Archive for the ‘dekalb’ Category

Schoolhouse to courthouse: Three DeKalb officials indicted

The AJC’s Ty Tagami reports today that three former school administrators were indicted by a DeKalb County grand jury on charges they manipulated tests or attendance records to improve measures of school performance.

According to Tagami:

Just two weeks after a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators in an alleged cheating conspiracy, the DeKalb grand jury accused former DeKalb County School District employees Angela Jennings, Agnes Flanagan and Derrick Wooten of manipulating records.

Flanagan, who was principal of Cedar Grove Middle School, allegedly directed teachers to change students’ answers on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. Jennings, who was principal at Rock Chapel Elementary, allegedly ordered the temporary removal of students from enrollment records, so their 2010 test results wouldn’t count against school averages. Wooten, who was an assistant principal at Stoneview Elementary, is accused of ordering …

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Mark Elgart: Accreditation means a quality, standardized education

Dr. Mark Elgart is the founding president and CEO of AdvancED, the parent organization for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement  as well as the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Northwest Accreditation Commission, headquartered in Alpharetta.

By Mark Elgart

School accreditation is an honor, a mark of distinction as well as an acknowledgement that the education offerings of a school, school system, college or university meet standards, benchmarks and performance criteria in the advancement of student achievement. In the United States, for K-12 schools, accreditation is also completely voluntary, and all accrediting agencies are selected and invited to review and accredit by the school or school system seeking or maintaining that accreditation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was founded in 1895 at the Georgia Institute of Technology. SACS …

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Turning Premier DeKalb into a reality: What the school board needs to consider

Jennifer Hatfield is a longtime DeKalb resident, a graduate of DeKalb schools, a former DeKalb teacher and the parent of two DeKalb students. She is a vocal community advocate in the area of education.

These are comments she made at a public meeting to the new school board edited a bit for publication. While she focused on DeKalb, her advice could apply to any school district:

By Jennifer Hatfield

An open letter to the new DeKalb County Board of Education:

I was very vocal in my support of the suspension of the former board members. I am very impressed by your resumes and what I believe is your genuine desire to help the children of DeKalb County.

Welcome aboard. I and other parents want to help you. Please allow us to. Engage us. Draw upon our knowledge and experience and use it to your advantage.

The district adopted the Premier DeKalb moniker seven years ago. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines premier as first in position, rank, or importance. I think we can all agree …

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Calendar wars: DeKalb school board calls truce tonight with parents. Delays change to balanced calendar.

The DeKalb school board delayed a new calendar that would have brought kids back to classes earlier in the summer.  (AP Image)

The DeKalb school board delayed a new calendar that would have brought kids back to classes earlier in the summer. (AP Image)

The new DeKalb school board responded this evening to parental concerns about the haste with which the district adopted a balanced calendar, which features a shorter summer and more breaks during the year.

The board voted to delay the change to a balanced calendar, which had been favored by the former superintendent.

The “balanced” calendar approved by the old school board and now reversed by the new one lopped nearly two weeks off summer break and distributed the vacation days in fall and winter.

Former Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said the new calendar was better because students forget too much over the long summer break. Surveys showed parents opposed the idea but two-thirds of teachers liked it.

The balanced calendar is followed by neighboring Decatur Schools. Public opinion there varies on the appeal of the calendar, which benefits …

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After 45 days in the DeKalb school chief post, Michael Thurmond still optimistic if not specific

Michael Thurmond (AJC Photo)

Michael Thurmond (AJC Photo)

Interim DeKalb superintendent Michael Thurmond marked his 45th day on the job by speaking this morning to a packed gathering of Leadership DeKalb and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. Along with business leaders, the audience included the newly reconstituted school board and DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

I have now heard Thurmond speak six times, and he continues to deliver the same broad message of optimism: DeKalb schools will get on track, but it won’t be overnight and it won’t be easy.

Thurmond avoids specifics, artfully dodging questions about whether he intends to fire any of the central office holdovers from previous administrations. He responded today that new leaders err when they fire everyone on their first day. Then, the leaders devote the next six months to coping with the fallout. He intends to find out who he needs and who he doesn’t need over time.

Asked how he will stem the exodus of unhappy teachers from the system, Thurmond said he …

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DeKalb’s Eugene Walker intends to pass hat to pay for continued legal fight over school board suspension

With the unanimous vote of the newly reconstituted DeKalb school board this week, any suspended board members who want to fight their ouster were set adrift. They now have to front their own legal costs in court.

Former school board chair Eugene Walker intends to do just that.

But he is seeking donations to defray his legal battle. In a post on this blog about the importance of challenging the state law, Walker explained, “If this unconstitutional act is to stand, then what is next? It will only be a matter of time before another constitutional right will be taken away by another wayward and self-perpetuating politico under the guise of the greater good. Minorities should not feel secure if contrived allegations from anonymous sources with hidden agendas can go to private agencies and to have their civil rights stolen away. This cannot and shall not be allowed to stand.”

Ronald Carlson, a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia law school, told the AJC’s Ty …

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So, did you see new DeKalb school board in action tonight? Looked sharp to me. What did you think?

Good questions from new DeKalb Board of Education members at their inaugural board meeting tonight, which I watched online.

The board voted unanimously to end its involvement in the lawsuit challenging the law that enabled Gov. Nathan Deal to oust six members of the board. That vote ends payments to the attorneys in the lawsuit.

It seemed that many folks were at the meeting to cheer on the new board, including the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

The six members appointed by the governor asked lots of questions, all of which were focused, relevant and pointed.

I was impressed with the questions from Deal appointee Thad Mayfield. He was quick in his analysis and offered strong points in the protracted discussion on the financing of portable classrooms and the maintenance of them.

Board member Marshall Orson — one of the three members elected this past fall — requested DeKalb terminate its status as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state. The …

Continue reading So, did you see new DeKalb school board in action tonight? Looked sharp to me. What did you think? »

Old school boards never die. They blog away. At least in DeKalb.

Old school boards never die. They just blog away.

Neither Nancy Jester, ousted by the governor, nor Don McChesney, ousted by voters, apparently believes that former DeKalb school board members should fade from view.

The two ex DeKalb board members remain vocal about the school district they once led. And both are using blogs to serve up their commentary.

In fact, Jester plans to live blog first meeting of the newly appointed board Wednesday. On her Nancy’s News site, she writes, “I’ll be hosting a live blog comment feed for tomorrow’s DeKalb Board meeting.  The meeting begins at 6pm and I’ll start the live comment feed around 550pm. ”

Jester goes on to tell her fans her latest plans:  In order to continue to advocate for you, I have partnered with the Georgia Charter Schools Association.  I am working as a consultant and strategist to advocate for charter schools and school choice.  I will also be working to develop a board bank of talented and trained citizens to serve …

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Reconstituted DeKalb school board will move to extract itself from lawsuit against state

The new reconstituted DeKalb Board of Education faces a busy first meeting Wednesday at 6. Among the action items on the agenda:

Termination of the DeKalb County School District’s status as a plaintiff in The DeKalb County School District, et al. vs. The Georgia State Board of Education, et al., Case No. 1:13-CV-0544, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.  Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

Rationale
Reduction in legal expenses.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

Details
Upon approval of this action item, the Superintendent is requested within 24 hours to instruct outside counsel to take appropriate steps to seek termination of the School District’s further status as plaintiff in the above-referenced lawsuit and any related litigation.

Financial Impact
Termination as plaintiff of the DeKalb County School District in …

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DeKalb school board drama distilled down to two questions for state Supreme Court, which has six months to answer

The controversy surrounding Gov. Nathan Deal’s removal of six DeKalb Board of Education members has been distilled down to two constitutional questions and presented to the  state Supreme Court.

I hate to think of the chaos if the state’s highest court, which has six months to rule, invalidates the governor’s appointment of six new members.

The court sent out this notice today:

The DeKalb County school board case, in which many media have expressed an interest, has just been docketed in our court. Please see the attached order certifying the questions the federal judge is asking this court to answer.

This case will be handled by the Supreme Court of Georgia like any other. The court has up to two court terms from the time it’s filed here – which is about six months – to make a decision. If the parties request oral argument, this Court will hear the case, as opposed to considering the case based purely on the briefs.

The brief from the “appellant” – the DeKalb County …

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