Thurmond makes final plea: I need this board

So that blogs from this endless state hearing aren’t interminable, I am creating a third blog on the final hours. So, the entire day is spread across three blogs. Read them only when you time and coffee. There is a lot of staid stuff and cliche comments. I think textbook-gate has been cleared up, but not sure clarity was achieved in other areas.

If the taxpayers of DeKalb are paying the board attorneys by the hour, dig into your pockets for some change to spare. This hearing is going into hour 14.

The hearing is to determine whether the state board will recommend dissolution of the DeKalb board, save the three new members. (See first blog for how state is not looking to kick off those three newly elected members. The second blog features new school chief Michael Thurmond’s comments.)

The new Chief Financial Officer Michael Perrone is testifying. Interestingly, Perrone says he was never asked by SACS about the textbook spending controversy, which he could have explained. He says the only legal fees incurred were to pay for the attorney for entering into the textbook lease. Then, the system decided to get out of this lease.

DOE attorney Hackemeyer is delving into this textbook issue, making me wonder if the state has any other financial issues on which to focus. I have been surprised today how narrow the state focus seems to be today.

I thought that the state would have stacks of questionable issues, but Hackemeyer is pretty much sticking to what SACS focused on in its report — using a line of credit for purpose of buying textbooks and used the money to close the deal rather than pay for it out of general operating funds.

Hackemeyer: Is this a good way to purchase textbooks:

Perrone: “I would say part of the reason of the reason we closed it down we didn’t think it was a good idea.”

In closing out the lease, did DeKalb discuss the impact on student achievement?

“One of the reasons was the e-book initiative,” Perrone said.

Hackemeyer: Does it concern you take money from one source — a lease for textbooks — and then use it money to pay for previous invoices of textbook for previous years?

Only in the DeKalb post since March, Perrone says it wasn’t clear why DeKalb chose to do that. He says there probably were good reasons for this when it was first considered, but it was long before his arrival in DeKalb.

The state board chair Barbara Hampton appears to have a grasp on this, likening it to getting mortgage and rolling the closing costs into the loan.

Board member Mary Sue Murray is asking Perrone what he thinks went on in DeKalb to create a deficit. Perrone said the district wasn’t nimble enough in adjusting fixed costs as revenues began to fall.

Board member Allen Rice is pressing Perrone on why DeKalb went to the lease on the textbooks. The interest rate on the lease is 3.537 percent.

State board member Brian Burdette asked Perrone a critical question in my view: Why did this cloud hover over DeKalb so long? Why wasn’t it explained in such detail before this? Perrone says the information was given to the board, but Burdette said the DeKalb board couldn’t explain to the stated board four weeks ago what happened with the textbooks. In general, the state board seems reassured about the text-gate.

Now, former interim Ramona Tyson is testifying. She is detailing all the ways that DeKalb is taking the SACS report to heart and making changes. She says DeKalb has been seeking expertise and guidance across the state. She is a clear speaker.

She says all schools have wireless connectivity in every single media center.  Now, DeKalb is  trying to make entire campus — grounds cafeteria– so kids can use laptops outside. Expects completion by September.

Tyson is asked directly about technology since SACS painted a far bleaker picture of technology in DeKalb schools.

Was technology report detailing all these plans available when SACS came to its review in November of 2012?  Yes, it was available, even on the district web site, says Tyson. It is still on the web site. So, why didn’t SACS see it?

Tyson has gone through each of the SACS’ requirements and given progress updates. Burdette is asking why some of these SACS recommendations she addressed are from a March 2011 review.

Why weren’t they acted on before now?

Tyson said some of DeKalb’s responses to the SACS recommendations began months ago but will take a long time to put into place. Burdette wonders why the state board wasn’t told at its January meeting that DeKalb had, in fact, begun to respond to the SACS recommendations and was making progress.

The board is clearly impressed with Tyson and the headway DeKalb is making on some SACS recommendations.

Board member Scott Johnson asked, “Who lit the fire?”

While being careful in her answers on why DeKalb did not respond in full force to the SACS report until recently, Tyson suggested that it was because Cheryl Atkinson did not mobilize a response team or choose to have someone contact Mark Elgart.

Tyson says that when Michael Thurmond arrived, he created a sense of urgency and told her “to get to Mr. Elgart yesterday.”

Now, the remaining board members are testifying, starting with new board member and newly crowned board chair Melvin Johnson. The school board attorney Bob Wilson wants him to make the point that this board can work together and play nice. And he is doing so.

Johnson says he has worked in the school system when it was primarily white, and he can work with diverse people. He says he and new vice chair Jim McMahan already have a connection.

He asks the state board to let the current board to stay intact. “I want to make sure each and every decision is directed a student achievement. I feel there will be a disruption if new board members come on board.”

Johnson also feels that the DeKalb board members were duly elected and that kicking them out will alienate the voters who elected them.

“If we keep the board together, we have a better chance and lessen the disruption in the community. Rather than increasing division, we could increase collaboration if we kept them on the board.”

Board member Allen Rice asks Johnson asked about role of race in DeKalb since he brought it up. “My experience is put it on the table… if you have concerns, talk about them,” said Johnson.

I am not sure of the connection but Johnson then says that voters love their local school board members and will be upset if those members are ousted. ‘They have their reason for why they voted for them,” said Johnson. “If their vote is denied, it is impossible for them not to have feelings about it.”

But some state board members are skeptical that retaining the current board is in the best interest of the students and that the disruption caused by removing them would be divisive, noting that the DeKalb board remains so divided that it took two votes to get a board chair elected.

Go Linda M. Zechmann. She is asking my question. Why did the the DeKalb board and its new superintendent go into executive session to discuss hiring a law firm for governance training? It seems clearly outside the parameters of what boards can go behind closed doors to do, which include lawsuits, real estate and personnel issues.

Attorney Wilson is answering that the closed session dealt with legal proceedings including the hearing in front of the board. Wilson there was advice from counsel that what they were going into dealt with legal matter to extent it needed to be executive session. Sounds like lousy advice since the board was discussing hiring a law firm for GOVERNANCE training at a cost of $150,000. That does not fit the criteria for shutting out the public and media.

DeKalb board member Pam Speaks is up, pledging to do whatever is necessary to improve schools for children.

Burdette is asking whether this board can work together or whether the dysfunction is too deep to be overcome.

“We have to work together to right whatever wrongs we have been accused of, we know we are guilty of. Darn it,  just do it,” she said.

Now, board member Jesse Jay Cunningham is speaking about his seven years on the board and his business experience. “It has trained me and showed me how to work with different people and different cultures,” he said.

He noted that he won his first school board election with 54 percent and his second with 64 percent. His community knows, he said, that “I am for the kids.”

Cunningham said, “We have to talk about race. We have to talk about resources.”

Cunningham says the board now has the nine right members and superintendent to make change and improvements.  “Give us that chance,” he told the board.

Under questioning from DOE attorney Jennifer Hackemeyer, Cunningham said his pizza business did sell pizzas to schools under partnerships that predated his board election. Did you see how it could be perceived to be a conflict of interest to sell pizzas to school while you are on the school board for those schools?

“Yes, I did,” said Cunningham.

State board member Mike Royal is asking Cunningham why in his seven years he didn’t “stand on the rooftops and say we have to change this  culture?”

Cunningham said he did try to make changes, “but you have to have open ears.” His board members were not willing to listen.

Now, Burdette is asking: It could be stated you are part of dysfunctional conflict. Do you believe change is possible?

Yes, he said, saying that now his fellow board members and school chief will listen. “That makes the biggest difference. We can disagree but we can sit down and have a conversation.”

Burdette: “Are you going to sustain it?”

Cunningham says the board will be able to sustain it.

“We have to make that change. I don’t want to be lie Clayton and some of these other counties that lost business and housing went down. But we have to start with our kids first, and I’m committed to that,” said Cunningham.

New board member and vice chair Jim McMahan says the board has grown in his six weeks on the board.  He says that he believes board can work together.

(The end of this meeting is turning into a lovefest as each board member expresses admiration for all the others.)

Burdette is asking again whether this new-found spirit of collaboration will last. McMahan is saying, “Yes.”

Gene Walker is now in front of the board and talking about the board response to the SACS report and whether it reflected any urgency. He says that he asked Dr. Atkinson to put Tyson in charge of the SACS response and she did. Walker said that Atkinson was then called away to deal with her father who was terminally ill.

Walker says that he wanted the board to move forward for the sake of the students. He again told the state board that it ought to look at the board’s actual record. He said there is no evidence that the board every obstructed the school chief.  Walker said the superintendent was able to fire whom she wanted and hire whom she wanted. “Whatever resources she asked for, we gave her,” said Walker.

Walker noted that the district audit never found any missing money.  There is no evidence of criminal activity by the board. He pleaded with the state board to let the board do the job it was elected to do.

Hackemeyer asked Walker to look at recent board agendas and point out any items that deal with student achievement or SACS related actions.

Her goal is apparent, to make it appear that the DeKalb board did not make student achievement a priority. She said the board didn’t deal with student achievement at all. Walker noted that many of those meetings were executive sessions where the board would not talk about student achievement but litigation, personnel or real estate.

But you could argue that every executive session on hiring a school chief is related to student achievement. (I personally found this line of questioning a bit of a stretch.  The board discussed its budget, which I would argue has a big impact on student achievement. It weakens the state’s case to manufacture failings when there ought to be enough real ones to make the point.)

Walker is now answering board questions. Royal is asking why he didn’t take the leadership to lead DeKalb to improve academics. Walker says from he was sitting and from what he was seeing, he didn’t think the board was dysfunctional. The board was meeting with Elgart. “I though we were making progress. So the urgency you see, I don’t see,” he said.

Rice is asking if DeKalb is a magnet for lawyers and lawsuits. “I know things that we have to deal with a lay person can’t address them. They are legal issues,” he said.

Does it trouble you that your system is spending millions on legal fees, asked Larry Winter. Yes, said Walker.

Winter is now asking if DeKalb understands when they can legally go into executive session. He is puzzled when Walker says the board can go into executive session to discuss its own governance issues and evaluations.

Astonished, Winter says that DeKalb seems to have a different view of what constitutes legitimate reasons to go into executive session than the rest of the state. He then asks, “Do you believe it is appropriate to go into executive session to discuss $160,000 for training?”

Walker again said that their lawyer told them they should go behind closed doors to discuss a training program.

Now, DeKalb board member Nancy Jester introduces herself as the “mad mommy brigade..I don’t own my seat…If I am not in this seat, I am not going anywhere. I am invested. I have three small children.”

She cautions that what she will say will make her unpopular in the hearing room.

“We are failing our mission. We have to talk about that. That is not just a DeKalb problem. It is a state problem,” she said.

Saying she has often felt marginalized on the board, Jester said she is finally being heard and credited Michael Thurmond. “Can it be sustained? I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball.”

“So goes DeKalb so goes the state. We are a harbinger for the rest of the state,” she said, referencing the demographic shifts in the county.

“If you can figure out what to do in DeKalb, you have a path to figure out what to do in the rest of the state.”

Jester says there are many letters from the public saying get rid of the board but keep her, letters that say they love Nancy Jester. (I am getting a sense here why her board colleagues may not listen to her at times.)

She says that SACS focuses on adult issues rather than the students kids.  You can have a school board of distinction, but the student achievement can be abysmal, she said.

“It’s always about these adults and the relationships,” she said.

If DeKalb gets six new people, they are going to be driven by the administration.

I welcome Jester’s candor after all the Hallmark Card sentiments today.

She is talking now about why she opposed Thurmond’s hiring. “Not that I thought we needed to hire a professional educator, but I didn’t know much about Mr. Thurmond. When he came in, I didn’t like him. I really didn’t like him. I am not saying we are going to go color coordinate our outfits or anything. But he has corralled the crazy.”

She says DeKalb has to get equity right. “We are not one-size-fits-all. We have some very high performing schools.” Using her favorite line — often on her blog — “Things don’t teach children. Teachers teach children.”

Her final thought: Changing boards won’t make a difference. “We have to understand in DeKalb, from Arabia Mountain, to Fernbank, to Dunwoody High School, they love their children. And they want better things for them. I am working for those moms.”

Burdette disagrees with Jester that it’s not largely a governance issue causing DeKalb’s woes.

She responds, “You could have a board as ornery with each other as they come and have perfect student achievement. We have boards that get along and have crappy student achievement.”

Burdette countered: “Right now, you’ve got to concentrate on fixing DeKalb. Honestly, it doesn’t seem that’s where your focus is.”

Last up is newly elected Marshall Orson. He agrees with Jester that there’s too little attention to student outcomes. He is praising Thurmond — “smart, decisive, deliberative.’

Darn, Wilson is now calling back Thurmond. But at least the state board is giving him only 5 minutes.

“I need this board,” he says.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

89 comments Add your comment


February 21st, 2013
5:56 pm

Oh Maureen,
I see no way the innocent (children, parents, taxpayers) will win in all this. How very very sad.
If the state board rules against the local board it will be viewed (manipulated) through the prism of race and it will freeze us in time — much like the “20 years under court-order.”
If the local board wins this challenge to their power, they will be further emboldened in ways that are neither professional nor beneficial.
Even the much-admired Micheal Thurmond will be challenged – regardless of the results.

There are still so many questions regarding today’s testimony — and I have listened to it all.
– How did KMPG miss the “simple” textbook lease? Why lease books when the budget is so tight when they have forgone book purchases for soooo long? How did the board approve such a lease — in public meetings?
– I have never heard nor seen lawyer fees in public board discussion although two board members testified to monthly up-dates of expenditures
– Sarah Copelin-Wood’s trail e-mail is really typical of her ilk.
– Melvin Johnson’s 30 years of service to the DeKalb School System — Experience or part of the problem??

Ok I’ll stop now. Ramona is on and I am very tired


February 21st, 2013
6:01 pm

This speech is really tiring…..she spoke for more than 5 minutes with no questions from her own attorney.
I hope they ask her why THIS board picked someone else over her for superintendent.
“We are just starting to put things in place to address these issues” What does that even mean?

home-tutoring parent

February 21st, 2013
6:06 pm

I remember when John Taylor Gatto wanted some books for his students. The principal said, “They cost $10, we can’t afford it.” So he went to a bookstore and got them at $1 each.

When I was teaching math, I decided to get “old school” Houghton-Mifflin books. Eisenhower-Kennedy-era “We have to catch up to the Soviets in The Space Race.” Then I discovered Marvin Bittinger. Really good math textbooks.


February 21st, 2013
6:07 pm

“We’ve done a great job at taking the steps to put a strategic plan in place” What?
“We go through the steps”
H: “are these steps you are talking about available on your website?” R: “Not yet”

Maureen Downey

February 21st, 2013
6:08 pm

@Todd, I think this hearing has gone way too long given that I am not sure not a new thing was said today.


February 21st, 2013
6:12 pm

“I will share what my interpretation of that is”
“I am hearing from some help back here”

Does anyone understand that when they ask HER the question, SHE must answer….not her help.


February 21st, 2013
6:25 pm

Look at the Technology plan on the website for 2012-2015. Much of the software has been eliminated because they could not find money in the budget to pay for it. So it can’t be implemented because there is no money. DCSS paid millions for Compass Learning, but could not afford a few hundred thousand for the upkeep so we lost our multimillion dollar investment. This is still on the plan, but it is not accessible for students.

The last technology plan did not have even one teacher as a developer of the plan. Please look at the personnel putting together the 2009 plan:

The plan before that was a year late to the state.

They make these technology plans but then they never implement them. Computers are scarce and much of the technology does not work. That’s why SACS got an earful from the teachers and parents.

jerry eads

February 21st, 2013
6:28 pm

Sad stuff. Maureen, thanks for being there for us.

Disappointed DeKalbite

February 21st, 2013
6:35 pm

Has anyone ever asked about why the DCSD board did nothing for 2 years after SACS told them so many things needed to be fixed? Did anyone ask any of the board members why the past or current Superintendent should receive $2600.00 per month for expenses with NO accountability plus another $750.00 per month car allowance, or in Dr. Atkinson’s case, the fancy vehicle and chauffeur? This went on while teachers needed in the classroom were laid off. The rest of the DCSD employees turn in mileage for reimbursement. Wouldn’t it be setting a good example for the superintendent to do the same? Did anyone ask why the new interim super. should be paid $275,000. per year (with other benefits and more above, although he has NO experience in education, except making speeches about it? Did anyone ask why, after the new superintendent started his job, the law firm of his former campaign manager was hired for $150,000. to do “governance training” for the DCSD board, when the board’s law firm, Sutherland, Asbill,and Brennan, had already offered to do that training for free? Did anyone ask if it was legal for the board to hire the new interim superintendent behind closed doors? Is there not a process that has to be followed? Why did the new superintendent state that he had met with “stakeholders” of the system, and that did not include any teachers or other employees of the system? I am sure they could tell him a lot he needs to know. Why does he think he is speaking for the board? That’s the board’s attorney’s job. The superintendent is supposed to speak for the children. Is anyone speaking for them? I have lived in DeKalb for many years, and my kids went to DeKalb County schools. I am appalled at what is happening! We need to focus on what the children need, and get a board in place who places their interests first.

Tucker Mom

February 21st, 2013
6:35 pm

I can appreciate that the state board is impressed with Ms. Tyson, she is well spoken, but let’s not forget that she was our interim superintendent at one point and she was an assistant to Dr. Crawford Lewis.

home-tutoring parent

February 21st, 2013
6:43 pm

Georgia public schools aren’t very good. No state’s K-12 schools are really good. Some public universities are really good. Tech is one of them. Why don’t you invite Tech to reinvent your schools.

Over a decade ago, I introduced “transformation” into the K-12-debate lexicon, when “reform” was in vogue. Don’t reform, transform.

Some of this includes going “old school”. School doesn’t work for everybody. Remove recalcitrant kids from classrooms. Help teachers teach, and kids who want to learn, learn.

In my era, it was okay for kids to drop out in 8th grade. In my grandfather’s era, a lot of kids left school in 4th grade. Thomas Edison and Walter Beech didn’t finish grammar school. They did okay in life.

Grob Hahn

February 21st, 2013
6:50 pm

Where are the parents, the torches and the pitch forks? These a-wipes need to be in fear of the people they are screwing.

Beverly Fraud

February 21st, 2013
6:54 pm

Best case scenario: Board gets removed, members file a lawsuit that forces sunlight on SACS and what they do with the money they get from the government teat.

Beverly Fraud

February 21st, 2013
6:56 pm

Or as Invisible Serf suggests, perhaps we need to refer to SACS as AdvancED, to truly understand just how far reaching their political agenda is.

Disgusted in DeKalb

February 21st, 2013
6:59 pm

They don’t want to get rid of the BOE because it will ‘disappoint the voters?’ Are they kidding? It would not disappoint me at all – I’d be thrilled. So would so many others who have spoken up and signed petitions. Get rid of this board!

Greg in Duluth

February 21st, 2013
7:02 pm

Has there been any discussion about the children of Dekalb County today?


February 21st, 2013
7:05 pm

Has the state BOE been told to throw the game?

Medlock Madness

February 21st, 2013
7:06 pm

Enough already!! Clean the slate.
How about asking these arrogant folks why they already thumbed their noses at the state by not cutting their members down from 9 to 7??? There is a simple answer somewhere.

living in an outdated ed system

February 21st, 2013
7:06 pm

This is a “NO-WIN” situation. Our governor has to spill political blood to do the right thing. @Maureen, I think you said it best yesterday, when there were polls saying that 80% of those polled want the board removed. That should embolden the governor to remove them, but as @Faye said, this decision, whatever it ends up being, will be regrettably divisive. As @Maureen said, I’d really like to know why this is going on for 12 hours when there wasn’t much new information given. I believe the decision has already been made, whatever it may end up being.

@Beverly may be right. One plausible scenario is the six are removed, the lawsuit proceeds (which hopefully the residents can protest and get them to stand down), and then perhaps an investigation gets conducted on the credibility of certain findings in the SACS report. Ultimately, that shouldn’t matter, because the board has exposed their incompetence to the entire state today!

Dr. John Trotter

February 21st, 2013
7:09 pm

Sorry that I have been absent from all of the blogging excitement today! Ha! I just returned from the MACE Office. (No, MACE didn’t close early tonight; the doors of MACE still generally close around 10:30 PM to 11:15 PM during weekday nights.)

SACS is totally out of control. I have said over and over that it stands for Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents. As Beverly Fraud has stated, I have offered on many occasions to engage in a very public debate with Mark Elgart about SACS and the capricious and arbitrary manner that is applies its so-called “standards.” He has never accepted. I think that he is chicken.

As I stated earlier this morning on another thread, SACS’s so-called “reports” are full of innuendo, hearsay, and unnamed sources. I must admit that I have not read through all of the one on DeKalb, but the one on Clayton was laughable.

SACS is subject to the Open Records Act, unless the law has been changed recently, because it receives State monies. It dips deep into the coffers of the public school systems in Georgia and nationwide, and as the Invisible Serf has ably pointed out, I believe that it is in on the agenda to essentially wipe out the local school systems nationwide. It is the enforcement mechanism that Arne Duncan and the Feds really need because public education is not even mentioned in the Federal Constitution; it is a State and Local issue. The foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation and the Broad Foundation need a SACS to scare the sh-t out of local school boards so that they can get their way of running schools in the U. S. Mark Elgart seems to be so willing to cooperate with these non-educator educational gnostics who apparently think that they have all of the answers in education.

About those who want to anonymously criticize me or MACE. Have at it. Knock yourself out. I have noticed one thing, though. I haven’t seen many people — superintendents, principals, or know-it-all parents — criticize me openly or to my face. Ha! I don’t back down or scare easily. We don’t threaten anyone with harm. We just do our job, and our members seem to enjoy the protection and empowerment. By the way, MACE, unlike GAE and PAGE, still does not do spelling bees or give out tote bags! But, we do devour administrators who abuse teachers.


February 21st, 2013
7:10 pm

SACS is the parents’ friend for without the pressure from SACS everything would be hunky dory in Dekalb County Schools. SACS is the only pressure that has caused even the paltry changes referred to in the testimony today.
Parents ought to demand much, much better
And they ought to run the race baiters out of the county with a stick.


February 21st, 2013
7:13 pm

They don’t want to get rid of the BOE because it will ‘disappoint the voters?’

As opposed to the far lesser disappointment when your local school loses accreditation. /sarc

living in an outdated ed system

February 21st, 2013
7:20 pm

@Dr. Trotter – too little too late on SACS. It is in the best interests of the children that there be a complete “cleansing,” and that means the board must go. The board has demonstrated their utter incompetence and they need to be fired, not spend another $150K on governance training!!!

Beverly Fraud

February 21st, 2013
7:23 pm

Markie Mark can’t be feeling too good right now. Eventually one of the school boards is going to call his bluff, and it won’t be a board with members from Clown Central but rather a board who will be willing to ask fair and legitimate questions that Markie Mark will want no part of…at all.

SCW clearly went with the nuclear option; all that remains to be seen is exactly whose face it blows up in; Deal’s? Thurmond’s? Elgarts? Her own? All of them?

Greg in Duluth

February 21st, 2013
7:25 pm

What about the students? Has anyone asked a question about student performance, class room decorum or graduation rates?

Silly me, I thought the schools existed to educate students and not to provide political jobs and patronage.

Keep the board or dismiss them, I don’t care. The students have long since become an afterthought as this reality tv show plays itself out.

A parent concerned appointed board

February 21st, 2013
7:30 pm

I am a parent with a student in the 10th grade in Dekalb. Count me among the CONCERNED if this board is removed; whom (we) voted for and was elected is replaced with someone whom we don’t know or didn’t elect that does not represent the interest that maybe unique to our children and neighborhoods. I am concerned about our schools and do agree that change is needed. The question is who will replace them? Who will the Governor appoint….? What assurances do we have the he won’t appoint someone foriegn to our community or neighborhood? Will they truly do a better job?

Atlanta Media Guy

February 21st, 2013
7:37 pm

Let us not forget that Tyson is the one who went 49 million dollars over budget, over two years for Central Office expenditures, while she was interim. What is her title now…she has got to go! She is the issue, Clew handpicked her!

She is head of the friends and family network, just ask the employees who were interviewed by Atkinson, when she started. Tyson was in every meeting, talk about intimidation and not being able to speak freely with the new boss, when the old boss is sitting in the same room.


February 21st, 2013
7:42 pm


According to your first blog post, Copelin-Wood said she was elected in 2000.

But according to the Dekalb County Schools website, she was elected in 1998.

It’s probably not a big deal, but it’s still strange to me that she could forget when she was elected..

Maureen Downey

February 21st, 2013
7:49 pm

@Interested, She said she was elected in 2000, then amended that she was elected in 1999 but took office in 2000. She was ill today, and I think that showed in her responses.

Fed up

February 21st, 2013
7:56 pm

When is this charade going to end? How much more rambling and glad handing do we have to take?

Atlanta Media Guy

February 21st, 2013
8:00 pm

I wish I could believe SCW was actually ill today. Sometimes I think she does this to work everyone into a lather. This whole thing is embarrassing for DeKalb County. I am getting a feeling that everything will be left as it is, with some caveats. I hope the media starts investigating some of these claims and start interviewing folks. This is a 10 year long tale that is NOT about to end, it is time for another chapter of teachers getting the shaft and the palace guard continues unabated. So sad for our kids……

Maureen Downey

February 21st, 2013
8:01 pm

@Fed up, I am not sure if board plans to deliberate tonight. If so, it will be a while longer.


February 21st, 2013
8:05 pm

Any sign of anyone getting exhausted and continuing tomorrow?


February 21st, 2013
8:15 pm

Maureen, I knew they’d attack Jay for personal business from ten years ago


February 21st, 2013
8:15 pm

@A parent concerned appointed board: “Will they truly do a better job?” A monkey with a dartboard would do a significantly better job. You have to willfully TRY to screw up a job as well as this board has.

Dr. John Trotter

February 21st, 2013
8:16 pm

If the DeKalb situation has been going on for 10 years as Mark Elgart apparently asserts, then what has taken him so long to get involved? I know that six to 10 years ago, the DeKalb Board of Education was majority white. Hmm. Is it his habit to just go after the school boards when the governance becomes majority black? Just asking…because he seems to want to do nothing for the wrong-doings on the school boards and/or in the school systems of Cobb, Gwinnett, and Fulton. Isn’t this a fair question? If anyone has the temerity to state that race does not matter in public education, then I don’t think that you have a clue about what goes on in public education. Now go ahead and get real mad at me for saying this. I don’t care. I just ask the fair questions and tell the truth. Just like I know that certain cops pull over black drivers for no apparent reason. It has happened on more than one occasion to African Americans on the MACE Staff, even when returning to the MACE Office late at night. They are detained in the car, even when they state to the police officers that they have keys to the MACE Office. Race does matter.


February 21st, 2013
8:17 pm

The State Board’s decision, and positive action thereafter, could have numerous jobs in the equation — not only for DeKalb County, but for the entire Metro area. There was a report that seven kids from the Clayton system were arrested the past seven days — essentially for MAYHEM! Is DeKalb attempting to catch up with Clayton?? Don’t forget the legacy that has already been developed by a previous superintendent and one of his ’subordinates’. Let’s face it — Clayton and now DeKalb have given the profession of EDUCTION a terrible name in this market — and that is saying something when we are reminded what went on in APS!!

Maureen Downey

February 21st, 2013
8:20 pm

@Rick, I think there is a bit of grasping from the state side. I am surprised at the lack of any new information — this is just a rehash of a lot of old complaints.

Private Citizen

February 21st, 2013
8:21 pm

Wow. this thing begin at 8 AM something, and it is now 8 PM something.

To those wondering why so long, obviously it is a sequential process of investigation and the transcript will be reviewed to basically make judgement of the performance of the entity known as “board.” I wonder how the DOE website will turn this into video for their website. Maybe it will be in sections as opposed to one 12 hour video! It sure is a lot of information. This is an historic event.

David Schutten

February 21st, 2013
8:23 pm

@Dr. Trotter. Is MACE still a for profit enterprise? You picketed principals at many schools in DeKalb over the last two years, but the vast majority are still in place. Very few people in DeKalb take MACE seriously because your organization is a paper tiger when it comes to DeKalb. When you picket, tge reaction of the vast majority of people is: Oh well, there they are again. Where has MACE been when it comes to advocating for employees at Budget Meetings, etc? MACE is so irrelevant in DeKalb that very few community and business leaders have even heard of MACE. Picketing is only effective when it is used judiciously and wisely, not carelessly. Working for the benefit of public school system employees is hard, meticulous work in a non-bargaining state. Picket away, because your picketing is mostly irrelevant and pointless. It is sad that the one of the only ways you can attempt to make MACE relevant is by attacking other organizations.


February 21st, 2013
8:26 pm

School districts do discuss student performance. There are districts where student performance is diiscussed as much as business items. It does depend on the district. Not discussing it leaves the elephant in the room. Dekalb needs a real board of ed that is sincerely interested in addressing these issues in a competent, fair, and transparent manner.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

February 21st, 2013
8:26 pm

@Atl Media Guy It sounds like $49 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the hole they’ll be trying to fill later this year. Can the millage rate for school tax go any higher or is that capped too?

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

February 21st, 2013
8:29 pm

@Maureen Why not rehash old material? Especially when the material’s SO good.


February 21st, 2013
8:34 pm

“Can the millage rate for school tax go any higher or is that capped too?”

The millage rate for the school system is capped at 25 and we are .25 under that by state law.

Atlanta Media Guy

February 21st, 2013
8:34 pm

David, you are a bit irrelevant too. The teachers you advocate for have had 5 years of no raises, furlough days, no TSA matching funds, classrooms too full to teach or have labs and let us not forget the mounds of work that Beasley insists on. Despite your fecklessness, your teachers come to work everyday ready to face our kids with a tough task… teach to a test no one likes. Many teachers also take their own time to travel with kids on weekends to Math Bowls, Quiz Bowls, Debate Bashes, Science Fairs, and many other events. They get no overtime pay for these gracious commitments. Mr. Schutten I am not sure what MACE is but I guess you must live in a glass house. Careful chucking those just might bounce back at you.


February 21st, 2013
8:36 pm

Ms. Downey, I wasn’t thinking there would be new information. I understood that the board would get an opportunity to show how well it has taken care of the concerns and its ungoing plan to become an effective board, and how the actions it has taken are setting the board on the right path.

Sound like a lot of “But you” and “yes but” without proof being offered.

It does not help that the board did not follow its own protocol in its latest hire.


February 21st, 2013
8:36 pm

I love how you are updating the hour count!

Private Citizen

February 21st, 2013
8:38 pm

Q: “If you were asked to step down, would you voluntarily step down?”

A: “I follow the law.”

Q: “If you were asked to step down, would you volunteerly step down?”

A: “I’m not going to give up my right to litigate.”

(I think that is what it said.)


February 21st, 2013
8:44 pm

Quick Dr. Walker Re-cap
“Rigorous dialogue between the board.” Oh Dr.Walker is good!
He offers to step down !!! No not really He was just being provocative — “anything to help the situation.”
-Legal bill payment – monthly board report
-How many law firms — don’t know exactly
-Costs — maybe $500,000 for Heery case and individuals involved in SPLOST case, etc. etc.on & on
-Why 2 general counsels? Such a deal
-2013 Board agendas- Where is a student achievement or SACS addressed? page by page:Conflict of interest policy, changed committee structure closest they got. many executive sessions
-testified previously no probation — Unaware of prior probation in 2004
St bd questions
-Student achievement lately? had improvement across the county
-As chair – Why not address issues before SACS? SACS advisement -6 0f 8 requirements satisfied; seemed to be progressing
-Fee structure w/ King & Spalding – is it now in writing? yes
-Is the Bd & system a magnet for lawyers?? no pro-bono lawyers volunteering
-What is discussed in executive session? legal, personnel, board evaluation
-Why was training decision in exe session?
Did I hear you if you wold volunteer to step down — no
-SACS pertains to you? yes
-New chair – majority ask for you then all decided to reconsider? now you aren’t chair – problematic? no

Private Citizen

February 21st, 2013
8:51 pm

Ms. Jester is talking about herself and talking about Georgia and “hampster wheel” and “adult issues.” She is questioning the general concept of accreditation, the “hampster wheel” “all these processes and meetings…. it’s always about the adults and these relationships.” Finally, she is talking about putting on some guard rails on financial methods and having real consequences.