Most stay because they have mortgages to pay and families to feed. Many have no place to go. But some jumped on the gravy train when they saw this as a chance to advance and have contributed to the mess we have now and will continue to have even after DeKalb hits rock bottom and is able to move back in the right direction.

Wondering Allowed

February 2nd, 2013
11:34 am

@concernedmom30329 – You have hit the nail on the head. DeKalb needs a smart business leader, not a middling hack with credentials from some second rate school with no practical experience outside the education field. Unfortunately, education administration has become a job choice for fourth or fifth tier candidates who enjoy the perks of being overpaid. These people feed on each other, giving each other jobs despite having no real talent.

Bring in a successful businessperson who is looking for a challenge. There must be a Tom Cousins type out there who is willing to take on DeKalb Schools the way he took on East Lake. Another incompetent fool with a fake doctorate. Let’s face it, almost all education doctorates are worth less than a $4 bill. Since the proliferation of these meaningless pieces of paper, how many districts have been destroyed by those who “earned” them?

Wondering Allowed

February 2nd, 2013
11:38 am

@Insider 1.0 – You have it backwards. Many of us have been on the east side of ATL long enough to remember when Decatur City wasn’t what it is today. South of the tracks has become affluent because of the schools. The schools did not become good because of the affluence. You only need to go back fifteen or so years to see that. Still, Decatur serves a large contingent of lower income students, and does so well. DeKalb would be wise to follow what Decatur City started doing in the ’90s.

Ironically, many of us remember when DeKalb schools were much better than Decatur City schools and nobody would have thought of paying a premium to live in Decatur or moving there because of schools.

Private Citizen

February 2nd, 2013
11:39 am

Using school system employees as consultants comes from the foulest waters of the foulest swamp.

If a consultant is obtained, it should be from an autonomous consulting firm. This is straight out of ethics class Corruption 101, “Do not use you own employees as paid consultants.”

Private Citizen

February 2nd, 2013
11:41 am

Wondering Allowed, Summoning Tom Cousins, that’s funny. “Waiting for Superman,” eh?

PS groovy user name / relevant word play.

Private Citizen

February 2nd, 2013
11:45 am

Wondering Allowed, In my very brief reading, you know what is up. Please say more. Maybe “education doctorates” should be replaced with degree from management schools, as in business management schools, and I do not mean for the public sector.

Education doctorate says, “Who do I follow? Who do I repeat? How much do I get paid? Do you want to be a repeater, too?”

Management doctorate says, “What is efficient? What produces?”

END.OF.STORY.BEGINNING.OF.CIVILIZATION.

Private Citizen

February 2nd, 2013
11:46 am

typo miasma correction: “and I do mean for the public sector.”

teacherdown

February 2nd, 2013
12:14 pm

I think it has definitely been said enough that the “top” needs a complete overhaul. It’s just time that actually happens. Education is Dekalb is not what it used to be. As one person commented, you can’t “abuse” the core of an organization and expect outstanding results. Sure, most teachers do love to teach. That’s why they chose it as a career. However, we are human beings also and though coming into the career we knew the salary wouldn’t be over the top, we didn’t expect to go backwards in pay each year. (especially given the various degrees we’ve obtained) So yes, teacher morale in Dekalb, and I’m sure many other places, is down. Sort of the ‘get what you pay for’ mentality. To our dismay, Dr. Atkinson only added to the problem instead of help solve it. I agree with previous posters, bring in someone with a business mentality who knows how to effectively “manage” funding and people. Also, respect is key. Any good business knows that part of success lies in the core.

Insider 1.0

February 2nd, 2013
1:51 pm

@ wondering allowed:

You are correct, Decatur City improved and gentrified over time and many lower-income students are served effectively. However, I would still say that the current size and demographics of the system allow for a standard of educational delivery that would be difficult for DeKalb to emulate quickly, if at all. I am NOT advocate of breaking DCSS up into small bite-sized pieces so that Dunwoody and Brookhaven can have their own little Decatur City school systems. That would only further disenfranchise the majority of our district.

A strong central leadership and a complete re-evaluation and refocus of our core business (students and communities) can make the difference and allow us to move forward to becoming a great school district again.

@ teacherdown: I can not agree with your comment about the core more, although I think we need someone with a thorough understanding of education. That person also needs to understand who really makes the difference in children’s lives and will ultimately make or break this system. School leaders and teachers/support personnel should be valued and protected. They should be selected carefully, developed to their fullest potential, advanced on proven merit, and allowed to make decisions regarding their schools and classrooms as long as they demonstrate student growth. The Palace has already seen many of it’s best and brightest leave over the past few years and schools are moving in the same direction . We have been and and will continue to lose great teachers who can no longer bear the restrictions DeKalb imposes – increased class size, elimination of critical support positions, pay cuts, furloughs, canned programs that drain all the joy out of teaching and don’t work….it goes on and on. Those who have the option to leave will. At that point it won’t matter who you have running things at the top – the people who make the difference on the ground will be gone.

teacherwantingachange

February 2nd, 2013
1:57 pm

The State Board needs to ask Dekalb’s board what it will do about the numerous superintendents, directors, coordinators supervisors, coaches, and executive or special assistants who are not only making double to triple what a teacher makes but also depriving students of meaningful instruction.

I think the first job of the new super is to take every person in the curriculum and instruction division and put them back in the school buildings and classrooms where they will work directly with students for the rest of the year.

The county has already produced curriculum units, so we don’t need these people for those things.

The county has already purchased SLOs and benchmarks, so we don’t need them to produce these.

And this new super needs to address immediately the salaries of all those involved in facilitating, monitoring, and implementing instruction without ever delivering any. These people should be making no more than a teacher with the same degrees and years teaching.

Private Citizen

February 2nd, 2013
2:06 pm

Insider 1.0, NOT advocate of breaking DCSS up into small bite-sized pieces so that Dunwoody and Brookhaven can have their own little Decatur City school systems. That would only further disenfranchise the majority of our district.

Really? And you probably think if you legalised drugs and stopped the expensive police state that everyone would rush to become drug addicts, too? Meanwhile in real life, wherever drugs are decriminalised and treated as a medical problem, drug use goes down. I wonder, “Why do you fear prosperity?”

RCB

February 2nd, 2013
2:07 pm

Decatur City Schools work because they are not minority-majority. The demographics of Decatur are vastly different than Dekalb County. I’d like to see the breakdown by free and reduced lunch. That’s your indicator. But hey, they can still call themselves a public school.

Private Citizen

February 2nd, 2013
2:37 pm

No one seems to want to broach the concept of equal funding. If you split up the management empire and had equal funding per school, it would be a very different universe for the young people. It seems? there is something to the built-in head office inefficiency of one of these Battlestar Gallactica school systems. What’s the saying? Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Saw a feature article write-up in Inc. Magazine of business tycoon Eli Broad. No mention of his involvement in school management, none, nothing.

dekalbite@RCB

February 2nd, 2013
3:28 pm

That’s not the case with Marietta City Schools. They have an almost identical majority and minority ratios as DeKalb with a slightly greater poverty percentage than DeKalb, but their achievement rate is much higher. The main difference is that their superintendent Emily Lembeck has made the budget cuts outside the classroom. She has protected the teachers by eliminating non teaching positions, outsourcing some departments, etc. She calls the teachers and students in the classroom Marietta City School’s core business and has done everything to protect it. This has shown up as a higher achievement rate for Marietta City School students.

“AJC article published June 20, 2011:
“Marietta City Schools plans to cut its budget 4 percent through belt-tightening measures that include outsourcing 22 custodial positions. There are no furlough days or teacher layoffs planned.

Superintendent Emily Lembeck said that could change if the system doesn’t receive the funds expected from state and federal sources. Last year’s budget was based on a revenue shortfall of $5.9 million.

The district’s Board of Education will vote on the 2012 budget at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the school headquarters at 250 Howard St. A public comment hearing will be held a half hour before the meeting. The $74.5 million budget is $3.1 million less than last year’s.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 will eliminate a food service warehouse position, consolidate two bus routes and use $3.4 million in reserves. Two alternative and special education facilities will be combined at one location. The city system has 11 schools and 8,000 students.

School officials said the budget process has been challenging since 2008. Lembeck said privatizing custodial jobs was a difficult decision based on the economy, which has driven school systems to look at business and staffing practices.

“It becomes more difficult to protect what happens in the classroom without looking at some services that are not directly related,” Lembeck said. “Reducing days of instruction through furloughs and larger class sizes is not in the best interest of our core business of educating students.””

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/06/what-is-in-best-interest-of-dekalb.html

teacherwantingachange

February 2nd, 2013
3:31 pm

RCB,

You may be correct; nevertheless, Decatur appears to spend its money more effectively to benefit its students. Of the 22 instructional specialists Decatur paid last year, only two (or about 2%) earned more than a teacher with a master’s degree and almost two decades teaching or a teacher with a phd and more than a decade teaching. On the other hand, 177 ( or 31%) of Dekalb’s specialists brought home these higher salaries. In fact, a good number made salaries in the $80,000-$100,000 range.

Decatur’s super declined a pay raise a few years back. And Decatur’s teachers make about $5,000 more than Dekalb’s teachers.

The biggest problem in Dekalb is that many of the people earning money from the business of education appear to have no interest in education, or at least educating students.

Anonymous

February 2nd, 2013
4:35 pm

FYI, here are the free and reduced lunch rates from October 2012 on the Georgia DOE website,
http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fte_pack_frl001_public.entry_form

DeKalb County – 71%
Decatur City – 21%
Marietta City – 68%

rusty

February 2nd, 2013
5:01 pm

Um… so she’s leaving? Or she’s not leaving?

Dekalbite

February 2nd, 2013
5:03 pm

Economically Disadvantaged students in all AYP grade levels:
Marietta City – 76%
http://archives.gadoe.org/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=781&T=1&FY=2011

DeKalb County – 74%
http://archives.gadoe.org/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2011

Decatur City – 27%
http://archives.gadoe.org/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=773&T=1&FY=2011

Yet Marietta City has a much better rate of achievement than DeKalb. Go to those links to also look at the achievement rates.

Emily Lembeck was the 2012 Georgia Superintendent of the year based largely on rising achievement of Marietta City students. BTW – she is well compensated, particularly for a small school system. There is not a lot of non teaching jobs in her system, and most of the non teaching instructional support personnel do not make considerably more than teachers. She has done all she can to protect the classroom and it shows up in student progress. Comparing DeKalb’s actions when addressing the budget (balancing it on the backs of the members of the classroom – students and teachers) and lack of student progress with how a demographically similar system like Marietta City shows the connection between actions by the administration and student achievement. Blaming the lack of student progress on students and parents and teachers while starving the classroom of teachers and resources has long been the DeKalb Way. That needs to change. Why doesn’t DeKalb take a page from Ms. Lembeck’s play book?

Looking at Marietta City is more meaningful than comparing DeKalb to Decatur.

Beverly Fraud

February 2nd, 2013
5:07 pm

Yet DCSS teachers who complain, complain, complain, continue to spend their money on the Mighty ODE (the GAE branch for DCSS) who stand idly by, doing next to nothing while administrative bloat blossoms like toxic algae across the DCSS ocean.

Beverly Fraud

February 2nd, 2013
5:12 pm

Re:The Georgia Statute says that in order to qualify for the HOPE Scholarship, your schools have to be GAC-accredited or SACS-accredited. Some school board finally has to stand up to SACS.

You would think at least one school board would be tired enough of SACS’ political power plays and do one of their own by getting GAC accredited.

It’s not like there isn’t damning evidence concerning the political agendas of SACS, agendas that do not put students first.

dekalbite@RCB and anonymous

February 2nd, 2013
5:17 pm

Economically Disadvantaged students in all AYP grade levels:
Marietta City – 76%
http://archives.gadoe.org/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=781&T=1&FY=2011

DeKalb County – 74%
http://archives.gadoe.org/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2011

Decatur City – 27%
http://archives.gadoe.org/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=103&CountyId=773&T=1&FY=2011

Yet Marietta City has a much better rate of achievement than DeKalb. Go to those links to also look at the achievement rates.

Emily Lembeck was the 2012 Georgia Superintendent of the year based largely on rising achievement of Marietta City students. BTW – she is well compensated, particularly for a small school system. There is not a lot of non teaching jobs in her system, and most of the non teaching instructional support personnel do not make considerably more than teachers. She has done all she can to protect the classroom and it shows up in student progress. Comparing DeKalb’s actions when addressing the budget (balancing it on the backs of the members of the classroom – students and teachers) and lack of student progress with how a demographically similar system like Marietta City shows the connection between actions by the administration and student achievement. Blaming the lack of student progress on students and parents and teachers while starving the classroom of teachers and resources has long been the DeKalb Way. That needs to change. Why doesn’t DeKalb take a page from Ms. Lembeck’s play book?

RCB

February 2nd, 2013
5:47 pm

@Dekalbite and @teacherwanting…sure wish we could get the Marietta or Decatur super here in Dekalb!!! Both of you provided good information (for me). I agree that one of the maIn differences is HOW the money is spent, but I just can’t figure out why Dekalb has such a hard time doing what’s right. I wish I had the time to visit a Decatur or Marietta BOE meeting sometime. They seem to be able to hire qualified supers.

dekalbite@maureen

February 2nd, 2013
5:58 pm

My comment seems to be caught in the filter.

dekalbite@Ernest

February 2nd, 2013
6:04 pm

“Only commenting about her response about Ralph Taylor, everyone should know that you NEVER discuss personnel issues in public.”

Dr. Atkinson did not really have to handle this at all. She could have just referred this to the Professional Standards Commission and let them investigate it. Her response could have been that it was referred to the PSC. He is a certified employee so that would be the proper group to handle this. They are usually a fair group, and this would have been very appropriate. That would take his fate out of the hands of bloggers and newspaper reporters and let this professional agency work through the process while ensuring Mr. Taylor had due process rather than being tried in the court of public opinion.

rusty

February 2nd, 2013
7:12 pm

It’s amazing how far these DCSS threads invariably deviate from the topic at hand.

I would really like to know if Atkinson is leaving. At my school on Friday, everyone was claiming it was a done deal. WABE reported that she was leaving. Maureen devotes a blog entry to the situation. And then … nothing. What the heck is happening? Does anyone with connections have any idea?

Patience is a virtue

February 2nd, 2013
7:55 pm

They won’t announce that she’s gone without having the ink dry on the contract with the interim. That’s what they’ve been working on. Atkinson is done. Wonder when she’ll return her vehicles and her technology. She’ll probably have to take them over to Brantley so that he can make sure that everything’s “clean” first.

rusty

February 2nd, 2013
8:19 pm

Thank you Patience!

[...] that Cheryl Atkinson has quit her $250,000 post as the superintendent of DeKalb County Schools.  Maureen Downey’s blog at the AJC speculates the resignation and has over 100 comments. If it’s true (which we are beginning to [...]

Beverly Fraud

February 3rd, 2013
4:57 am

In the Parthenon of lame, stupid, completely inauthentic and totally contrived sayings, how high do we rank, “Victory in Every Classroom.”?

Top Ten? Top Five?

Private Citizen

February 3rd, 2013
6:32 am

BF, You put in in the file folder, “Militarization of schools.” Similar use of the term “Victory” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uakx1DuaztE#t=21m32s

Dunwoody Mom

February 3rd, 2013
9:29 am

I shudder to think who this BOE will name as “Interim”. In my opinion, there is no one within the current system who is qualified. When does Michael Adams retire? LOL….

Private Citizen

February 3rd, 2013
10:47 am

What’s the deal with “must be imported from out of town?” and then held up in the air as “executive object.” Someone said get someone from UGA of Georgia State. I have a better idea. Get someone from a business management school, not a school of education.

Insider 1.0

February 3rd, 2013
11:11 am

Patience is a Virtue knows what he/she is talking about. And yes, Brantley is probably working feverishly right about now to clean everything out of the server that implicates Atkinson, March, Perrone, Ward-Smith, and himself. This administration is notorious for removing emails (sent or received) after the fact that would prove awareness of issues or outrageous directives.

@ Private Citizen: 1) Not afraid of prosperity 2) I’m a big fan of legalizing and regulating drugs and prostitution, as research supports it as a better option 3) on the concept of equal funding – that is not possible.

All schools do receive equal funding from the district in terms of the general fund, based on FTE count. The additional funds that schools with a higher free and reduced lunch populate receive is from Title I. The federal law mandates that those funds are spent “above and beyond” what is allocated to all schools. If a school qualifies, they will receive additional funds and accountability by design. These resources are meant to fill the gaps for lower-income students with fewer opportunities and there are extensive restrictions regarding how they can be allocated. As long as there is Title I, there will never be equal funding for schools.

DunMoody

February 3rd, 2013
11:32 am

With state law mandating a superintendent has to be in place at all times (what if something catastrophic were to happen? inadequate law forcing inadequate solutions), I bet all these closed executive sessions have combined the departure of Atkinson (fingers crossed), clean up (CYA), and negotiating an interim (who?).

Brad Bryant? Nancy Jester (yeah, that’ll never happen, too bad)? An assistant super from ANOTHER COUNTY who doesn’t have any ties to business-as-usual in DeKalb? Come on. PLEASE NOT TYSON OR MARCH. Unless, of course, the school board wants a complete meltdown.

The fact that they have to name an interim in haste means we likely won’t like the insider they pull up. Because that interim has to answer to a dysfunctional school board with its very public agenda.

Oh, dear.

DecaturNewbie

February 3rd, 2013
11:36 am

We moved from DeKalb to Decatur because Decatur spends it’s money in the schools and not a palace. In K-3 they have many intervention teachers/paras in addition to classroom teachers and paras. Kids don’t have to qualify for Gifted of Special Ed to get extra help. In DeKalb, my kid didn’t fit the middle of the road, Special Ed or Gifted student and was at risk for falling through the cracks. We are very thankful for the wonderful teachers and staff in Decatur.

Does anyone think the governor would hold off on replacing the board if Dr. Atkinson leaves? I hope not. I still care what happens in DeKalb and would like to see the students and teachers get the support they need and deserve.

Dunwoody Mom

February 3rd, 2013
11:42 am

I would hope that the State BOE would not hold off on recommending suspension of the BOE. In fact,my question would be to the DeKalb BOE, why did you all (well, 6 of them anyway, there were 3 “votes), hire a Superintendent that could only last 16 months on the job? The Atkinson hire and subsequent “resignation” (crosses fingers) is on the BOE.

catlady

February 3rd, 2013
12:40 pm

Although I am outside this system, it provides an interesting case study.

I am generally very wary of state intervention, especially in this state now, with some of the clowns elected. But this BOE should go.

Atkinson should go. She was never a viable candidate.

The next super should be allowed to bring NO ONE with her/him.

EVERY SINGLE employee at the Palace should be let go. The super should look carefully at what positions are ABSOLUTELY needed, then fill half of them. Current employees would be eligible to apply, but would incur extra scrutiny before hiring. And, each family could have only one member employed by the DCSS. The others can seek positions with other systems. The friends and family must be dismantled.

The constitution should be amended to allow smaller districts. The current, huge districts are generally antithetical to success for STUDENTS.

Hmm....

February 3rd, 2013
1:53 pm

@ Joella 2/1/13 9:20pm: Joella, you stated that you pity the principals because they are the ones that are evaluated. Did you evaluate administrators at your DCSD school for the 2011-2012 school year? I know of several schools where the staff did not do an administrative evaluation at the end of last year like they have done in previous years. I would like to know who is evaluating them because something needs to be done about what is allowed by a few principals.

Who will teach our children?

February 3rd, 2013
3:49 pm

New superintendent in Charlotte is the best that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system has ever had. What a mess this man has had to clean up behind Gorman;Avossa and others who have since moved on to Georgia and else where.

gdfo

February 4th, 2013
6:53 am

I see that Vince. The problems in Dekalb School System are not the fault of one person. For whatever reason that is cited, it is a good thing to replace the persons in the Dekalb School System Board.

Ernest

February 4th, 2013
12:23 pm

Dr. Atkinson did not really have to handle this at all. She could have just referred this to the Professional Standards Commission and let them investigate it. Her response could have been that it was referred to the PSC.

No disagreements from me, dekalbite however if she said ‘no comment’ when a member of the media began asking about the Taylor situation, the perception would be that Dr. Atkinson was hiding something. For all we know, the matter was referred to the PSC. That doesn’t change what I said that everyone is entitled to due process.

The only thing we know is her response, which I thought was middle of the road. We don’t know the questions asked. If she was unaware of the situation before the media began asking questions, she should not provide an answer that could compromise the district down the road. Having been interviewed before, not everything that was discussed makes it to was is ultimately reported to the public.

Dekalbite@Ernest

February 4th, 2013
1:26 pm

But referring an educator who uses others uncited work to the PSC is the proper protocol established by this licensing committee. As an educator with a certificate (which Dr. Atkinson has), she is required by the PSC to refer any educators suspected of PSC infractions to the PSC. In other words, one of the clauses in the PSC ethics document says other educators cannot turn a blind eye. This is unethical behavior in and of itself. If you have knowledge another educator is violating any of the ethics set forth by the PSC in their ethics document, you have an ethical obligation to refer that educator or you are in violation yourself. See PSC Ethics Code excerpt below and link to full code.

“”Reporting
superintendent, etc.).
Educators are required to report a breach of one or more of the Standards in the Code of for Educators as soon as possible but no later than ninety (90) days from the date the educator became aware of an alleged breach unless the law or local procedures require reporting sooner. Educators should be aware of legal requirements and local policies and procedures for reporting unethical conduct. Complaints filed with the Professional Standards Commission must be in writing and must be signed by the complainant (parent, educator, personnel director,”

http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Ethics/505-6-.01.pdf

Ms. Tyson referred the so called “Bookgate” personnel to the PSC and also referred the personnel accused of test manipulation to the PSC and informed the media she had done so. Referring these personnel to the PSC if you have any knowledge that they might have an ethics breech is not really a choice. It is a duty.

Mr. Taylor would have the right to due process under a PSC investigation. I have known a number of educators (in high and low positions) that went through the PSC due process as they had to defend their certification retention due to an ethics charge. Some had their licenses suspended and some came away unscathed. Some that came away unscathed are in the highest echelon of the Georgia DOE and currently setting educational policy and procedure for the entire state. Some that had their licenses suspended regained that license in time and are within the educational system in various teaching and admnistrative posts today. The process is fair, due process is followed and the license holder is given ample opportunity to present his/her evidence.

DeKalb Inside Out

February 4th, 2013
2:13 pm

I expect this Superintendent search to go down like the last one.

Don McChesney just posted an inside look at the Saga of the Last Superintendent Search.

http://blog.donfordekalb.com/2013/02/04/179/

As speculation mounts that we’ll soon be in need of a new superintendent, It’s a good time to tell you the saga of the last superintendent search. It’s a cautionary tale.

The Deal

February 4th, 2013
2:16 pm

DIO, with most of the players Don refers to still in place, I don’t know why we should expect any different. My head is hanging very low today. You never want your worst suspicions to be confirmed and now they have been.

Ernest

February 4th, 2013
3:58 pm

It is interesting reading comments from a few years ago. This was the blog mentioned the three superintendent candidates brought before DeKalb citizens in 2011.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/03/29/heres-some-background-on-three-dekalb-candidates/

I’m pretty sure I know the person that Don is referring to as I believe that candidates name was mentioned in the public domain. I now wonder how the name of that potential candidate got out, especially if those conversations were confidential.

Ernest

February 4th, 2013
4:06 pm

Dekalbite, I’m not disagreeing with you. All I am saying is that I can reasonably speculate that the matter was either referred to an internal hearing or the PSC. Indisputable evidence was provided and he was probably given the option to resign or be fired. This is not from inside knowledge but common sense from seeing cases like this over time.

I (nor the general public) don’t know which review process was chosen but I am not surprised by the outcome. I can speculate on that because personnel issues are also considered private matters that should not be discussed in public. Usually Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are signed with penalties to those that violate them.