More than 400 applicants seek vacated DeKalb school board seats. Any more resignations in the offing?

Holy smoke. The state received 403 applicants for the six DeKalb County board jobs, although some  came from people who don’t even live in Georgia.  (As I reported last week, the applicants will have to come from the districts represented by the empty seats.)

The deadline for applicants was two hours ago.

The governor’s office is promising that the appointment process will not take weeks as Nathan Deal understands that the DeKalb board can’t function without a quorum. The board now consists of the three members who took office in January and thus were not swept out by Deal due to the accreditation crisis caused in large part by the board’s historic dysfunction.

The nomination committee will meet Friday to begin the task of narrowing down what seems an overwhelming list of possible replacements.

As expected, DeKalb school board member Nancy Jester’s announcement today that she is resigning is spurring calls for other board members to resign to clear the decks, so to speak.

Here is one such call, from District 7 parent Andrea Hart to her school board rep Donna Edler.  Hart said it was fine to share her letter here.

A CPA, Edler has only been on the board two years and was elected to the post with 72 percent of the vote in a runoff.

In her comments to the state board, Edler said she ran because of repeated requests from the community even though she had just been diagnosed with cancer and underwent a mastectomy that July. She took office six months later in the middle of radiation treatment.  Edler defended her tenure and her dedication to the students of DeKalb.

But this parent says it’s time for Edler to show her dedication by resigning so students don’t suffer:

Dear Mrs. Edler:

I want to first thank you for serving the people of DeKalb County as the District 7 school board member. It takes a great deal of courage to first desire to serve the public and then do all of the necessary things to have that desire become reality.

I believe that you wanted and worked for the best for school children in DeKalb. As a District 7 single parent with a college-bound 10th grader who is scheduled to graduate “on time,”  it saddens me to make this request of you. However, I must; please follow the lead of Nancy Jester and resign your seat today.

While I am fully aware of the voting rights issues at hand and have serious concerns as to the unchecked power that SACS wields, I absolutely cannot put those issues above that of my daughter graduating high school with a fully accredited high school diploma so that she may continue her education at a four-year institution of higher learning.

This saga has taken on a life of its own, and, while pundits opine on the fate of board members, rarely is there mention of the students and how prolonging this, and perhaps other legal battles, will do harm to the future educational endeavors of our students.

At this point, though you have tried to serve honorably, your remaining in office only serves to be an impediment to moving past the current issue and getting back on track: providing high quality and fiscally responsible education to DeKalb County students and their families.

Please take this last opportunity to honorably serve your constituents, and remove yourself from the board for the sake of progress in educating our children. Thank you.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

40 comments Add your comment

Bill

March 6th, 2013
7:23 pm

Easy to separate the people who serve the community (Jester) from the people who serve themselves …

DeKalb Rising

March 6th, 2013
7:24 pm

Speaks probably next; then Edler

Disgusted in Dekalb

March 6th, 2013
7:26 pm

If history has taught us anything it is that the people who seek this office often have an inadequate understanding of what the job requires. These same people often have an inflated sense of their own suitability for the job. I hope the committee members don’t limit themselves to the people who applied.

Mary Elizabeth

March 6th, 2013
7:49 pm

The following excerpt from the above article should be highlighted for readers:
———————————————————————————
“Edler has only been on the board two years and was elected to the post with 72 percent of the vote in a runoff.

In her comments to the state board, Edler said she ran because of repeated requests from the community even though she had just been diagnosed with cancer and underwent a mastectomy that July. She took office six months later in the middle of radiation treatment. Edler defended her tenure and her dedication to the students of DeKalb.”
———————————————————————————

As I have previously posted, I believe that the sources of the educational problems in DeKalb County have far-reaching historical and societal roots (slavery and Jim Crow) of which the after-effects continue to remain, whatever the membership composition of the DeKalb Board of Education might be.

Please read the “Introduction” from the link, below, which demonstrates a causal relationship between poverty and lack of educational excellence. Legislators must address these problems, as much as educational ones, to insure long-ranged educational improvement in DeKalb County, imo.

From the “Introduction, ” pages 1 – 3, in the link, below: “Researchers have provided several explanations for why family income might affect child development. First, poverty is associated with increased levels of parental stress, depression, and poor health – conditions which might adversely affect parents’ ability to nurture their children. . .”

http://www.nber.org/papers/w14599.pdf

Centrist

March 6th, 2013
7:49 pm

If they haven’t followed Jester’s late lead today, they probably won’t ever.

I imagine that the 403 applicants will be quickly reduced for out of Dekalb applications, then through some rough qualification filters down to only dozens to run through finer filters (including ethnicity and gender which is now a semi-silent requirement).

Don't Tread

March 6th, 2013
7:55 pm

I’m sure those “finer filters” (which have nothing to do with hiring based on merit) will ensure that DeKalb has more of the same dysfunction.

Truth in Moderation

March 6th, 2013
8:17 pm

“THE NEW COLOSSAL DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD”

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden SCHOOL BOARD door!”

GOOD LUCK DeKalb SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES!
(with a debt to Emma Lazarus)

bootney farnsworth

March 6th, 2013
8:50 pm

@ center

hold on that thought just a bit. pressure hasn’t begun building yet.
while I doubt all will resign (Gene the machine will see every kid in DeKalb illiterate before he does), but some of them like Speaks and Elder may opt for not committing career suicide

Another Voice

March 6th, 2013
8:56 pm

I have served on nonprofit boards and civic committees with several of the members of the Governor’s “nominating” committee. I think the group can look beyond race and find the best person for each district seat that needs to be filled. It’s quite likely that, given DeKalb’s demographics in each district, that the nominations will reflect the racial makeup of each district, and we may continue to have a black majority Board. Thei mportant factor is that highly qualified individuals are selected by the committee, recommended to the Governor and appointed.

Let’s try to move past the race issues and focus on the students, please!

Dekalbite

March 6th, 2013
9:01 pm

“…but some of them like Speaks and Elder may opt for not committing career suicide”

I do not think Speaks or Edler have higher aspirations in terms of political office. Speaks’ career ended a number of years ago when she retired from DeKalb. Edler has two children in the system and has been a stay at home mom for quite some time. If they resign it’s not for political gain.

csdparentteacher

March 6th, 2013
9:16 pm

Just wanted to point out that Dekalb’s teachers have a furlough day this Friday. This means that the Board decided at the beginning of this school year that they didn’t have enough money to pay the teachers to teach on that day, and yet they continue to commit thousands of dollars toward legal fees to fight for their jobs. I don’t care if it comes out of a different account or source – the point is that this outgoing Board has been atrociously irresponsible with the funds available to them, yet they have no trouble costing those of us who live in the county more and more to fund their legal fight. Good riddance.

Truth in Moderation

March 6th, 2013
9:43 pm

@Another Voice
Our Statue of Liberty has welcomed
the tired,
the poor,
the huddled masses,
the wretched refuse,
the homeless,
and tempest-tost
to our shores.
HAVE YOU?

“I have served on nonprofit boards”

Do you mean a 501c3 CHARITY?
The one that takes other citizens tax dollars and spends them on what YOU want?
Would the POOR in South DeKalb consider your “non-profit” a charity?

JW

March 6th, 2013
11:04 pm

While I think the board members should resign, losing accreditation is not the end of the world for good students that are college bound. Students from unaccredited schools can get into college, with scholarships, with financial aid. Not that big an issue. Do your homework folks.

Bernie

March 6th, 2013
11:07 pm

What these applicants do not realize they must be first card carrying Republicans, made in the likes of Herman Cain, Condi Rice, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Uncle Tom, Steppin Fetchit, AMOS and ANDY, clearly and with distinction be able to say ” I don’t know nuthing, about Birthing, No Babies!”
These are the kinds of American Americans, that will be the most sought after and most likely to fill these BOARD positions by a sitting Southern Republican Governor. Who with great disdain, despises
the worthiness of America’s first African American President and his policies. knowing that, how could it be any other way?

JW

March 6th, 2013
11:13 pm

Truth in moderation…..not all 501c3 organizations are funded by grants from government entities. The vast majority are funded by memberships and donations.

Gigi

March 6th, 2013
11:19 pm

I guarantee the new members have already been hand-picked and selected. Gov Deal is simply going through the legal motions. I highly doubt the committee will shift through 400 applications and fairly assess all of them.

Marney

March 7th, 2013
7:30 am

@disgusted. I agree with your assessment that the candidate pool is probably weighted down with folks with big egos and inflated ideas of what they can accomplish. That being said, I am still encouraged that there may be 1 good one from each of the 6 districts. And there would be no need of going outside the group provided that the individuals on the committee have felt through their connections (Atlanta Community foundation,..Dekalb chamber of commerce) and sent e-mails to people recommended to them.

@Gigi the committee is going to be watched…they know that. I think that folks that are from “out of state” or that clearly have no clue, just a desire for an $18000 salary for a part time job are going to be pretty obvious.

Concerned DeKalb County Parent

March 7th, 2013
8:28 am

My son is a Junior in a DeKalb County High School and he is scheduled to graduate May of 2014. This craziness that is going on with DeKalb County does not make me happy one bit. Students and Parents need to know much sooner than May of next year if they will keep their accreditation! I need to know BEFORE this school year is out so I can make other plans and move out of DeKalb County! It is so unfair to the children that are in this school system to SUFFER because of that sorry school board! I knew it was a huge mistake when Cheryl Atkins was over DeKalb County schools. I knew she was bad news! It was reported that the system she left prior to coming to our district only had less than 5,000 students. DeKalb has at least 100,000+ students in their school system. She left that school system in Ohio WORSE OFF than it was BEFORE she came aboard. Yes she was fired, but she should serve some type of time in prison for her part in all of this mess she helped continue on! She KNEW she was NOT qualified to do this job! Furthermore that school board need to be held accontable for their selfish actions! They need to go to prison for their part. Why should the students suffer? SACS has way too much power. My question is why didn’t SACS put Emory University on probation and made them in danger of losing their accreditation after it was proven how they lied about the average scores their students made on tests for over a decade? Yeah…it’s all about money with SACS! That’s another story in itself! Students should NOT suffer because of this!

X Public X

March 7th, 2013
8:45 am

I am so glad my children are out of public schools now. So glad. What these Obamanites have done to the school system is atrocious.

allamerican

March 7th, 2013
8:46 am

When the new board is appointed can they vote to quit funding walkers inane and self serving lawsuit? I know that the current 3 members cannot because of the quorum issue.

Dunwoody Mom

March 7th, 2013
8:52 am

So, apparently a memo was sent to DCSS Principal’s from Mr. Perrone, CFO, freezing all spending and hiring until the end of the year. But, my guess, is that the district will continue to pay the lawyers, right? I guess we will need to start buying toilet paper and copy paper for our schools again…..

If students and teachers have to “go without”, then all of the remaining BOE members should resign so that they will not receive a salary.

Smoke Rise Mom

March 7th, 2013
8:58 am

I am hopeful that the nominating committee will find candidates who are capable and smart and committed to all of the students in DeKalb who may have been reluctant to run for office. The prospect of being in the minority has probably kept a lot of good people from running for office. It’s hard to make a difference when the overwhelming majority of the board is there for self-serving reasons.

Truth in Moderation

March 7th, 2013
9:13 am

@ JW

Not true. Didn’t you read Maureen’s previous blog about the Private School Tuition Tax Credit Program?
You know, THE ONE WE WEREN’T ALLOWED TO COMMENT ON?

ANY 501c3 results in the LOSS OF TAX DOLLARS, just like a Tax Credit program. Those who donate “to the cause” don’t have to pay all the taxes on that money they otherwise would have. The “charity” that receives the money, doesn’t pay tax on it.

THE REAL QUESTION: WHAT DO THE CITIZENS GET IN RETURN FOR THIS SO-CALLED CHARITY’S TAX BREAK?

DO YOU PERSONALLY BENEFIT FROM 501c3 charity SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER’S “HATE MAP”?
Well, I guess you could say that Floyd Lee Corkins did:
ht tp://www.redstate.com/2013/02/06/southern-poverty-law-center-inspires-floyd-lee-corkins-attempted-mass-shooting/
This is considered “charity work” according to the IRS.

Truth in Moderation

March 7th, 2013
10:07 am

@
“I am hopeful that the nominating committee will find candidates who are capable and smart and committed to all of the students in DeKalb who may have been reluctant to run for office.”

I hate to disappoint you, but Jesus Christ will not be a candidate. He was kicked out of the country YEARS ago. I do know a popular individual who would be a good candidate; his first name is Judas. I forget his last name……

CJae of EAV

March 7th, 2013
10:26 am

I wonder to myself where were these 400+ people when the board seats in question were last up for election?

Judging from the number of potential candidates, I can only suspect the execption that candidate reside the area of the county a given board seat represents has been relaxed. The number of applicants being reported seems quite high when you consider the amount of manifest interest in participating in the ballot process pales by comparsion.

As I’ve stated before, I suspect this decision to suspend, remove and replace local school board members with political appointments from the Gov’s office will present a pandora’s box of issues.

Truth in Moderation

March 7th, 2013
10:47 am

@Smoke Rise Mom

Now I remember, it’s Iscariot. I hear he has a credible track record serving as treasurer of a 501c3.

Ray

March 7th, 2013
11:18 am

Where were all these 400 people when there were elections less than a year ago? Did any of them run?

Chamblee Dad

March 7th, 2013
11:44 am

@Dunwoody Mom I know there are alot of parents out there that have to periodically check in with our teachers to see what they need – brought in alot of kleenex & hand sanitizer during flu season. By now most have gotten to the point that they know they can ask & get what they need – toner, art supplies, & occasionally bigger things “extras” like bulletin board & handy vac (chores that require them to clean up after themselves). Just had the book fair, don’t grab a “wish list” quick enough it might already be bought out. So you grab another teacher’s down the hall – buy all hers.

Maybe those are “extra” – but TP, copy paper, kleenex, soap, toner, colored pencils – I don’t think they’re taking them home. Of course, many buy stuff themselves when they really can’t afford to.

Furlough day indeed – what a disgusting idea to solve a budget problem..

Chamblee Dad

March 7th, 2013
11:50 am

Serious question – any of the regular posters here among the 400? I’m certain some of you have been told “you should run.” I have a few times, thought I had to be better than many, but really my business wouldn’t allow me to dedicate enough time to do it properly. Even though I haven’t always agreed her – I’ve always been impressed by Nancy Jester’s preparation. If I did, I would pledge to at least read whatever is on the agenda ahead of time – SCW & ZP?

But most are pretty anonymous here – anyone willing to admit you’ve throw your hat in the ring?

Chamblee Dad

March 7th, 2013
1:23 pm

On the List?

OK the list is out. Time to fess up, any regular posters on it?

Chamblee Dad

March 7th, 2013
1:24 pm

Real task – who are the Manchurian candidates for the ousted 6?

Apparently NOT Sonny Jester.

Private Citizen

March 7th, 2013
8:28 pm

About this term, “Manchurian Candidate” – “a candidate running for office who publicly supports one group to win election, but uses his executive or legislative powers to assist an opposing group”

Who stands for the children?

March 8th, 2013
9:39 am

Chamblee Dad: Understand your reasoning for not putting your name on the list. However, I have been giving a lot of thought to this sordid ordeal after reading only a portion of the SACS report. I honestly believe we as parents/citizens/taxpayers should get together and write up a list of issues we DEMAND the new Board follow. For instance, (good grief, there were so many infractions the old Board committed, where do we start?), we could start with attitude. From reports generated, the old Board had a “my district, my school,” etc. etc. mentality No, folks, it is OUR (the students, the parents, county at large) schools and as policy would dictate, LEAVE THOSE SCHOOLS ALONE. Meaning, do not interfere with students and absolutely DO NOT put in a request that this particular school hire your family member or family member of the Board. In short, let us not hear that some school staff has been threatened (as reported) if they do not conform to YOUR wishes. Repeat after us: This is not about YOU, newly appointed members, but about our schools and educating our students. Then, of a critical urgency, find out what happened to those “textbooks” that cost us $12 mil. Are they housed in some warehouse but one of the old Board’s hires did not know how to distribute them; do they EVEN exist; or worse yet, did that money go to one or more personal bank accounts. There should be a paper trail; let the accountants do the math; and should it come to that, contact the DA’s office, or if necessary, the GBI to investigate. THAT issue should be on your list as top priority. Go on to attorney fees. Review policy and if the county can get out of paying legal fees for Crawford, cut him and his attorneys loose. Future attorney fees should come with some guidelines: i.e., a standard hourly rate that is not above $200 per hour; no paying for paralegal time (in most cases, that is double-dipping) and out-of-pocket costs should be closely monitored. This Board should recognize that we do not have to use the large law firms whose hourly rates are out of sight. There are plenty of mid-sized to small firms that can do the same work. Enough already. We have overspent on legal fees as it is. Then (THE top priority) go from there to put students first, as in accreditation so they can graduate without this cloud hanging over them. DeKalb Board: you have a tremendous job ahead of you and you are indeed brave to attempt to tackle this job. However, if you remember, here again, it is not about you or your agenda, or about putting a family member/friend on the payroll. Working together, you could turn this around. These are but a few of the myriad of issues that have crippled our county, but it’s a start.

How many of you posting here would be willing to consider this?

Chamblee Dad

March 8th, 2013
10:37 am

@Private Citizen Wonder how many have seen the original movie? Really classic film, Frank Sinatra did nice job & the idea of brainwashing fit perfectly with the cold war paranoia at the time.

Chamblee Dad

March 8th, 2013
10:42 am

@Who stands for the system I think the one thing that would make all you list, & so much more, a lot easier to deal with is true transparency. We haven’t had it for years, and that’s one of the main reasons so much of this mess was created without being discovered until well after the fact. We’ll see, starting with the first few meetings & handling of accreditation & the budget.

Who stands for the children?

March 8th, 2013
11:28 am

Correct, Chamblee. For starters we could demand that true transparency begin with the Board mandating that the minutes of each meeting be put on the internet and providing the citizens with a link.

Chamblee Dad

March 8th, 2013
11:33 am

@who And how about broadcasting all meetings on TV &/or online? Not everyone can go down there or sit through the whole thing – they can be excruciating. But also very telling of the quality of the board members.

murphey

March 8th, 2013
4:24 pm

@Chamblee Dad – BOE meetings are already live streamed and broadcast on the DCSD channel. The meetings are broadcast later too and you can watch them on-line afterward too

Truth in Moderation

March 8th, 2013
6:38 pm

@Who stands for the children?
You are a for- profit charter school shill, and are AGAINST the Constitution. The original idea behind the public school is that it would be publicly funded through PROPERTY TAXES. YOUR property taxes pay for YOUR schools in your zone. That is why electing a school board member is subject to PROPERTY RIGHTS. Each DeKalb School Board member is SUPPOSED to only represent their school zone schools. Just like STATES RIGHTS. They aren’t supposed to “go along to get along” if their own constituents are being threatened. However, when it comes to the vote, the majority rules. The SCHOOL BOARD ASSN. has forced school board members to vote “unanimously” for legal protection. At the closed meeting, they determine which way the MAJORITY LEANS, and then vote unanimously in that direction. LEGAL INSURANCE is at stake!

The truth is, North DeKalb only supports “public” schools WHEN THEY HAVE THE MAJORITY VOTE!
The “public” at large IS NOT ALL LIKE THEM!
I BLAME THE CITIZENS OF NORTH DEKALB FOR THIS MESS. THEY SUPPORTED THROWING THE CONSTITUTION UNDER THE BUS FOR THEIR OWN SELFISH ENDS! If you don’t like the “public” in GEORGIA, pay for private school or home school! Your county is already broke! WHO DO YOU THINK IS REALLY PAYING FOR THIS LEGAL FIASCO??????? NOT YOU.

Ella

March 8th, 2013
7:42 pm

I was looking back at questions I had answered in the past and ran across a question and answer that Dr. Walker had answers in 2010 and thought his answer was extremely interested due to SAC issues and his involvement according to the SAC report.

The question was what are the primary responsiblities of a school board member? Dr. Walker’s answer was:

1. To develop and sustain sound educational policy

2. To hire a superintendent and require compliance with the law, SACS standards and Board policy

3. To exercise fiduciary responsibility in approving funding and the budget, establishing goals and specific criteria for evaluating the superintendent, and to be accountable to the public.

I am sharing what I found because I found it very interesting. I thought some of you may find it interesting also.