Breaking news: Governor will select new DeKalb board members tomorrow

AJC political report Greg Bluestein is reporting that Gov. Nathan Deal expects to announce six new DeKalb County school board members on Wednesday at a mid-morning press conference. Deal met today with the nominating committee he assembled to review the candidates.

According to Bluestein:

Deal said the five-member panel interviewed about 60 applicants and then met with him Tuesday morning to discuss their findings.

“I’m very encouraged by the names I saw. And I think everyone will be encouraged when they see the qualifications that the individuals that have been interviewed bring to the table,” he said. “It’s a commentary on the citizens of DeKalb County that we’ve had so many very qualified people.”

Deal suspended two-thirds of the DeKalb school board last month after an accrediting agency placed the district on probation. The Republican said he was wary of intervening in an overwhelmingly Democratic county, but that he took action because he feared metro Atlanta’s economy would otherwise suffer.

He’s come under criticism from some parents and others who fear he’s overreaching by ousting elected members. After a closed-door meeting on Monday with members of the NAACP and other groups, participants accused him of being a dictator and criticized him for urging them to “find some good black people to run” for the seats in 2014 if they were frustrated by the process.

Deal said the leaders used the 90-minute meeting to focus on racial issues rather than the district’s accreditation woes. He said he told them that DeKalb students he met with were more interested in their academic future than whether the governor overstepped his authority.

“Their response to that was, ‘These were just children,’” the governor said. “My response was that was, ‘These were children who were concerned about whether they were going to lose their scholarships to Vanderbilt and Stanford.’”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

42 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 12th, 2013
2:36 pm

Deal said the leaders used the 90-minute meeting to focus on racial issues rather than the district’s accreditation woes. He said he told them that DeKalb students he met with were more interested in their academic future than whether the governor overstepped his authority. “Their response to that was, ‘These were just children.”

The members of the NAACP that took part in this meeting out to be totally ashamed of their actions and words. There appears to be no respect for the children or education.

Dunwoody Mom

March 12th, 2013
2:37 pm

Sorry that should be “ought to be totally”

Angela

March 12th, 2013
2:38 pm

Again, they can put these people in place and let’s pray and pray that they have morals and ethics.
But, their first art of business had better be to get teachers their money back and put a curriculum and learning programs in place that is not changed every year.

If you don’t give teachers back their money and you keep paying out all of these high salaries to none teachers and high spending on reading programs and math programs that don’t work you will still have a none function academic program. Teachers, are tired of being tired of this crap. Teacher are who can or cannot make a difference not all of these other extended staff.

catlady

March 12th, 2013
2:41 pm

Enter your comments here

OriginalProf

March 12th, 2013
2:45 pm

Just the facts: Sarah Copelin-Woods is a member of the Executive Committee of the DeKalb branch of the NAACP. So is Zepora Roberts.

catlady

March 12th, 2013
2:45 pm

I am hopeful, but not confident, that the gov will choose well (keeping in mind his penchant for naming the totally unprepared, inexperienced to top level positions). It could hardly be worse.

Ms. Downey, how about an expose on SACS? There is so much ripe for exposure. Just ask around for leads. It could be another ATL cheating level job.

Angela

March 12th, 2013
2:45 pm

@Dunwoody Mom,

You are correct. When I saw those NUTS and especially the one verbal NUT, I said “this is why the board was removed in the first place because of nuts like him.” I would love to see the state take over the whole DCSS. It could not be any worse.

Funny

March 12th, 2013
2:48 pm

Maybe the children of DeKalb will be saved despite of the NAACP.

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
3:03 pm

@Dunwoody Mom “Their response to that was, ‘These were just children’” Wow.

Most telling statement of this mess so far. And the most transparent. We’ve been calling for that from DCSS, NAACP has no problems telling you exactly what their priorities are.

Jono

March 12th, 2013
3:05 pm

Sadly and ironically, the NAACP is more interested in the self-serving politics of racial division than what is actually going to advance the interests of “Colored People.”

Eugene Walker is fanning the flames by having said that he will “stand up for his rights no matter the cost.” That is easy for him to say . . . the DeKalb School System is contractually obligated to underwrite any legal forays in a board member’s “defense.” In other words, the money he is spending on his “principle fight” is money taken from taxpayers and students and the classroom.

While I fully understand the concern of some black citizens in DeKalb that Deal’s decision ultimately nullified their choices as voters, and that racial disenfranchisement is an incredibly sensitive issue, Deal’s dilemma was this: is greater harm done by removing a dysfunctional board that was duly elected by voters, or let them remain and virtually guarantee the loss of accreditation of schools that serve approx. 100,000 students (the majority of whom are black)?

It’s a very viable question, and I think Deal made the right decision. Loss of accreditation would have had a disproportionate effect upon DeKalb’s majority black children, in terms of both educational and financial hardship.

Walker, having been a focal point of the former board’s dysfunction, takes no personal responsibility for his failed stewardship and instead plays the race card, to further divide the county — at the county’s expense, no less.

And the NAACP should try to wake up and see the bigger picture of what will happen to DeKalb citizens if the Governor et. al. aren’t able to “fix” it.

If he wanted to do what is best for his fellow citizens, he would simply sit down as Nancy Jester has done, and put his ego in check.

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
3:08 pm

“It’s a commentary on the citizens of DeKalb County that we’ve had so many very qualified people.”

It’s also a commentary on the voters of DeKalb County that we keep electing so many unqualified people. I would say you know who you are, but obviously you don’t – so unless your name is Jester or Speaks, consider this commentary applies to you.

Centrist

March 12th, 2013
3:09 pm

Good news.

I hope/suspect they will do a good job and SACS will continue the probation instead of pulling the accreditation.

There is still the GA Supreme Court ruling hanging over their heads, and 2014 elections could oust the qualified in favor of pandering politicians again.

Black Conservative

March 12th, 2013
3:13 pm

Once again the NAACP and other “black social leaders” demonstrate why they continue to receive declining support. they are completely out of touch. Their focus should be on the educational problems spawned by the ineptitude of the ousted school board members which disportionately impact black and lower income children of Dekalb County. Once again they are reactive instead of being proactive. The root cause which lead Gov. Deal to take action seems to escape the NAACP, which is a shame.

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
3:16 pm

@originalprof Next up for the governor – replacing the Executive Committee of the DeKalb branch of the NAACP. Wait, maybe we should just have all ousted DCSS board members not already on that committee just transferred over. If they take SCW & ZR they’ll take anyone, so they certainly are qualified for that, except Jester of course.

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
3:18 pm

@Maureen Any timeline on when the certified questions will/could be submitted to the GA SC? I haven’t seen any specific timeline & d/n think Judge Story’s order gave one. I’m just seeing possible scenario where we get these new board members seated, quorum reached, actions taken & then GA SC rules ouster improper. Then we have the biggest trainwreck imaginable.

gsmith

March 12th, 2013
3:19 pm

when you hire anyone to do a job that is too stupid and incapable of doing the job , then you get exactly what Dekalb has gotten over the past 10 to 15 years. the people Dekalb voted these idiots in and now every child in dekalb suffers..

marm

March 12th, 2013
3:29 pm

I really don’t care if they are polka-dotted, striped, one-legged, or one-eyed. Do the job you signed on to do. Show a little pride. It’s not about you, your family, your church brethren, or the NAACP. You lose credibility when the best you can do is throw race on the table. And, yes, we do need some qualified aka “good” black people to run for public office.

skipper

March 12th, 2013
3:34 pm

gsmith…..well said. The NAACP is showing just how far it has backed up. Yes there were past wrongs, but getting the right to vote does not mean putting incompetent buffoons on the board. Had nobody stepped in, this cluster would be even worst. If many more in the black community (granted, many are, but not enough) were more interested in quality education than in “keepin’ it real” this embarassing situation would not be here. IT IS NOT RACISM just becaue these morons were too stupid to do the job. Blacks will never “catch up” (a phrase used so often) untill they quit voring in the dumbest among them while blaming others. The NAACP has morphed from an organization that set out to do good into a group of self-serving entitlement seekers.

Returning DCSS Parent

March 12th, 2013
3:38 pm

The NAACP does not speak for me when they are arguing for a clearly inept board to continue in their jobs which has a negative effect on our children. I could less what color the new board members are as long as they work together and get the job done so that the county does not lose accreditation. Race is an issue for them but not for me and I am African American/Hispanic.

Ashley

March 12th, 2013
3:43 pm

@; Black Conservative.. you are absolutely correct., we don’t need any of the NAACP soapbox rhetoric, their cries of racial injustice is getting tiresome. Where was this organization when the first and second red flags went up? I’m so sick of their self-serving opportunistic agenda. This should be about what’s best for all students in Dekalb County and not some bow-tie wearing big mouth. The governor removing these board members was a last resort and not the norm, trying to put a band-aid on the problem just doesn’t work, treat it like a cancer and cut it out, and let’s hope the new school board members will do what’s best for Dekalb Schools and understand their job is about education and not glorification.

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
3:48 pm

@ Skipper “but getting the right to vote does not mean putting incompetent buffoons on the board.”

Unfortunately, sometimes that’s EXACTLY what is meant by the democratic process in this constitutional republic of the USA. And obviously not everyone shares the same definition of the best candidates for all elected offices – from dog catch to POTUS. Until the system to select School Board Members is changed – an all at-large board, or a fully appointed board, perhaps, this can be the result. Heck, might be again in 2014.

skipper

March 12th, 2013
3:51 pm

Chamblee Dad,
Its folks like you who have a pipe dream….possibly after they puff on a pipe.

Road Scholar

March 12th, 2013
4:01 pm

Who are the 12 finalists?

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
4:10 pm

@Skipper Not sure what you mean . . . just pointing out our form of government. I agree that 4 of 6 were certainly “incompetent buffoons” and that the majority of the voters in their districts have made HORRIBLE choices for years, decisions that really hurt the education of their OWN children. If I could have voted against those board members, I would (full disclorure – I voted for Jester). But the right to make a bad decision – I think they still have it. Should the governor step in? Once he had the recommendation of the GA BOE, he really had no choice. But constitutionally, not so clear, and the GA SC might ultimately make that decision. Again that’s the way a constitutional republic works, and a constitutionally-based state as well. You know, separation of powers & all that. This isn’t new.

But if this is the path this situation ultimately follows, I hope it goes as well as possible. And if these new members turn out to do a good job, I certainly hope they win reelection if they seek it, and we don’t get another set of buffoons, new or old.

bu2

March 12th, 2013
4:11 pm

@Chamblee Dad
Speaks was on the board that allowed Lewis to steal and Tyson to ignore the budget.
Jester significantly contributed to the divisiveness and failed to persuade 6 members of the board, maybe because she was so self-righteous. She even antagonized the SBOE. So don’t be so quick to point fingers at everyone else.

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
4:26 pm

@bu2 I think we agree more often than not, but on this I’ll respond – Jester contributed to the divisiveness mainly by questioning the poor decisions of the rest of the board. She wouldn’t go along just to get along. All others should follow her in resigning.

Speaks? I’ll agree she didn’t step up to that extent, but over time it became clear she alligned herself with Jester. I my mind a better position that the others. But I do agree that during the Bowen board watching her at meetings, I would think “she seems smarter than this, why doesn’t she speak up.” So to that extent, I’ll agree on that. But Jester, I hope we have more than one on the new board who will really dig into the details, esp. $$. It was clear nobody else was, & esp. the other 4.

Pardon My Blog

March 12th, 2013
4:31 pm

@Angela – I think your issues would come from Thurmond or his recommendations to the Board. Has Eugene’s buddy met with you teachers yet? Don’t hold your breath because he is one clueless dude!

alm

March 12th, 2013
5:01 pm

NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The best way for ALL children in DeKalb to advance is through a good education. It’s nice to know the students that met with the governor understand this. I just wish everyone else did.

sapientia et veritas

March 12th, 2013
5:10 pm

@chamblee dad,
Well said. I hope we get more like Jester. The only people that thought she was divisive were those that wanted to lie, cheat, and steal. Only Jester had the courage to stand up to bullies. @bu2, that’s called integrity and strength.

Chamblee Dad

March 12th, 2013
5:23 pm

On Jester, I’ll add. Although I did vote for her, I didn’t always agree with her, & personality-wise her brashness might not have served her as well, IF she was on a more-reasonable board. But no amount of effort to colaborate with her co-board members would have worked with this group. If you attended any 3 random board meetings it was readily apparent. I still believe it’s disappointing that the one member who had the fiscal stewardship of the board as her primary focus far beyond the others is the only one to step down with some dignity, and further disappointing (though not surprising) that none of the rest have followed her. Even Speaks hasn’t yet – NOW she decides to part ways?

bu2

March 12th, 2013
5:27 pm

I was glad Jester was on this dysfunctional, opaque board. However, she might be poison on a healthy board. She seems to be the type who takes her ball and goes home if she doesn’t get her way. Many of her Dunwoody fans seem to have the same mentality.

Pardon My Blog

March 12th, 2013
5:30 pm

Perhaps the real message behind the response “These were just children” is that they haven’t been indoctrinated into the hate message that seems to come increasingly from the NAACP. Their very existence depends on the continued message that the black community is oppressed. Instead of encouraging people to become informed, they inform them on whom to vote.

bu2

March 12th, 2013
5:34 pm

@sapienta
First, let me say I have never met Jester. But instead of integrity and strength, it could also be interpreted as self-righteousness, intolerance of differing opinions, stubborness and a lack of leadership skills. I’ve never seen a public figure who did so little that was particularly controversial who seemed to generate so much anomosity. I suspect that is due to her way of approaching things rather than everyone else. I think its significant that the SBOE got annoyed with her. Even if you are smarter than everyone else, you aren’t very effective if you try to ram it down their throats.

sapientia et veritas

March 12th, 2013
6:00 pm

there, there @bu2,
It seems very important to you to discredit Mrs. Jester and her “Dunwoody fans”. “Did so little…to generate so much animosity.” Have you not paid attention? She was the only one to dig up their financial bait and switch. She would not let it go and talked about it often. If you are on the take or trying to keep friends and family employed, you are going to get mighty steamed about that. It takes strength to do that. Her “fans” probably appreciate that, even ones like me who are not in Dunwoody.
I am also disturbed by the anti-women quality of the remarks. If she were a man, the adjectives would be positive. It’s like Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook) says in her new book: “We call our daughters bossy. We don’t call our sons bossy.” Mrs. Jester has strength and integrity and I’m glad her “fans” recognize it. We need more just like her.

Get us out of here

March 12th, 2013
6:08 pm

” I suspect that is due to her way of approaching things rather than everyone else. I think its significant that the SBOE got annoyed with her. Even if you are smarter than everyone else, you aren’t very effective if you try to ram it down their throats.”

I have met Jester and I suspect the problem is the ignorant egos on the board (Walker, Woods and their ilk) felt threatened by someone smarter than they are. It’s worse since Walker and his friends hate white people. It isn’t Jester’s fault that she’s smarter than they are and they can’t handle it.

It’s easy to scapegoat the only white woman on the board who wouldn’t apologize for being white or smart.

dekalbite@bu2

March 12th, 2013
7:52 pm

“First, let me say I have never met Jester. But instead of integrity and strength, it could also be interpreted as self-righteousness, intolerance of differing opinions, stubborness and a lack of leadership skills. I’ve never seen a public figure who did so little that was particularly controversial who seemed to generate so much anomosity.”

I met Jester and talked one on one with her for quite some time when she had just made up her mind to run. The thought of what she was geting herself into seemed to overwhelm her. She struck me as a very ernest young person who was outraged by the things she heard and saw going on in a school system her children were attending and had decided to do something about it. She seemed to appreciate that the task she was seeking would be time consuming and challenging. Ms. Jester did not come across as arrogant or aggressive or a know it all. I suspected that she might be a Republican, but I specifically didn’t ask if she was a Republican because getting the task done seemed more important than her party affiliation IMO (guess you can tell I’m an ardent Democrat). The Board members and the superintendents for many years in DeKalb have not been task oriented or at least they don’t consider student achievement to be their main task which has been/is a major problem for students. Ms. Jester put the students and the classroom first, and that was bound to cause conflicts on a Board so dependent on cronyism and nepotism. And she was bound to run into problems with SACS since they like to keep the status quo. Ms. Jester did not disappoint. She kept her eye on the students and cranked out credible data and data analyses – data analyses that SACS eventually used to show fiscal mismanagement.

concerned citizen

March 12th, 2013
8:28 pm

Thank you, dekalbite@bu2 – you said many things I had never considered, like her putting the classroom and students first. Isn’t that a crazy way to think?!! It’s too bad that she enraged voters with her candor. I imagine that she is kind and sensitive but doesn’t need everyone’s approval. I hope she will survive and prosper, and I know you will, Nancy. Keep your head up! And God bless all of us and pray for good change.

ShooShee

March 13th, 2013
7:41 am

“First, let me say I have never met Jester.” … Therefore you have no idea who or what you are talking about.

Truth in Moderation

March 13th, 2013
7:44 am

LOL! The Noble Northerners are getting a taste of what bussing was like in the South back in the ’70’s. You don’t seem to like YOUR OWN MEDICINE one bit!!

You would rather overthrow the Constitution. Southern whites have more integrity than you.

bu2

March 13th, 2013
9:03 am

Lots of sensitive Jester fans. Sapientia inventing so anti-woman remarks (you shouldn’t EVER criticize Walker for seeing racism when it doesn’t exist). ShooShee not wanting criticism.

I’ve seen her public acts. She didn’t understand she was doing the same thing as the rest when she got her little group of 3 and privately tried to gerrymander the districts to get McChesney and Speaks reelected. She nominated Speaks as chairman when Speaks didn’t want it and Johnson was a fait acompli. She ticked off the SBOE with her off-topic lecturing. I haven’t heard her claim it, but her fans claim she was trying to get Dekalb on probation (with friends like that who needs enemies?-taking everything to the brink to get your way?). And I’ve seen comments (can’t verify if they are true or not) that she got heavily invovled in Dunwoody redistricting. There’s no area in Dekalb that’s so obviously gerrymandered to segregate socio-economic groups as the Dunwoody Elementary schools. And it was obvious initial proposals got changed to create more segregation. None of that strikes me as effective leadership or steps that promote working together. It all strikes me as someone who felt excluded and struck back (her comments about Thurmond making her feel included for the first time. And her negative comments about Thurmond’s appointment at that time aren’t the type of thing to influence people). She strikes me as like a lot of the cut off their nose to spite their face Republicans in the US House. They’ll stand on principle, convinced they are “right” and get nothng accomplished.

Angela

March 13th, 2013
9:38 am

@Pardon My Blog,

Of course NOT! They are only concerned about themselves. Money is the root of all evil and this is why the board have had so many problems. They only lined their pockets. The “Deal” has been made.

Charlie

March 13th, 2013
11:05 am

Just like we distanced ourselves from the imploding and corruption in DeKalb County by forming cities, we need to do the same with our school system. I would love to see Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, etc. form Milton County again. Dekalb County is a ticking time bomb. When the majority of the citizens in a county are more concerned about voting in someone of their same skin color than who has the best qualifications to run the county/school system, this is what happens. Expect more of the same in Dekalb. Expecting anything different is the definition of insanity.