Three legal DeKalb school board members: Our hands are tied until the court unties them

The legally recognized and unchallenged DeKalb Board of Education members Melvin Johnson, Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson issued this statement on the state of affairs in the district:

As elected representatives on the DeKalb Board of Education, we find ourselves in a unique and confusing situation. We are the three members of the Board of Education not subject to the State Board of Education’s review process because we joined the DeKalb Board in January 2013, and the State Board’s action concerned the nine Board members who held office prior to January 2013.

We, along with Superintendent Michael Thurmond, are committed to restoring full accreditation and focusing our efforts on the academic achievement of DeKalb’s 99,000 students and the professional well-being of the people who teach and serve those students, and we pledge to restore making outcomes for children the priority of the DeKalb County School District.

We realize there is a great deal of frustration with the current legal proceedings. However, Judge Richard Story’s order clearly states that his intention is to maintain the “status quo” until at least Friday, March, which, in effect, prohibits any action by the DeKalb Board of Education.

As a result of that order, any potential appointees by Governor Nathan Deal cannot take office, and the suspended members cannot participate in any decisions or official Board activity. Under Georgia law, a quorum of at least five members is required for the DeKalb Board of Education to act. With only the three of us authorized to act by virtue of the federal court order, the DeKalb Board of Education will lack a quorum to conduct any business until such time as there is a decision in the legal matter.

We will continue to work with Superintendent Thurmond to focus on our students, the hardworking educators who are with those students every day in our schools, and the parents and families who support them. We will not be satisfied until every decision made by the DeKalb County School District is made on the basis of how it advances our responsibility for student achievement.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

43 comments Add your comment

Digger

February 26th, 2013
1:02 pm

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Macon is Next

February 26th, 2013
1:16 pm

Hi Maureen, pretty big news a few miles south of you here in Macon. Romain Dallemand, AKA Dollorman, has been ousted. Since he lost his 5-3 majority on the BOE and it is now just a 4-4 split he saw the writing in the wall. He is probably the most controversial superintendent this state has ever hired and lasted only two years. He will walk away with $350,000, health insurance, travel and legal fees, and immunity from the three current and future lawsuits. We are left with a demoralized and bankrupt school district far worse than the one he found. Best of all he has added around $30 million in debt thanks to boondoggles like the Promise neighborhood, induction lighting we don’t need, and many more pie in the sky spending. We will be paying for this snake oil salesman’s antics for many years long after he is gone. At least Dekalb managed to rid themselves of their BOE, 4 of our board actually signed a recommendation letter for this lunatic. Any tips on how to remove 4 of our board?

http://www.macon.com/2013/02/25/2370980/bibb-county-school-board-votes.html#disqus_thread

DeKalb Inside Out

February 26th, 2013
1:18 pm

AKA the Three Amigos. McMahan is definitely Ned Nederlander.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
1:32 pm

We will not be satisfied until every decision made by the DeKalb County School District is made on the basis of how it advances our responsibility for student achievement.

Dear three school board members, When you learn to stop using all / everything qualifiers, such as every decision, you might say something meaningful instead of this numbing motivational propaganda. Something else to consider: Your mission is not to “be satisfied.” Not to be mean, but no one cares if if “you” “are satisfied.” Again and again, it’s not about you. If you want to drive your workers crazy and make them depressed, and alienate any good talent, keep up the numbing generalised motivational speak. I must ask, Where did you learn this? Where did you pick up this habit? When I attended university, I quickly learned such generalisation immediately merited a grade of “F.” Information is to specific, limited, and useful in application. From your caste position, what you are doing is really perceived as a form of bullying and is impossible and unpleasant for your charges to digest. Imagine if you are in a workplace and some boss marches in ranting about whether they are “satisfied” or not. It’s the kind of communication that is used on prison labor.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
1:35 pm

Macon is Next et al., Why do Georgia school districts continue to practice this outrageous practice of executive compensation?

Wondering Allowed

February 26th, 2013
1:38 pm

There is a simple solution. Those the Governor fired should step down and let the school district start to heal and move forward, instead of wasting money that could go towards educating students on a legal challenge. Those fools could stop this confusion quickly and easily. Resigning is the only thing that will allow the school district to clearly focus on improving the district.

DeKalb Inside Out

February 26th, 2013
1:42 pm

Wherever there is injustice, you will find us.
Wherever there is suffering, we’ll be there.
Wherever liberty is threatened, you will find…

The Three Amigos

Macon is Next

February 26th, 2013
1:45 pm

I wish I knew private citizen. I think that would be a great article for Maureen to really dig het teeth into, how did we allow this culture of highly-paid superintendents and their hand picked educrat assistants gain such power and high salaries while the schools crumble around them. Gypsy superintendents seem to make more money by being fired than actually staying and making improvements. So what incentive is them for them to try and stay? Why do boards of education continue to allow them to write their own contracts that do nothing to protect the interest of the stakeholders in the community. There is never a performance clause but always a golden parachute stipulation. Would school districts be better served by not having a superintendent and all these do-nothing admin staff and instead give far more autonomy to the schools and principals? Let the BOE simply focus on budgets, transportation, and other district level issues and let the schools do their jobs with less interference. That alone would probably save tens of millions that could be pumped directly into the schools where it is needed.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
1:51 pm

Example suggestion for school board member speech / press release:

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villian by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengence; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very good honor to meet you.

Don’t forget to dress well in a sensible manner that imparts dignity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACUpr5GvVsE

paulo977

February 26th, 2013
1:52 pm

Thurmond…”We will not be satisfied until every decision made by the DeKalb County School District is made on the basis of how it advances our responsibility for student achievement.

——————————————————————————————————————————–
Indeed , indeed , as long as you are able to define what “achievement ‘” really is and how best to facilitate it. That of course is going to be a tough undertaking in the “toxic” test -taking environment that has now been created for learners in the schools .!!

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
1:58 pm

Example suggestion for school board member speech / press release, pt. 2:

Good morning, DeKalb County. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of the everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as anyone. But in the spirit of commemoration – whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday – I thought we could mark this February the twenty-sixth, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with court orders will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this county, isn’t there?

Cruelty and injustice…intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance, coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War. Terror. Disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you and in your panic, you turned to your school board. We promised you order. We promised you peace. And all we demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
I now seek to end that silence and to remind the world that fairness, justice and freedom are more than words – they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the twenty-sixth of February to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek…then I ask you to stand beside me and together, we shall give them a twenty-sixth of February that shall never, ever, be forgot!

Sammie

February 26th, 2013
2:05 pm

If the deposed board members had any honor, any self respect, they would resign to allow the county to move forward.
Every politician in the county is choosing today to stand with the kids or with board member so selfish and so incompetent that they were deposed. Which will it be????

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
2:08 pm

this is actually a better link of the V soliloquy and transition into the next scene http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYAoq3cFY9U

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
2:11 pm

By the way, the movie has a happy ending with everyone holding lighted candles and awakened from their oppression.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
2:15 pm

Anonymous in DeKalb

February 26th, 2013
2:36 pm

Yet another problem which could be solved by giving parents tuition vouchers, and the freedom to choose between an array of schools.

Anonymous in DeKalb

February 26th, 2013
2:42 pm

Hey Private Citizen … why not make some friends or find a new pastime?

indigo

February 26th, 2013
2:42 pm

paulo977

The “toxic test-taking environment” is just the latest in a long line of social experiments, going back to the 60’s, designed to bring minority test scores up to the white student level.

Naturally, it will not succeed.

And, naturally, another experiment will take it’s place.

concernedmom30329

February 26th, 2013
2:44 pm

And not having a BOE for a while won’t hurt

Dekalbite

February 26th, 2013
2:46 pm

Well there is no time like the present to focus on the students. Lower class sizes and teacher compensation that matcahes the metro school system marketplace is a NON NEGOTIABLE. ONLY after that is achieved, can the budget be used to provide admin and support or programs.

Teachers teach students. Reducing the number of teachers by increasing class sizes and losing so many good teachers from DeKalb Schools due to compensation lower than the marketplace has had the effect of sharply declining student achievement.

You will not increase student achievement until you reduce class sizes to manageable levels and ensure competent teachers are attracted to and retained in our schools. There are no shortcuts. Dr. Lewis, Ms. Tyson and Dr. Atkinson raised class sizes and look at the resulting student achievement.

Dekalbite

February 26th, 2013
2:46 pm

Well there is no time like the present to focus on the students. Lower class sizes and teacher compensation that matches the metro school system marketplace is a NON NEGOTIABLE. ONLY after that is achieved, can the budget be used to provide admin and support or programs.

Teachers teach students. Reducing the number of teachers by increasing class sizes and losing so many good teachers from DeKalb Schools due to compensation lower than the marketplace has had the effect of sharply declining student achievement.

You will not increase student achievement until you reduce class sizes to manageable levels and ensure competent teachers are attracted to and retained in our schools. There are no shortcuts. Dr. Lewis, Ms. Tyson and Dr. Atkinson raised class sizes and look at the resulting student achievement.

Shrek

February 26th, 2013
3:04 pm

Fine with us.

catlady

February 26th, 2013
3:21 pm

They do not need to sit on their hands. They may not be able to vote, but they can get the superintendent set on the right path to start the cleanup from Hurricane Cheryl. Of course, they had not recovered from the one before that, or the one before that.

Truth in Moderation

February 26th, 2013
3:25 pm

Is there any way to prolong this situation? Politicians with their hands tied isn’t always a bad thing. THE COUNTY WILL SAVE MILLIONS!

Is there a way to do this at the Federal level?
THE COUNTRY WOULD SAVE TRILLIONS!

southern opinion

February 26th, 2013
3:29 pm

Sure bet – In 5 years DCSS will be just as bad off as it is now. No one is going to be happy with any progress made. Teachers will never be happy with their pay! Students will continue to dissapoint. Communities will not want schools closed to save money. Once a school system starts to slide it’s rolling down hill fast. Only option – leave the county.

southern opinion

February 26th, 2013
3:36 pm

Birmingham City Schools were offered help by University of Alabama (Birmingham) to get out of the mess they found themselves in several years ago. They said no; we don’t need your help. Last month they were taken over by the State. Sure sounds similiar doesn’t it! Johnny Brown left it in a mess before he came to DCSS. Why not just skip the drama and let Georgia take it over.

bootney farnsworth

February 26th, 2013
3:55 pm

the best thing they can do now is nothing at all.

which, come to think of it, was they best thing they could have done back then, too.

Chamblee Dad

February 26th, 2013
4:03 pm

@ catlady Smaller class sized & improved teacher pay? Agreed 100%. Why is that so hard to understand? No super going back to Lewis got it, or put it into action. Hurricane names well deserved.

@truth Might not have agreed much lately, but tying more hands, I’m in. I’ll get some rope & meet you at the central office/palace.

Chamblee Dad

February 26th, 2013
4:06 pm

@Dekalbite Sorry, it was your nice post on class sizes & teacher compensation. Well said!

Catlady you still get credit for the hurricane names.

Captain Kirk

February 26th, 2013
4:35 pm

“Why do Georgia school districts continue to practice this outrageous practice of executive compensation?”

We need to ELECT our school superintendents. Set qualification standards, vet them for previous criminality and let the owners/voters/stakeholders decide.The system we have now just looks like a bunch of insiders taking care of one another while the schools deteriorate.

Republicans- You have the statehouse and governors office.This is a reform we need now.

Staying the Course

February 26th, 2013
4:39 pm

Thinking back and imagining Dr. Lewis trying to ride herd on this bunch. Lewis was sabotaged from within … more to come

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
4:48 pm

Anonymous in DeKalb, I’ve been meaning to thank for how gentile you were in providing the required counterpoint jab in another thread to one so wordy as I. Thank you. Your high level of civilization is noted.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
5:00 pm

Anonymous in DeKalb, if there was yes/ no vote on 100% voucher system, I’d vote for it in a minute. I’d even send money to campaign to support it. But for some reason, this concept just seems way outside of the popular consciousness. For one reason, it would give me variety an autonomy in where to work, and not be shoehorned into the current method of applying resources to these friggin’ local mafias. There are some good government school systems in Georgia, but in every one of them good or bad, there is a STRONG prevailing style thing from the main office. Their power is locked in and they deign what they want and who they want, and this overpowers anything educational, which is why Georgia is giving such a rotten serving to their populace. This is also supported when a local district gets rid of national norms based annual comprehensive test and replaces it with the “Let’s Compare in Georgia!” system, that the state then and goes and pays extra money for. I’d climb Mt. Everest twice if it would mean applying the school monies to a 100% voucher system. There may be a legitimate question that your measly voucher would not pay enough for the top private schools, but there’s probably a way to work it out. They do a voucher system in Belgium.

But another answer is to get the politics out of schooling and have a strong and direct government schools system in the tradition that is done in most of the rich countries in the world, without alllLLLL of this interference and fakery and buffoonery and federal exploit and hard-elbow redirection and interference from the fed. For some reason, in the USA, the public has become an object to be plundered. The existent Belgian voucher system is really an outlier, the freak on the side. CHECK.IT.OUT. Interesting stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Belgium

Bernie

February 26th, 2013
5:44 pm

Unleash the Lawyers……..K-ching! $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
7:00 pm

Bernie, that why you’re supposed to have salaried assistant AG’s @ $100k per year, for this type of chore work.

Jack ®

February 26th, 2013
7:25 pm

Lawyers are gonna get rich off this DeKalb boondoggle. If the 6 ousted members had to pay their own legal bills, they’d never sue.

Charles Douglas Edwards

February 26th, 2013
8:09 pm

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! ! ! to COLBY BURNETT (African-American) for winning the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions !!!

Colby won the Grand Prize of $250,000. He is a 29 year old world history teacher at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.

Burnett also won Jeopardy! teachers tournament in November 2012.

JOB WELL DONE COLBY BURNETT !!!

You are a true inspiration for students and teachers in Dekalb County and the United States.

Bernie

February 27th, 2013
9:25 am

Last night while watching the local News. Michael Thurmond was interviewed and his statement during that interview, reflected a very intimate direct involvement in on going negotiations, he has with the Governor regarding the ongoing school board representation and its many issues.

Am I missing something here? I thought Mr. Thurmond was hired as the interm School Superintendent. The School Superintendent is responsible for handling the day to day efficient operations of the School staff, employees, buildings and its 99,000 students. Will someone please explain to me why Mr. Thurmond, is so involved with the School Board issues at this time?

Forgive me, if I am wrong in my assumption. But it appears to me, that Mr. Thurmond’s interpretation of his duties requires his direct and personal involvement in the management of the many issues of the Dekalb County School Board. I find hard to believe and accept that he is able to perform both jobs simultaneously and successsfully.

The Job of School Superintendent is a 70-80 hour work week even for the most qualified candidates. Mr. Thurmond may be a capable manager, the question that should be asked, Interm Superintendent primary duties – Manager and Administrator of SCHOOL SYSTEM or SCHOOL BOARD?

Surely Mr Thurmond is in incapable, to perform such feats of heroics with so little time during the average work day. Or are the parents and taxpayors of Dekalb County being played by a smooth talking politician out of his scope and depth to perform the duties he has been charged with?

which is it? or …….is it Both? can anyone here provide some clarification?

Sandra Godwin

February 27th, 2013
12:15 pm

Not just Metro Area Schools that need improvement. Schools outside this area need improvement also and they don’t have the tax base of larger school systems. School Vouchers are the way to go. At least Parents might be able to get their children into a school that they do not have to fight to get in and out the door everyday and have the opportunity to learn.

SBinF

February 27th, 2013
1:23 pm

Vouchers?

Who wants to subsidize private schools? That’s why we have a public school system. If you want a private education, you are welcome to finance it.

Private Citizen

February 27th, 2013
3:31 pm

This post title makes me keeping thinking of those plastic zip-tie “handcuffs” on their wrists, arms behind back, heads down in shame, “perp” photo, wall with the horizontal height lines. car towed… storage fees… bail bondsman…

The Deal

February 27th, 2013
7:20 pm

“Meanwhile, back at the ranch.” ha ha ha ha ha ha Perfect!

Mike

February 28th, 2013
10:03 am

I hate when people try to act all euro and say stuff like “when I attended university”.