Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Ways Schools Sneak through the Cracks and Can Still Discriminate In Employment Practices

As a teacher, the last 29 years, I have seen school systems continue to discriminate in supplementary employment opportunities in schools. Most supplementary opportunity positions except Head Football and Head Basketball Coach Positions are hired through the local schools. The local schools are required to post supplemental openings but many times the local principal or athletic director posts the job after he or she has already hired the person for the position without even being aware of the qualifications of the individuals in the building or the school system who might be interested in the supplementary position. Many times this is a way to give their friends at the school supplemental income. I also have seen them wait until school was out to post the positions so fewer individuals would even be aware of the post as school is out. I have seen so many qualified individuals who did not even have a chance to apply for these positions because they did not even know the positions were open until the posts, but in reality, they did not have an opportunity at that point because the post was just to follow the procedure as the decision as to who to hire, was already made, before the principal or athletic director posted the position.

IMO, this is really wrong. The correct county policy for supplemental positions like department heads, coaches, gate managers/gym managers or athletic directors, etc should be to require the administrators to post the positions for a few days and require at the minimum that the principal or athletic director review a resume of qualifications before making decisions. We need the most qualified individuals in these positions. Coaches in particular impact our children’s lives. The least we should expect is for local administrators to take the time to post the positions and review qualifications before making selections. This also would prevent the still occurring discriminatory employment practices within our schools in these extremely important areas. I do feel many qualifications should be considered but there is no excuse for already hiring individuals before posting jobs. This is not fair to the children, the individuals who do not have fair opportunities at job opportunities or to the taxpayers.

What do you think? Do you feel this policy needs to be corrected by the school board?


Ella Smith said...

Many qualified coaches and employees are still given the position which they are most qualified. But, in many situations the administrators do not even take the time to look to see who might be interested. They go with the first person who might know the job is open who goes to them that they like.

Again, I feel this procedure needs to be updated to make sure there are no discriminating employment practices due to this process.

Anonymous said...

It's been this way for years at DCSS. And with a bureaucracy that big, it's not ging to change.

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, so this is ok with you or are you at the point you realize it is too big of a problem due to how big the school system is?

Anonymous said...

It is in no way OK with me. But the school system is such a massive behemoth, there is almost no way to stop such sneaky practices from occurring.

After recently talking to some mid-level school system administrators, it is unbelievable how many examples there are of questionable hirings, spending, how vendors are chosen, nepotism, etc. At DCSS, it's all about how you "play the game". Some very good managers are very jaded.

I really belive the system is much too large, and should be broken up into two or three seperate systems.

Cerebration said...

This is not all that different from the paid summer internships that the school board gives to 'certain' lucky college students. Have you ever heard of it before? Why no? Well, that's because Zepora has her list of young people who she gives the jobs to. It's very much under the radar. The last time it came up for a budget approval, Paul Womack asked if it could be opened to a lottery - man, Zepora jumped all over him - she said "her" interns counted on those jobs and she already has them promised to certain lucky people.

Kim Gokce said...

Get the cream pies ready ... I really don't see this as a problem per se. What you are describing is exactly how every human organization works in my experience. We naturally reach out to those we know and trust when looking for "new" people - there is nothing wrong with this.

In for-profit companies, even 3rd party referrals are used ... haven't all of you at one time or another been asked: "Hey, do you know anyone who can ..."

That said, going to your friends and former associates (presumably qualified ones!) is very different than going to family members. In those cases, I think the conflict of interest is clear and our public institutions of all types should keep an eye on this type of nepotism and perhaps prohibit it. Especially, when the hired individual is in the same organization as the hiring family member.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kim. Even if the principals are forced to post the job before filling it, nothing stops them from selecting someone they know anyway. Also, the principal is going to have to manage this employee, so he/she should have the right to select the candidate that he/she thinks is right for the job.

The school system is way more transparent in hiring than almost any other organization.

Ella Smith said...

Thanks for the comments. Now if you son or daughter is on a sports team are you sawing that you do not care if the principal hires a qualified individual who have knowledge of the sport who can coach your child and knows how to deal with athletic injuires over a friend of the principal who would like to have the extra money. This is where I see qualifications coming in as so important. I guess it is because of my training in Health and PE and why this bothers me so much.

Ella Smith said...

Are you saying and not sawing? Well you can do either one I guess.

Open+Transparent said...

"The school system is way more transparent in hiring than almost any other organization."

That's just plain false, naive and ridiculous. Just look at fFances Edwards and all her relatives on the taxpayer dime.

Kim Gokce said...

@ella: "you do not care if the principal hires a qualified individual who have knowledge of the sport who can coach your child and knows how to deal with athletic injuires"

I am saying that going to candidates known personally by a principal is not a bad thing per se. I think it goes without saying that the person should be qualified for the job - most certainly. If an unqualified person is selected for a job, I don't care where they came from they need to be moved into a job they can manage - in or out of DCSS. Sounds like you have a specific case in mind and I would never claim to speak on a case unknown to me.

Kim Gokce said...

@O&T: "Fances Edwards and all her relatives on the taxpayer dime."

Ok, I'll bite. Who is Frances Edwards and how far flung is her progeny in DCSS?

Cerebration said...

Shall I take this one, O&T?

Francis Edwards is a former BOE member. She served District 5 for 4 terms, I believe. Jay Cunningham now holds this post.

"Mrs. Edwards attended Carver High School and Alabama State University. She and her husband Harold are residents of South DeKalb County and have two grown children. Their daughter Philandrea Guillory is the Director of Broadcast Media, and son Jamal Edwards is a Network Liaison Specialist in the DeKalb School System."

Lo and behold - she is also a 1997 "graduate" of Leadership DeKalb.

My note - her daughter's husband, David Gillory works in Transportation making $113,106.00
(Philandrea makes $12 less at $113,094.00).
Jamal makes $56,003.99 working in Instructional Support. That totals over $285, 000 going in the family coffer. Anyone else?

Here's a helpful link, Kim

Cerebration said...

Correction - she is a 1990 graduate of Leadership DK - it was in 1997 that they presented her with the Distinguished Alumni award.

Ella Smith said...

I have seen this happen several times. In fact it has happen to me personally in the past and I have been told it does not matter about qualifications. I do think it matters about who coaches our children in Dekalb County, in Fulton County, in Gwinnett County, and thoughout Georgia. Qualified coaches should be coaching our children. Our children deserve nothing less.

No Duh said...

In the category of "games people (DCSS) play"...

In this age of excess principals in the system, I'd like to know EXACTLY how a principal is evaluated. What criteria are in place to rank principals? What measurements are taken?

When a principal needs to be replaced (in particular when a principal retires, not when they are reassigned)there's always a big song and dance about the School Council interviewing and the post going out to the nation, blah, blah...

But, lately there seems to be a lot of foot dragging and stalling. Expectations dismissed, etc. It feels like classic smoke and mirrors and the school gets railroaded into having the principal DCSS wanted to put there all along.

Now, I realize that the Superintendent is fully empowered to put any person he wants into any principalship. And, that the Council and parents and community can -- legally -- be completely shut out of the process. So, why waste all the time, money, and good faith with the song and dance?

Anonymous said...

That's a great post by No Duh. It's all politics when it comes to principals and asst. principals by the DCSS Central Office.

Cerebration said...

I find it very interesting that the repost for the Lakeside principal's job still contains errors in the racial makeup of the school. I have no idea where they get their information from - as the ad claims that Lakeside is 50% white, 28% black and 19% Hispanic and Asian (they actually combined those two very unlike groups!)

In reality - according to the school system's own Dept of Planning - and according to Lakeside's website - Lakeside is REALLY 41% white, 35% black, 12% Hispanic and 8% Asian.

Why would the school system mislead applicants (or worse, voters in South DeKalb) to think that Lakeside is still half white? What purpose does it serve to publish the blatantly wrong data? None, other than to maintain the race-based north/south politics that continue to erode our system. Further, why state that the school is 19% Hispanic and Asian combined? Why would they present this data as combined? Why not publicize that the school is 12% Hispanic and 8% Asian? These groups are not similar and should never be combined, which I see as disrespectful and dismissive of any other minority groups other than blacks.

We published this here before, and this data was forwarded to the school system - yet the repost has not been corrected. Continue to inform your local reps of the truth please. Apparently, they don't consult their own experts, so it's up to us to share their own data with them.

Lakeside Mom said...

The Lakeside description in the job posting is taken verbatim from the DCSS's description of Lakeside at
I assumed that someone was just being lazy and simply cut and pasted some old verbiage.

I noticed this morning that the data on school-by-school ethnic breakdown disappeared very recently (within the past couple of weeks) from the DCSS Department of Planning webpage.

Cerebration said...

Thanks Lakeside mom - I did find that website. There's another Lakeside website - the one the school produces which has more realistic numbers - although, the latest published AS400 numbers for Lakeside are even more balanced -

39% white, 36% black, 14% Hispanic, 7% Asian, 3%
Multicultural, and <1% American Indian/Alaskan

I don't know why it sticks in my craw except that I am really tired of hearing people pitting the "white" north against the "black" south. How on earth can we ever stop this political race-baiting? Sharing the true facts could be a start.

Lakeside Mom said...

Where are the up-to-date AS400 numbers published? Can you tell us the raw numbers, not just percentages? I can't imagine why there would be significant change during the year. But it's a credit to Lakeside if families who exercised school choice found it worthwhile to keep putting up with long commutes.
For those who don't have them, the 9/16/08 numbers (from
~planning/PDFs/RaceSumm200809.pdf )
1705 total
596 African American (35.0%)
701 White (41.1%)
210 Hispanic (12.3%)
141 Asian (8.3%)
57 Other (3.3%)

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "How on earth can we ever stop this political race-baiting? Sharing the true facts could be a start."

Facts are out of vogue - opinions about facts rule! Sorry to have fun with your frustration but did you see today's Community Rader Quote of the Day? It may shed some light ...

"First, God created idiots. That was just for practice. Then He created school boards." - Mark Twain (source:

May the BoE forgive the humor at their expense and you the shameless plug for my nifty, daily quotes. I hope you enjoy!

Cerebration said...

I don't know the hard numbers Lakeside Mom - I guess you could do the math if you knew the current total (which dropped a bit from the 1705 you have.) Any administrator can pull up the numbers for you - Ms. Moton often provides them.

ps - Fun quotes Kim!

Cerebration said...

Does anyone understand today's AJC article about the principals being transferred? Here's a quote I don't get -

"At least 15 DeKalb County schools will get new principals next year in what's become an annual leadership shake-up by Superintendent Crawford Lewis. Only three of the 15 vacancies came through retirement. Of the rest, Lewis either reassigned the principal to a different job, or a selection committee at a school picked someone to be its principal, creating a vacancy in that principal's former job."

Am I reading that correctly? It sounds like "selection committees" at other schools simply picked who they wanted for their new principal - leaving someone else without one. Anyone know?

themommy said...

Actually, to be considered by the committee, someone has to apply. Once a principal has been at a school for a couple (the amount is vague) of years, the person is eligible to apply for a transfer. So, in theory, whereever we hear that Moton (for example) lands, we need to believe that she applied for that job. Does this make sense? It doesn't mean that Lewis or someone else has gone to a principal and encouraged them to apply. Dr. Halford used to employ this strategy all the time. It is how Lewis ended up at Snapfinger from Montgomery.

What is different this time around is that Dr. Lewis has decided that some schools are so deperate for a sea change that instead of having the committee process, he is appointing a new leader. In some schools, he has to make sure an instructional leader is in place. What the system has found, and I have observed this more than once, is that the committee picks based on emotion (especially if they know some of the candidates) rather than picking the strongest candidate.

It is interesting is that Torres left off at least two schools that were announced weeks ago -- Peachtree Middle and Woodridge Elementary. P'tree's principal is leaving for the central office. Not real sure what happened at Woodridge ;}

No Duh said...

Speaking of principals...

"Principal files complaint over missed high-five

Thu May 28, 9:24 PM EDT
What do you call a high-five that misses? Many would just call it awkward, but an El Paso school principal calls it assault. The misfire came last week when schools superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was giving principals high-fives while celebrating state test scores. When Garcia came to Barron Elementary School principal Mary Helen Lechuga and she didn't raise her hand, he tapped her on the head instead.

But Lechuga — a former district administrator who was recently demoted — filed a police complaint saying she felt pain and feared what he might do next.

Garcia said she's a disgruntled employee and her complaint is petty.

The El Paso Times reported Thursday that school district police are investigating."

Anonymous said...

from anon12.08

Moton is the new principal of Lithonia High School. And Everett, former principal of Druid Hills High School, is the new principal at MLK. Talk about culture shock!

Anonymous said...

Isn't some of the shuffling due to NCLB and the fact that some schools are approaching the year when they must be shut down and reopened with new staff?

I know that over the last few years that Lewis offered financial bonuses to some principals if they would leave their comfy high performing schools and transfer to a perpetually failing school. I know of one elementary principal who turned down the offer last year. Maybe I am wrong but I presumed that this year Lewis may have stopped trying to effect the changes voluntarily and has been directing the transfers. I presume as Superintendent he has that authority.

Anonymous said...

Has a new principal been designated for Druid Hills HS?

Cerebration said...

I believe that the schools whose principals have been moved to (stolen by?) low performance schools - will need to do a search and interview process to find a replacement. Of course, who's to say that they won't take that one from you in 2 years? There's really no incentive to do a good job here -- your reward to to be sent to a difficult, challenging school. (Which a principal could improve - if they were allowed to take their current students along!)

Gee - is Lewis saying that student performance is somehow tied to principals? Give me a break. Principals in DCSS have absolutely no power - there is far too much policy controlling their every move.

Dekalbparent said...

Don't know about new principal for DHHS, but the position is no longer posted on the DCSS website.

There are no posted Asst. Principal positions for DHHS - should we assume this means the Principal position has been filled, but not from within DHHS?

Anonymous said...

from anon12.08

The principal of SWD, John Prince, has been demoted to assistant principal at Chamblee HS. Thaddeus Dixon, who was going to be the principal of the Marine Corps school, will now be principal of Miller Grove MS.

themommy said...

I think that a strong instructional leader can turn a school around. There is much in the literature surrounding school reform that shows this. The question, though, what data do we have to show these prinicpals are that kind of leader.

Many years ago, Halford "stole" the principal from my kids' elementary school to go to a much needier school. She lasted less than 3 years when she was eligible for retirement. She had been so successful at our school because she had a real gift of getting rid of bad teachers. However, I am guessing, that she found that task nearly impossible at her next assignment and could never quite live up to her reputation.

Cerebration said...

True enough, but stealing principals leaves someone else without a principal - and on a search for a new one. Sadly, this will be Lakeside's 4th principal in the last 6 or 7 years. Even a great school like Lakeside will suffer from such inconsistency.

fedupindcss said...

Moton and Everett were told they were going to Lithonia and MLK. Dr. Lewis exercised his right to move personnel wherever he wants to. It looks like they are not posting the AP positions anywhere--they are being moved around like musical chairs (the API at DSA just got sent to the same position at Redan, and the API at Lithonia got sent to DSA). Lakeside lost an AP to retirement in January, and has another leaving soon, so they will get a new principal and two new APs all at once.

DHHS has a trend of having one of their APs become their principal, which has worked well. Lakeside, not so much.

The article was odd in the mention of the Vanderlyn principal moving to Oak Grove, as though she was moved to save a "lower performing" school like OG. In fact, she was over Vanderlyn and the county offered her OG or Sagamore (where both principals were retiring) to move to and ride out her remaining career in a cushy locale. How Torres completely misses the facts on her education stories mystifies me.

Dekalbparent said...

@fedup -

"How Torres completely misses the facts on her education stories mystifies me."

Here's my theory: She gets a press release from DCSS. She reads it (sort of). She prints it verbatim, adding an "elucidation" or two based on her memory of what she just read or read somewhere before (all from DCSS press releases). The recursive process is simple and causes no one to break a sweat - voila! an article without that messy time-consuming research.

themommy said...

I actually thought the comment about Vanderlyn/Oak Grove was a subtle dig at Dr. Lewis for not following through on moving a successful principal to a struggling school. In fact, I think it was one of the best thing Torres has written in a long time.

Cere or anyone,

Could Moton (or can anyone) be successful as a leader of Lakeside given all the internal strife there? I wouldn't be surprised to know that Moton asked for the transfer...

Cerebration said...

What internal strife exactly? I thought she was doing a good job, however, I don't think the teachers liked her because she actually would observe them and give them feedback. Some parents didn't like her because she wasn't charming like Chelf. (Well, at least he was charming to some.)

Maybe she did ask for a transfer - there were rumors a few months back that she was going to Stephenson. Now, hearing that there may be $10k bonuses attached, I wouldn't blame her for a minute. (Although, a drive from Gwinnett to Lithonia could suck up $10k in gas pretty quickly...)

themommy said...

There is no bonus. That was an initiative of the Gov. Perdue's that failed miserably across the board. It has been ended (the state published the list, it had pretty stigent requirements to be deemed worthy of being considered a high performing principal worthy of being paid to take a transfer).

I think state wide, maybe one to three principals took him up on the offer (and in at least one case, I believe, the transfer was in the works before the governor's program was announced -- lucky principal who ever that was).

As to Lakeside, I thought the community was still pretty divided about Moton, not just the community at large, but parents, etc. I understood that she was not a unaminous pick (and no we shouldn't know that, but I think it was all over the media at the time) and has a hard time building concensus.

Cerebration said...

I wonder what is going on at Lithonia. This beautiful relatively new school (which the BOE wisely decided not to spend more money for an addition to) is losing students right and left. Where are they going? Could this be due to the NCLB exodus to Lakeside, Chamblee, etc?

Lithonia enrollments - According to Title 1 attendance

2005/06 - 1,967 (51% Title 1)
2006/07 - 2,056 (57% Title 1)
2007/08 - 1,820 (59% Title 1)
2008/09 - 1,692 (62% Title 1)

Miller Grove has held fairly steady at around 1,750-1,795

MLK continues to remain over-crowded at 2,100-2,200 (But Arabia will take some of these students and provide relief.)

Towers is down to 1,098 in 08-09 from 1,264 in 05-06

Conversely - Lakeside grew from 1,438 in 05-06 to 1,590 in 08/09 (which at the Oct count, blossomed again to 1,705)

Cerebration said...

oh, I think the community got over it. I don't think the "strife" was so much over Moton as it was over Wayne Chelf. The whole thing was handled badly, IMO. Chelf has many supporters, however, he was not liked by everyone, just as Moton is liked by some, not by others. You'd never get a full "unanimous" endorsement. However, as I recall, she was voted yes unanimously by the school council, due to the fact that she was head and shoulders more qualified than the other choices they were given. There may have been one person in the meeting who was unhappy, but for the most part, she was voted yes.

However -- here we go again!