DeKalb set for its own version of papal white smoke to rise today. Deal to announce six new school board members.

Millions of Catholics are waiting for the white smoke to rise from Sistine Chapel, signifying their church has a new leader.  Thousands of DeKalb residents are waiting for their own version of white smoke to rise today from the Capitol.

Gov. Nathan Deal  is scheduled to announce new leaders for the DeKalb school board at 11 a.m. Those new board members will be sworn in today, according to the AJC political reporter Greg Bluestein, who already talked to the governor this morning at a breakfast event.

When the smoke clears today, DeKalb will have a functioning school board. The district may also have residual bitterness from those who feel that Deal overstepped his legal bounds in ousting six legally elected board members. Those board members were elected by as much as 72 percent of the voters in their districts.

The newly appointed board members can best overcome that ill will with competent and quick action. The six Deal appointees, culled from an applicant pool of more than 400, and the three newly elected board members spared suspension have to manage a badly battered district into solvency and stability.

And they have to do it with a lot of people watching for the first misstep. Even slight frictions will be parsed as possible signs of the discord that doomed their predecessors.

So, to the new board, welcome. I hope you are prepared for all the attention and the inevitable criticisms.

But I hope you’re also prepared to ignore the critics when you believe you’re acting in the best interest of the children of DeKalb.

Those children have continued to grapple with linear equations and conjugate French verbs. They’ve won robotic contests, earned college scholarships and sold wrapping paper.

They’ve done their jobs. Now, it’s time for school board members to do theirs.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

75 comments Add your comment

CompetenceNotDiversity

March 13th, 2013
8:26 am

Thanks Maureen – agree wholheartedly. It will be a relief to have the opportunity to actually focus on decisions and accomplishments (or lack thereof) instead of this incessant talk about skin color.

Parents for DeKalb Schools

March 13th, 2013
8:30 am

Parents and other stakeholders, stay engaged!
http://facebook.com/ParentsForDeKalbCountySchools

10:10 am

March 13th, 2013
8:33 am

Unfortunately, unlike church elders in Rome—the selected few in DeKalb won’t have to get it right. Or anywhere near right.

Unlike the case of DeKalb parents, practicing Catholics are free to choose which parish they attend and give their donations to. That’s the key motivator for cardinals to pick well.The ability for worshipers to even migrate to other christian denominations is also a factor in deciding just who will provide direction as the new pope.

Will it take a similar 2,000 years for parental choice to come to Georgia’s school districts?

AP Teacher

March 13th, 2013
8:43 am

Maybe this new BOE can remind Thurmond that HE works for THEM, and not vice versa.

Who stands for the children?

March 13th, 2013
8:44 am

Well said, Ms. Downey. To the incoming members, please take her comments to heart. Advocate for these deserving students and please, please be vigilant in using taxpayer funds. Further, it would be prudent for you as a body to review the infractions outlined in the SACS report (and many complaints voiced by parents/teachers) and correct each of them. An excellent starting point would be the “misplaced” $12 mil purportedly used for textbooks.

Dunwoody Mom

March 13th, 2013
8:53 am

Those children have continued to grapple with linear equations and conjugate French verbs. They’ve won robotic contests, earned college scholarships and sold wrapping paper.

They’ve done their jobs. Now, it’s time for school board members to do theirs

Thanks, Maureen…after all, it is about the students.

Among the first action I would like to see is a resolution to the Heery-Mitchell suit that ends that suit now and the suspension of all other activities that involve legal fees; the BOE needs to “advise” Mr. Thurmond that the upcoming budget should contain a pay raise for teachers and smaller class sizes for our students. If that means cutting the central office to bare bones, so be it.

Pardon My Blog

March 13th, 2013
8:59 am

Best wishes to the new members. You have a huge task ahead but you will have the support of the community. Do the audits, work with Mr. Thurmond and get rid of the waste.

claytoncounty

March 13th, 2013
9:01 am

Why are Clayton County principals meeting with teachers to discuss SACS etiquette? Could it be that the county has a lot to hide? Why is the county threatening the civil rights of teachers by warning them not to discuss in-house issues with SACS visitors? Apparently, the county is incapable of handling its own issues, so outside intervention is needed.

charles

March 13th, 2013
9:10 am

I figure they have two years to completely gut the place and put in sensible controls and an independent audit function before the idiots in the “community” elect another bunch of self serving crooks.

George

March 13th, 2013
9:12 am

Good luck new board and send everyone that came with Atkinson ASS out the front door and get a good Supt. To help run a once great school district and make it great again.Please

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
9:24 am

I still don’t know what a superintendent and board of education do. Seem like they have people hired for the various operations positions. Mostly, at least some, superintendents tend to write dramatic letter, do public speaking, and organise and assure the delivery of propaganda initiatives. School boards mainly seem like hubs of contracting – for job, for services, for construction.

1. Superintendents tend to deliver the “score goal” for ArneDuncan, Broad Academy, and wrap it in a “glorious red ribbon” letter to the teachers who have to eat this dog food.
2. Meanwhile, the “board of education” has the local checkbook.

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
9:25 am

Wonder what could go wrong in that scenario and what laws exist to regulate.

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
9:28 am

If a school system was a U.S. Navy destroyer… the “Board of Education” would be the gun turrets on the deck, the “Superintendent” would be the captain at the bridge, and the staff and students would be below deck getting bounced around as the thing chopped through the seas.

pierre1852

March 13th, 2013
9:30 am

You’d do well, I think, to say that teachers have been going about the business of teaching students linear equations, verb conjugations etc. in the face of the most demoralizing work conditions imaginable. Since 2007, teachers haven’t even had step increases. That means that someone who started teaching in 2007 is still earning the same meager starting salary after gaining five years experience in the profession.Those five years are when a teacher learns all the essentials of the craft, and therefore it’s no surprise that there’s such an embarrassing rate of attrition regarding new taechers leaving the profession after 3 years. DeKalb teachers have the lowest salaries and the worst benefits of all the greater Atlanta counties. The best teachers have left or are leaving, to be replaced by subpar teachers who are clearly part of the very f and f network that members of the former board were such a willing participants in. This spat re. the board is far less imporatnat in the long term than what is happening to teachers and teaching conditions in DeKalb county. In the absence of work conditions that respect teachers and the profession, parents and their children will find eventually find that teachers can only live off the goodwillthat is part and parcel of their being teachers for so long.

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
9:34 am

George, you’re referring to the decommissioning of the USS Atkinson? Or would that be the DCSS Arkinson? Don’t forget, before BushCo, when Condoleezza Rice worked for Chevron, they named an oil tanker after her and had her name on the bow CONDOLEEZZA RICE. (if you have any doubt, look it up).

Chamblee Dad

March 13th, 2013
9:34 am

@Dunwoody Mom Fully agree on the Heery-Mitchell lawsuit. I think a major problem with it now is they have dug themselves a hole. If I remember correctly Heery has countersued & has a track record of winning those, or at least settling with the plaintiffs paying them. So I’m not sure exactly how we back out now without paying something. Can you imagine if THAT happens, instead of getting the $100M pipedream they had so long ago.

This board will face the challenge of “undoing” several disasters at the same time. I really hope they can, I really do, & it’s run like a board should be, just at fast as they can without making any major missteps. For the sake of all, even those that want to leave, let’s get this right.

KIM

March 13th, 2013
9:36 am

To the board: stay focused on doing what is right. Don’t pay attention to the naysayers who have their own agenda. This is a great opportunity for Dekalb’s kids…having a board that is motivated by you.

Chamblee Dad

March 13th, 2013
9:37 am

@Maureen, I know the focus today will be on this new board & rightfully so. But I still wonder if there is any known progress on the certified questions being submitted to the GA SC. A ruling by that court that this ouster/appointment process is unconsitutional could create a major train wreck for DCSS. I’m ready to move on & not re-argue that point now, but it seems at least possible.

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
9:41 am

peirre1852, What I’ve seen in Georgia is a school district bring in good teacher talent, tell them to stand on a bucket, through a little lua for them, put a flowered wreath around their neck, and then after a few years kick the bucket out from under them. I have seen this again and again. When you treat the apolitical talent as alien, harass and move them around in the workplace, just generally management behaving in a harsh and uppity manner, it is like getting the blood from a turnip, or an orange in an orange juice processor. Get the juice and throw away the pulp. Indeed, this then makes more room for the “friends and family” network.

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
9:45 am

If DCSS owes the Heery company money, they should face it and pay them, and stop paying monies to attorneys who perpetuate and do not make resolve.

Principal Skinner

March 13th, 2013
9:47 am

MAureen,

Where is the Printable Version of the Field of 60 DBOE bracket? We’re starting our office pool today and I’ve got Tran going into the Final Four.

P.S. I’ve got Scherer going to the Championship, in my Papal Sweet Sistine bracket

Tinytam

March 13th, 2013
9:52 am

I found it interesting to hear Mark Elgart comments about the quickness in which Gov. Deal acted. “We believe at least six months, preferably a year, be granted, let the process work,” Elgart said according to WSB-TV. Does SACS think they direct Governor Deal?? I’m beginning to see the problem with the power being given to this accrediting agency. I’m not a Dekalb County resident but I’ve followed this Dekalb BOE debacle and hope that this is a new beginning for the Board. I’m going to keep a watchful eye on SACS though. I don’t know why they’d imagine six months to a year without a functioning board would help the children of DeKalb County.

FedUp

March 13th, 2013
9:53 am

I truely hope the DeKalb Board can move things forward and actually improve the education students are receiving while keeping the schools accredited with SACS. I also hope their first item of business is to stop funding the legal battles of the suspended board members. Obviously, the old board did not have the best interest of the students and the system at heart. Spending school system money on their legal battles should be illegal and they should be locked up. Walker claims he and his cronies did nothing wrong. Even if that were true, which it obviously is not, wasting county money to keep their positions is definitely wrong!

aziolko

March 13th, 2013
9:56 am

You’re comparing this to choosing a Pope? And people have office pools going? The flippant mentality that is Georgians.

Maureen Downey

March 13th, 2013
9:57 am

@Skinner, Haven’t I seen you at the Punchline?
Maureen

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
9:57 am

Jeezzus God help up all. “Podcasts” do not require using “I-tunes.” http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Technology-Services/Pages/PodcastFAQ.aspx

If you’ll excuse me now, I’m going to go jump off a cliff. Why don’t they hire the lowest freshman from Georgia Tech to give them a hand with their state-level “technology?” Maybe “friends and family” is alive and well at the state and the toaster-repairman is now setting IT policy. #$% $%#$$%

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
10:18 am

Aziolka, State of Georgia is ethically challenged. When all is lost, there is naught but comedy. It’s like a tiger is running at you with their jaws open… “Hey, did I tell you the one about the tiger?” At least people read well in Georgia due to the amount of propaganda, honorarium, announcements, and declaration. It’s the “new literature.”

Truth in Moderation

March 13th, 2013
10:22 am

Only BLACK smoke is coming from the Sistine Chapel.
IS THIS AN OMEN FOR DEKALB?

bu2

March 13th, 2013
10:23 am

@private citizen
DCSS is suing Heery Mitchell for $100 million or so for fraud (falsifying change orders, etc.). Heery Mitchell is suing for a relative small non-payment of fees. Not sure why so many people want to drop a potentially lucrative lawsuit. My understanding is that the law firm is mostly on retainer now, so the risk of continuing is theirs. Heery has a history of trying to outspend their clients. They almost seem to have employees (not accusing either of you above) saying we should drop the lawsuit.

Noone on these boards knows enough to judge what we should do with the lawsuit. The board should evaluate the steps with their executive session discussions with the legal team. But at this point, it seems that most of the risk to DCSS has gone and Heery Mitchell has a huge risk in legal fees and potential losses.

bu2

March 13th, 2013
10:23 am

Correction-meant to say law firm is on contingency, not retainer.

joe

March 13th, 2013
10:32 am

The reason Dekalb schools are in this mess is their electorate. If they would quit voting in public officials based on the applicants having the same skin color as the voter, these problems would be solved.

skipper

March 13th, 2013
10:33 am

Hopefully one of the pre-requisites was an I.Q. over 80. Certainly, it was not for many on the previous board.

Truth in Moderation

March 13th, 2013
10:34 am

@PC
Don’t you need to get out of your Emory dorm room? It’s Spring Break!
Or maybe you are still in the basement……of the “Briarcliff Mansion.”

DeKalb County Grad

March 13th, 2013
10:34 am

Thanks to Maureena and the rest of the AJC staff for covering the DeKalb BOE debacle. Let us keep our fingers crossed that the new BOE will focus on the students’ education, teacher morale (pay increase, too), ethics policy (use of gas cards, nepotism, motel rooms with other employees, etc.), cutting off the legal fees to criminals (CLew and the gang) and a fucntioning technology system that works for the school system. I am ready to focus on other educational issues and that DeKalb BOE can get to work on turning the school systerm around to reach some academic goals. It should be about education – not race, not ego, not personal agendas. Thanks – y’all. Stay informed and involved.

catlady

March 13th, 2013
10:35 am

But now SACS thinks they are moving too fast? Talk about never being able to satisfy the devil! NOW maybe the AJC will look into SACS?!

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
10:37 am

Bob Swiggum, I’ve got a toaster that’s not working right. Do you have an i-tunes podcast on how to measure the coil resistance? Oh… I see… I need the proprietary add-on if I want to toast bread? And this is state governance? Let me help you our Bob, with a list of media players. probably not more than 20. One might ask, Why is the world are you telling teachers and students that i-tunes is required for podcasting? This is invasive proprietary software just like the RealPlayer you’re making people use to access the hearing files. Bob, as some who lives on the computer and listens to music, books, and podcasts 24/7/365, may I share with you how many times I have used the proprietary i-tunes service, Bob? Not once. Ever. Yes, as governance you list it in requirements? May I share with you, Bob, how many times I have installed RealPlayer in a computer in the last 15 years? One time, Bob. Especially for you and for no one else on the face of planet Earth.

Here is easily 100 different media player softwares from different technology providers: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=media+player&c=apps

Let me explain something to you, Bob. A podcast is a “music file” and is not different than playing a cassette or 8-track tape. You do not need a special gizmo to do it. Bob, You’re providing misinformation on the state website. You’re ignoring the basic premise of “interoperability.” You’re also fronting for Apple products. Bob, did someone from Apple fix you up with the “i-life?” Or ar you just doing some glamour by association? Either way, it is inappropriate and inaccurate to tell someone that installing i-tunes, a service that sells music is required for students and teachers to listen to a podcast. Bob, this is unethical. You’re advertising for a company and providing signficant and easily recognizable technology misinformation. Why are you doing this, Bob. Is Apple paying you? Did they give you free stuff? Are you signed up to an “Apple Computing development program?”

DeKalb Educated

March 13th, 2013
10:39 am

Glad to see “a new beginning” in DeKalb. Let us hope the new board can work together and get this sinking ship set on the proper course again. They need to start by cleaning house, eliminate the bloat in the administration and get the best people in decision making positions.

Just Sayin'

March 13th, 2013
10:42 am

I guess the NAACP better get over to Rome to complain that the bad news (No Pope) is “black” smoke.

catlady

March 13th, 2013
10:42 am

tinytam: SACS DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE KIDS! IT ONLY CARES ABOUT ITS POWER, AND “GROWING” ITS POWER.

Truth in Moderation

March 13th, 2013
10:43 am

“It should be about education – not race, not ego, not personal agendas.”

Really? And who voted for RACE to the Top?
Wasn’t Obama the “teacher’s choice?”

Just Sayin'

March 13th, 2013
10:44 am

Let us all hope a new day has dawned in the DeKalb County School System.

DeKalb Dad

March 13th, 2013
10:47 am

Let us hope this is the dawn of a new day in DeKalb. And, voters: please take note that elections do have consequences!

DeKalb Dad

March 13th, 2013
10:54 am

Counting down the minutes until the Governor announces the replacements. Here’s hoping the committee chose well.

Truth in Moderation

March 13th, 2013
10:55 am

@catlady

Here’s a bone:
See the last paragraph of page 42.
ht tps://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:H6GTHr-YVYwJ:www.emoryforest.emory.edu/lullwater/lcmpfinala.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjmREsA3b4bORv6DbQuz_789uk71_2Av7Qy1MCSshukX-znbiFypYlTJWpiqvaFCa_6IDThU5PZazkvt6F0BDbvHmSEhYtREJWk4nDpBsxo7I2sKr_Ix7LU6PD2YUm-CI59QMnj&sig=AHIEtbRqAX9fV0tr8a9Xf3kNSlnhPC6bUg

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
10:57 am

Truth, I’ll give you this, they’re actually real sharp over at Emory in the IT department. They do “computing” there and do not front for “Windows training” and “i-tunes” both of which are listed on the Georgia DOE website, which is promoting a consumer mentality in place of computing. Somewhere over in Emory-land, they have a statement about their application of IT. Allow me to summon it for you. Ugh, yes, they’re kind of… like… loco-serious about IT over there. http://it.emory.edu/about_us/it_governance/index.html Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my VOIP telephone to one of their libraries, sign in as a “guest” and go to a reading table top, plug in to the Cat5 connector on the table top, and make some telephone calls to China.

catlady

March 13th, 2013
10:58 am

Truth: Can’t get it to work right. Link?

Truth in Moderation

March 13th, 2013
11:03 am

GREAT CHIOCE BOB!
I’m glad to see IT recognizes the SUPERIOR quality of APPLE products. People like P.C. thought they took the Syrian down……..BUT HE’S NOT OUT.

Private Citizen

March 13th, 2013
11:08 am

The infamous “last paragraph of page 42:”

“Two acts stimulated the production of the Murdy-Carter report in 1985, which called for the
protection of the remaining land. These were the dredging of Candler Lake and the sale of five acres
of land to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1999 Emory built a shuttle road
along the southern edge of the property. In response to the outcry from the Emory community,
President William M. Chace pledged that he would protect the land from further encroachment, and
he created the Lullwater Task Force to fulfill that purpose.”

Tinytam

March 13th, 2013
11:10 am

catlady: Thanks so much!

Maureen: Has there been any investigation into SACS? The amount of supposed power it currently yields?

Principal Skinner

March 13th, 2013
11:13 am

So I’m getting News Flashes that the new board has been named, but no list? What’s the “Deal”?