DeKalb will vote on school chief’s departure and interim tomorrow

It is official: The DeKalb school board secretary sent out a notice advertising a meeting Friday afternoon to vote on a separation agreement with Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson and to approve the employment of an interim superintendent.

I assume it is former state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, who met with the board Monday

Anyone disagree?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

32 comments Add your comment

Huntley Hills Tiger

February 7th, 2013
4:57 pm

Perfect way to start the weekend. Endgame Walker?

Huntley Hills Tiger

February 7th, 2013
4:57 pm

Perfect way to start the weekend. Endgame Walker?

Huntley Hills Tiger

February 7th, 2013
4:59 pm

@ Maureen. Don’t you think it’s time to just give Ty his own DeKalb Get Screwed Blog. He can do it while he sits outside all the closed meetings.


February 7th, 2013
5:07 pm

So how many deposed and interim Dekalb school superintendents will we be paying for now? Along with their legal fees what else do they get? This taxpayer wants to know.


February 7th, 2013
5:11 pm

How much will it cost us to buy out Atkinson?
How much will prior superintendent Tyson continue to cost us?
Are we still paying for prior, prior superintendent Lewis’s defense?

I’m not unhappy she’s going, but was it really their top priority? And how good a replacement can we get with the board in limbo? And is she really going because she couldn’t do the job or because she ticked off the board by tattling on them to SACS?

It seems pretty obvious they have been waiting until the severance agreement was reached.


February 7th, 2013
5:12 pm

You beat me to the comment. I’m afraid its a whole lot more than your 2 cents.

Dunwoody Mom

February 7th, 2013
5:35 pm

Another question from SBOE to Eugene Walker – You hired an Interim Superintendent that has NO, zero, zip, zilch educational experience, but with which you have a personal relationship. Please explain.

Same question to each of the other DCSS BOE members….

Dr. John Trotter

February 7th, 2013
5:45 pm

Didn´t we say from the very beginning that she was in over her head?

Dunwoody Mom

February 7th, 2013
5:47 pm

@Dr. Trotter….yep, we did.

living in an outdated ed system

February 7th, 2013
5:56 pm

I do not believe this board should be allowed to select an interim superintendent. I continue to believe that the Governor should dissolve the board, insert a new board and interim superintendent, and get things FIXED. Then, a permanent superintendent can be hired. APS has the same problem. You need to stabilize things before any qualified candidate would be interested in the position.

It would be political suicide, as you stated yesterday @Maureen, for Thurmond to take the job now, even on an interim basis. They should simply wait until 2/21. At this point, they’d be better off waiting.


February 7th, 2013
5:58 pm

She never should have been hired, plain and simple. It was obvious from the beginning that she was going to be in over her head, as others pointed out, but the school board seemed in a rush to get a superintendent in place to (unsuccessfully) appease SACS and to cover the school boards complete state of chaos. As a graduate of a DeKalb County schools, it makes me incredibly sad to see what has become of the once lauded school system. What the system needs right now is stability – a superintendent AND school board who can clean up the mess that it took several superintendents and school boards to make. It’s truly unfortunate that Atkinson was dropped into such a miserable mess, that the school board was absolutely no help to her, and that she was hired at all for a job too large for her limited experience to tackle. I just wish the bureaucrats heading up DeKalb County schools could see that the people this is really hurting are the students and the teachers, who have done nothing to deserve this kind of upheaval and stress.

Crawford Lewis

February 7th, 2013
6:05 pm

I have made up my mind as a educator in DeKalb that I will NOT be renewing my contract at the end of this year. All of this FOOLISHNESS has finally worn the teachers down and enough is enough!!!! The Board and the central office has made it almost impossible to focus on educating students. Love the profession, but hate what it’s become…..GOTTA GO!

Disgusted in Dekalb

February 7th, 2013
6:11 pm

It was clear when they were considering Atkinson that she was not qualified for the job. And nothing she has done in the last 16 months has proven otherwise. But that being said, I would prefer her to Thurmond.


February 7th, 2013
6:11 pm

Frivolity aside (Crawford Lewis), I am really fearful about Gene Walker’s choice for interim. Because with this School Board, that’s who continues to call the shots.

Beverly Fraud

February 7th, 2013
6:17 pm

It looks like DCSS has firmly established itself as the preeminent member of The Four Horsemen of the Incompetence.

living in an outdated ed system

February 7th, 2013
6:18 pm

One possible scenario:

1. The board picks Thurmond or some other interim superintendent
2. Deal dissolves the board after the 2/21 hearing
3. Deal appoints a new board
4. New board picks a new interim superintendent
5. Under supervision of the DoE, Dekalb Schools implements a turnaround strategy
6. After the situation has stabilized (18-24 mos), perhaps a new board is elected.

I could be absolutely wrong here, but it’s clear that this board is only doing this to protect their jobs, and not trying to become a board that the accreditation agency could actually support.


February 7th, 2013
6:24 pm

I wonder how many teachers could stay home grieving for two weeks on paid leave…


February 7th, 2013
6:32 pm

Any chance they will hire a white person?

Or, is that a stupid question?


February 7th, 2013
6:50 pm

Who wants to bet they hire Thurmond and the BoE stays? This is just another episode of friends and family. In 2 years, we’ll have this discussion again.


February 7th, 2013
6:51 pm

Gene Walker, Melvin Johnson (newly elected but entrenched insider), and Michael Thurmond are anxious to ensure the “Friends and Family” program endures in DeKalb Schools.

Less than 2 weeks ago, Michael Thurmond and Melvin Johnson were on a panel of six members on a high profile race relations symposium.

Look at the moderator of the panel – Steen Miles:
Here is part of her essay in the Champion Newspaper:
“Good, dedicated, competent people in operations and technology, the deputy superintendent for teaching and learning instruction, chief of curriculum, purchasing, the nationally recognized, award-winning, “I told you so” CFO have all been side-lined. Why?”

Ms. Miles is complaining about Dr. Atkinson and her replacement of the Deputy of Teaching and Learning , Morcease Beasley (less than 3 1/2 years as a teacher in the mid 1990s and presided over an unprecedented student achievement decline), Technology head, Tony Hunter, who brought the system eSis and SchoolNet, a universally disliked and unproductive “productivity software student data management system”, and Marcus Turk, Chief Financial Officer under Lewis (also son of a highly placed former DeKalb Schools executive).

Look at this picture or Eugene Walker and Melvin Johnson in 1991 when they both were in high level Central office positions. Their ties go way back:

These people are friends and supporters of each other. They are the movers and shakers and power brokers in DeKalb for many years.

Perhaps we need some fresh faces and not the “old guard”. The “old guard” has not worked out too well for DeKalb students.


February 7th, 2013
7:08 pm

@indigo – that’s hysterical, you racist you! A more serious question (but no less likely) – any chance they will look for the MOST QUALIFIED CANDIATE WITH A PROVEN TRACK RECORD IRRESPECTIVE FO THEIR RACE OR GENDER?

No, no they won’t.

But by God, they’ll be DIVERSE! Woo-Hoo!

Atlanta Media Guy

February 7th, 2013
8:29 pm

It is amazing that Tyson can go over budget 49 million over two years, for the Palace Gang and continue to be the true person pulling all the strings for the Friends and Family. DCSD Mired in the Corrupt Muck of Mediocrity for 11 Years! Walker and his gang must be laughing all the way to the bank, while the teachers get NO step increases or TRS matching funds. What an absolute joke!

Taxpayer and Teacher

February 7th, 2013
9:21 pm

They really don’t want any great teachers. The only people that I know that are staying or the complacent or part of the problem.


February 7th, 2013
10:44 pm

“Didn´t we say from the very beginning that she was in over her head?”

One of the things I liked about Dr. Duron(sp?) was that he had been in successful districts. Atkinson’s only high level experience was in two giant disasters-Kansas City and Loraine. And she hadn’t shown any noticeable turnaround in either. Kansas City was basically bankrupt and shut down nearly half of its schools in 2010 after she left and lost its accreditation last year (note-she was assistant super, not head of the district). Loraine nearly got taken over by the state after she left. DCSS doesn’t need to say anything bad about her. Her resume does enough. One disaster after another. She didn’t create any of them. But she probably contributed to all. That record was very disturbing at the time and should have been considered by the board.


February 8th, 2013
5:32 am

I think Thurmond is the last one standing, as every qualified educator would not go to DeKalb for an interim (presumed one-year) contract. It will be interesting to see if he can “clean house” within the central office.

Pardon My Blog

February 8th, 2013
6:23 am

@living – I would hope that the State would step in immediately and not allow the BoE to take any action such as hiring an interim (which would only put us under contract with another friend who needs an income flow). It is time for us to take action and the answer is not to keep forming cities where our taxes actually increase but either split this county into two districts (or perhaps two counties) and start getting rid of the idiots that are in decision making positions.


February 8th, 2013
7:44 am

The counties fighting the creation of cities is just another example of the disfunction in government here. Counties should be counties and cities cities and they shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer $ of Dekalb County residents suing some of the same residents. And the state is who has created that mess.


February 8th, 2013
8:17 am

“I think Thurmond is the last one standing”

I think Thurmond is a friend they feel comfortable with.


February 8th, 2013
8:48 am

February 21st can’t get here fast enough!
Yes, Atkinson was in over head but I don’t think the board should have replaced her just yet. They are going to lock in a contract, for who knows how much money, just before they could all get canned (I hope). This is not what’s best for the students and their teachers.

Educator for Life

February 8th, 2013
9:01 am

I remember when DeKalb was truly stellar. I graduated from Druid Hills and the county was very successful during the 80’s and early 90’s. Where in the world has the successful system gone?

Maureen Downey

February 8th, 2013
9:09 am

@alm, My understanding is that Dr. Atkinson resigned, not that she was told to leave.


February 8th, 2013
11:04 am

What’s wrong with Michael Thurmond? He has gravitas and you can’t prove any relationship between him and any member of the BOE.

I hope Michael Thurmond is friends with Walker and Johnson. In times like these who can we trust if not friends and family.