Saturday, December 29, 2012

State Board of Education Summons DeKalb County Board of Education to a Hearing, Jan. 17

The Georgia State Board of Education (“State Board”) hereby gives notice to the Members of DeKalb County Board of Education (“DeKalb County BOE”), that the State Board will conduct a hearing pursuant to O,C.G.A. § 20-2-73(a)(1) regarding whether the State Board should recommend to the Governor that he suspend the Members of the DeKalb County BOE. This notice is based upon DeKalb County being placed on the level of accreditation of “Probation”.
Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED that the Members of the DeKalb County BOE should appear on Thursday, January 17, 2013, at 1:00 p,m. before the State Board for a hearing and to present evidence as to why the State Board should not recommend to the Governor that he suspend, with pay, the Members of the DeKalb County BOE pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73,
It is further ORDERED that the parties confer in good faith and stipulate to as many possible facts before the hearing. Should either party desire to have a telephonic pre-hearing conference, the party shall make a request identifying the specific issues by Friday, January 4, 2013. The parties may submit this request by emailing the Hearing Officer at
It is further hereby ORDERED that the parties shall file a witness list, which includes the telephone number of the witness and a brief description of the anticipated testimony of each witness; a document list; and any stipulated facts with the State Board. The parties shall serve a copy of these pleadings by email to the Hearing Officer and opposing counsel by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 11, 2013. The parties are further directed to exchange copies of documents by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 11, 2013. The parties are required to provide copies of all exhibits (tabbed, indexed, and bound) at the hearing for the Hearing Officer, the Chair, and each Member of the State Board.
SO ORDERED, this 21st day of December, 2012.
Barbara Hampton, Chair
State Board of Education
K.P. Reddy, Hearing Officer
State Board of Education

Friday, December 28, 2012

Is Atkinson Risking the Safety of Our Children?

See how happy Dr. Atkinson is?  She's announcing her digital plan
to the Chamber of Commerce stating that our children will no longer
be saddled with all those heavy books to carry home.  Yeah, like that's the
biggest problem we have here - kids taking too many books home.

(click headline for full text.)

This fall, more than 8,200 students at seven Middle Schools - 
Cedar Grove, Chamblee, Lithonia, Peachtree, Redan, Stone Mountain and Tucker 
 –  will receive Lenovo Netbooks loaded with all of their textbooks.

"Gee, Wally, do you think these ebooks might account for that missing money the SACS folks were so worried about?"

There are some disturbing facts coming to light regarding the connection between Dr. Cheryl Atkinson and her push for e-books without a shred of educational mission attached to it. 

It's one thing to think you have a good idea and want to implement it as soon as possible.  It's quite another to have a mission that you will stop at nothing to complete even when you know that will have little or no positive impact and will likely waste a lot of money - other people's money that you have been entrusted to oversee.

You either have to be an idiot who seeks to contribute to his/her own demise OR you have a lot of people in your corner so your fears of failure are greatly minimized.  OR, you are being paid very well to stick to the plan. 

While we are not big fans of Dr. Atkinson, the Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, we also do not think she is an idiot.  So, we're guessing that there must be a lot of zeros waiting on a paycheck somewhere down the line for her somewhere.  And it probably is a check she will cash somewhere like North Carolina or even China, but it's not looking very likely that it will be a bonus check from the taxpayers in Georgia.  Right now, we're trying to pay her to LEAVE before she can do any more damage.

So, here's the scoop:  Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson presented the State of the System address on Monday, Dec. 3, with the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.  She shared the DeKalb County School District’s (DCSD’s) plan to go digital, which must be music to the ears of the SACS committee that deemed our schools to be "woefully behind" in technology.  She laid out a plan that would have the integration complete by the end of 2013, right in line with the SACS timeline of year-end to turn things around for the sake of the children. 

The irony:  She did all of that BEFORE the SACS announcement was made.  Gee, do you think someone might have tipped her off about the contents of the SACS report?  Or, perhaps someone asked SACS to help justify the mission to go digital by including some comments on technology in the report so that the idiots will think it was based on real complaints from real parents.  Yeah, good one.  Too bad we have a former corporate research manager on our team, so we know how those little gimmicks work.  Someone should have told Atkinson that it would have worked better to make her announcement in response to SACS rather than jumping the gun and expecting us to believe it was all coincidence or, worse yet, a stoke of her own brilliance.  Yeah, right.  Not buying it.  Next?

More scoop:  Now, let's go back to her arrival in DeKalb, amid the controversy that was still being stirred up over the cell towers.  She was asked about it over and over again and her answer was always the same.  Dr. Atkinson, spokesman Walter Woods frequently reported to us, does not want to talk about cell towers because that was "before her time."   Yet, even after hearing lots and lots of complaints, she still signed contracts in December for the towers so that officially made it "during her time."  Still, no comment?

The irony:  Get this ... Our board members just happened to work out a cell tower deal and get it rushed through a vote all in the good name of Lakeside High School and helping out their dropped call issues and there was little to no fighting over it or questions about it?  Wow!  To top it off, they just decided to forget about the money entirely.  Then, they really lucked out when, only a month later, a Superintendent candidate was announced who just so happened to have a track record for going digital?  Wow, she could probably use those towers that we just approved for no reason at all, couldn't she?  Amazing!  

Gee, do you think there might have been a plan in place to bring in the towers, fire the  teachers, raise the taxes and then convert the schools to digital while claiming that the board members can no longer advocate for their own areas?  

And, all those people with the super high property values that had to appeal their property taxes?  Well, they got their values locked in for two years, so their neighborhoods will appear to remain stable while the rest of us will suffer the lowered values associated with a system on Probation.  It's okay, they can afford it.  It was a problem only the rich neighborhoods had and they will get to keep their good schools because even though they voted in favor of cell towers, they will not actually be getting any for themselves.  Nice, huh?  

Even Lakeside, the school that had all the problems with dropped calls is not likely to get a new tower since they already tried a few years back and learned that they couldn't have one due to the fact that their school was built on donated property that can't be used for commercial gain.

The scoop:  Dr. Atkinson wants us to think the cell towers have nothing to do with her plans, but she is perfectly alright with talking about Netbooks and her plan to go wireless, just like she did in her last school district?  

The irony:  Netbooks are the smaller, cheaper, inferior, less-efficient, lighter-weight versions of laptops that came out right before IPads and the tablets took over the marketplace.  In other words, they didn't sell very well; they don't work very well and someone likely has a few warehouses full of them that they literally cannot give away fast enough.  

Yet, our Superintendent is perfectly okay with holding one up over her head in front of the business community as if it were the Holy Grail.  The "Netbooks" will solve the problems we have all been complaining about:  the children of DeKalb County are saddled down and burdened by the sheer number of heavy books they are bringing home at night.  

Has she looked at any of the test scores or graduation rates recently? Because anyone who has looked at the results of our education system would clearly see that bringing home too many books at night is clearly NOT the biggest problem here.  Being able to actually spell the word "Book" or use it in a sentence might be a little closer to the truth.  Maybe the ebooks will have spell  check on them.  Yeah, that ought to help the kiddies with their learnin' n' stuff. right Jim Bob?

What's the problem with e-books?
Lenovo campus in Bejing, China.  Your SPLOST dollars
hard at work, DeKalb County.
The question should be, "what exactly is the benefit?"  Because whether you read from a page in a book or off a screen on a dimly lit, poor quality, light-weight version of a laptop no one wanted to buy at Office Max out of the Clearance bin for the past two years in a row, does it really sound like a brilliant idea that will lead our children toward better test scores or greater incentive to stay in school?  

Or, does it sound to you like someone somewhere is going to pocket themselves a nice handful of SPLOST dollars while the kids get the shaft - again?  

Even worse, has anyone stopped to think about the risks these children will be taking as they test pilot the demonic plan of the evil Dr. A on a select group of children?  And, why didn't they ask the new STEM middle school, Henderson Middle, to participate?  After all, they are supposed to be the "technology" middle school, hence the "T" in "STEM," right? And they are the feeder school to Lakeside, the ones that wanted the cell towers so badly that they called their school board members instead of their wireless providers for help.   Hmmm.... makes you wonder, doesn't it? 

Here are a few concerns we have:

1.)  We can't keep kids from stealing computers that are bolted to the floors in rooms that have windows with locks on them, but now we're going to give them access to wireless devices that can be slipped into a backpack or folder in the blink of an eye?  Nah, no problems on the horizon there.  

2.)  Warnings have been issued about the aggressive and flagrant thefts that have been happening in Atlanta lately.  Thieves have been walking right up to adults in broad daylight in front of spectators and yanking their smart phones or iPads literally right out of their hands, sometimes even at gunpoint.  So, now we are going to put these things into the hands of our children and expect them to walk home from the bus stop?  Are we really going to let this happen to these children?

3.)  It's not like we have a bully problem at our schools already or anything.  

4.)  Everyone knows how responsible middle school students are when it comes to their books and taking care of their backpacks and jackets we send them to school with every day.  We never have to worry about things getting lost, or stolen, or beat up. 

5.)  Laptops emit the same form of radiation a cell towers, the issue that voters said by a 62% majority that they did not approve of for our schools.  But, laptops are not mounted 150' overhead.  Kids are expected to put them in their laps while they read their textbooks at school and at home, for literally  hours and hours each day.  

6.)  Technology never fails and tech support is so easily accessible in our schools already.  

Wow, after this Atkinson initiative goes through, kids can literally say, "Mom, please, don't make me study any longer.  All this homework is killing me," and they might be right.

So, who does this help?
Lenovo is a brand of "netbooks," an IBM-compatible that's manufactured in China.  Yes, that's right, your tax dollars are going to support a Chinese company.  But, worse than that, Lenovo is a brand that expanded its U.S. business by moving hundreds of jobs out of Atlanta and over to North Carolina, the state where Atkinson also has worked previously and still has connections.  It's also the state where our board Chairman Gene Walker attended school at Duke University and where our board's former vice chair, Paul Womack, donated $1 million dollars of his own money to brain tumor research, also at Duke University.  Isn't that odd?  The same type of cancer linked to cell phones and wireless devices and cell towers has been the recipient of Womack's personal contributions.  Guilt money, perhaps?  

Exactly WHAT are Lenovo netbooks, you ask?  That's what we wanted to know and here is what we found out about them from Wikipedia:
*  Wikipedia summary of Netbooks:

Netbooks are a category of small, lightweight, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop computers. legacy-free PC is a type of personal computer that lacks a floppy drivelegacy ports, and an ISA bus (or sometimes, any internal expansion bus at all), usually in exchange for USB ports which are used to connect the peripherals instead of the legacy ports. By 2011, the increasing popularity of tablet computers (particularly the iPad)—a different form factor, but with similar computing capabilities and price range—had led to a decline in netbook sales.   
As a result of two other products:  MacBook Air and the Intel Ultrabook, the only stongpoint that is left to a Netbook is it's cheap price point.
Netbooks lose in the design, ease-of-use and portability departments to tablets.  They lose in the features and performance field to ultrabooks.

Oh yes, and the kicker:  Netbooks are frequently given FOR FREE to customers who signed contracts for cell phones.  
So, did we get the Netbooks for free?  And, if so, where will the SPLOST money disappear to?  And what will be the cost to our children?  
Again, NOTHING this administration ever does appears to have a shred of its purposed based on improving education or helping neighborhoods grow stronger in DeKalb.  How much more of this incompetence can we take?  
Read  more about Lenovo here:
ARE YOU MAD, YET?  Good, then keep reading because we soon be announcing an important meeting scheduled for Jan. 8, 10 am. - Noon.  Save the date now and we'll give you the details on our site and our Facebook page by Monday, Dec. 31!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Independent School Ethics Panel? Finally - a Great Idea

State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D - Decatur) has
a very good idea for upcoming legislation
to possibly help give our board members
the boot and keep tabs on any newcomers
in the future:  An Independent Ethics Board.
Buried in the middle of a recent article in the AJC by Ty Tagami is the first proactive and encouraging idea we have heard in a long time.  Coming from State Sen. Emanuel Jones of Decatur.  The article says, 

State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, said he’ll propose legislation to establish an independent school ethics panel with the power to remove wayward board members. He’s not confident the school board will take the steps demanded by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to restore accreditation, and said that failure would bring misery across DeKalb.

We are not sure why this idea raised by Sen. Jones didn't get more support in the media, but we are hoping the parents and taxpayers will take notice and lend their support.  An independent ethic panel sounds, on the surface, like a very good idea, especially if they would be able to actually remove school board members.  

It might be a bit of a touchy issue to navigate since the panel would be removing officials who were elected by the people in their district, but we will not let that stop us from supporting the idea.  We will hope the Senator has more details or ideas to back up his suggestion.  

Also, can you imagine how many payoffs the people on an ethics panel will be offered?  Let's hope there are people out there who really do want what is best for the children and can resist tempting offers of money and who knows what else (but we might soon find out if we get to read Atkinson's text messages!).  But, it is possible... we know... been there, done that and still at it!  

Kudos to Sen. Jones!  If we hear of a way that our followers can help Sen. Jones move ahead on this idea, we will post more details on our site soon!  Keep reading, DeKalb ... this story is finally starting to look a little better for the "good guys."

In other news...

Thanks to Ty, we have had some decent coverage of DeKalb County Schools recently.  Hopefully, the public at large is paying attention as the problem is now at the point where every person who lives, works and PAYS in DeKalb will be a victim of the same crew that have been afflicting our schools and children for a decade (give or take a few interchangeable names, but likely all part of the one big, fat happy "family").

Here are the latest headlines (with links) from the AJC:

DeKalb leaders react to school board probation

And here are some good news reports from our local television stations that are worth watching if you intend to try to keep up with this unfolding drama. Here's one such story we thought you  might be interested in watching from Channel 2 Action News:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Petition to the Governor - SOS (Scrap Our Schools)

A Link to the Full Report by SACS Placing DeKalb Schools on Probation
Governor Deal,S.O.S.  

S.O.S. (Scrap Our Schools)

Asking "the state" to step in and take over our schools is
like asking a murder suspect to preside over the funeral of
the victim.  Sadly, what other choice do we have?
DeKalb County taxpayers are fed up and asking Governor Deal to step in and remove our entire Board of Education.  Please click this link to add your signature to a countywide petition.

Scrap Our Schools!

Sometimes there is no way out unless you go straight through.  Unfortunately this is one of those times. There are no easy ways to fix the widespread problem.  

The growing  sentiment in the communities here is that the corruption inside the schools is so bad and so far gone, that there is nothing that can be done. 

If our own leaders do not understand their roles and the public has no other recourse to get their numerous, frequent, urgent issues even listened to, much less addressed, then there is very little that anyone can do.  The only system that works is the one that has been built behind the scenes by people who are looking to recoup their investment dollars.  Short term investors wanted to flip  a lot of houses, then the bubble broke and they were stuck holding the deeds, so to speak.  And now we are all paying the price. 
The SACS Report says that proper channels are often not followed, but does anyone know what the "proper channels" might be?  Every proper channel that a parent may try to follow does not work.  Or, what works for one parent may not work for the next.  There is no rhyme or reason for many of the things that go on and a lot of animosity is created in the school house when there appears to be a program of social promotion going on.  Those who are given power or authority over anything, no matter how small, believe they deserved it and do not want to share their secret with anyone else.  A parents that one might think is totally happy with the school will end up removing their child for other parts unknown suddenly and without explanation.  A teacher or principal who talked about their love of the area or their long term plans at the school will be called to a meeting one Friday,  pack their things and moved to another part of the county on a moment's notice.  

Hopes are raised and dashed and those who are caught up in the system have been crying out for help for years, so much and so often that the media has even become bored with their stories.  Every school is run differently.  Every school has been in turmoil at some point because of the sheer level of neglect, mismanagement, theft and fraud that is commonplace here.  For SACS to suggest that there are "proper channels" that can be followed is a joke.  Anyone who has tried is fully aware that the "proper channels" do not work.  And the fear of retaliation is a lot more than just fear.  Retaliation does take place and could have dire consequences for your child and your family.  Using a proper channel will not result in anything proper.
Above, just one example of how the money
does not reach the classrooms.
When will DeKalb stop funding corruption
and start paying attention?
Victims of our own demise.  There is no organizational chart.  We have no job descriptions.  We do not get answers to questions about staff that has been reportedly been cut.  We know what we pay in taxes.  We know what we see with our own eyes inside our schools.  We know that someone, somewhere is getting their hands on our money before it can reach the children.  And, not just our money, the same is true for federal dollars, SPLOST dollars, donations, contributions, even retirement savings of teachers or dollars intended for Jerry's Kids.  (Yes, they even took the dollar that a child donated to buy a shamrock on the wall for Muscular dystrophy.)
There appears to be no other way to help our children that to stop funding this beast.  Force all of those who are ripping us off into unemployment and hope they move away, disband and find something else to do with their lives that will not harm so many innocent lives.  
Rip the bandage off the wound.  It is time to amputate.  A broken arm cannot repair itself especially when it is attached to an entire system of broken bones.  It simply cannot be done.  Put us out of our misery.  Get rid of the board, get rid of BOTH Superintendents (Tyson and Atkinson).  Get rid of the financial leaders, the lawyers and the teachers who are left here.  Get rid of the PTA, the boosters, the canned education programs and please do not bring up the idea of cell towers.  We may have failed to educate close to 50,000 children over the past 10 years, but we do not want to give our kindergarten children cancer on top of everything else we know we will be putting them through.
Send out the vouchers.  Give us alternatives.  Bring on the bus drivers.  We can see the writing on the wall.  Where will they send us?  Gwinnett?  Cobb?  Or will we just keep them all at home?  Anything is better than what we are doing to them now, keeping them in a constant state of fear, as we force them to move around, start and stop different forms of learning and testing, change their bus routes, their buildings and make them travel so far from home to get the exact same level of treatment they could have received wherever they just came from.  We rug right out from under the feet of the children every time they get close to feeling secure with their surroundings.  It's inhumane, pointless and sad. And, it is one of the very few factors that research has proven to actually affect a child's school performance.  Stability of home life and stability at school are necessary for a child to be able to focus on learning, not just surviving the social challenges that come with every change we put them through.
We do not care about the gadgets and gizmos or how many Smartboards you are stockpiling.  They are all meaningless without human beings at our schools who will care for our children when we cannot be there.  
Chairman Walker and Superintendent Atkinson make big bucks for
folks who also make big mistakes.   Friends and family funding may be
coming close to an end. 
A lot of jobs need to be lost and property values must suffer.  We have to starve out those who attempt to hang on, hoping for a free ride at our expense and off the money we intended for the the children.  We're tired of working to watch selfish adults squabble and fight over the right to waste our money.  
We can no longer  promise to stop talking at the end of our allotted two minutes, nor can we adhere to your warnings about not shouting obscenities.  We can no longer sit quietly and watch you parade onto a big stage, or watch you getting out of your chauffeured vehicle.  You are failing us.  You are failing the children.   Instead, of wasting our time playing your games, we will boycott your self-serving performances that you have likely scripted and rehearsed.  Rather, we will stay home and watch you speak in front of an empty room.  We will not accept you as the leaders of anything.  We will boycott your board meetings and find alternatives to your faulty system.  
The petition is just one way of telling the DeKalb BOE how you feel and asking the state Governor to please remove the people he can under his authority.  

It does not give a plan for where we go from here.  Does anyone have a plan that will work considering what we have accepted as normal for the past decade?  You can help ask the Governor to "step in" but who knows what he will do, or what anyone can do, to help.  We all built this wall around ourselves, refusing to believe that we could be part of the problem.  Now, we will have to find out if we can be part of a change or just the victims of our own failure.  
Regardless how we got here, one thing is clear:  We will all go down together. 


Comments from just one of the recent petition signers in DeKalb County:
Governor Deal,

As the parent of two children including one who will be attending pre-K soon, I have followed the thoroughly dysfunctional proceedings of both the Dekalb School Board and administration with disbelief and horror in the four years since I moved here. I never got the feeling that the education of our children has been high on the priority list of any of our high level school leaders. Accruing power, maintaining a fiefdom, doling out favors, and ensuring relatives/friends are hired/promoted even when their qualifications are suspect have unfortunately seemed higher on the list than maximizing the educational opportunities for their charges. As a result, we have millions in legal fees, a former superintendent on trial for corruption, a thoroughly demoralized teaching staff, and clear evidence of a decline in the quality of education our children are receiving. 

The budgeting irregularities are inexcusable for an entity that spends almost ¾ of a billion dollars of our tax dollars a year and, if found in business on the NYSE, would likely result in sanction by the SEC. Given the deep-seated structural problems of both the administration and board, Dekalb School District is too big not to fail. Decisions appear to be made on whim without evidence of long range planning. Millions of dollars of supplies cannot be accounted for while local schools are gluing deteriorating textbooks back together lest they run even shorter. You cannot redirect a leviathan – you can choose to allow the destruction it will wreak or terminate it. While I have respect for at least one member of the board, I feel that state option to remove the board must be implemented to impart the gravity and egregiousness of the situation to the school administration and the entire county, nay the state. We cannot accept such rampant failure or our state will continue to lead from behind in education.

This must be addressed today. Children do not have the luxury of waiting around for two or three years to see if the situation can be rectified by normal channels. Their education is NOW and anything else sets them and our entire state behind. How can I recommend to any colleague with young children to bring their talents to Emory or Georgia Tech or move a business here when our school systems (Dekalb, APS, Clayton, etc) are in such disarray?The leaders of Dekalb have failed our children and teachers for too long.

I am not a fan of bureaucratic control but I would put the school system into receivership if I could. I fear that nothing less than this draconian measure or dissolution of the district into multiple smaller, more responsive districts will be sufficient to break the entrenched culture of personal gain and systemic negligence we have today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stephenson Community Council Issues Plea to Residents: We Must Unite!

DEKALB COUNTY WE MUST UNITE! (For the Sake of Our Children's Education)

The Investigative evaluation conducted on October 17-19 by an AdvancED Special Review Team found the DeKalb County School District in violation of the AdvancED Standards for Accredidation. The probation is effective immediately and runs through December 2013. For full details and outlines of our offenses and  see:
SHOCKED ANYONE?  You should not be.  This is a train wreck that at minimum has been 10 years in the making.
As a parent of a Junior at Stephenson High School this news could not have come at a worse time. As Parents, my husband and I have focused on SAT's. ACT's, AP classes, GPA, extra curricular, and Band- It is our job to guide Brandon, and to make sure all key items are in place as he approaches his Home stretch into Senior year....
As a community advocate, and as Director of the Stephenson Community Council, it has been our focus to partner and with our local schools in our cluster.  We have placed our focus is on supporting our schools-  help increase parental involvement,  offer extra curricular activities to family units, and to support the students, educators and community.  This is everyone's worse nightmare and a scenario that NONE of us want to encounter.
Any of us parents who sit with students poised to graduate with the class of 2014- are all in the same boat- wondering if after 12 years of hard work and effort- our children will graduate from an ACCREDIDATED SCHOOL SYSTEM.  and even worse WHAT IF THEY DON'T?
This my friends affects EVERY SINGLE DEKALB COUNTY RESIDENT who has an Eleventh grader in the DCCD School System- It matters not if our child(ren) attends a Northside/Southside/Charter/Magnet School.  Ultimately we all face the same music, and the same challenge...Our Nail Biter....and the BIG QUESTION on EACH OF OUR MINDS....WHAT NOW????
This is No Longer about, who you knew, who you know, how long you've been a School Board member- If you come from the Good Old Boy network, or if you come from the friends and family with benefits package- This is about what's right, and what has been the lost focal point for years- The EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN, THE PRESERVATION OF GOOD QUALITY TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS, AND THE NEED  TO BAN TOGETHER TO PRESERVE OUR COMMUNITIES.
DeKalb we have no choice now but to come to one accord- As a collective unit, what can we do to make our voices heard, and to DEMAND an EFFECTIVE solution for all. I ask you readers, HOW do we, the people of DeKalb county demand what's in the best interest of the main stakeholders here, OUR CHILDREN, OUR TEACHERS, OUR COMMUNITIES?  We, the residents of DeKalb County have the powers and the means to MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD.
This is the time for US TO SHOW A UNITED FRONT-DEMAND leadership and a Board of Education that is sensitive to the needs of this COUNTY and will take the proper action to set us on a new and proactive track.
DeKalb county Citizens- we can no longer hide behind a blog, or mumble amongst ourselves-  Parents, clergy, community leaders, and citizens, WE MUST RISE UP AND FIGHT FOR OUR CHILDREN!  I beg of you, let’s unite and DEMAND a Team whose vision is to support ONE Focus, ONE Voice, and ONE DeKalb!
Denise E. McGill- Founder and Director
Stephenson Community Council, Inc.

DeKalb DA’s office looking into school board spending

Atlanta Business Chronicle by Carla Caldwell, Morning Call Editor

Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 5:50am EST

SACS says it can't find how DeKalb Schools spent $12 million meant for textbooks.

The DeKalb County Schools system was put on probation this week by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and now the DeKalb County district attorney’s office has asked for copies of the agency’s report that expresses concerns about school board spending.

The report includes allegations of mismanaged money and unethical behavior. SACS blames the school board for what it calls a financial crisis, reports Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV.
The SACS report says there are glaring examples where the board has failed to account for spending, including a loan for $25 million dollars to buy textbooks. SACS said half the money was used to fund books purchased in previous years, but it could find no evidence that books were purchased with the remaining $12 million, WXIA reports.

The DA’s office is looking at who spent the money and if there was any illegal activity, WXIA says.
Dr. Eugene Walker, DeKalb County School Board Chairman, insists there is nothing that would warrant a criminal investigation.

"We don't manage the money. That's done by the system,” Walker told WXIA. “We do have state audits and we just finished the KPMG audit. To my knowledge they did not find any wrongdoing or mismanagement."

Tucker Parent Council Debates Probation, Redistricting

From the Tucker Patch:

Parents were agitated as neither the Regional Superintendent nor incoming board members appeared to have answers.

The Tucker Parent Council (TPC) met Monday, only hours after the release of the report from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools(SACS), the division of AdvancED responsible for the accreditation of schools in the South.  
Cynthia Bryctson, Region II Superintendent
There were approximately 25 parents and community members at the meeting held atMidvale Elementary School, just off LaVista Road in Tucker. Most of those in attendance represented Livsey Elementary School.
The TPC's guest was Cynthia Brictson, Region II Superintendent for DeKalb County Schools. Also present were Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan, two of the three incoming board members who are scheduled to take their posts Jan. 7, 2013.  
Brictson mainly took notes and made offers to carry the sentiment of the group back to the Administration, but expressed repeatedly that the main method for communicating the dissatisfaction of the community was to sign up and attend a public meeting scheduled for January 15. She added that there were only 30 time slots of two minutes each available so it would be necessary to sign up as soon as possible. She also mentioned that in order to make it clear how the Tucker community felt, it would be beneficial if more than one person from the area was able to speak.  
Marshall Orson, incoming board
member (center) District II, and Jim
McMahan, incoming board member (left,
behind filing cabinet) District IV.
"The board needs to hear from you," Brictson said. "And they need to hear from you more than once." 
Several comments were made regarding the fact that there was no educational merit to the proposal for any of the schools slated to be decommissioned or redistricted.
Other comments suggested the only purpose of closing schools such as Livsey is for the short term benefit of securing bonds so that some projects can be moved up on the priority list. That list has been subject to controversy because it was not approved by voters at the time of the SPLOST IV vote last November.  
Livsey Elementary School has been among the top performing elementary schools in the district and is highly supported by its immediate community. The students outperform the district and state averages on standardized testing year after year.
Several people asked why any administration would want to tear down a school that is working rather than expand it or duplicate its model. Brictson did not have any answers, further frustrating the group who remained even longer than the scheduled two hours.  
Officers from the Tucker Parent Council.
"We know that we probably will not be here forever," said an attendee who added that he is a product of DeKalb Schools, graduating from Druid Hills High School in 1975. He said that back then DeKalb was known for being one of the best school systems not only in Georgia, but in the nation. "It's heartbreaking to see what it has turned into," he said. "We know that the larger schools are the direction the district is going and it is sad for some of us, but we will get over it. The point is that this whole plan is not in the best interest of the children and has no educational benefit to it whatsoever."
The time-frame discussed by the Superintendent and the BOE during their last official public meeting was a Jan. 7 vote on the overall plan followed by Jan. 15 as a date for public feedback. After that, Jan. 23 will be the date of the final vote by the new BOE now under Probation from SACS and the watchful eye of almost everyone in the county.
SACS will return to monitor DeKalb's progress in May with another visit in Dec. 2013. That is one short year for a problematic school system to right its own course - a downslide that took 10 years of mismanagement to create.  
However, State Senator Fran Millar released a statement today that indicated there is no state pressure for DeKalb to redistrict. "Approval is not contingent on DeKalb redistricting and DeKalb can actually amend an approved plan at a later date," Millar said in a Dunwoody Crier article today. "The state may be blamed for many things but not for how redistricting is done by a school system."
Is there an educational benefit to merging Livsey and Smoke Rise Elementary Schools? How should the Livsey community respond to the administration's advice to repeat the same steps as the last redistricting in light of the SACS findings? Tell us in the comments section below-