Archive for February, 2013

And another one bites the dust. (And strikes gold.) Macon school chief out the door with hefty settlement.

Are Georgia school systems hiring the wrong leaders or are bad school boards driving out good people?

We’ve  seen a lot of school chief turnover of late, with DeKalb leading the pack.

And now the Bibb County school board voted 7-1 Monday to part ways with its controversial Superintendent Romain Dallemand.

The Macon Telegraph reports that the school system will pay Dallemand $350,000 to leave three years ahead of schedule.

Dallemand introduced the Macon Miracle, an ambitious plan to turn around the schools with a little bit of every sort of reform including Chinese. He has been a polarizing figure in Macon since he was hired in December, 2010.

According to the Telegraph story announcing his departure: (Please read the full news story before commenting.)

Talk of a possible buyout had rumbled for weeks. Last month, sources told The Telegraph that Dallemand approached board members in a closed session on Jan. 17 about a buyout, saying he thought it was time for him to leave the …

Continue reading And another one bites the dust. (And strikes gold.) Macon school chief out the door with hefty settlement. »

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 …

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

Are education reforms hurting the students who need the most help, poor and minority kids?

downeyart (Medium)In his blog “becoming radical,” Paul Thomas, a Furman University associate professor of education, contends that the education reform movement perpetuates inequity and increases segregation. Thomas draws on the findings of the Civil Rights Project, which has done extensive research on the resegregation of schools.

While the South once led the nation in integrating its schools, it’s now become a leader in the resegregation of America’s classrooms, largely as a result of housing trends.

In 1960, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Only 7.8 percent of the Negro students in the South are attending integrated schools this year, a hundred years after our emancipation from slavery. At this pace it will take 92 more years to integrate the public schools of the South.”

King would likely revise his prediction dramatically upward if he observed his namesake schools in the Atlanta region, most of which are now attended by all black students. That’s because schools mirror the …

Continue reading Are education reforms hurting the students who need the most help, poor and minority kids? »

They’re out. Governor removes all six DeKalb school board members. Bring in the lawyers.

Setting the stage for a court battle, Gov. Nathan Deal just announced at a press conference that he is removing all six veteran DeKalb school board members.

He has created a nominating committee to find replacements. The committee includes former DeKalb Schools administrator Garry McGiboney, who is now with the state Department of Education, state board member Kenneth Mason, former state board member Jim Bostic, Sadie Dennard, education chair, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, and Alicia Phillip, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Former state and DeKalb school board member Brad Bryant will be liaison between the district and the governor’s office. (Interesting that both McGiboney and Bryant were mentioned to me as possible superintendent candidates before Michael Thurmond was hired two weeks ago.)

Deal was apparently not moved by a last-minute appeal from Thurmond who testified last week at the state Board of Education hearing that he could work with this …

Continue reading They’re out. Governor removes all six DeKalb school board members. Bring in the lawyers. »

What are Nathan Deal’s options with DeKalb school board? Are parents now more fixed on exit strategies than reform ones?

Gov. Nathan Deal has pushed back his news conference on the DeKalb school board mess to 2:30 today, suggesting that he’s seeking legal guidance on his options in this quagmire.

To recap: On Thursday, a unanimous state Board of Education, under an untested 2010 law, voted to recommend the suspension of six veteran DeKalb school board members. On Friday, a federal judge, while not stopping Deal from suspending the six, prohibited him from replacing them, pending a hearing later this week on the validity of the law.

That put Deal in a bind as ousting the members without replacing them creates a worse-case scenario for DeKalb, no closure, no quorum and no chance that new school chief Michael Thurmond can move quickly on whatever plans he has for the district. (And we have yet to see any real plans.)

Protracting this melodrama will only fuel the increasing push by Lakeside to form its own city and Dunwoody to form its own school system. In the end, DeKalb County could be so …

Continue reading What are Nathan Deal’s options with DeKalb school board? Are parents now more fixed on exit strategies than reform ones? »

By arresting fewer students, we create safer schools that put more kids on path to college, jobs and not prison

Here is an op-ed on school safety by Judge Steven Teske of the Clayton County Juvenile Court and Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the national civil rights group Advancement Project.

By Judge Steven Teske and Judith Browne Dianis

In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, policymakers across the nation are grappling with how we keep our schools and communities safe. Georgia is no exception. Local school districts in Georgia and across the nation are developing plans to create their own police departments.

While the safety of our children is our highest priority, we must not allow isolated acts of violence to result in reactionary policies that, though well-intentioned, actually undermine school safety and the educational outcomes of our children.

Research shows police in schools operating absent a written protocol do not increase safety, and they do not catch early indicators of mental health needs, identify root causes of underlying violence, or use the …

Continue reading By arresting fewer students, we create safer schools that put more kids on path to college, jobs and not prison »

Breaking news: With new federal ruling, DeKalb school leadership is now in legal limbo for time being

As we all expected, the DeKalb school board situation is getting messier. A  federal judge is now saying that Gov. Deal can remove the six board members, but cannot replace them for the present.

Yikes.

It seems unlikely all the school members recommended for removal are going to drop their legal challenge to the state law allowing the governor to oust them over accreditation concerns.

If the DeKalb legal challenge follows the pace of a similar one filed by school board members in Sumter County, this could take months to resolve. Six Sumter school board members filed in December to halt state removal, but a court hearing has yet to be scheduled and they retain their seats.

DeKalb school board member Eugine Walker made it clear to the state Board of Education at its 14-hour hearing Thursday that he was not going to surrender his constitutional rights to seek redress in the courts if he was suspended from his elected post.

The AJC’s Ty Tagami reports that Walker said Sunday, ““I …

Continue reading Breaking news: With new federal ruling, DeKalb school leadership is now in legal limbo for time being »

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 …

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

Michael Thurmond to DeKalb: Avoid rumor and speculation. Focus on the welfare of the students.

In his comments to the state Board of Education Thursday, new school chief Michael Thurmond intimated that he was uncertain he would stay at the helm in DeKalb if the board that hired him was replaced, but it sounds like he is staying put.

Dear DeKalb County Community,

Our district is undergoing a tremendous amount of change. From my appointment as interim superintendent to the election of a new Board of Education chairman, Dr. Melvin Johnson, to the legal proceedings involving our Board, 2013 has been full of new challenges and new opportunities.

Yesterday, the State Board of Education voted to recommend to Gov, Nathan Deal that six members of our Board of Education be suspended with pay. Three members, Dr. Johnson, vice-chair Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson, were not included in the recommendation. The final outcome of the process is yet to be determined; however, by working with our Board and my staff, we will bring the spotlight back to the task entrusted to us – educating …

Continue reading Michael Thurmond to DeKalb: Avoid rumor and speculation. Focus on the welfare of the students. »

Any suggestions for new DeKalb school board? Should Georgia consider appointed boards?

Let’s suggest some folks who might be possible school board candidates in DeKalb now that the state Board of Education has recommended the ouster of six veteran members. I expect the governor to move quickly on approving that recommendation and naming the replacements.

I also wonder if Nathan Deal would reappoint any of the vanquished board members, including those who have only served two years at this point.  He apparently has that prerogative.

Any names come to mind?

In the meantime, here is an interesting suggestion from retired educator John Davis that Georgia move to appointed school boards. Typically, the mayor appoints the boards. (Here’s a list of places with appointed boards.)

By John Davis

During 40 plus years in education, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of school organizations. One of the most noteworthy was where the mayor appointed the five-member school board.

Each member had some business background or educational experience. None received a …

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