Archive for the ‘State Department of Education’ 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 …

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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 …

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Do you want to serve on the new DeKalb school board? Here’s how to try.

From the governor’s office:

The nominating panel that Gov. Nathan Deal assembled will begin immediately accepting applications for candidates to fill the seats of suspended members of the DeKalb County school board.

Applicants should email the following information to the search team:

1. Legal name, contact information and home address

2. District seat for which one is applying

3. Resume, CV and/or brief biography

4. Statement of interest

The panel will accept applications until March 6 at 5 p.m.

I asked the governor’s spokesman if the applicants must live in the specific school board district for which they are applying. His answer: “Yes, the law says that replacement board members must be otherwise qualified to serve, which means, in part, that they must live in the district.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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What are Nathan Deal’s options with DeKalb school board? Are parents now more fixed on exit strategies than reform ones?

Gov. Nathan Deal has pushed back his news conference on the DeKalb school board mess to 2:30 today, suggesting that he’s seeking legal guidance on his options in this quagmire.

To recap: On Thursday, a unanimous state Board of Education, under an untested 2010 law, voted to recommend the suspension of six veteran DeKalb school board members. On Friday, a federal judge, while not stopping Deal from suspending the six, prohibited him from replacing them, pending a hearing later this week on the validity of the law.

That put Deal in a bind as ousting the members without replacing them creates a worse-case scenario for DeKalb, no closure, no quorum and no chance that new school chief Michael Thurmond can move quickly on whatever plans he has for the district. (And we have yet to see any real plans.)

Protracting this melodrama will only fuel the increasing push by Lakeside to form its own city and Dunwoody to form its own school system. In the end, DeKalb County could be so …

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Breaking news: With new federal ruling, DeKalb school leadership is now in legal limbo for time being

As we all expected, the DeKalb school board situation is getting messier. A  federal judge is now saying that Gov. Deal can remove the six board members, but cannot replace them for the present.

Yikes.

It seems unlikely all the school members recommended for removal are going to drop their legal challenge to the state law allowing the governor to oust them over accreditation concerns.

If the DeKalb legal challenge follows the pace of a similar one filed by school board members in Sumter County, this could take months to resolve. Six Sumter school board members filed in December to halt state removal, but a court hearing has yet to be scheduled and they retain their seats.

DeKalb school board member Eugine Walker made it clear to the state Board of Education at its 14-hour hearing Thursday that he was not going to surrender his constitutional rights to seek redress in the courts if he was suspended from his elected post.

The AJC’s Ty Tagami reports that Walker said Sunday, ““I …

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State board rejects DeKalb’s ‘deathbed repentance.’ Votes to suspend six DeKalb veteran members

After 14 hours of testimony, the state Board of Education voted tonight to recommend the suspension of the six veteran members of the DeKalb school board. The discussion was short and sweet, and the vote came fast. The recommendation now goes to the governor who is expected to quickly concur.

However, the matter may not end with the governor as the DeKalb board has filed suit to overturn the Georgia law that allows school board removals. There are court hearings scheduled next week, assuring that this drama will drag on for a while.

(At one point in the lengthy hearing, a state board member asked the DeKalb board members not to sue if they were ousted, but Gene Walker said he was not going to relinquish his constitutional rights.)

If you want to read the blow-by-blow on today’s hearing,  go to these three blogs: Morning, Afternoon and Evening segments of the marathon hearing.

Only a few state board members spoke prior to the 9:43 p.m. unanimous vote to suspend all six veterans …

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Lunch and back to business: Should DeKalb board go or stay? Thurmond goes to bat for board.

Afternoon session of state Board of Education hearing on whether to oust the DeKalb County Board of Education. (See earlier blog on what happened in the first half of the day.)

Waiting again for Sarah Copelin-Wood who was on the stand when the hearing broke for lunch. I am listening to the hearing online and the microphones are picking up general chatter around the board table.  Some board member is complaining about how long Copelin-Wood is keeping them waiting. “No respect. No courtesy.”

DOE attorney Jennifer Hackemeyer is back to the email and whether it went to school employees. “Your earlier testimony was that you did not send to a list of employees. I have given you this email and ask that you take a look at it to see if it refreshes your recollection. It appears it was sent to at least one DeKalb County employee. Is that true?”

Copelin-Wood: “Not me, I did not send it. I didn’t sent it to her. Maybe, she was on her personal email. I never would have sent this to our …

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An email so bizarre that I thought Copelin-Wood could never have sent it. I was wrong. And she is out on a limb.

Earlier this week, a reader copied me on an email that Sarah Copelin-Wood sent to some folks.

The email contains a long cut and paste job on the powers and duties of school boards vs. the State Board of Education. The pasted material focuses on the local board’s power to “manage and control” the school system and plays down the state’s power to intervene. I assume that Copelin-Wood sent the email to voice her displeasure with today’s reckoning in front of the state Board of Education, which is considering ousting her and five other DeKalb school board members.

But what floored me more than the body of the email was what Copelin-Wood attached to the email. (By the way, she signed the email, “Ms. Sarah Copelin-Wood, Board Member DeKalb Board of Education – District 3.”)

The attachment features an attack on SACS and Mark Elgart by longtime and vocal critic John Trotter, head of MACE and a frequent commenter on this blog where he has been quite open in his disdain for Elgart and …

Continue reading An email so bizarre that I thought Copelin-Wood could never have sent it. I was wrong. And she is out on a limb. »

State board hearing on DeKalb under way. Newly elected board members off the hook. Board attorney says SACS got wrong info

Updating State Board of Education hearing on whether to suspend DeKalb County school board:

The state Board of Education hearing on DeKalb opened this morning shortly after 8 with a statement from the DeKalb school board attorney Bob Wilson that his clients are challenging the constitutionality of the statue and objecting to the evidence on hearsay and relevance issues.

Wilson is the former DeKalb DA. He was one of the two people appointed by Gov. Perdue to investigate CRCT cheating. He is a noted attorney on education issues.

With DOE lawyer Jennifer Hackemeyer and Wilson making opening statements, the proceeding has the feel of a trial.

Before the formal start, a lawyer from the Attorney General’s Office takes up the issue of the lawsuits that DeKalb school board filed this week in both state and federal court.

She explains to the state board that the DeKalb Board of Education has filed lawsuits in both state and federal court. “The DeKalb Board believes the statute …

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DeKalb school board: Is it defending itself against ’smoke’ or concrete allegations?

The AJC’s Ty Tagami has an interesting story tonight on the challenges facing the DeKalb school board in making its case in 10 hours before the state Board of Education, which will be weighing the board’s ouster.

According to Tagami:

In the meantime, DeKalb officials must argue their innocence before the Georgia Board of Education without being able to cross-examine key witnesses and not knowing which documents support which allegations. Atlanta Attorney Warren Fortson said that task will be difficult given the vague nature of the 20-page SACS report.

“It’s predicated on anonymous sources,” said Fortson, who was general counsel for Atlanta Public Schools for more than two decades. “You can’t defend yourself against smoke.”

The report identifies sources as “interviewees,” “stakeholder interviews,” “artifacts” or “various forms of evidence.” “Interviewees described a feeling of hopelessness,” it says, and “based on evidence from numerous interviews, several board members …

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