Thursday, July 2, 2009

DeKalb County School Officials Make It Clear, That Employees Only Have the Legal Right To Take Their Children To The School In Which They Work

The current school board and school administration are chiseling away at another problem that has surfaced which probably originally started when several local administrators in the past just turned a blind eye or maybe they just did someone a little political favor, to help one of their DeKalb County School System extended family members. Why did the school system just not abide by the law to start with? What is the problem that started out small but that now has to be addressed by the county school administration to make it fair for all the DeKalb County taxpayers?

For years, teachers, administrators, parapros, school police officers, school counselors, and school secretaries have been sending their children to all the feeder schools in DeKalb County if they work at one of the schools in the feeder pattern which are high quality feeder patterns in DeKalb County School System. But, the law states that teachers can take their children to the school at which they teach. This is definitely a perk and in some cases it does prevent employees from having the expense of daycare and in many situations if the employee works at one of the top schools in Dekalb County it allows them to send their children through a top notch school feeder program. As a former teacher at Lakeside High School who taught and lived in the Lakeside High School district I always wondered what the impact was on my tax bill for many of the teachers who lived in Gwinnett and who paid Gwinnett County property taxes and probably bought most of their groceries in Gwinnett, to bring their children with them and then these children were allowed to attend Oak Grove Grade School, Henderson Middle School, and Lakeside High School just like my children. I always thought it was not the intent of the law. This was one of the things that bothered me as I thought it was not transparent and not right. In fact it probably was an abuse of the law. Is this fair to all the other taxpayers in Dekalb who are not allowed to send their children to the Lakeside feeder schools and they actually pay Dekalb County taxes, particularly with the new choice law being passed? This will change due to the new policy listed below that was provided by Anonymous July 2, 2009, at 12:47. I think it is big enough to make the front page. The school system is cracking down on administrative transfers and starting with it teachers and administrators. I am sure legally that they had no other choice. How can they tell taxpayers that their children cannot go to one of the prime schools in the county when they have employees' children going who do not work there and who do not pay Dekalb County property taxes? The memo to all of the employees is below:

The Board and Superintendent have identified ten priorities for the DeKalb County School System (DCSS). In Priority Three: Develop and Implement School Climate Project, the school system has been directed to address administrative transfers.Over the course of the years, the Board of Education has generously allowed employees to transfer their children to schools closer to their job assignment. Although, Board policy does not guarantee that privilege, significant numbers of employees have enrolled their children in DCSS schools that are outside the home attendance area. However, regarding that practice, Board Policy AD Descriptor Code states the following:

"Any student may be allowed to attend and be enrolled in the school in which a parent or guardian of such student is a full-time teacher, paraprofessional, or other employee. A student who resides outside of the DeKalb County School District and who attends a school in the DeKalb County School District under this provision shall not be required to pay non-resident tuition as defined in Board Policy Code JBCBA."

In order to be in compliance with the Board policy, please be aware that beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, employees will not be able to automatically continue matriculation in a feeder pattern school. Once children of employees attending a school outside their home attendance area complete the highest grade level of the school where currently enrolled, the students will be expected to enroll in the home attendance area school. All employees who desire to continue having their children in a particular feeder pattern may apply for an administrative transfer. Approvals will be based on space available.

Please convey this information to all employees in your school or department so that they will have time to explore and apply for school choice options that may be available to them in 2010-2011 and beyond.

Please contact Ms. Deborah Wilson at 678-676-0755 if you have questions. Thank you for your assistance.

Robert G. Moseley
Deputy Chief Superintendent for School Operations
DeKalb School System
3770 North Decatur Road
Building A
Decatur, Georgia 30032
July 2, 2009 1:39 PM


Ella Smith said...

I do see both sides to the situation. My problem was always that many of the teachers I saw sending there children through the feeder schools lived in Gwinnett County. This is not fair to the taxpayers of Dekalb County.

I do understand how nice it is to have your children close to you, and I also understand the convience of the situation. But, employees cannot get preferential treatment in the choice plan. This would cause all kinds of problems. The county really has no other choice. If lawsuits are filed there is no way they can defend themselves if they are allowing teachers children from Gwinnett to attend (for instance) Oak Grove or Fernbank and they do not teach at these schools when they live in Gwinnett or Fulton County. The school system would have have a chance. This law did open up a can of worms that caused the school system to clean up some situations that they needed to clean up.

I totally understand how teachers might feel but how would you feel if you were a taxpayer whose child went to McNair and you decided you wanted them to go to Dunwoody High School and they could not get in under the choice program but you heard that an elementary teacher who teaches at a feeder school who leaves in Fulton was allowed to send her child there without paying tuition. Would you not be very upset?

Anon South Side said...

This has been a huge problem on the South Side. Teachers teach in failing schools on the South Side but their children are attending North Side schools. These teachers live on the South Side or out of the county. This has been a huge problem on the South Side especially when parents are told that the schools are the same, one would have to raise an eyebrow when you ask a teacher or administrator if your child attends here and they look at you like you're crazy and say oh no, not here!!!!!!

I certainly understand why they move their children....the same reason I applied out!

I think the flood light just got brighter!!!!

Ella Smith said...

No kidding, the school house has got to clean up its act before they expect the public to clean up there act.

Many parents are complaining about crowded schools in certain areas of the county. The problem is not as much students who are there due to AYP, or school choice as it is students who are there who do not live even in the county or who did not even go through the right procedures to be at the school.

The Dekalb County School Board really needs to require formal proof of residence from all students parents again.

Fulton County did it a couple of years ago and it really made a difference.

I am sure many county administrators children are out some of the best schools in the county also. Again, I do understand why they are there. As a parent we want the best for our children, but one the other hand it is unfair to overcrowd a school to the point that a school has other major issues. Many of these older schools do not have enough bathrooms or adequate bathrooms to start with. When you overcrowd a school without adding bathrooms when you just add trailers this is not fair to any of the students. None of them can go to the bathroom between class easily which means they have to miss instruction.

Again, I am for school choice but there must be space available. If not we need to beef up the administrative presents at these underperforming schools and make the county office much leaner. These individual need to be out supervising to make sure our children are learning.

Ella Smith said...

Will teachers out of district have to pay tuition if they do not live in Dekalb County and their children are not in the school in which they teach.

This will be interesting.

We will have some very mad teachers.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in knowing what are the other "priorities" that the Board of Education has established.

anyone know?

Cerebration said...

Dress code for one. And the board has pretty much told Dr. Lewis to get the failing schools in shape. That's why he's shuffled so many principals. Also, there's supposed to be a big parent initiative - a boost to the parent centers.

Anonymous said...

Well if anyone has the actual list of ten priorities, I would be very interested in seeing it posted.

Cerebration said...

If anyone has access to the document described by Mosely - "The Board and Superintendent have identified ten priorities for the DeKalb County School System (DCSS)" - please post it. I have searched and it surely doesn't exist in any of the minutes I can find at the BOE website.

Cerebration said...

This is an interesting entry in the minutes from Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting Minutes, Friday, May 1, 2009

Organization Chart – Dr. Lewis stated the goal is to organize more efficiently. Mr. Cunningham said we need to put an internal audit position back in the budget. He stated we also need a planning person to give relief to Ms. Pope. Mr. Cunningham said the demographers suggested a planning director based on the size of our school system. The salary or the Director of Internal Audit would be approximately $100,000.00.
Mr. Turk stated the Director of Internal Audit would look at systems and processes. This person would not be an educator.

Dr. Lewis stated he is trying to streamline instruction. He said Dr. Bouie will supervise all principals through the Area Superintendents. Mr. Cunningham, Dr. Walker and Mr. Womack suggested that the Office of Internal Affairs report directly to the Superintendent. Dr. Lewis stated in ight of the economy, four positions on the Organization Chart needed an adjustment in salary; however, he will defer any raises for the promoted positions on the chart until the economy improves. The Committee questioned Dr. Lewis about possible salary schedules for new hires.

The Committee questioned if there was a plan for the reserved funds? Dr. Lewis stated the idea is being looked at and they do not intend to touch the reserves. Mr. Schutten said it is a mistake to take away Area Coordinators and that the Office of Internal Affairs needed to be discussed.
He also stated the teachers’ workload has increased without additional compensation. Mr. Schutten suggests peer review and evaluation. Dr.Lewis stated they are working very hard on principal leadership. Dr. Lewis wishes to increase dialogue with ODE.

Anonymous said...

I was the one who posted the memo yesterday, and I while I do see valid arguments for both sides, I wanted to make my point clearer.

I live in DeKalb and teach at a high school (not Lakeside, Druid Hills, or Chamblee), and my husband and I always thought that we would gladly send our kids to the elementary and middle schools that feed into my high school. We never expected to be able to choose any DeKalb school to send our kids; we always thought we only had the option of sending our kids to my feeder schools. I think if the county is still going to allow their employee's children to attend the school where they work, why not allow those kids to attend the feeder pattern schools as well?

A close friend and neighbor works at Druid Hills HS and has a young child. Since that child will be able to attend Druid Hills when he's old enough, shouldn't he also be able to attend the elementary and middle schools that feed into Druid Hills?

Anonymous said...

"A close friend and neighbor works at Druid Hills HS and has a young child. Since that child will be able to attend Druid Hills when he's old enough, shouldn't he also be able to attend the elementary and middle schools that feed into Druid Hills?"

Nope, go to the same darn schools that your your own neighbors have to send their own kids.

And if a DCSS employee, teacher, etc. doesn't even live in DeKalb, then they should not be able to send their child to a DCSS school. That's a $12,000 benefit that voters/taxpayers have been unaware of.

If this policy does continue, I hope the IRS considers it to be a taxable benefit.

Cerebration said...

This is a toughie. I can see how teachers would like to have their children near or at the school where they teach or work. On the flip side, waaaay back in pre-K we didn't get a seat in the Pre-K lottery, but magically, the school secretary who lived in Gwinnett got a seat for her child. I had to pay for private pre-K, even though we could walk to our ES and I already had one child there.

Another thing though, I think Fulton allows teachers to bring their kids into the district (all feeders) where the parent teaches. I don't know about bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc... But if we want to compete with other counties for the best teachers, we should offer the same or better perks and pay.

One Fed Up Insider said...

I do teach in DCSS, as many of you may know by reading what I blog....

I was told by DCSS high up's that in Pre-K.. since it was state funded, I had to go to my feeder school. Ok.. I was fine with that.. So I did not move my child since I had another student that was coming into DCSS.. And sure enough I know have two students in DCSS in another feeder pattern.

I was hoping to move my kids next year so that they would be in the same school through middle and high school.

Now the rules have changed. Due to the traffice nightmare I have suffered these last 4 years... I have decided that... I love my students.. Don't get me wrong, but I love my family more. I going to have to stop doing extra things that I could do.. Just because of traffic... Many extra tutoring, extra mentoring, extra help in the front office, extra hand when either a teacher or student needed it. So know instead of a teacher that was there at 7:2

It is a toughy, you do have that right Cere. I love you for keeping the blog so up to date. But, my kids are only young once and they need a parent at the end of the day too. So instead of being a teacher that was there at 7:30 until 5:00. I am going to have to tell my students good bye at the end of the school day so that I can fight traffic and get my kids home and spend quality time with them.

I know that many of you are going to say way such long hours. I had one in DCSS and the other in a pre school that I love and my child loved. I loved the one on one that I could have with my child that would interfer with my other child. (Our personal alone time). Don't get me wrong my other child have alone time also. But when you raise two childern with learning disabilities it is hard.

If they were in the same feeder pattern all the way up.. I would not have this problem. The would be with friends that they would graduate high school with.. They would be at an after school program that I know works. They would be at a middle school where teachers care about them and go the extra mile. Believe it or not, I am in the north end so I do not want anyone out there to possibly say that I teach somewhere else. I work in the north end and teach in the north end. Only they are two worlds apart.

That is all that I am going to say because the kids are asleep and tomorrow is the 4th.

I love this blog dearly but I need to be a parent for a while instead of trying to save the system.

Anonymous said...

My issue with admin transfers has not been about teachers who use schools, k-12, within their own feeder patten, but rather the teachers and administrators in the central office who have students scattered about.

It is my understanding that the fabulous principal at Riverwood High school has committed to staying there until his youngest finshes going through the feeder pattern, so it can be a tool to attract good teachers and keep them.

Also, keep in mind that the policy says that employees can apply for admin transfers. I also think that the policy needs to be strengthened -- you need to work in the feeder pattern and no admin transfers for central office staff. This might even help keep good people in the school house.

I wonder what Dr. Lewis would have choosen (career wise) if he had to leave Montgomery ES and it meant his son (daughter was in the magnet program) had to return to his neighborhood schools.

Happy 4th!

Anon South Side said...

Great points on all sides....again I don't the answer and in the end we'll probably loose some additional great teachers because they have to be able to take care of their children as well. I've made career decisions based on being a parent and I'll continue to do so until they have completed school. Of course this is totally my choice, my decision and I'm willing to handle whatever comes with that decision. Good for you insider.....

Ella Smith said...

I totally understand how employees must feel. To have such a great perk and have it taken away seems so unfair. I think if you live in the county it was a reasonable perk. The problem comes in when teachers live outside the county and bring their children to the feeder schools. This is an issue for tht taxpayers of Dekalb.

With the new law, I do not think the school board or school official had a choice. They had to do this to protect the school system from law suits. When the lawsuits started coming and it was found that teachers who live in another county who did not teach at the school, has a spot when the parent or parents where not residence of Dekalb over a Dekalb County resident the school system would have been in big legal trouble.

It is a much bigger issue and if not fixed it could have cost the school system and us a great deal of money.

Mr. Echols (principal at Riverwood and his wife) are good friends of mine and it is true that he will stay a principal at Riverwood until his children have graduated. He lives currently in the Sandy Springs area but used to live in Stone Mountain until a few years ago. He is a good principal.
I used to be at Riverwood for 3 years. It is a good school.

Employees will have the same opportunity as other residence in the county regarding the choice options. This is fair. It is not giving prefential treatment. As a teacher I do understand but the bottom line is that it is important that the school system follow the letter of the law. Currently we are involved in too many lawsuits and the county office is spending too much of our money on lawyers. It is important that the school officials do everything possible not to get us into anymore lawsuits. Enough is enough.

Ken Thompson said...


So to get this straight...folks from other counties have been bringing in their children, putting them in DCSS without them or their home county paying a dime? And this is called a perk?

If you account for taxes this is worth about $15,000 per child. Now I don't work for the government, and I don't have a powerful union negotiating on my behalf, so I have a hard time seeing how someone with 2 children getting what amounts to $30,000 is just a perk.

Life insurance at twice your salary. Three weeks vacation instead of two. 401K matched fifty cents on the dollar. Subsidized health insurance premiums. Now those are perks. Oh, and some are subject to taxes.

As for being competitive... First, the IRS comment is spot on: these folks need to pay their taxes. Then, if other counties are doing this they will find themselves in the same hot water when parents are denied transfers and taxpayers perceive them flitting their perfume. Perhaps these folks should work in their home systems and some of our most excellent educators currently exported to neighboring systems will return.

It is just amazing--these people really do need watching.

Cerebration said...

oh yes - this is indeed considered a "perk" and has been going on for many years. We lose so many good teachers to better school systems - a lot of times due to this "perk". I know a science teacher who teaches at a very well-known middle school in north Fulton. Her home school district is in DeKalb - but her children have never attended a DCSS school - they went through all the feeders in the district where mom works. Often, these children ride the bus from their school to the one where mom works. Nice! Teachers don't think about the fact that no other parents have this as a choice. The rest of us must get up and get our kids to school and then get ourselves to work - most often until 6 pm or so - which requires after school care ($$$).

So yes, call it what you will, but it is a serious "perk" that entices the best teachers to the best schools - often bumping out the good taxpayers of the district (in pre-K as in my case, or older grades as in transfers.)

Cerebration said...

ps - for DeKalb, this "perk" applies to ALL employees as far as I know. So we have the potential for over 13,000 people sending their children to our schools - even if they live in another county.

Administrative Transfers are another "perk" only used for certain people. I think pretty much anyone in the administration can get a transfer for their child to any school in DCSS. Beyond that, it's by special permission from the superintendent or a Board rep. Again, a request I made once and was literally told "don't hold your breath".

Dr. Lewis used this to send his son to Montgomery (his daughter went through the magnet program), Johnny Brown sent his daughter to Lakeside, Elaine Boyer sends her daughters to Lakeside (she lives in Smokerise) -- on and on.

BTW - Dr. Lewis even rode in the Dunwoody 4th of July Parade the other day! (He was in a convertible with a poster saying "Superintendent of DCSS") -- great PR I guess!

One Fed Up Insider said...

I hope that now by some of us who never got to use the "perk" that Ms. Boyer's "perk" will be taken away.

Everyone in the school system if you get an "admin transfer" is ONLY good while that student is a student as said school. BUT, Ms. Boyer's transfer which was signed.. by you guessed it CLew is good for K - 12. How could this be? YES.. I have seen the request and I know that it is AS400.

Make her kids go to Tucker.

Please answer that for me.

Cerebration said...

Yes, you see, there are "special" people in DCSS, who get "special" permission transfers and then there are the rest of us schmucks -- oh, what was it Mr. Mosely called parents once - oh yeah - "Background Noise"...

Ken Thompson said...

From "The Complete Guide to Executive Compensation"...

"Children of employees have the opportunity to further their education at company expense through scholarships provided by the company. ... When such programs are based on eligibility, the company receives a tax deduction, and neither the executive nor the child incurs income-tax consequences if they meet the requirement of Section 117 of the IRC.


"Setting up scholarships exclusively for executives' children initially looked good for the tax benefit but has since lost a significant part of its appeal. ...the IRS in Revenue Ruling 76-448 stated that tuition fees paid on behalf of key employees are considered income (for purposes of FICA, FUTA and income tax)...

So, it would appear that if applied equally to all employees, this is indeed a perk not subject to tax.

There are other issues. First, government officials (elected, appointed, etc.) are treated differently. Then, if there really is special treatment that is in fact reserved for key employees, then one might suggest it falls under the second case. I'm no lawyer, but I suspect you would lose that one. And if it stays within the system, then it doesn't seem the IRS could or should take note---all schools in the district are equivalent, at least from a cost point of view.

Legal or not, it is another case of folks playing fast and loose with taxpayers' money.

Anonymous said...

I know of a situation where a mother wanted her children to go to schools close to where she worked. It was quite easy for her to do. She just called up her BOE rep's office and said she needed to have her children attend the school's closest to her job and it happened - all the way from ES to HS - even after her employer moved their offices. Her oldest went to Lakeside and her youngest Dunwoody.

Cerebration said...

How nice! I guess it depends on your board rep - and who you are - and what school you are leaving. I can tell you of many parents who were told no - or had to fight for a very long time to get a transfer.

Speaking of -- what ever became of the Regional Plan - you know, the one where you could go to any school within your region? Has this now been trumped by the state law?

Dekalbparent said...

This "perk" applies (applied?) to every employee of DCSS with the following exception:

If an administrator decided to block the transfer, it was not granted. I know of an instance (this is from an extremely reliable source - verifiable) where a para asked to have her child at her school, was granted permission by DCSS administration (as a matter of fact, in writing by C Lew when he was an asst super), but when the principal said, in effect "no, I don't want the para to have the privilege" the whole thing was reversed.

Cerebration said...

You know, the irony is -- our administrators love to promote the "green" new showcase school "Arabia" -- yet, they have not only reserved several hundred seats for transfers into Arabia - they are promoting transfers ALL OVER the county!

Now - think about all of the energy wasted and traffic congestion from this practice. How green is that? Thermal paned windows at Arabia won't ever make up for the carbon emissions and gas consumption from the number of people driving all over DeKalb county every morning.

Cerebration said...

Dekalb parent - you make the point - the absolute randomness of the practice makes for raised eyebrows as to who "gets" a transfer and who doesn't and why?

Just another trust issue with DCSS. When there are no hard and fast rules and this obviously coveted perk is handed out - basically as favors - it only serves as one more opportunity for abuse and corruption.

Anonymous said...

This individual lives in the McNair HS district, so whoever the BOE reps were 10 years ago until her oldest graduated last year allowed these transfers.

quill said...

OK, has anyone given any thought to the amount of taxpayer money dekalb county RECEIVES when students living outside of dekalb attend our schools? I'd be interested in finding out how much state funding the school/county receives per student in attendance.(FTE money?)

This amount would probably offset the expense of so-called "fairness to the taxpayers of dekallb county"

...Is there really a problem with these emloyees (Dekalb residents and non-residents)who send their children to the school of their choice. By problem I mean : Is there an ACTUAL negative effect on children of parents who are not DCSS employees. ACTUAL = not an emotional or supposed effect based on the inability to exercise the same option.

This particular post can be seen as a sour-grapes sound-off if there are no facts $$$$$$ to back up the claims of "not fair, not fair, not fair!!!"

Cerebration said...

Let's see - that is Sarah Copeland-Wood - and whoever was her predecessor. (Ms Edwards?)

And, I don't think anyone is saying these transfers for employees are unfair - unless and until they serve to actually bump a resident (as happened to me in Pre-K) or another DeKalb student wishing a transfer. The Board needs to set some kind of policy regarding preference. Say, AYP transfers (Federal law), then State law transfers (new HB 251 law), then special permission for well-defined reasons and then teacher's children.

Also - I think the state contributes somewhere around $5,000 per student - although I am in no way certain of that number. Of course, every year they contribute less and less.

Ken Thompson said...

From page 12 of the 2010 approved budget (links at

Local taxes are $577M and state provides $411M. Other local sources is $28M and the Feds chip in $62M. Other is $45M and would seem to warrant a bit more detail.

So, it is only a 50% slap in the face...

Of other note, they budget a 1.5% drop in property tax revenue. Seems a bit optimistic.

Dekalbparent said...


"By problem I mean : Is there an ACTUAL negative effect on children of parents who are not DCSS employees. ACTUAL = not an emotional or supposed effect based on the inability to exercise the same option."

I think the point that has been made here several times is that the effect it has on DeKalb parents transcends the emotional.

If you are an involved parent who values education, and you perceive that your child is lacking opportunities at your local school, despite your efforts to volunteer and help out, your next logical step would be to seek a transfer to a school where your child will be offered a better education.

You find such a school and you apply for a transfer, following all the guidelines. You are turned down because there are no openings because the children of DCSS employees who live from other counties are going to that school. THEIR neighborhood school is a very good one, so the transfer is strictly for the convenience of the parent.

Would you not be hacked off? I know I would. I might be hacked off enough to find a private school for my child (there goes the FTE money from DeKalb forever. I might even move to another county (there goes my tax money from DeKalb forever).

I would argue that it is both an emotional cost and possibly a monetary cost we're talking about.

themommy said...


Only about 50 (maybe even 45 percent) of the cost of educating each student in DCSS is covered by federal and state (mostly state) dollars. So yes, there is a negative economic impact.

In GA, local dollars don't follow the child. So, we get nothing but state and federal dollars for students from outside DeKalb. Plus, generally speaking, these employees are seeking seats in unpopular, non-successful schools but rather overcrowded schools. So, yes, generally I would say that admin transfers are a negative.

Anonymous said...

Thats fine:

Clearly avoiding the elephant(s) in the middle of the room:

(1) How many of the teacher/children transfers are there documented in the principals office? What are their names?

(2) bigger yet elephant:
Number of undocumented transfers dwarf the teacher/children transfers--so how about "School System Make it Clear--who gets to transfer--how many--who are they and what is transfer rationale?

This is called acomprehensive transfer policy. It has teeth and metrics for evaluation/emforcment.

Anonymous said...

If you add non-county resident teachers and staff bringing their children to DCSS schools along with the numbers of students attending DCSS schools who don't live in the county, you are talking about a couple of thousand of students that us taxpayers are paying to educate.

Crawford Lewis has done nothing to enforce residency requirements. If a teacher/DCSS employee doesn't live in the county and contribute to the tax base, they should not have the option to receive such an expensive benefit.

I'm sick and tired of Lewis, Marcus Turk, Bob Moseley, BOE members, etc. crying about lack of funds when they themselves allow a few million to be wasted on non- resident students.

Anonymous said...

Is this BOE member McChesney?

Cerebration said...

No - different Don -- Don of DCSS is a retired history teacher from Gwinnett schools who lives in Sagamore Hills.

But as an aside - WOW! $278,000 to head the Atlanta Chapter of the Boy Scouts!! Where do they get that kind of money? They don't even sell cookies!

Cerebration said...

Righto Anonymi -- I couldn't agree more. The BOE needs to write up a very formal, very tight policy regarding transfers. The willy-nilly, haphazard, wink, wink, nod, nod system of doling them out that we currently have only breeds favoritism, cronyism, corruption and jealousy.

Get to work on this BOE... writing a coherent, strict transfer policy should be a top priority.

Ella Smith said...


Some schools in Fulton county can be attended by paying tuition which is a very minimum fee, as they take into consideration state and federal income for students. Riverwood was one of these schools but they closed this option off temporary or permanently last spring due to numbers at the school. North Springs Charter Math, Science and Art High School is the other one that I am aware of. Many parents are willing to pay the tuition.

This is a priority of the Dekalb County School Board. I know this is definitely a concern of Don M. We discuss during the election. He also is concerned about the attendance lines of Lakeside being changed for his neighbors in Sagamore Hills. Many in the Sagamore Hills area gave him the support because of the interests they have in this getting changed.
Apparently all the lines will be possible re-drawn. If Sagamore Hills is totally in the Lakeside area then another area will probable be totally out. I see this area as probable the area about the perimeter. This will be interesting as this area is where Lakeside gets the majority of its apartments and section 8 students. (free lunch students) It is my understanding that when some of the homes in 1996 were closed down during the Olympics then whole aparentment complexes were bought in this area. I have heard this many times from reliable sources. I have heard individuals who would like for this area to be zoned to Tucker High School. This will be interesting to see how the re-zoning goes and what happens.

Cerebration said...

I've always wondered how or why those apartments out on Pleasantdale road are zoned to Lakeside, when half of Sagamore, which has students who could walk to Lakeside, have to get on a bus and ride to Druid Hills. (This is only a group of 25-30 kids.)

It's wacky. It needs fixed.

fedupindcss said...

My mother worked as a school nurse in an elementary school in the northeast, in a school district with two elementaries and a middle school (high school is regional). The teachers used to get this type of perk, but the school board there eliminated it some years ago because it cost the system too much. This is an upper-middle class community, with huge property taxes (roughly triple what we pay in Dekalb), and most of the staff did not live in the town. However, they get paid a lot (the teachers' unions up there are much better at organizing), and their other benefits are great. My mom said that no other systems around do this, either, so no one misses it anymore. The thinking is that everyone else has to handle work and child care, so why is this so difficult for the teachers?

Ella Smith said...

Cerebration, you hit the nail on the head. I have heard that part of the re-districting years ago was apparently to pull these group of students into Lakeside. I have heard that a school-board member from the past also wanted to be in the Lakeside District so he needed the Evandale school in the Lakeside district also.

As far as this being a problem of this administration, I can assure you that this practice got started to help as a political move to do favors back and forth between principal. Principals turned a blind eye to the addresses out of county. Then how could you say no to others. You could not so the flood gate was open.

I do have empathy for the students caught in the middle. Many of these children have there friends at these schools. Hopefully by allowing them to finish the grades at the schools that are available will be helpful in easing children out of the situation.

This is another situation where principals were allowed to make decision and pull strings that they should not have been pulling.
My third child always complained that he could not get a parking space at Lakeside if any came open because he was not on the swim team. It appeared that the secretary of the school was also the swim coach and took care of her swimmers first and the spaces were given out sorta prefential treatment style. I did see the problem and I thought it was handled inappropriately and that the secretary of the school was also in a situtation to give preferential treatment.

I guess I am just an above board type person, and do believe that the letter of the law should be followed. I have grown and do see gray, but I am such a civil right citizen that I feel things should be fair to all taxpayers and stakeholders. I guess this is one of the reasons I am not a great politician, as I make my decisions based on what is right, fair and that benifits everyone involved.

I have empathy for any individual who might lose their job, but I also feel that there are too many employees still at the county office and this needs to change. The only way for this to happen is for pink slips to be issued. I see so many of the school board members (even Don when has shocked me)(His heart may get in his way) so concerned about individuals losing their jobs that I am not for sure they are capable of making cuts that need to be made to make this school system more lean and efficient. WE ARE TOO TOP HEAVY. I still am shocked at the figures Kim and I came up with our data.

Cerebration said...

And for anyone not familiar with the data Ella is referring to - just click on Mr Potato Head and he will take you there...

Open+Transparent said...

Thank you, Ella! Yes, the DCSS Central Office is way, way too top heavy. It is not run in the manner of a billion dollar business. It's overly political. It's overly black & white, with no Asian-Americans, South Asian-Americans and no Latino-Americans in any meaningful leadership roles.

So a Central Office administrative asst. can send her children to a county school even though she doesn't live in the county? What the...? it's not a simple perk. It's an incredibly expensive and generous benefit given in harsh economic times.

What exactly does State Senator Ron Ramsey and his Internal Affairs staff do? They sure don't check student residency. They sure don't investigate bullying. They sure don't check test scores that are statistically impossible.

Tens of millions spent on new schools like Arabia that may not even relieve overcrowding, and older facilities like Cross Keys, Sequoyah and Lakeside that should be condemnded, with rest rooms worse than any prison.

Large bureaucracies with no checks & balances grow and grow expontentially. They need more and more resources to sustain themselves. Resources that should be going to our schools instead go to pay former principals who don't want to be principals anymore, but want to keep making principal salaries for made up Central Office jobs.

As long as long time insider Crawford Lewis is at the helm, DCSS Central Office will remain a bloated, insular, inefficient bureaucracy (and my buddy pcxeb will keep defending it).

At least DCSW is here to help bring sunlight to a bureaucracy which flew under the radar for way too long. County taxpayers are slowly waking up to how the DCSS Central Office spends their hundreds of millions of tax dollars. Yes, the BOE is a big part of the problem, and Sembler lobbyist Gene Walker getting elected doesn't help. But things are changing, maybe slowly, but they are changing.

Ella Smith said...

Open+Transparent thanks for your comments.

This top-heavy system took years to create and it cannot be fixed over night. But, decisions must be made for the welfare for all stakeholders and not just the employees. Our school system should not be an employment agencies that just hires individuals. I do know that many individuals work very hard at the county office and deserve so much praise.

A friend who is much samarter and knowledgeable than me, feels the school system would benifit from being smaller. This individual suggested a East and West Dekalb System. I know this will never happen but the idea did make me think of all the Large bureaucracy with an ineffective checks & balances system.

One of the main things that did bother me as an employee was the stretching of the truth or possible false information that sometimes the public got that I knew for a fact was incorrect. Another thing that bothered me even more is the lack of respect for just following the letter of the law. Many times they do what they want and since they are so big they are accustom to paying through the noise to attorneys to make sure that they are save.

It takes a great deal of money to take on a school system and few have the type of money needed to do so. Attorney seldom work for free. How many people even have a few thousand dollars extra to take on a system like Dekalb? NOT MANY!!! The family that took on the strip search of their daughter were very brave. I am sure that doing this caused the parents and child many problems in that school system. IF They had respect for the law then this would not happen.

motivatingpeopletoaction said...

I love your has inspired my organization start our own....PLEASE CHECK IT OUT..... JUSTICE IN DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS ALSO PLEASE VIEW OUR MYSPACE/FACE BOOK....i think you may find it (Facebook too) You may think it's a piece of crap...that's cool too. Our goal is to keep informed citizens like yourselves even more informed with factual information.....

Thanks (in advance)

mykidsmom said...

The zonings that you all speak of. Perhaps they were zoned this way to achieve "racial balance" during the period DCSS was under court-ordered desegration. I don't know - just asking at this point.

Of course, the court jurisdiction has been over for a while and sensical districting should now take place.

Anonymous said...

There were certainly decisions made when schools were closed back in the 70s and 80s that were decided (in the back room, not officially) along racial lines. Look at how some of Dunwoody was divided when the two elementary schools were closed there.

Cerebration said...

motivatingpeopletoaction --- I couldn't be more proud!!! You've made me feel like your mama! I wish you the best of luck - and will do what I can to help you make a difference!!!

Send me an email and I'll give you some feedback if you're up to it --

Check it out people --

mykidsmom said...

Look at how some of Dunwoody was divided when the two elementary schools were closed there.

I moved to Dunwoody after Dunwoody ES and Shallowford ES were closed. I am assuming that Dunwoody ES was split between Austin and Vanderlyn and Shalloford between Vanderlyn and Chesnut?

Anonymous said...

This policy should include central office employees. Their kids shouls have to go to the schools that are zoned for their offices. For example, Building B offices should go to those schools and it is not located in the north end of the county, it is central DeKalb. Also, Mr. Dunson-Area 5 Region Superintendent for DCSS should have to send his kids to either one of the schools he supervises or where his office is located. He does neither one. His kids go to DCSS schools but they go outside of his region.

Anonymous said...

Many of the employees who are residents outside of DCSS have smart children who also help to bring up DCSS test scores. I would like to see the data disaggregated that way. I bet these kids would be able to stay if a large number have great test scores.

Anon South Side said...

We have so many problems in this county......I'm so glad to see people chime in. This is a step towards fixing the problem. The county can't divide us anymore. I know one family can't take on the county but if we keep this up......they had better "watch" out!!

This blog is useful. Thank you to all the originators and those who keep spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive me, but I am a DeKalb County educator and have been for 10 wonderful years. My husband works as an educator in Clayton Co. and loves where he works. I lived in DeKalb, taught in DeKalb, and paid taxes in DeKalb long before I had a child who would be attending a DeKalb school or any school for that matter.

I now reside in Clayton Co., and it was our plan for our child to go to school where my husband works. Because of the issues in Clayton, his position was one that was possibly on the chopping block. We had to make a decision about where my son would go to school before Clayton Co position notices were given. I apologize, but I don't want my early elem. child to be 45 min. away from me in case of an emergency. Therefore, we decided that we would try to see if he could come to a Dekalb school within my feeder area. As another teacher/parent noted, I am a parent first and foremost. If we had more parents who had the same mentality, we might not even be having this discussion. We have to be the parents that we want our students parents to be. If you are worried about some us taking advantage of a situation, so be it. It's not about a free ride. I don't have a problem paying tuition if it comes to that. But educators sacrifice so much and exert so much, much more than we are ever compensated for without complaints. We give a lot more than we expect in return.

So I tell you what, add that tuition to my salary, then subtract the tuition, and I'll say that we are even.

Ella Smith said...

Teacher Anonymous, I hear you and understand where you are coming from. The problem is the new law that has went into effect and the school system has no choice. They cannot turn down a child of a parent in Dekalb who pays taxes to choice to go to another school over you as an employee who lives in Clayton County. If you lived in Dekalb there would not be as much of a problem.

Dekalb County tax base is much higher than Clayton county tax base. Clayton County property is slightly cheaper too due to being outside the perimeter. This is about being fair to the taxpayers of Dekalb County.

As a teacher you are correct, you do not get much credit for all you do. As a teacher I know we put in many hours we do not get paid. But, teaching is our job and one we choice and with it we by law do not get fringe benifits like this. It is unfair to you as it has been allowed in the past.

Ken Thompson said...

An anonymous statement I just cannot let pass w/o comment:

"But educators sacrifice so much and exert so much, much more than we are ever compensated for without complaints."

Starting salary in DCCS is $41,628 plus benefits--for a 190 day work year. That is equivalent to $54,773 for a normal, real-world work year. Starting!

Outside of public education there is no place on this planet where someone with a hyphenated, half-and-half degree in something like "English-Education" is going to start at almost $55K. Or have a union to back them up--this is an at-will state for the rest of us. Or get the kind of benies and perks only the guv can provide.

Sacrifice? Perhaps. If you thought you were to be a professional educator rather than a mere teacher and then found yourself little more than a baby-sitter, I can see how you would at least be disappointed.

I won't touch the complaint part, especially on a blog, where most people, myself included, are exercising their whining rights.

Cerebration said...

Anonymous teacher, I feel for you. I completely understand your disappointment. This has been a benefit to being a teacher for a long time. But Ella's correct, the state is driving this train. If you feel strongly, appeal to your legislator.

To me, this is yet another red herring. I mean, really, how many teachers really bring their children in to our schools from other counties? We have much bigger issues -- I'd even bet that we have many, many more students in our schools just because they say they live with Auntie in the Dunwoody district or some such... It's easy to do - you just need someone who lives in that zone to sign off on a "educational guardianship" affidavit.
The only way to disprove it, is if the school system sends the police to Auntie's house to check to see if it looks like the child really lives there. I've never known DCSS to do this.

There! Tip of the Day from Cere!

Cerebration said...

Ken - you are also correct. Teachers are paid better than they realize. I know plenty of people with college degrees who don't command this much pay in the corporate world. (In fact, a much higher percentage of these have lost their jobs in this economy than teachers.)

Studies have been done though, that teachers aren't really concerned about pay so much - they consistently vote for order, discipline, support from administrators and smaller class sizes. That would enable them to do their jobs better. That's what we need to work on, IMO.

Cerebration said...

On the flip side - I'm sure you've all seen the recent news article about one of our teachers - sigh...

Police say they arrested a Stone Mountain Middle School teacher Thursday – moments before he was about to have sex with a 15-year-old student. ...

Charles Thomas McClendon, 29, is now being held in the Clayton County jail, charged with child molestation and enticing a child for indecent purposes.

A Jonesboro Police officer was patrolling when he spotted two people in the back seat of a pickup truck, parked behind the El Tarasco restaurant around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Jonesboro Major Tim Jessup said.

As the officer pulled up, McClendon tossed a condom, jumped out of the truck and pulled on his pants, police said. The girl fumbled around the truck and put her clothes back on, Jessup said.

fedupindcss said...

Ken--per your comment about the protection of the teachers unions here.

The two unions in this state, GEA and PAGE, are about the most toothless teachers unions I have ever seen. PAGE doesn't even believe in collective bargaining! In the northeast, the teachers unions strike, have enforcers, have huge legal funds to represent teachers who get sued (and who sue) and make sure their members get contracts that include things like capped class size, guaranteed planning periods, the works. DCSS gives 1-year contracts, and although it seems hard to dislodge teachers here, it is still easier than in other states.

DCSS is in a bad place here, but they let themselves get to this point by allowing a defacto benefit without proper policy and procedure in place. This is typical of DCSS--everything is a moving target, based on back-room deals, personal promises, and old-boy politics, not professionalism.

Anonymous said...

I agree that many teachers believe that this is a perk that is owed to them. Everyone has a reason for wanting his/her child to be schooled within the county of employment. For many it's a Catch 22. Yet, the law is the law. Therefore, I also understand that the law must be followed, and as a result I will be eventually moving my son to a school in my attendance zone.

However, a teacher's day, while contractually may be 8-4, may vary drastically from day to day (many times unexpected). If schedules were the same everyday, and teachers actually clocked out when the last bus pulled out of the parking lot, the situation might be different for some.

The bottom line is that there is a law that is not being followed. I like many others will do what we have to make sure that we comply. I'm just glad I know enough in advance to make other arrangements, including possibly sadly leaving a school that I truly love.