Does the state law being used against DeKalb board cede too much power to SACS?

In his passionate closing statement before the state Board of Education on Thursday, attorney Bob Wilson hearkened to fallen soldiers, the flag and the Constitution in an effort to save the jobs of his clients, veteran DeKalb County school board members

“I look at that flag back there and I think about the young men and now the young women who lost their lives defending it. For what? Freedom of speech, the right to vote, they are right at the top, ” Wilson told the state board at the end of the 14-hour hearing. “The ballot box must be given huge, huge deference in this county. If it is not, we are lost.”

A former DeKalb district attorney and one of the two attorneys tapped by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2010 to probe CRCT cheating, Wilson didn’t land a winning punch with this powerful imagery.

A unanimous state board voted to recommend that Gov. Nathan Deal suspend the DeKalb board. The state board wasn’t impressed with what one member called DeKalb’s “deathbed repentance,” telling the six members that their history of dysfunction outweighed their promises of change.

But Wilson may get to give the speech again and perhaps to a more receptive audience.

On behalf of the DeKalb board members, he filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court and in U.S. District Court arguing the law allowing the governor to oust school board members in troubled districts is unconstitutional. A hearing in Fulton Superior Court on Thursday could restrain the governor from proceeding on the suspensions. A hearing in federal court is  scheduled for Tuesday, but Wilson requested it be rescheduled because the transcript from the state board hearing  will not be ready.

In turning to the courts, DeKalb joins six Sumter County board members who challenged the law in November and forestalled their removal from office.

Deal will announce Monday  at 11 a.m. whether he will follow the state board’s lead and suspend the DeKalb board. (On Friday, Wilson asked the federal court for an injunction to stop Deal from acting on the state board’s recommendation. Will post if the court issues that temporary restraining order.)

“Removing elected officials from office is a serious duty, not undertaken lightly,” the governor said in a statement Friday. “That responsibility, however, pales in comparison to the importance of assuring the credibility of students’ education.”

There are legitimate questions about empowering a governor to unseat school boards that the courts — and all Georgia voters — ought to consider:

Among them:

The law provides for removing board members without any showing of any wrongdoing or even a lack of discretion.

•The law cedes unprecedented and almost absolute power over elected officials to a private accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The law specifies that boards can be removed by the governor after being put on probation by its accrediting agency. In this case, that agency is SACS, which has been far more troubled by 5-4 school board votes than by chronically low test scores and faltering academics. As Nancy Jester, one of the DeKalb board members recommended for suspension, noted about the SACS criteria for accreditation: “You can be a school board of distinction, but the student achievement can be abysmal.”

•Why should the governor have the power to remove school board members for ineffectiveness yet pay no heed to crazy city councils and loose-cannon county commissions? There are many dysfunctional elected bodies around the state whose antics, while also not criminal, are irrational and damaging. (Some might cite the General Assembly as an example.)

•The law could be challenged for not only being unconstitutional, but incomprehensible. Last month, the state board told DeKalb emphatically that the law required all school board members, regardless of tenure, must be removed. Thus, DeKalb’s three brand-new members would go, too, if suspension were recommended. It was “all or nothing,” according to the state board.

However, at the start of the state board hearing last week, the Department of Education attorney reversed positions, saying the three newcomers wouldn’t be ousted because they had no role in DeKalb’s fall from grace with SACS. But the DeKalb board members elected two years could make the same argument, especially since it was conceded by SACS that DeKalb’s management problems go back a decade. Yet those two-year board members were recommended for removal.

•The big beneficiary in this debacle may be the governor, who gets to make a political decision that will widely be seen as heroic: removing the controversial DeKalb school board. Even if the courts overturn the law, it won’t be a loss, as Deal really doesn’t want to run the DeKalb schools.

Several speakers at the board hearing declared it was a “new day” in DeKalb. But many of the old problems — racial and economic divides, a ravaged real estate market, a growing underclass — remain. And it’s not apparent that a hand-picked school board will be enough to solve them.

–From Maureen Downey, the AJC Get Schooled blog

201 comments Add your comment

living in an outdated ed system

February 23rd, 2013
9:21 am

In response to your post trying to shift some of the focus to SACS, I would counter your suspicions with the following datapoint which says it all:

Dekalb is the ONLY school system out of 1,000 in the United States placed on probation!

If SACS has too much power, then it doesn’t look like they take this step very lightly. To the six board members: do the right thing, follow the will of your constituents, and stop spending taxpayer dollars to fight a battle nobody wants to see happen. You are showing how selfish you are, and how all you care about is the power of controlling a $1B budget. Think about the children and move on.

This is getting more ridiculous by the day….

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

February 23rd, 2013
9:23 am

Yes. Every school board member, parent, legislator, members of Deal’s staff, should read the AdvancED Quality Standards to appreciate just how little knowledge and academics are the priority driving who SACS accredits and what its priorities are. They need to understand what Social Construction in education means and that SACS uses taxpayer money to foist it on school districts as well as colleges and universities.

Finally they need to be familiar with the accreditation agencies like SACS and its parent company, AdvancED’s, relationship with UNESCO. UNESCO was created in the 1940s to push a cultural evolution on the West via education that would ultimately change mental consciousness through education to values, beliefs, attitudes, and ultimately behaviors that were comparable to Marx’s development model for humanity.

And that is precisely what SACS does. It is what Atlanta Public Schools pushed so hard and why Beverly Hall was so coddled whatever she did. She was pushing the desired sociocultural Consciousness transformation model and that was all that mattered.

So yes they have too much power. They are the primary driver of cultural poison in education today. And paid well for the mind arson.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

February 23rd, 2013
9:27 am

That should be Social Reconstruction.

Need more caffeine this rainy morning. And when I mention Uncle Karl it is because he or a modern surrogate like Erik Erikson are repeatedly cited in documents I have pertaining to the actual Common Core implementation. And where those Standards for Teaching and Learning were going when they were created in the 90s. The ones so lovingly adopted by APS. The ones both President Obama and Ed Week have called the real common core.

Dr. John Trotter

February 23rd, 2013
9:27 am

Way, way too much power is given to an unaccountable, private company, AdvancED. AdvancED does not answer to anyone in Georgia – certainly not the People of Georgia. Mark Elgart, its CEO, prances around like he is some 17th Century prince, who has some divine right to issue educational edicts at his capricious and arbitrary whim. To tell you the truth, this law giving SACS any power is ridiculous. But, it is a law that is liked by the self-perceived elite of this State who, quite frankly, don’t like democracy because “the masses” have way too much power and often elect those whom they do not approve. Governor Deal needs to show some moral mettle and actually reject this law as unconstitutional and state clearly that he will stand by the decision of the voters of DeKalb County. This would a profile of courage, though he might be given the cold shoulder by the scions of the Gridiron at the next Athens meeting.

NorthAtlantaJoe

February 23rd, 2013
9:28 am

The law is clearly unconstitutional to the extent it gives the Governor or anyone else the right to “appoint” school board members. The Ga. Constitution unequivocally states that the Board of Education “shall be elected.” I doubt the removal portion will pass constitutional muster either, but even if the board members could be removed, who runs the show while a new election is being organized? From what I can tell, the problems in DeKalb have been ongoing for many years, and yet 6 of the Board members have been re-elected despite these ongoing problems. Are DeKalb citizens saying their too stupid to vote for competent board members so let’s have the Governor appoint some political hacks for us? That would be ironic since i doubt Governor Deal won a majority of DeKalb County votes in his election.

catlady

February 23rd, 2013
9:28 am

The Dekalb SB need to go. HOWEVER, it is troublesome that the governor, with his penchant for filling jobs with family and cronies, oversees the naming of the new board members.

The worst part of this law is ceding even more power to SACS, a capricious protection racket. Seeing it in action, and watching how it has changed from counting books in the library to requiring that school board members all agree, and follow the directions of their (unelected) leader, their superintendent, would turn anyone’s stomach. I would think that no one would want to grant authority to an entity like SACS, especially our “good Republican” leadership.

I don’t think ANYTHING nowadays should hinge on SACS approval. There ARE other accrediting agencies, and perhaps another agency would be concerned directly about the children.

Pardon My Blog

February 23rd, 2013
9:32 am

There has to be oversight by an unbiased third party. Is SACS the correct agency? Maybe, maybe not. One solution for Governor Deal, remove the six individuals appoint interim Board members and then have a special election (perhaps July) for the citizens of DeKalb to elect replacements and at the same time eliminate two of the positions to bring the Board to the desirable size of seven. No one that was removed can run again and institute term limits. Ensure that the candidates vying for the position have no connection to any of the past failed superintendents, no relatives employed by the system, no criminal history and no credit issues, and have the skill set to make informed decisions.

Hey Maureen!

February 23rd, 2013
9:34 am

I don’t care how they get rid of them. From what I know and have seen, the Dekalb BOE is selfish and irresponsible. They are not focused on education and apparently the citizens have not been able to elect a responsible Board. Yes, this is a legal issue, but it is also a moral issue. It should be about the students, but it is not. Sad.

d

February 23rd, 2013
9:37 am

Here’s my overall problem with this – we have an unaccountable agency saying there is a problem, we have an appointed board saying that we should remove the elected board. Georgia seems to have a fondness recently of giving appointed boards power over our locally elected officials.

Pardon My Blog

February 23rd, 2013
9:38 am

@NorthAtlantaJoe – I’m sure you see DeKalb in the news daily and unfortunately you see what makes up part of the voting block. Add to that the extreme liberals in the county and voila we get representatives like Hank Johnson and Board members like Eugene Walker.

Pardon My Blog

February 23rd, 2013
9:40 am

@catlady – I guess if King Roy were governor you would give the green light?

Private Citizen

February 23rd, 2013
9:40 am

many of the old problems — racial and economic divides, a ravaged real estate market, a growing underclass — remain

You’ve got to start somewhere. I have some experience unwinding complex messed up situations. It takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work. Even if the hedge fund managers take the profit from the economy, there is no reason DeKalb can not have an efficient school system, even if everyone is working with a box of toothpicks. I’ve recently seen real-life examples of “messed up” and “efficiency.” Efficiency is when someone does a job well in one day and it is complete. “Messed up” is when someone makes the wrong decision on the front end, then messes up the work, does not complete the work, and then leaves mess untended for 10 days until someone forcing them to return and clean up their mess, which is done at the pace of a resentful turtle. That’s what “messed up,” when incompetent adults, or adults with character issues, mess things up. I’ve seen the two side by side within feet of each other. Someone has to be the boss, be in charge, have their name on it, and make it right.

d

February 23rd, 2013
9:41 am

@Pardon – I have personally wrestled with the idea of term limits and I have come to decide that they are not likely in our best interest. On the one hand, you do get rid of the people constantly focusing on running for office and focusing on doing their job, but on the other hand, when an elected official is term limited, they don’t have to answer to the people anymore. Case in point – look at all the nice stuff in and surrounding Houston County that we got at the expense of important things like education in the last few years of Sonny Perdue’s term in office.

Dr. John Trotter

February 23rd, 2013
9:42 am

I would strongly urge the readers to visit the Invisible Serf’s blog (Invisible Serf Collar). She knows what she is talking about. The People of Georgia (and the nation) are being led around with rings in their noses by organizations like SACS which really have a social agenda which has nothing to do with content-based education.

@ “living in an outdated ed system”: Why is DeKalb the only system in 1,000 to fall out of graces with SACS? Because Mark Elgart decided this. The only reason. If you actually think that other school boards and other school systems don’t engage in the same little politics as DeKalb, then you are as naïve as wrestling fans. You are a mark who will believe any drama that a booker will create. Mark Elgart is like a wrestling booker. He creates this drama and hysteria, and then the wrestling fans get all worked up. At nineteen years old, I was a ring announcer for professional wrestling here in Georgia. (I still do announce professional boxing these days.) I have seen this hysteria in action. Mark Elgart decreed that DeKalb was bad, and then people like you have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Are there some bad and incompetent things going on in DeKalb? Yes…just like on many other school boards and systems (note Fulton, Cobb, and Gwinnett). But, you let the voters do the removing, not the Governor.

By the way, my coffee has stopped brewing. I need to get my first cup too.

Lee

February 23rd, 2013
9:46 am

Inqiring minds and all that….

——————————–
What happens if the board members are removed, replaced by Gov Deal, and in the next election, they run again and are re-elected?
——————————–
If Deal uses the current law to oust the board members and replace them, can the new board members vote to stop the lawsuit and stop paying the lawyers?
——————————–
I thought the state already had the power to come into a failing school, fire the administration and staff and replace them. Couldn’t they have done the same by leaving the school board, replacing the superintendent, who would have strict instructions to clean house?
——————————–

It is not the answer you seek, but the question….

Private Citizen

February 23rd, 2013
9:48 am

There may cause for a parallel case re: is SACS the best mechanism for regulation, and why was the DeKalb situation allowed to occur in the first place. One thing about SACS regulation is that due to their multinational interest, their involvement prohibits Georgians from shaping and directing their own schools, in particular when SACS exercises influence on choosing superintendents, applies influence on directional themes. I wonder, when “DeKalb was great in the 60’s/70’s,” was SACS involved? Does anyone know how regulation was done at that time?

bu2

February 23rd, 2013
9:49 am

@Dr. Trotter
I think your wrestling fans comment is a good analogy for some of the voters in Dekalb County, both North and South.

catlady

February 23rd, 2013
9:52 am

Pardon: No. But it is rather ironic that a governor as challenged as the current one should be allowed to fill yet another group with his minions/cronies.

I am sorry the Dekalb voters are so gullible/stupid/uneducated/you fill in the blanks that they have not corrected this problem long since.

bu2

February 23rd, 2013
9:53 am

I think Maureen is asking the wrong question. The state law doesn’t give SACS the authority over the board. Its still the unelected SBOE and the governor who have the authority over the board. The question is whether the state is allowing SACS to have too much power over the school districts.

SACS needs to go. I didn’t agree with Dr. Trotter and others until I saw what Mark Elgart said before the SBOE. Our districts’ accreditation and the future of our students college admissions and scholarships is being determined by an agency that doesn’t allow the school district to know the specific allegations and doesn’t keep documentation supporting its report. That is totally unacceptable. We need to find an alternative.

catlady

February 23rd, 2013
9:55 am

PC: the standards for accreditation were quite different back then. Also, at that time, few systems were accredited. Many systems were thrilled to have just their high school accredited.

Maude

February 23rd, 2013
9:56 am

Someone has to look after our children’s education and keep self serving adults from stealing from the children. If no one else is watching the adults then all SACS all the power they need! Everyone on these blogs seem to be forgetting about the children!

Dr. John Trotter

February 23rd, 2013
9:57 am

@ Catlady: Very good points. SACS has long-since left the notion of examining the number of books in the library, etc. AdvancED actually has an agenda to control the school boards. The school boards, in AdvancEd’s and Mark Elgart’s apparent opinion, should be subservient to the superintendents. This is upside down. It is ridiculous. But, I have always said that SACS stands for Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents (SACS). Yes, indeed, Georgia does have another accrediting agency which has the same weight behind it, but it seems to go about accrediting the schools without all of the hoopla. The Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC) has been accrediting schools in Georgia since 1904…way before SACS. It is headed up by an esteemed educator here in Georgia, Dr. Carvin L. Brown.

http://www.coe.uga.edu/gac/

Pardon My Blog

February 23rd, 2013
9:58 am

@catlady – Do not lump us all in with the “gullible/stupid/uneducated” because not all of us vote Democratic! Unfortunately, in DeKalb, the informed voters are outnumbered by a block of voters who vote based on (1) color of skin, (2) preacher told them who to vote for, or (3) friends and family!

bu2

February 23rd, 2013
9:59 am

@catlady
“But it is rather ironic that a governor as challenged as the current one should be allowed to fill yet another group with his minions/cronies.”

That’s not the scariest alternative. Our equally challenged Dekalb legislative delegation may be giving him the names. Some of these most vocal about replacing the board may go apopletic if Representative Mosby gives the governor a list of 6 Dr. Walker clones to join the board. That result would not surprise me a bit.

Dekalbite

February 23rd, 2013
10:00 am

IMO – it took SACS way too long to recommend probation and possible loss of accreditation so that would argue for more stringent oversight for students. Does anyone think SACS wants to “ruffle any feathers”? DeKalb mismanagement by the Board just became too egregious for even SACS to overlook. DeKalb Schools was/is running a deficit and they do not have a way to raise the mileage rate higher (we are within a quarter of point from the top – millage rate of 25 – allowed by state law). They cannot cut teachers pay anymore because they are not paying any local supplements for teachers – teachers are now making the state funded minimum allowed by state law. Since they can’t raise taxes any higher and they can’t cut teachers pay or benefits (they don’t pay social security and they cut the board sponsored TSA which replaced social security over 30 years ago), they have no place else to cut unless they cut into the enormous amount of non teaching admin and support staff, cut legal bills, multi million dollar scripted learning problems, consolidate small schools that don’t receive full state funding, cut magnet and special program transportation, etc.

This is a county that has the highest mileage rate and the lowest teacher compensation and yet we are running a deficit. As the SACS and the state auditor pointed out, it is against the law for a school system to run a deficit.

the DCSS Board can’t raise the mileage rate, they can’t cut teacher pay anymore and they refuse to do anything else but stay out of compliance with the law. That seems to be a legal issue that SACS focused on.

Just because they are elected officials, can they fail to uphold the law by doing nothing to remedy the budget and let us run a deficit? SACS (and Nancy Jester) KNEW they would be breaking the law if they ran a deficit. They had the information in front of them that they would be running a deficit and they KNEW this was against the law, but they did it anyway.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves if elected officials are above the law? IMO – the answer would be no. Letting them continue I office would have be a resounding yes.

Private Citizen

February 23rd, 2013
10:03 am

Dr. Trotter, Great post, but maybe you must admit? that as one of the state board said, DeKalb has become a magnet attractor for lawsuits. We differ in opinion, in that I thing the state is stepping to the plate to due their regulatory duty. Thank you for commending Serf’s Collar work, it is impressive, informative, highly relevant.

Well. One other thing. Real wrestlers wear a mask and know how to fly. These are the two basic requirements of real wrestling. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJob-xORJWE

Dr. John Trotter

February 23rd, 2013
10:15 am

@ P. R.: I never saw Big Bill Dromo or Dusty Rhodes or Ernie “Bit Cat” Ladd go flying through the air like that! Ha!

Private Citizen

February 23rd, 2013
10:16 am

Pardon my chopped up spelling. The wrestling thing reminds me that some of the Hong Kong kung-fu actors came from acrobat-training acting academies. Notably, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, also known as “Jackie Chan’s fat friend” are really trained as acrobats / stuntmen / circus school. In particular, Sammo in impressive because with his shape and size, his skills are unexpected. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p7AZO9Hx0c#t=0m34s

‘Recently figured out that Shaw Brothers studio, Hong Kong, make a thousand movies. A lot of the Shaw Brothers movies are like kung-fu spaghetti westerns with a lot of Ming dynasty thrown in.

DCSD BOE is unconstitutional representation

February 23rd, 2013
10:17 am

The fact that we have gotten to this point and have people screaming “constitutionality” when the local and state law does not have CHECKS AND BALANCES to control the negligence that has occurred directly by the collective DSCD BOE entity and their individual members. The ability for the SBOE and Gov. Deal brings us one step closer to ensuring accountability. I would tell all of the people who are screaming about their vote to understand that the American Republic was founded with a system of checks and balances to prevent abuses. DeKalb did not look at such a viable and long-standing structure when we went with a CEO structure in DeKalb, added BOE Reps at Large and how to manage the majority of our tax dollars going to the school system and subsequently watch this Body of Egregious Ineptitude (aka DCSD BOE) perpetually rob our children and teachers with no accountability.

Why? All of these “Elected” offices in DeKalb are job guarantees for the people who can’t cut it in the private sector. Where else can you get paid $18K in base, plus a travel account, phone, fax, etc. and have NO QUALIFICATIONS, BARELY SPEAK ENGLISH PROPERLY, HAVE NO ACCOUNTABILITY, LAWYERS AT YOUR BECK AND CALL, AND YOU CAN’T GET FIRED.

Perfect job for the people we currently have there because they have the one qualification that
Billy Mitchell said is required: THEY HAVE A PULSE AND LIVE IN DEKALB. Brilliant assessment, Senator. If that is all we aspire to provide our children and educators, let’s keep all of them!!!

Allow ALLOW OF DEKALB RESIDENTS to VOTE FOR ALL OF THE SEATS – PERIOD. We have unfair representation with the current set-up and TAXPAYERS AND VOTERS need to be screaming for the unconstitutionality of our representative structure. Look at how we elect a president with the Electoral College. Implement true representation for our children.

DunMoody

February 23rd, 2013
10:22 am

Yes, SACS is the wrong trigger for BOE overturn. That organization’s focus on school board governance rather than achievement is one reason this took so long. Nancy Jester is absolutely right. But it’s the only trigger our short-sighted legislature gave us, so we have to use it. The State Board of Education, State School Superintendent, and legislature have ignored the looming meltdown in DeKalb for so long that it took a surge of public outrage and (AT LAST) media focus on the issues to bring the BOE’s decade-long mismanagement, nepotism, and financial irresponsibility to light.

Deal won’t do it, but the only BOE members who should go are Walker, Cunningham, and Copelin-Wood. They are still too all-powerful and are the last mainstays of cronyism in DeKalb schools.

Many of us in DeKalb have determined that local control is the only way out, so I’m looking to Representative Tom Taylor and his pending legislation to begin the long road back to quality education. I hope Fran Millar advocates for his constituents as well. The parent trigger law is a watered-down mess and the charter cluster option keeps the DeKalb BOE in charge. No thanks.

LOGIC

February 23rd, 2013
10:34 am

@DM – agreed that we need to get to local control and hope Taylor’s bill makes it. How do we organize more effectively to make it happen for the health and viability of public education in the metro area? I do not know if the same model we need here in the city is viable for more rural area.

I find this so sad because there are those of us who truly believe in public education for all children have to decide and fight for our local community and not for the county as a whole because the current structure only penalizes our children and teachers.

Private Citizen

February 23rd, 2013
10:36 am

Dr. John Trotter

February 23rd, 2013
10:36 am

P. R.: I was actually at the event in Columbus, Georgia when Mr. Wrestling (# 1 or # 2 — I can’t remember) had his mask removed by a local “thug.” I know his name but won’t repeat it here since he was not a professional wrestler but a local “tough guy.” Mr. Wrestling offered like $400 — a lot of money back then — for anyone who could stay in the ring with him for more than five minutes or something like this. The point of this story is to never invite someone who is not part of the business or the show to get involved. A real shoot took place. Arnold — oops, I said his first name — got off Mr. Wrestling’s mask. They hit the floor engaging in real fighting. Heels and Baby Faces came out of both dressing rooms to help Mr. Wrestling as he emerged with half of his finger missing. Real story. It really happened. I was there. You can’t fake your finger being bitten off. My point here? I hope that AdvancED emerges from these episodes in Clayton and DeKalb with its metaphorical finger missing.

Why was I at a wrestling match back in the 1960s? I was a friend of Dick (”Go Dickie Go!”) Steinborn who himself was a great Baby Face. His father, Milo Steinborn, was, I think, the only independent promoter in Florida. He promoted at the Sports Stadium in Orlando. Milo at one time was the strongest man in the world. I later became Dick Steinborn’s ring announcer as he promoted in Columbus, Georgia.

I love using these wrestling analogies. My brother says that FOX News is like watching Georgia Championship Wrestling. I say the same thing for MSNBC. More entertainment than news.

DunMoody

February 23rd, 2013
10:45 am

Why in the world do otherwise informative comment threads go off in surreal directions (wrestling?). Scrolling past now …

Dr. John Trotter

February 23rd, 2013
10:49 am

What if the President established an appointed board which recommended to him to do away with the right to bear arms? What if the U. S. Congress passed “a law” that contradicted the Second Amendment which grants American citizens the right to bear arms? Some of you who are saying, “Well, we understand that SACS might not be kosher, but the DeKalb Board of Education is so bad that we are just going to have a blind eye when it comes to the constitutionality of this law.” What is good for the goose is good for the gander. I am a constitutionalist. I believe in the right to bear arms because our U. S. Constitution guarantees it. I also believe in the right of the People to vote for school board members because our Georgia Constitution guarantees it.

Would you be willing to let SACS, the State Board, and the Governor do away with the right to own a gun?

Mary Elizabeth

February 23rd, 2013
10:51 am

“The ballot box must be given huge, huge deference in this county. If it is not, we are lost.”
========================================================

I agree with that sentiment. What are we educating our students for, if not to appreciate individual freedom of voice as given to each American citizen through the ballot. African-Americans well understand how valuable the ballot is to freedom. In an extreme analogy, what if members of a local School Board do not agree with a given Governor’s ideological agenda? Could that Governor, conceivably, remove members of that School Board from office so that students in that school district are indoctrinated into the Governor’s particular political ideology?

Think that analogy extreme? Please read the link, below, concerning how academic freedom of thought for professors in some universities is now being compromised by powerful, billionaire ideologues who are “buying” away their academic freedom of thought. The present situation with the DeKalb Board of Education requires reflection beyond how to handle that particular School Board’s problems because decisions now made concerning members of that particular Board of Education will set precedent which will effect other citizens in the state of Georgia, well into the future.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/1277

LOGIC

February 23rd, 2013
10:59 am

@Trotter & ME – so, you are both ok with improper representation as we currently have with the DCSD BOE? I think a refresher on how a public system is supposed to be structured to prevent abuses is needed.

Voting and the sanctity of voting are meant to ensure representation. Currently, the majority of DeKalb citizens are not represented because each seat counts the same and does not represent the population as a whole.

Where are the rights for the majority of the population? If you recall the map during the presidential election, it was a lot of “Red” but “Blue” prevailed because of the small pockets with high populations. Let’s do the same in DeKalb and get us some real representation.

The SBOE asked intelligently questions and functioned as a real Board. Their recommendation directly supports the children and the taxpayers and acts in the best interest of the people. DCSD BOE has FAILED to do this year over year and we as DeKalb Citizens, which Trotter is not, have had few options to change this structure because of how poorly this county is structured.

Do you both really want to continue punishing those of us in DeKalb who want an education for all children? Shows how little you value education and the purpose and JOB of elected officials.

These people need to be impeached and just cause has been proven with years of documented negligence and these individuals inability to act as an effective collective body. They need to FIRED.

Dr. John Trotter

February 23rd, 2013
11:19 am

Since we are hitting on the wrestling theme relative to SACS and the DeKalb County Board of Education, let me re-submit (with minor changes) a post that I submitted a day or two ago…

Speaking of Georgia Championship Wrestling, it appears that the DeKalb Team has been thrown over the ring ropes and Homer O’Dell will be leading Buddy Colt and Billy Spier in the next grudge match against Mark Elgart and SACS which are being led by the Tag Team Managing Team of Bill and Melinda Gates.

Eugene Walker, morphing the illustrious Dusty Rhodes, has been targeted as the bad guy personified. But the real bad guy in this episode is Dusty’s former partner with the Texas Outlaws, Dick Murdoch, who is being morphed by Mark Elgart who has monies galore behind his team. Ole Gene (aka Dusty) will be the Champion of the People again. I don’t think that you’ve seen the last of Dusty Walker…even in the DeKalb School Board races. I think that Dusty Walker’s Team will control the next school board elections in DeKalb School. The Big Man from Upson County was made to look like a real Heel, but deep down the voters of DeKalb see him as their adorable Baby Face.

I remember seeing a wrestling magazine in the Summer of 1976. The headline was this: “The Question Terrifying the Wrestling World: Will Dusty Rhodes Turn Bad Again?” Ha! I love watching the American Dream do interviews on TV. No one could talk more smack than the Dream. Ole Gene Walker is the Dusty Rhodes in this wrestling scenario in DeKalb County. Do people forget that Ole Gene has been elected many times to different offices in DeKalb? This is the problem. The powers lurking behind the SACS’s imbroglio with the DeKalb Board of Education know that they cannot control or influence Ole Gene Walker. This is why, in their small minds, he had to go. School systems are about money these days. We’re not talking about small money. We’re talking about the big money that the Gates Foundation, the Pearson Group (the largest educational company in the world, including McGraw Hill and many other publishing companies), the Broad Foundation, et al., apparently want. Yes, before it is over, Bill Gates will probably have “donated” (really “invested”) close to one billion dollars, but some estimate that his return with Microsoft apps in all of the schools could be as high as 100 billion dollars. Cantankerous school boards like Clayton’s and DeKalb’s were in the way. Only pliable and kiss-up school boards are wanted.

Actually, these groups don’t even want local school boards. Really. They want at best Regional School Boards and would really like to nationalize the schools. The several thousands of local school boards are too hard to manage. (See Clayton and DeKalb.) Therefore, the accreditors (e. g., AdvanED and its SACS) are so very important for this new national and global enterprise. Ivan Koloff (aka the Russian Bear) Elgart is really the true Heel. He is the Bad Guy (Heel) who, in my opinion, is out to destroy local control of the school boards. I think that he is just a willing pawn of the monied class. SACS, in the old days, was a harmless good house-keeping seal of approval. Today, SACS is being positioned as the ultimate totalitarian ruler which controls Public Education from pre-K through Graduate School.

The other day I was reading where the Board of Regents in Georgia merged several colleges and universities at its January meeting this year. North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College merged to become the University of North Georgia. In the publications explaining the merger, the folks declared that “SACS approved of the merger.” What? Is SACS Frederick the Great or Ivan the Terrible or King George III of Public Education? Yes, the real Heel is Mark Elgart and AdvanED. We need more Dusty Walkers to buck up to SACS. I think that the People of North Carolina essentially told SACS to kiss its collective A$s. We need more of this. We need a complete revolution against SACS and this nefarious scheme of muting local school boards and eventually eradicating local school boards. This is where it is heading folks, and you can remember that “crazy” John Trotter told you so – just like I have told you many things in the past which have occurred.

Ann

February 23rd, 2013
11:20 am

This county has been so balkanized, fractious and on high-octane largesse for so long that in the face of a major recession and fumbling it can’t right itself. But here’s the thing: if these people, inept as they may seem, are not charged with a crime, only the people who put them there should be allowed to bring them home. The law is flawed. Period. The people frothing at the mouth to execute the law remind me of those who relied on Jim Crow laws. Crazy legislatures can arrive under the dome and write all kinds of stupid legislation. That doesn’t make it good law. Good fiduciary stewardship should be required of any elected official. But lack of it, at this moment, is not a crime.

IMO, somebody should stand up to the flawed law. The problem is that I don’t want them spending my money to do it. Let them form their own legal defense fund to which contributions can be directed. If the people want them gone bad enough, they’ll speak on it via a recall or the next time around at the polls.

Beverly Fraud

February 23rd, 2013
11:26 am

Is trying to influence a school board to protect a school superintendent who “knew or should have known” about the largest cheating scandal in United States educational history “good governance”?

Apparently Markie Mark Elgart does.

According to this very paper (correct me if I’m wrong Maureen) Markie Mark Elgart meet privately with a former board chair El in order to strong arm into ceding the board chairmanship back to Lashundra Butler-Burks, a woman who actively conspired with Beverly Hall (according to this very paper, correct me if I’m wrong Maureen) to delete emails with evidence of cheating.

If Markie Mark was willing to help Beverly Hall survive politically (and in fact go so far as to threaten loss of accreditation in order to protect Beverly Hall) what other ethical shortcuts might he and SACS be doing, and to what political end?

Yes it does feel a bit like Morpheus asking you if you want the red pill, but still, you might want to check out Invisible Serf.

bu2

February 23rd, 2013
11:36 am

@Logic
I don’t understand the logic behind your improper representation comment. If you are promoting at large districts as a way to promote harmony, I think it displays a total lack of understanding of how this county works. Dr. Walker was elected at large over half the county. Dr. Speaks was at large over the other half. She would have lost to a much worse candidate who was focused on the needs of only one area if she had been running over the whole county. With at large voting, Dunwoody would be marginalized. Much like in Fulton County government (whose districts have previously been drawn to minimize the influence of the north), the north part of the county would be ignored.

Ella Smith

February 23rd, 2013
11:41 am

I expect the Governor on Monday will request the 6 school board members to do what is best for the students and to resign from their position. He will want the individuals to make the best choice for the students. I predict that some will resign and put the students first and that at least 3 of them will fight and will not resign. I pedict that the ones who do what is best for the students may be appointed back.

I predict the race card will be played.

I agree that SACs was slow to act. However, you really have to do something really bad to get put on probation. As an educator I have watched this process for years and it is a fair process. SACs actually goes out into the schools when going through the process and active administrators from around the state are normally involved in the process.

I also believe there must be a check and balanced system and that school board members should be able to be impeached by the state if there is a problem. Our President is elected and he can be impeached. Education of our children is a state mandate by federal laws. Our local counties and communities are not responsible for educating our children but our state legally is. That is the reason the formulas exist that take money away from counties like DeKalb, Fulton, and Cobb and give it to school systems around the state (even Gwinnett).

I know there is much question able the constitutional issue and I respect that as I come from a family with many lawyers. However, the school board must abide by certain ethics and have boundaries to protect the children in our state and nation. Otherwise local school boards can do as they please (as many of the these school board members have) and the children will suffer.

Beverly Fraud

February 23rd, 2013
11:52 am

“As an educator I have watched this process for years and it is a fair process”

Really Ella Smith?

It’s fair to make a private visit to a legally elected school board chair, threaten his board with loss of accreditation if he doesn’t resign, so that a board member who actively conspired to cover up systemic cheating can take his place?

Really Ella Smith? That’s fair?

Faye

February 23rd, 2013
11:56 am

What interesting discussion. Politics & Wrestling, oh my!

SACS: DeKalb County has accepted SACS’ role/judgement for years now and even upped the ante by seeking System accreditation . Whether you like SACS or not, DeKalb School System has agreed to the terms of governance and now should accept their decisions. an indictment of One out of a thousand can’t be construed as racial, careless or all-to-powerful

SBOE & Governor’s role: It is a very slippery slope. The local board has broken no laws yet has run the system into the ground and into debt. And yet most members could win re-election today.

Should DeKalb voters be protected from themselves and their choices Or does the state governing body have a right – through arduous process – to protect our children from the voters of this county?

Only one DeKalb leader has spoken out. Sheriff Thomas Brown has had the bravery to suggest the board should step aside.

Where are our other county leaders ?

Dunwoody Mom

February 23rd, 2013
11:56 am

I continue to be amused by those who insist that the State has no authority over local boards of education and should not be allowed to “impeach” those Board of Education who fail in their duty to our children.

#1. The State Constitution of Georgia requires an adequate education for all children in the public school systems. I doubt you would find many who believe the majority of students in DCSS are receiving an “adquate” education. The BOE approved the budgets which allowed massive class size increases, teacher furloughs, etc., etc.,

#2. DeKalb County School system receives almost $25 million a month from the State of Georgia for the education of the students of DCSS.

http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/qbe_reports.public_menu?p_fy=2000.

To conitinue with the comical point of view that the State of Georgia should have NO authority over DCSS and its BOE makes no sense to me.

Married with (School) Children

February 23rd, 2013
12:01 pm

HI Maureen,

A question – you wrote: “The law cedes unprecedented and almost absolute power over elected officials to a private accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The law specifies that boards can be removed by the governor after being put on probation by its accrediting agency. In this case, that agency is SACS…”

Does this state law actually cede power to SACS specifically, or does it cede power to *any* of the recognized accrediting agencies?

I ask because I am wondering if the courts could decline to get involved because the board had two other possible remedies available, in lieu of suing. The board could have (1) selected another accrediting agency instead of SACS and/or (2) they could have improved their performance and never have ended up being the only board put on probation by SACS!

My hope is that a judge would look at the board, tell them they had free will and that they agreed to use this particular agency (SACS), and so the board must now deal with the repercussions of their choices.

However, I have no idea if that is actually how judges think – I am not an attorney, nor do I pretend to be one in online forums! :-)

Beverly Fraud

February 23rd, 2013
12:02 pm

Whether you like SACS or not, DeKalb School System has agreed to the terms of governance and now should accept their decisions.

Following that logic Faye, you’re saying the former “Furious Five” on the APS board should have accepted Markie Mark’s “governance” and keep as board chair a woman who (according to this very paper, correct me if I’m wrong Maureen) actively conspired with Beverly Hall to cover up cheating?

Maureen Downey

February 23rd, 2013
12:02 pm

@Faye,
To your point, a education policy expert sent me this note:

The powerful business interest decided to consolidate their interests in the Metro Atlanta Chamber. The Metro Atlanta Chamber has improving education as a top priority. I find it appalling that the regional business chamber does not engage in DeKalb County. This says to me that business interest are not serious about education reform. Also, Emory University has enormous influence and political capital. It also just stays on the sideline. So, the significant interests, with the political and intellectual clout are there, they have just decided not to do anything.The business community says improving education outcomes is a top priority but I think this is much more talk than action. To let DeKalb County wither on the fire is exhibit one.

However, I also know that the influence of business interests over education has not always been for the good.

Faye

February 23rd, 2013
12:09 pm

We all accept the state’s right to remove children from their parents in certain situations.
Why should the state not have the right to remove children from this situation?
Elected officials v.s. parent’s rights.
Slippery slope indeed

Ann

February 23rd, 2013
12:11 pm

@DM, you may be onto something here. You’re right of course that all these dollars from the state flow to this county’s coffers to educate children (with all the strings that come with it). So “impeachment”? Maybe so. But on the basis of what? SACS and the mystery stories it proffered, with the declaration that it would not share it’s sources? Let’s stipulate that the state does indeed have authority over this system. If so, then the state should produce IT’S proof. During the hearing on Thursday, I never heard Howe, the Curriculum/Instruction deputy, or Perone, the CFO, say that anyone — ANYONE — approached them to get to the bottom of the textbook business. They are the deputies and they testified under oath that they were never asked a darn thing. If there’s an impeachment process in place today which allows for people to throw rocks and hide their hands, I don’t know about it. SACS, in this case, gets to do that. And it is solely on the basis of SACS that the SBOE was permitted to entertain a recommendation for removal.