Archive for the ‘dekalb’ Category

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 …

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

Nancy Jester resigns from DeKalb school board

Nancy Jester has resigned her seat on the DeKalb Board of Education. She was suspended, along with her five colleagues. so she was on her way out anyway.

But she is no longer a party — unwilling as she says she was — to the court challenge being led by her former board colleague Eugene Walker. So, while Jester’s actions here may be symbolic, they do undermine the legal fight to stop the suspensions and the appointment of replacements by the governor.

Her decision also helps in the public relations department as DeKalb voters are weary of this drama and want to move on.  Jester seems to have a lot of good will in DeKalb and this act will only enhance her standing, setting her up for a successful return to the board if she chooses to run in the future.  (There is already speculation that she may seek higher office. )

Jester told AJC political reporter Greg Bluestein that she intends to continue her education advocacy and push  for broader school change including greater …

Continue reading Nancy Jester resigns from DeKalb school board »

Remember those pledges DeKalb board members made to resign? Why haven’t any of them done so yet?

The Concerned Citizens for a Unified DeKalb, a coalition of parent leaders from schools across the county, is calling for the six suspended DeKalb board members to throw in the towel and resign.

(For a good place to find an aggregation of all the news about the DeKalb school drama, go to the Parents for DeKalb Schools Facebook page.

The statement calls for the six to resign and drop the legal challenges. They lost a key legal battle yesterday in front of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story, which ought to give them more impetus to get this drama over with and step down.

But they may be waiting for the state Supreme Court to take up their plight.

As the AJC reported:  The judge’s decision does not end the litigation. Story indicated he was dubious about the likelihood that DeKalb would win under their U.S. Constitution argument, but he signaled that the Georgia Supreme Court could soon consider questions in the case. He asked the two sides to agree on which …

Continue reading Remember those pledges DeKalb board members made to resign? Why haven’t any of them done so yet? »

If you are applying for DeKalb school board, AJC wants to talk to you

The deadline to apply for one of the open seats on the DeKalb school board is tomorrow at 5 p.m. The AJC is working on a story on the process

Here is a note from the reporter:

Are you submitting your name as a candidate to fill a seat on the DeKalb County School Board. If so, staff writer Nancy Badertscher would like to talk to you and likely quote you in a story. She’ll want to know why you want the job, what qualifications you have and why you think you could help get the school system back on track. Please contact her.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Continue reading If you are applying for DeKalb school board, AJC wants to talk to you »

DeKalb’s Eugene Walker on loss in court today: Constitutional and civil rights at stake

Here is a response from former DeKalb school board chair Eugene Walker to his loss in federal court today:

By Eugene Walker

I am dismayed but not deterred, following our setback in federal court Monday. I respectfully but wholeheartedly disagree with the judge’s decision, and I plan to continue to seek justice through the court system until this matter with the Governor is resolved. This is why:

I was born in Thomaston, a small town in Upson County Georgia. The indignity of segregation and racism was the backdrop of my youth. I swore at that time that I would stand up for my rights no matter the cost. I have not swayed from the self commitment, and virtually all my adult life has been dedicated to service to my fellow man, with a special dedication to education.

I preface this to explain, again, why I am obligated to engage the governor in the court system. It is morally abhorrent to sit idly by and allow the usurping of the one man one vote rights that has been bought and …

Continue reading DeKalb’s Eugene Walker on loss in court today: Constitutional and civil rights at stake »

Reactions to DeKalb school board ruling. SACS says still possible for DeKalb to be top system again.

Among the reactions to the federal court ruling late today that the suspensions of the DeKalb board members can stand and replacements can be named:

DeKalb School Board Chair Melvin Johnson: “I respect the judge’s opinion, and appreciate the judge providing an opinion in a timely manner, because time is of the essence. It is essential that we have a governing board capable of meeting the needs of our administration, students, parents and taxpayers. Equally important is having a board in place to work with the administration on ensuring that the district regains full accreditation. I pledge my full and complete cooperation with the panel of citizens Gov. Nathan Deal has identified to select new board members, and I trust they will work expeditiously to ensure we have a governing board capable of addressing the pressing needs of our school system.”

And from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools:

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on …

Continue reading Reactions to DeKalb school board ruling. SACS says still possible for DeKalb to be top system again. »

The 17-page ruling shows judge worried more about harm to students than to school board members

Here are key passages in Judge Story’s 17-page ruling, which does call for questions about the state law authorizing the removal of school board members to go to the state Supreme Court.

But, in the meantime, the judge allows the suspensions to stand and replacements to be named.

From the ruling:

The School District has no interest in any particular person serving on the school board. Rather, the interest of the School District is that a duly constituted board be in place so that it can conduct business. The School Board Suspension Statute assures continuity of operations through appointments by the Governor to fill vacancies created by the suspensions. Thus, the loss of any property interest by the School District is not apparent to the Court. In the absence of a showing of loss of a property interest, the School District would lack a key element in its Fourteenth Amendment claim.

Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that the School District has failed to show a …

Continue reading The 17-page ruling shows judge worried more about harm to students than to school board members »

Federal judge rules against DeKalb school board. Replacements can be named.

I knew U.S. District Judge Richard Story wanted to move fast on this case so the DeKalb school district would not be in limbo, but he surprised me with a ruling today following Friday’s three-hour hearing. The governor can suspend the DeKalb school board and replace them.

Given the complexity of the case, I thought his ruling would come Wednesday.

But he must have worked all weekend.

I have not yet read his ruling but will be interested in his reasoning in upholding the 2011 law that permits the governor to oust school members if a district’s accreditation is at risk.

Breaking news on AJC.com.

Check back for more details.

A federal judge denied a motion made by suspended members of the DeKalb County School Board who argued their removal from office was unconstitutional.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Story came down on Monday afternoon. On Friday, lawyers for school board members and the state attended a hearing before Story to determine if the governor could …

Continue reading Federal judge rules against DeKalb school board. Replacements can be named. »

DeKalb school board mess: Are we focusing on symptoms rather than real problem?

I am always delighted to receive a submission from Lawrence M. Schall, president of Oglethorpe University. Here is a column he wrote about the DeKalb County school board drama and its larger implications. (You can read his blog on Huffington Post.)

In relation to his comments on the pending lawsuit by the DeKalb board, I want to note that Schall earned doctoral degrees in law and education from the University of Pennsylvania and practiced civil rights law earlier in his career.

By Lawrence M. Schall
We will all soon learn of the decision of the federal district court regarding the constitutionality and/or legality of the governor’s decision to remove six of the nine sitting DeKalb County School Board members.

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the decision being overturned. While the performance of the school board, and more importantly, the school district have been abysmal for far too long, the process used to throw some of the board members out of office …

Continue reading DeKalb school board mess: Are we focusing on symptoms rather than real problem? »

Has Thurmond reached out to teachers enough? He says Wilbanks is his mentor. (So did Atkinson.)

The AJC interviewed newly appointed DeKalb interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond. I found one of his answers surprising. AJC education writer Nancy Badertscher asked him about his efforts to get to know the district, which began with meetings with parents. She then asked him about meeting with teachers. Here is what he said:

A: “I look forward to spending time with teachers, but not just them — everyone, the bus drivers, cafeteria workers, everyone. I tell people I parachuted into the middle of a firefight with bullets, missiles, projectiles coming in all directions. But things have settled a little bit.”

I think Thurmond has to make a more visible outreach to DeKalb teachers as I am hearing from more of them how discouraged they are. Ultimately, education comes down to a classroom and a teacher.  One of the chief reasons there are still students in DeKalb winning science competitions and getting into Duke and Tech is because teachers are still teaching. They are closing …

Continue reading Has Thurmond reached out to teachers enough? He says Wilbanks is his mentor. (So did Atkinson.) »