AJC breaking news: Eugene Walker gives up chairmanship of DeKalb school board

Some breaking news on AJC.com out of DeKalb County schools

The AJC is reporting:

DeKalb County school board Chairman Eugene Walker announced Monday that he will be stepping down from his leadership role over the troubled school district.

Walker will remain on the board but will relinquish his chairmanship so someone else can lead.

“I will be stepping down as chair and we will elect a new chair,” Walker said at the close of a meeting that was called over the weekend.

Last year, Walkers’ colleagues selected him as chairman. This year, though, during the annual vote, the board couldn’t muster a majority for a new chairman. That left Walker in by default. The 9-member board is expected to meet again at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday for another try at selecting a chair.

Critics contend Walker’s leadership is at least partially at fault for DeKalb’s problems. In December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools dropped DeKalb’s accreditation to probation and threatened to eliminate accreditation altogether. A report assembled by the agency is sprinkled throughout with references to Walker, and notes a recommendation he made to former superintendent Cheryl Atkinson to hire someone.

Atkinson’s successor, interim superintendent Michael Thurmond, praised Walker’s decision.

“For him to voluntarily step down, and not seek re-election, I think is a significant statement,” Thurmond said.

98 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

February 18th, 2013
3:39 pm

He’s still on the BOE – so this move means nothing.

Lee

February 18th, 2013
3:41 pm

The primary role of the chairman of a BOE is to know the protocols of how to run a board meeting so that any votes or decisions pass muster. He has one vote, just like everyone else.

If he has any “leadership” role, it is usually because he is among the more experienced of the board members and others may defer to him.

Not a big deal with him stepping down.

concernedmom30329

February 18th, 2013
3:42 pm

Ugh Thurmond. Really?

Word is that several members of the Board of Ed were working together to oust him. They could call a meeting anytime this week. He did this to save face.

Dunwoody Mom

February 18th, 2013
3:45 pm

No “honeymoon period” for Michael Thurmond. Eugene Walker could have stepped down a month ago when all of this nonsense began with selecting a BOE Chairman.

Mountain Man

February 18th, 2013
3:50 pm

So now let’s see if the Board is worth keeping – they should meet tomorrow and elect a new Chairman, preferably by consensus or by vast majority (more than 6 votes). If they cannot do that – then the State should dissolve the Board.

DeKalb Inside Out

February 18th, 2013
3:58 pm

What if Edler gets 7 votes for chair? Is that good or bad?

Maude

February 18th, 2013
4:04 pm

Just stepping down from the chairmanship is not enough!! Let’s pray that the state board of education does the correct thning and Deal will get rid of them all.

support public schools

February 18th, 2013
4:05 pm

Gee thanks- That helps a lot! Walker needs to GO not step down. Throwing a “bone” is not enough to help DCSS.

[...] AJC breaking news: Eugene Walker gives up chairmanship of DeKalb school …Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)DeKalb County school board Chairman Eugene Walker announced Monday that he will be stepping down from his leadership role over the troubled school district. Walker will remain on the board but will relinquish his chairmanship so someone else can lead …and more » [...]

catlady

February 18th, 2013
4:11 pm

Too little. Much too late.

Dekalbite

February 18th, 2013
4:20 pm

This in no way negates the fact that the entire BOE must be removed. When Dr. Walker was NOT chairman, he still presided over the school system along with 8 other members as it was driven into insolvency (taxpayers had to borrow money – with interest – this summer to make payroll) and student achievement experienced the steepest decline in DeKalb’s long history.

This just shows how Dr. Walker and most of the BOE members think DeKalb doesn’t have financial or student achievement problems. Rather he thinks they have a public relations problem. Mr. Thurmond will soon find out DeKalb taxpayers want him to be focused on students and their achievement, not BOE politics.

Centrist

February 18th, 2013
4:29 pm

Got to wonder if he was told it was a must in advance of the hearing Thursday with the Georgia Board of Education, which must recommend to Gov. Nathan Deal whether to suspend the DeKalb board over the probation issue.

And maybe that is not even enough for the Governor.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

February 18th, 2013
4:30 pm

Dear Dr. Walker,

Show some integrity. Step off the board.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

February 18th, 2013
4:31 pm

Odds on Orson trying to capture the chairmanship–nominated by Dr. W?

Dekalbite

February 18th, 2013
4:36 pm

Mr. Thurmond is entirely too involved in the politics of the DeKalb Board of Education. He needs to be thinking less about helping these adults keep their jobs and more about making sure our students are acquiring the skills they need to get jobs. He seems to think he was hired to protect the Board of Education members, not move students forward academically. Mr. Thurmond’s compensation package is close to $300,000. Surely the BOE could have found a Public Relations person for a lot less money.

Dekalbite@concerned DeKalb mom

February 18th, 2013
4:37 pm

I agree. I’ll bet Mr. Orson has his eye on that position.

Huntley Hills Tiger

February 18th, 2013
4:54 pm

Agree with Dunwoody Mom, and even a 9-0 vote for anyone on the board, regardless of who, Edler, Orson, whoever, does NOTHING other than show they will do anything to try to save themselves. Even then I think there would only be a 7-0 vote, unless Jester/Speaks actually get it. Any vote will be a test of their integrity of those two. But we know the only true test for them all – call a meeting and instead of having a vote, they all announce their joint resignation. Hey I can dream can’t I?

Nice first move Mr.T well played, at least for today. We will prepare for many more to come this week. But obviously not to save the school system for our children, just to save the board. And just where do Walker & Mr.T hold the “real” meetings anyway? Put a tail on them Ty, but be careful, they are working hard to stay a step ahead.

Old timer

February 18th, 2013
5:02 pm

About dang time.

Married with (School) Children

February 18th, 2013
5:11 pm

WABE just played a recording of today’s meeting, featuring an exchange between Walker and another board member, over what they were voting on. Hopefully Maureen can update this blog entry with those details.

Bernie

February 18th, 2013
5:23 pm

Once upon a time Dekalb County Schools was the crown jewel of the many Georgia School Systems. Now it seems that its problems are being caused by the very Leaders, who cannot seem to get out of their own way. Its past time for Mr.Walker, to resign his post in the best interest of School System.

Being that Mr.Thurmond was the previous Georgia Labor Commissioner, surely he should be able to find Mr.Walker, a State of georgia position that is comparable with his current salary as Chairman of the Board. Hey Michael, how about giving a Brother a little help? Maybe, pull a few strings as they were done for you.

Disgusted in Dekalb

February 18th, 2013
5:26 pm

So what did Walker get in return for giving up his leadership position on the board? We know there must have been some kind of deal worked out.

Pardon My Blog

February 18th, 2013
5:28 pm

Mr. Walker, keep on walking right off the Board and into the sunset please (and take the others with you). I know the real concern is that the black community may lose some of its power and a meal ticket for many but this Board and its members need to do the right thing by all students no matter what their ethinicity!

Concernedmom30329

February 18th, 2013
5:31 pm

My $ is on Melvin Johnson. Watch, wait and see….

hopespsringseternal

February 18th, 2013
5:36 pm

@ Pardon:

You need not surmise that THIS member of the black community will lose some of my power or a meal ticket. Careful with that wide brush…

Returning DCSS Parent

February 18th, 2013
5:43 pm

@pardon my blog- you cannot speak for the black community. We have the same concerns that every parent has as it relates to the board. There isn’t a power issue if our children are being affected more than others by individuals that look like us. The schools that are at risk are more so in the Africa-American community so, please spare us your assumptions about people you don’t know or probably don’t associate with at all.

I am glad Dr. Walker stepped down, he is one step closer to the door. Hopefully, Jay Cunningham and Sarah Copelin-Woods follows him so we can get some new blood on the board and move the school system forward.

living in an outdated ed system

February 18th, 2013
5:52 pm

This is ridiculous. Do we REALLY think this will change anything? The ball is in the governor’s hands. This board must go. This is a complete circus. And I’m also hearing that the board has hired a lawyer to possibly challenge the law that granted the governor the power to remove a dysfunctional board! Seriously??

concernedmom30329

February 18th, 2013
6:01 pm

Pardon My Blog

Really unnecessary and really divisive. You need to stop.

bu2

February 18th, 2013
6:04 pm

It will be Edler or Johnson as chairman unless they make McMahan it and elect one of them vice-chairman. None of the 4 long time members can be it. You can’t pair Jester or Orson with McMahan. So that leaves Edler and Johnson. Its just surprising it took so long for the obvious.

Beverly Fraud

February 18th, 2013
6:07 pm

“For him to voluntarily step down, and not seek re-election, I think is a significant statement,” Thurmond said.

Yes it does go down in the annals of significant statements; right along side of:

“I had orange juice for breakfast this morning.”

“I have to use the restroom.”

“Nice weather we are having today.”

Still, once he determined “I’m not losing any pay, am I? it might been seen as helpful to maintaining my chances that the gravy train continues unabated to the situation, he did in fact resign.

Tucker Guy

February 18th, 2013
6:17 pm

Voluntarily? I don’t think so.
Dr. Walker doesn’t do anything without getting paid.
Whoever he votes for to replace him had cut a deal.
It will be interesting to see.

Call Me Missouri

February 18th, 2013
6:18 pm

One picture is worth a thousand words and the expression on Walker’s face tells the true story. This is all for show and Dunwoody Mom is right; he should have stepped down a month ago. Mr. Thurmond is expending too much time and energy trying to save the BOE. I had hoped he would that he would have been taking some time to familiarize himself with the AdvancED report, the KPMG audit, daily operations, and conferring with reputable educators to develop a plan to raise student achievement. It’s still about the board and that is not acceptable. They need to be replaced. I hope and pray the State BOE and the governor see this for the sham that it is.

Don't Tread

February 18th, 2013
6:23 pm

In a surprise move, the Sun just set in the West. Rumor has it that it will rise again in the East sometime tomorrow morning, but we’ll have to wait for the official announcement to be sure.

In other news, the school board will select someone else to be chairperson, with the same predictable results. Maybe they should try something new and “import” someone from the Clayton County school system. Oh wait…

Wilbur

February 18th, 2013
6:26 pm

Walker’s “sacrifice” is distraction meant to put the state off track in the decision to remove the whole board. I don’t know that Deal will pull the trigger on the whole board but he should. The problem is not the board but the people who elected them. After the next election the board will be a mess again.
Emma Darnell and Bill Edwards are unrepentant racists in Fulton County but they reflect the will of their electorate. I bet the Dekalb BOE is much the same.

Dunwoody Mom

February 18th, 2013
6:29 pm

Thursday @ 8:00 a.m. cannot come soon enough for me.

catlady

February 18th, 2013
6:42 pm

Dunwoody Mom: I am afraid we are all going to be disappointed with the decision of the SBOE. I can’t see them having the (internal fortitude) to do it. I sure hope I am wrong.

Beverly Fraud

February 18th, 2013
6:54 pm

He (Thurmond) seems to think he was hired to protect the Board of Education members

Maybe because that in fact is what he was hired to do???

Concernedmom30329

February 18th, 2013
6:56 pm

bu2

What about Speaks? (Though I think it will likely be Johnson)

Speaks might work.

Beverly Fraud

February 18th, 2013
7:08 pm

Boss Hogg would be proud.

Dunwoody Mom

February 18th, 2013
7:10 pm

@catlady…I’m saying a lot of prayers. Someone has to step up for the students and teachers of this school system. The SBOE and Gov. Deal are the last hope.

positive, hopeful, concerned parent

February 18th, 2013
7:21 pm

I hope that I am really among the 100,000 voters in DeKalb who see this as a step forward. Thank you, Dr. Walker. Now, can each of US step up to the play and be positive for a least a day? Pouring more wood on a burning fire does not help our children. A ne Supt. and 9 new Board members …blind leading blind. The next election is very close, let’s get these bloggers on the ballot.

positive, hopeful, concerned parent

February 18th, 2013
7:23 pm

Dunwoody mom, will you run for the board, please? It has to start somewhere!

Infraredguy

February 18th, 2013
7:25 pm

DeKalb County is doing the best it can TO beat out Clayton & Fulton for the title of ” Worst County in the Metro Area ” and seems to be winning, will the last sane person turn the lights off when you leave?

concernedmom30329

February 18th, 2013
7:26 pm

Ray

February 18th, 2013
7:28 pm

Those on here calling for the 3 board members who just got elected to be removed are crazy.

concernedmom30329

February 18th, 2013
8:02 pm

Ray

I think it is likely that they will be reappointed by the Governor, but the State Board of Ed doesn’t have much choice. It is all or nothing in terms of their recommendation.

I will admit that Johnson’s ties to the power structure of DeKalb makes me concerned. He was recently seen dining with Frances Edwards, a known supporter of his. He is as inside as its gets. I know that Orson and McMahan believe his is their buddy, but they are being used and naive if they trust him.

The Deal

February 18th, 2013
8:07 pm

100% political move. He is still as cunning and politically motivated, chair or not. Hell, his friend is the superintendent. What more does he need?

Jack ®

February 18th, 2013
8:27 pm

Someone already said it: get off the board, Walker.

redweather

February 18th, 2013
8:36 pm

I’m betting they’re all about to be shown the door.

PatDowns

February 18th, 2013
8:58 pm

All actions so far by Thurmond have shown he’s pimping for the BOE.

concernedmom30329

February 18th, 2013
9:07 pm

Maureen, The longer version of the article is better.
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/dekalbs-eugene-walker-to-relinquish-school-board-c/nWR3S/

Marshall Orson said money for training should come from the legal budget so that it doesn’t impact schools. HELLO. All that spending on legal is impacting the schools. Are you kidding me?

We should not be spending 150K to help these clowns keep their jobs. That is 2 teachers, 5 or 6 paras, etc.