Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dim excuses for outrageous behaviors

I hate to say it, but our school leaders just don't seem to be all that bright when it comes to everyday, ordinary life skills.

First, we have a superintendent who swears that he panicked when he accidentally pumped premium gas into his car. (Which, as most of us are aware, will not harm your car in any way. Besides, isn't "premium" a synonym for "premier"?  Lewis should have known there's no difference between premium and regular!) Anyway - he was so freaked that he said he actually says he got "someone" to get a rubber hose and pump it out. We never learn exactly where the gas was pumped, or by whom, but if this story is true, some bloke had the last laugh–and a free tank of gas!

Now, his sidekick, "COO" and director of construction, apparently never realized she didn't get a divorce from her first husband before marrying her second!  To which I say, "Yeah, right."

"Puhleeze!!! Enough is enough!" "Uncle!!!"

======

An aside in the same article:

Last month, investigators searched DeKalb Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis’ home and school offices as part of a search warrant. After the search, District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming said she needed 90 days to wrap up the probe.

The district attorney declined to say if Pope’s pending annulment would affect the investigation, which is slated to be wrapped up in less than three months.

"We are on schedule to complete the investigation by the end of May," district attorney's spokesman Orzy Theus said Monday.

Well, so much for a trial in March. Keyes is now claiming that they are "on schedule" but need 90 more days. Huh? This thing is going to fizzle into nothing. I have no confidence that we will see anything happen except a whole bunch of tax dollars spent on lawyers and maybe a judgement that will barely recover those attorney's fees.

In addition, I am incredibly disappointed in the board, who will not take a single action against Lewis and Pope, and allow them to continue collecting full salaries and benefits from the taxpayers.

To quote one of our regular contributors, "Cynical? Yes!"

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will the Board sue to get compensation back if there is a conviction?

Dunwoody Mom said...

According to Tom Bowen in his interview a few weeks ago, the answer is yes.

Cerebration said...

There won't be a conviction - I'm convinced this is all smoke and mirrors. A waste of time. A boondoggle. A power play. Sorry guys, that's what I think. Give me a reason to think otherwise.

Cerebration said...

Check out what Atlanta Unfiltered is reporting -

MULTIPLE CHOICE: When did Pat Pope, a central figure in the criminal investigation of DeKalb County school construction contracts, divorce her first husband?

2001
2003
2006 (after marrying husband #2)

NOT-SO-HELPFUL HINT: At one time or another, she's cited each of those years as the correct date.

Open + Transparent said...

Crawford Lewis' explanations for the vehicle purchase at one third the book value, and the gas fill-up nonsense, ended any and all of chance of him ever being a superintendent with credibility again.

On the grand scheme of things, the two issues are minor in scale, but they are huge when it comes to credibility and common sense. All of the other fuss, much bigger in scope, like the questionable administrative transfers, the Pat Pope debacle, the nepotism, the cronyism, the America's Choice purchase, the inexcusablby poorly down eSIS rollout, the Jaheem investigation with $500,000 to Thelma Moore, the Adams Stadium/N. Druid Hills potential sale to Sembler, the massive buildup of administrators in MIS, school police, Gloria Telley's army, etc., etc. should have brought his credibility into question.

But it was his explanation of buying gas, and a vehicle for his son, that brought down the head of one of the largest school systems in the Southeastern U.S.

Anonymous said...

Haven't we covered this before?

Cerebration said...

Yes. But it just won't end. That's why I cry "UNCLE"! Only the DA can end the madness - obviously, the board of education isn't up to the task. Amazing that they fired Johnny Brown - and he didn't actually do anything "fireable"....!

Anonymous said...

If DeKalb Schools are to once again become the best they can be, there must be the reestablishment of TRUST between the Schools (Superintendent and School Board) and the taxpayers (parents).
This can never happen with the current Board and Superintendent. They have all failed the children of this county and should each have the courage to voluntarily resign their positions.
Only a new Board and Superintendent can move the school system forward.
If there is to be any hope of future SPLOST funds for maintenance and adequate dollars to operate public schools, it will not come until those responsible for the current state of affairs move aside to let others provide the leadership needed.
Since the Board is elected it really is in our hands.

Anonymous said...

Pat Pope's personal life is just that - personal. Her divorces or lack thereof should have no bearing on her DCSS career, and I can't imagine anyone even cares about it.

What we all should care about is the shoddy, cost overrun, late completion construction Pat Pope oversaw.

As for Dr. Lewis, most DCSS parents/taxpayers should not be so worried about Gasgate. They need to be more upset that Lewis presided over the largest "jobs creation" machine in the history of a once proud school system. Saying you lived in DeKalb, went to school in DeKalb, or worked as a teacher in DeKalb at one time was a source of pride. No more.

Dr. Lewis hired so many admin and support personnel (8,800) that they now outnumber the teachers in the classroom (7,000) to the point that the education of every child is being negatively impacted, teachers no longer speak with pride of being a DeKalb teacher, and homeowners are seeing a decline in property values over and above what the recession has done.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon - agree with you completely about Pat Pope's personal life. I was bothered that it was in the AJC - it's salacious, and has no bearing on the issue at hand - which was discussed subsequently in the article.

I differ about Gasgate, though. The terribly inept lies go to character. If CL can do this without thinking it wrong, how can I trust him to exercise correct judgement anywhere?

If CL lives by this ethical code, thn so do those in the DCSS Administration, so how can I trust them?

If Pat Pope can lie about directing money to Vincent Pope's firm, as well as omit to mention that she benefited from her connection with the firm, then it is more of the same skewed ethics.

I am reminded of what I read in a grad school psych class - there are levels of moral development, and many people stop at the 5-6 year old stage - it's only wrong if I get caught.

Anonymous said...

REALLY, DCSS.....Really?

Anonymous said...

Isn't that Bigamy? Plus when you re-marry, don't you have to provide evidence of a prior divorce? Isn't there a contract
clause about moral turpitude?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cerebration said...

Sorry, Anon. Had to delete that web link. I have been asked by the HM attorneys not to post anything about that. I choose not to upset them.

Also - as long as we're talking about HM attorneys - the interest in Pope's marital status goes to her character. The attys will use this to paint her as deceitful - showing that she knowingly lied on her employment app, etc... So, even though on one hand, it is salacious, on the other, it will definitely hurt the school system in this lawsuit (that will probably never get to trial). As soon as they pin suspicion on Lewis, they will have their defense wrapped up...

Dekalbparent said...

CRAP. There goes the legal case.

I think admin was secretly counting on winning and saving the day with the settlement - "There, folks, see? Told you you had nothing to concern yourselves with! We got the money riiiight here!"

Anonymous said...

None of you get it! Spending all of your time complaining about shoddy construction of which very little exist. Contracts and other business entanglements of the Popes that none of you including the DA have been able to prove. Worrying about pumping gas and now this crap in the paper. What does this have to do with educating kids? How about fire the lawyers representing DCSS in the HM case. Want to know how to get to $88 million? Well pay the legal team over $20 million to cover a bs claim. Simply stupid all of this. Fire them all!

Anonymous said...

Was or is Pat Pope's sort-of husband Vincent Pope on her DeKalb health insurance plan? (not sure if it is a reduced family plan - but issues in her personal life may affect tax payers)

Dunwoody Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/pope-files-for-annulment-372783.html

"Lewis is on leave, is still getting paid his annual $255,000 salary and has use of a district-issued car. He also gets to keep his credit card and a portion of his expense account, board chairman Thomas Bowen told the AJC on Monday."

WTF??? He still gets use of his DCSS vehicle??? Why is our BOE so clueless???


"Court records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show Pat Pope filed for an annulment from Tony Pope earlier this month, saying she was "unknowingly" married to someone else."

I might try this one the next time the wife and I are arguing!

Anonymous said...

Pope's annullment -- based on the fact that she married while already married -- goes to her credibility.

Anonymous said...

Pat Pope's marriage situation certainly is public when she is married to a person who has received millions of dollars in contracts paid for by county taxpayers, even after it was made clear that her husband was not to be part of any DCSS construction projects. Every decision made regarding construction pertaining to Vincent Pope, and his acquitance David Moody, should be held under scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom said...
"it's irrelevant, and another shameful act by the AJC."


Shameful? Really, shameful? It goes to her credibility, especially when she has given three different dates of her alledged annullment. No one needs to know the sordid details of her relationship, but we should know every bit of information regarding any DCSS business with Vince Pope and David Moody.

And don't forget that Pope was first a consultant with DCSS, and Crawford Lewis oushed to get her hired without a job search.
Oh, the irony, C Lew.

Anonymous said...

If one doesn't know if one is married, how credible is that same person as a witness for the District?

It will be interesting to see what happens to the players after the lawsuit implodes. My bet: Stan Pritchett and Pat Pope take senior jobs at Heery International, Tony Pope is awarded numerous Heery-linked architect contracts, Crawford never returns to work but continues to receive his $255K+ salary and perks until his contract expires, DA Gwen Keys joins Heery's in-house legal team, AJC investigative reporters are reassigned, and the BOE is reelected. WSB reports on it all, and no-one cares.

Cynical? Yes.

Andrea said...

Doesn't the Pope marriage question impact testimony regarding each other? If the Popes remain married, I believe it is harder, if not impossible, to force them to testify against each other. Ella, Cerebration, etc. know the legal system better than me but I think this particular wrinkle makes their marital status relevant.

As far as the AJC goes, I am just glad they appear to be doing some actual reporting. That has been in short supply there for many years.

Cerebration said...

Here's an editorial on the subject by Jim Wooten -

● I’m sick of public officials who exploit the perks of office, especially the little stuff like cars and gasoline. DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis visited one gas station three times in one day, using his district-issued credit card to buy gas in the sums of $32.83, $32 and $50. Explanation: He accidentally put premium in the tank, pumped it out and refilled with regular, drove to visit his mother in Monticello, and then refilled. If I’m on the DeKalb school board, he’s outta here. I’m fed up with public officials who treat public office as a lifestyle enhancement.

Anonymous said...

Why are no DCSS parents enlisting the help of SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)?

SACS is the way Clayton County Schools got a new BOE and a new superintendent.

Since SACS forced the Clayton County to "clean up its act", we haven't heard a peep out of that county except when the AJC published the EOCT scores in January - Clayton County students showed more proficiencty than DeKalb County.

Mark Elgart is the President. See below:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Council on Accreditation and School Improvement
Commission of Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Schools
2520 Northwinds Parkway, Suite 600
Alpharetta, GA 30009
(888) 413-3669
Dr. Mark A. Elgart, President
http://www.sacscasi.org

Here is the SACS website:
http://www.sacscoc.org/links.asp

SACS made Clayton Schools reconstitute their BOE. They should be scrutinizing DCSS's BOE as well.

Anonymous said...

When you stop and look at the "big picture," we have to blame the board of education for all the free reign CLewis was allowed to have. Sarah Copelin-Woods and Zepora Roberts were members of the board that fired Johnny Brown because he was cleaning up all the nepotism, waste, and cronyism. However, they became upset with Brown because he would not "bow down" to their wishes. As a result, he was let go, and CLewis took over. He adhered to all of the board members wishes, in return, he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to do, and they never questioned his actions. Some of newly elected current board members have fallen in line with Roberts and Copelin-Woods, and no change has occurred. Why would the board allow Lewis to spend 8million on America's Choice, and 4+million on eSis when the county is facing a deficit? Instead, they allowed the waste and abuse to continue. As taxpayers and citizens of Dekalb County we have to make sure to remove all of the dead weight sitting on the board. They are certainly not concerned about the students, teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc. that continue to work hard on a daily basis.

CLewis is guilty, as well as Pat Pope, but neither one of them is going to be convicted of any criminal acts and they know it. Keyes-Fleming is only carrying out the investigation because higher-ups in Dekalb are forcing her hand. She needs to be voted out of office as well. CLewis is not going to return once the investigation is over. He is going to retire quitely. If he is as innocent as he claims, he would not have taken a leave. Pope has not left.

Anonymous said...

Cere, I hope you will have enough humility to publicly apologize to the entire DAs office once you are proven wrong. Your cynicism (and what appears to be your thinly veiled support of the DCSS crooks, which I can't explain) is very odd. What basis do you have to question the DA and its investigation? Because it is not on YOUR timetable? This isn't an armed robbery caught on tape, you know. It's going to take some time (and, I imagine, quite a bit of man hours to pull it all together--oh, and in a time when her budget is facing cuts...again!). We should be supporting the DA's efforts..we may finally be in a position to clean up our school system. I am sure you support this, right? Sorry...I am just really confused by your condemnation of the DA in this situation. It seems very misplaced.

Go ahead Dunwoody Mom...I am sure you have a defensive comment coming right about now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:17, I am going to watch and see what the DA does with her findings, I hope she is true and honest to her oath of office and the citizens of Dekalb County. If she comes up with nothing like the ex-judge that was hired by the board with the suicide incident, then I will truly know that a conspiracy has occured.

Anonymous said...

8,800 admin and support personnel and 7,000 teachers.

Write your BOE members and Ms. Tyson about these numbers as being unacceptable for our kids.

Here is the link you can give your BOE members in your email (straight from the DeKalb Schools Superintendent's webpage):

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/795BF9ED3F3D479294A6DD1DE042E5C9.pdf

Go to it yourself and see that only 44% of our personnel are teachers, and now Ms. Tyson and the BOE are getting ready to cut the teacher percentages. How low they go for our kids? I guess we're about to find out.

Anonymous said...

Ok pope is really not Pat Pope and therefore she lied on her job appli. so does this mean that every thing that this lady has done has been untrue. My question is Pope has done a large number of things to people like terminated employees, moved people around because she did not like them and i know this to be true. She hired a large number people who should not have been with the system. And the two dept.that she total got rid of, the lay-offs. How can all this be legal? I knew it was something about her that was not right for the very start. She could never look you in the face when she talked to you. Her whole life is a lie. And I hope that they check all of her names and bank accounts.

Nonni said...

@Anonymous 8:44 PM

On March 14 at 6:14 PM, I posted the following:

Oh -- one more thing ... there will not be a response from Kathy Cox, Brad Bryant, Mike Bryans or Mark Elgart to anything that is said on this blog. Why? Because they believe that if they say nothing, it will all blow over, be forgotten and they can move forward as if there was never a problem and our children's education was never at risk. Don't let them get away with that!

Here are their e-mail addresses:
state.superintendent@doe.k12.ga.us
brturner@doe.k12.ga.us (Kathy Cox's administrative assistant)
bbryant911@aol.com
melgart@sacscasi.org
mbryans@sacscasi.org


So, in answer to your question, several parents have approached SACS and have been given various excuses for SACS' inaction, as well as a confirmation that SACS has a number of fat files on the problems with DCSS.

Go to this URL for the names and addresses of the members of the SACS Accreditation Commission: http://www.advanc-ed.org/about_us/people/accreditation_commission_members/?

BTW -- MBryan, listed above, is Mike Bryan, the director of SACS Georgia office. MElgart, listed above, is Mark Elgart, President and CEO of AdvancED, the parent organization of SACS-CASI. In addition to his e-mail address, his regular mailing address is:
Dr. Mark Elgart
4160 Park Brook Drive
Alpharetta, GA 30022

Let's fill all of their mailboxes! Enough with the DCSS BOE!

SACS refuses to step up and do what is necessary and right for the children of DeKalb County. Yet, SACS yanked the accreditation of Warren County (GA) Schools, primarily because their school board does not follow Roberts Rules of Order and they had been warned. Seriously? Seriously.

Do you have any idea how much it costs for a visit from SACS-CASI to renew a school's accreditation? Thousands of dollars! Not only does SACS charge for the visit, the school has to pay for housing and feeding the SACS committee of educators that comes in for about a week. That does not count the hundreds of hours spent by school personnel preparing for such a visit.

SACS seems pretty useless.

Nonni said...

@ Anonymous 9:17 and Anonymous 9:25

This is the quote from Gwen Keyes Fleming that concerns me the most about the so-called "investigation" now taking place:

“This is all part of an ongoing investigation which was started at the request of the school system’s administration. After reviewing the information we gathered today, we anticipate bringing this matter to an appropriate conclusion,” Fleming said in a statement.

Appropriate for whom?

If Lewis is indicted, tried and convicted, he will lose his retirement pension. Fleming knows this.

Both Lewis and Pope should be indicted and tried before a jury -- hopefully by the U.S. Attorney in front of a federal jury because federal funds have been involved.

Cerebration said...

Anon 9:17 PM, all I can say is, you must be new to this blog. To say that I have "thinly veiled support" for anyone is ridiculous. Heck, if you had been reading earlier, I was accused of supporting the Heery/Mitchell attorneys! I assure you, I am so frustrated I could pop a gasket. I'm frustrated with the snail's pace of this investigation. The first investigation into Pat Pope was what - December of 2008? We were told we'd know more in a few weeks. Then it was March of 09, then May, then December, then a trial was scheduled for March of 2010 - now - they need three more months! All of this could possibly be due to the fact that our DA's office has had to take on cases from Clayton!! This is a giant mess - and it should take front and center - push Clayton Co cases and all others back - we have 100,000 kids hanging in the balance here.

Beyond that - I have no agenda. I have no support for anyone - inside or outside the "system". I only have support for the regular everyday teachers who are paying the price along with our children for this greed, ineptitude and shenanigans. It's nonsense, and it needs to be resolved soon.

Anonymous said...

On another note, if you teach or have a student at Lakeside or Chamblee, please help us get the word to the Board that forcing teachers to teach 6 out of 7 periods would be detrimental to our schools. At least 30 teachers would have to be laid off or transferred and teachers would have very little time to plan lessons or grade papers. The other Dekalb schools are on block scheduling so their teachers would get 90 minutes each day to plan, but Chamblee and Lakeside teachers would only get 50 minutes. The Board does not understand the ramifications of this. Please help us communicate this to them by sending your board member an email. http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/board/members/

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8:44 is asking for SACS to do something that the citizens of DeKalb won't, elect Board members that make decisions in the best interest of the children and community. They should not get involved in situations that the citizens put themselves into.

Remember in Clayton county, a Board member asked SACs to get involved.

Anonymous said...

I agree. This is about the parents and citizens of DeKalb County standing up and electing a responsible Board that practices good stewardship of our tax dollars and demands superior leadership from a Superintendent.
We do not need SACS, the DA, or anyone else to do that for us.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:33 - what about the teachers at MLK? They are on a 7-period schedule as well. Or do those teachers not count?

Anonymous said...

Anon. 7:32 a.m.

Yes, I think Tyson and the BOE will have to include MLK, Tucker and Dunwoody. Tucker and Dunwoody are going to a 7 period and a 7 period modifed schedule. From a cost cutting measure, it makes no sense to impose the change on only two high schools.

Thus if this proposal is adopted we will lose many experienced and talented high school teachers. And it will be very unfair to the remaining teachers in the 7 period schools.

A better solution is to cut administration and non-teaching positions to the bone this year. Then next year move all the high schools to a modified 7 period schedule used at many Fulton County high schools. DeKalb needs to get rid of the 4X4 block at all high schools. It is very expensive and ineffective.

Anonymous said...

Tucker and Dunwoody are going to a 7 period and a 7 period modifed schedule

When?

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, Dunwoody will still be on some kind of 8 period block next year.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Governor Perdue removed 4 Clayton BOE members. See Sonny Perdeu's press release from 2 years ago:

http://www.georgia.gov/00/press/detail/0,2668,78006749_119047978_120961335,00.html

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow back on. Regarding the DA: Read Dekalb Officers Speak and their take on Keyes. She seems to have problems with giving some of Dekalb's worst felons the benefit of the doubt.
I'm encouraging my neighbors to fund anyone opposing her in the next election cycle that's remotely worthwhile. The straw that broke the camel's back? Two years ago, our area of Tucker had 23 total incidences of break ins and car thefts. The Dekalb police department arrested a robbing gang out of Clarkston a few months ago.
They're already back out on the street. Thanks a lot, Gwen.

Anonymous said...

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/kansas-city-school-cuts-signal-nationwide-trend-education/story?id=10118434&cid=ESPNheadline

Tough economic times actually present an opportunity to school districts to evaluate the size of their student population and their building maintenance costs, which are the second largest expense after teacher salaries, according to Smarick.

Cerebration said...

Dated missteps, as quoted from various AJC articles:

Monday, September 01, 2008
Turns out, Lewis bought the car at a fraction of the fair market value —- he paid $5,766 but the car’s market value was $16,475. The difference in price, according to state audit deputy director Ben Riden Jr., equates to a “gratuity” or extra
compensation for Lewis —- which Georgia law forbids...

Friday, December 05, 2008
A top official of the DeKalb County school system is facing an “internal review” over allegations of irregularities in school contracts, according to individuals close to the school system. The review involves the office of Patricia Pope, the chief operating officer of the DeKalb system. This week, school system police officers and information systems employees examined records from Pope’s office, according to a person who spoke to
someone who was there.

Friday, December 11, 2009
The first sign of trouble surfaced in late 2008, when school officials examined records from Pope’s office. But it wasn’t until October, when authorities searched the homes and offices of the Popes and Moody, that the probe appeared to pick up steam. Later that month, Pat Pope was removed as chief operations officer and moved to a different building. She no longer oversees high-dollar construction projects, but is still receiving her nearly $200,000-a-year salary.

4:35 p.m. Thursday, January 7, 2010
In the Open Records Act request, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, District Attorney’s Office investigator W.C. Nix wrote that his office believed that the school district had additional documents that had not been seized when authorities executed a series of search warrants in October.

Pat Pope formerly worked as the district’s chief operating officer, overseeing school construction projects. Nix said in the letter that the documents he sought involved allegations that Pope circumvented state bidding laws in order to steer contract awards to her now-estranged husband, architect Vincent “Tony” Pope, the couple’s friend, Lithonia builder David Moody, and Turner Construction Company.

The school district rejected the request, citing attorney-client privilege.

8:07 a.m. Thursday, February 25, 2010
Investigators are searching DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis’ home in Stone Mountain as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into multimillion-dollar school construction projects.

Cerebration said...

oh - and perhaps a clue as to what may be hampering progress on DeKalb work in the DA's office - thanks to the state.

5:00 p.m. Friday, January 22, 2010
A criminal investigation into former Clayton County Police Chief Jeffrey Turner has been turned over to the DeKalb County district attorney. Turner was placed on unpaid leave earlier this month after allegations of misconduct, including reports he
unlawfully eavesdropped on his wife and altered public documents. Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson asked Attorney General Thurbert Baker to handle the investigation. He appointed DeKalb District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming on Jan. 15 to lead the probe, Baker spokesman Russ Willard said.

Lawson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that she disqualified her office from the investigation “based on ethical qualifications and the law.”.....

Anonymous said...

"Sorry, Anon. Had to delete that web link. I have been asked by the HM attorneys not to post anything about that. I choose not to upset them."

Got to you too, did they?

Anonymous said...

It's puzzling that DCSS is proposing closing of 7? 12? schools to save on building maintenance costs, yet in her 5 proposals Ms. Tyson does not have any cuts to the support and maintenance personnel. Where will DCSS see a savings if there are no cuts in admin and support (8,800 of them)? Is she only counting on teacher positions being eliminated if DCSS shutters these schools?

Does anyone know how many support and maintenance personnel Ms. Tyson has calculated DCSS can cut if they shutter these schools and what the savings to DCSS will be? I did not see this in her various proposals to the BOE.

Cerebration said...

No, they didn't "get" to me. They simply gave me more information on that website. The link was to a website called The Dallas Crooks and features a 1998 report to the FBI on the letterhead of a company called A.C.E.S. It makes a number of serious accusations against Heery. The president and owner of A.C.E.S. apparently issued a retraction letter confirming that he had no first-hand knowledge of any wrongdoing by Heery. (I read the letter.)

It appears that the internet has once again proven itself to be a place where you just can't believe everything you read (same as the real world). So I agreed that posting the link as a factual resource was unfair and lacking in credibility.

I am also sorry to be so impatient with the District Attorney. It's just incredibly frustrating because this case is so different - in that it holds so many children in limbo - along with our county's reputation and property values. I think it's very wrong of the state to come in and pile more work from other counties on the DA's office when we - the citizens of DeKalb - need their full attention.

Cerebration said...

Way to connect the dots, Anon 12:19 PM.

It could never happen here said...

First it was the Kansas City public schools. Now it's the Detroit public schools.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20100317/us-detroit-schools-closings/

How much longer until we read this about our DeKalb County School System? ? ?

Anonymous said...

"It's puzzling that DCSS is proposing closing of 7? 12? schools to save on building maintenance costs, yet in her 5 proposals Ms. Tyson does not have any cuts to the support and maintenance personnel. Where will DCSS see a savings if there are no cuts in admin and support (8,800 of them)? Is she only counting on teacher positions being eliminated if DCSS shutters these schools?"


Great stuff Anon 12:19. Ramona Tyson was only a teacher for a very short time. She has been out of the classroom, and building up the bureaucracy at MIS for years. It's a whole lot easier for her to cut teachers than staff.

Same old, same old.

Anonymous said...

"Where will DCSS see a savings if there are no cuts in admin and support (8,800 of them)? Is she only counting on teacher positions being eliminated if DCSS shutters these schools?"

Anon 12:19, you do realize that the teachers will follow the students? Cuts will come from administration (principal, AP, counselor), library staff, and maintenance workers.

Everyone should realize more high school teachers will be cut from the move back to a 7 period day from the block than anything else. This is a request from parents not the school district. How much time will students get from a teacher with 150-180 students vs. 75-90 students?

Cerebration said...

There are certainly plenty of areas of savings in consolidating schools. First and foremost is to get the student count up high enough to collect our full reimbursement per student from the state. (Lots of money to recover here.) Then, you save on transportation, by consolidating admin staff (principal, AP, counselors, etc) as well as maintenance and utilities. The savings are huge. I have long had a problem with the fact that we pay to fully staff these tiny, tiny schools.

And yes, I think parents did push to change from the block to some kind of modified or regular 7-period day, however, no one did this with the intent in mind of creating more burden for teachers. I think the reasoning was that the schools on 7PD all perform much better and there must be a reason. (Daily doses of lessons??)

Anonymous said...

Anyone hear how the Citizens Planning Committee meeting went on Tuesday night? Looking at the news, it seems like they had a full house of people wanting to keep their schools open.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:40 pm

"Anon 12:19, you do realize that the teachers will follow the students? Cuts will come from administration (principal, AP, counselor), library staff, and maintenance workers."

Yes. I realize that teachers follow their students.

But in Ms. Tyson's 5 proposals there are no cuts in support personnel even as she recommends closing schools.

All 5 of Ms. Tyson's proposals are heavy on eliminating teacher positions.

I'm for closing small schools as well. But parent/taxpayers should know where the savings is coming from. We are so top heavy with administration and overwhelmed with support numbers that Ms. Tyson may just let those support personnel "be absorbed" into the vast army of service personnel. She has not given any indication of wanting to cut in the support area.

Why can't Ms. Tyson and the BOE simply eliminate admin and support positions like they have done with teacher positions (275 in 2009 alone)? Why are admin and support more important that teacher positions?

Before we buy a "pig in a poke", Ms. Tyson needs to let parents/taxpayers (and certainly those parents and students who are giving up their schools) precisely what the savings are and where they are coming from. Don't be so sure that she is not planning on cutting teacher positions (art, music, PE, Media Specialists etc.) when she shutters schools rather than touch support positions.

I just don't get it. Admin and support numbers are so much greater than classroom personnel. Why are she and the BOE so insistent that kids pay the bill that's come due for the mismanagement of Dr. Lewis?

Anonymous said...

On the average over the last three years there has been roughly a 1:1 ratio of teachers to admin/support personnel.

In 2011 class sizes are increasing to keep teacher count lower. Without reducing the support/administration headcount at a rate much higher than the proposed reduction of teachers, the "bloat" not only continues, it gets worse.

For example, using a class size of 30 kids -- In 2011 instead of hiring a teacher, they cram 2 extra kids into 15 different classrooms, saving the need to hire a teacher each time they can do this.

To keep a 1:1 ratio of teachers to support personnel DCSS needs to also also eliminate an admin/support position each time they are successful placing 30 students within the existing classroom framework.

While a 1:1 "bloat" is not ideal, without eliminating corresponding admin/support positions as class size gets larger the bloat is only going to get worse. The admin/support position R.I.F. numbers should be much higher than anyone is proposing right now due to class size increases.

Cynical? Yes!

Anonymous said...

8,800 admin and support personnel to 7,000 teaching personnel equates to 1.25 admin and support people for every teacher.
(source: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/3C2819BD7CDE4BA6B8BE01FC4A39343C.pdf).

Teachers,
You and your students must be getting unbelievable service since you have 1.25 admin and support catering to your every need. I'll bet all your students' computers are working, the heating and air is perfect for your kids, and the children are in a clean and tidy environment. With such a level of support, I'm sure all you classroom guys can concentrate on your jobs - teachers teaching and students learning.

Anonymous said...

"8,800 admin and support personnel to 7,000 teaching personnel equates to 1.25 admin and support people for every teacher."

We have to keep hammering this point home to the BOE, because they are not getting it. They are loyal to the administration. The BOE is not about the classroom and teachers. Yes, we need five new board members elected this fall, but we have toget through to the current board that admin and support has to be cut back extremely.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration, March 17, 10:52 AM

Since Gwen Keyes Fleming is busy with a Clayton County investigation because the Clayton County DA disqualified herself "based on ethical qualifications and the law", perhaps Tracy Graham Lawson, the Clayton County DA should take over the DeKalb County investigations into Pat Pope and Crawford Lewis? It seems only fair.

[See below ...]
5:00 p.m. Friday, January 22, 2010
A criminal investigation into former Clayton County Police Chief Jeffrey Turner has been turned over to the DeKalb County district attorney. Turner was placed on unpaid leave earlier this month after allegations of misconduct, including reports he
unlawfully eavesdropped on his wife and altered public documents. Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson asked Attorney General Thurbert Baker to handle the investigation. He appointed DeKalb District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming on Jan. 15 to lead the probe, Baker spokesman Russ Willard said.

Lawson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that she disqualified her office from the investigation “based on ethical qualifications and the law.”.....

Anonymous said...

I think using the gross numbers of 8,800 Administration/Support and 7,000 teachers is of no value.
I can certainly be corrected, but the 8,800 Admin/Support includes Principals, Assistant Principals, School Office personnel, custodians, etc.
Teachers would be hard pressed to do any teaching if they did not have these folks doing the work they must do.
The Board needs to first look at the 1,000 in the Central Office and figure out which are needed and which are not. Reducing the number by 150 is all they have done so far and is way short of what must be done.

Anonymous said...

Until the board and top district officials take a deep look at each position and it's worthiness things in DeKalb will get worse before they get better. Young teachers may go, but those that care about education will not stay. They will become frustrated with the lack of training and focus on education and the emphasis of preserving the good old boy network of friends and families.

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea from Decatur: admin staff salaries being cut more than teachers, while still allowing veteran teachers to move up in salary steps.

Can you imagine Ramona Tyson/Crawford lewis demanding admin staff to take a much bigger hit than teachers? ha!


http://decaturnewsonline.com/news/article_8f1431fc-3248-11df-9bb3-001cc4c002e0.html

Link and Edwards propose reducing the salary scales 2.4% for administrative staff and 1.5% for teachers, but allowing for veterans to still advance up the salary steps, which works out to an effective across the board salary freeze.

Under the proposal further cuts will come from the operating budgets of the schools ($200,000), maintenance staff ($100,000) and central office ($130,000).

Anonymous said...

Decatur city schools are looking to furlough employees for three days next school year to help balance the budget. That includes the district’s 250 teachers, along with all administrators, custodians and secretaries, Finance Director Theresa Link said.

The furloughs mean about a 2 percent reduction for most staff, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said...The superintendent is also asking the school board to freeze salaries for employees...
Employees also are likely to lose the money the district contributes toward their dental and life insurance, which is $6 per pay period.


http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/decatur-teachers-face-three-378787.html

Anonymous said...

http://thedianerehmshow.org/audio-player?nid=8755

Diane Ravitch: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

Award-winning author Diane Ravitch discusses her career in education reform. The former assistant secretary of education explains her radical change of heart about how to renew public education and why our current approach is not working.


http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2010/0316/The-Death-and-Life-of-the-Great-American-School-System

In the mid-1990s, the movement to boost educational standards failed on political concerns; next came the emphasis on accountability with its reliance on standardized testing. Now educators are worried that the No Child Left Behind mandate that all students meet proficiency standards by 2014 will result in the dismantling of public schools across the nation. Ravitch analyzes the impact of choice on public schools, attempts to quantify quality teaching, and describes the data wars with advocates for charter and traditional public schools. Ravitch also critiques the continued reliance on a corporate model for school reform and the continued failure of such efforts to emphasize curriculum. Conceding that there is no single solution, Ravitch concludes by advocating for strong educational values and revival of strong neighborhood public schools.

http://www.writersreps.com/book.aspx?BookID=576

Ravitch shows how President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind program ("NCLB") has failed to improve education. The main result of NCLB has been to turn our schools into testing factories. While children are trained to take standardized tests, they do not gain the knowledge and skills that are necessary components of a good education.

Anonymous said...

Pre-K, magnets, Montessori stay in new DeKalb budget


By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

All DeKalb County pre-kindergarten classes, magnet programs and Montessori programs will remain open under a new budget proposal unveiled Thursday.

After reviewing proposals from parents, Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson revamped the proposed fiscal year 2011 budget to trim the programs, but keep them all in place.

DeKalb has spent the past few weeks slashing spending to help meet an anticipated deficit of at least $88 million.

Dozens of parents complained after the initial budget proposal called for Montessori to be cut and the certain magnet programs to be eliminated.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget next month.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:24 am

Someone should send this article link to the entire DCSS BOE. As a taxpayer, I'm all for our resources going into the classroom. The DCSS administration says teachers have no where to go. I would say that's more true for the DCSS administrators.

Anonymous said...

As far as cutting the support and maintenance staff, many of these areas have been under manned for years as there was growth all over the county, and no new employees to help. There are many issues there, but Pat Poe created many issues there as well..they never have enough money, materials, vehicles or manpower to do the job that needs to be done.....seems like the only new employees were high paid administrators....

Anonymous said...

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/ajc-obtains-list-of-382004.html
AJC obtains list of 21 schools for possible closure

Only 21 DeKalb County schools remain on the list for possible closure.

The Citizens Planning Task Force – charged with recommending at least four elementary schools to close next school year – will look at these schools on Tuesday. A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Earlier this week, the 20-member task force eliminated 62 schools from possible closure. The task force is scheduled to make a recommendation next month to the school board, which will vote on the final closures.

Closing four schools will save about $2.35 million, officials said.

On Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the list of possible schools for closure:

Ashford Park Elementary

Atherton Elementary

Avondale Elementary

Bob Mathis Elementary

Briar Vista Elementary

Briarlake Elementary

Clifton Elementary

Flat Shoals Elementary

Gresham Park Elementary

Kelley Lake Elementary

Kittredge Magnet Elementary

Knollwood Elementary

Laurel Ridge Elementary

Meadowview Elementary

Medlock Elementary

Midvale Elementary

Peachcrest Elementary

Rock Chapel Elementary

Rowland Elementary

Sky Haven Elementary

Wadsworth Magnet Elementary

Cerebration said...

These schools have been recently added just to satisfy the "north/south" debate. I posted some info about them at the AJC. If you closed any one of these, really, where would you send the kids? We still have to have a school for them to attend - we can't just eliminate students...they have to have somewhere to go.

These are the building capacities for the schools listed as under-enrolled in the "north" (as of 2008)

Laurel Ridge Elementary- 347 students (many high needs special ed) - Capacity; 527
Livsey Elementary – 354 students- Capacity; 272
Ashford Park Elementary -380 students- Capacity; 476
Briar Vista Elementary – 391 students- Capacity; 527
Midvale Elementary-397 students- Capacity; 493
Kingsley Elementary – 400 students- Capacity; 476
Hawthorne Elementary- 425 students- Capacity; 442
Briarlake Elementary – 430 students- Capacity; 493

Cerebration said...

Forgot -

Medlock Elementary – 325 students- Capacity; 391

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:35 am

I disagree.

Parents/taxpayers need to concentrate on the Support personnel as much as Central Office personnel.

Support personnel number 7,561, outnumber teachers, and will become an even greater percentage of our personnel as Ms. Tyson cuts teaching positions without cutting Central Office and Support personnel.

In addition, our teachers and students are not getting the good service we taxpayers pay for from the service personnel.

PLEASE, please ask any teacher about the service they receive from MIS (290 employees at $20,000,000 a year, HVAC (heating and air), building maintenance, construction, etc.

These are the questions to ask the teachers of your children:
1. Are the computers, printers, interactive boards, and other technology that your students use:
a. Abundant in number
b. Cutting edge technology
c. Kept in good working order
2. Do you have a clean and well maintained working environment for your students?
3. Is the heating and air adequate and well maintained for your students?
4. Are the roofs, carpeting, tile, walls, etc. replaced when they need to be replaced?
5. Are the toilets and cafeteria and other commons areas:
a. Adequate for the number of students in your building
b. Kept clean and sanitary
6. Is construction in your school:
a. Not disruptive to the learning process
b. Timely
c. Meeting the environmental needs of your students

If you ask DCSS teachers these questions, the Support area would fail in all areas.

Support personnel need to be cut, consolidated, and in many areas are so broken that they need to be outsourced. If the outsourced company doesn't do the job, then give the contract to the company that will. Our kids deserve the service we are paying for. DCSS only exists for the students.

Anonymous said...

Laurel Ridge has 405 students. These numbers are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Laurel Ridge has 405 students. These numbers are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Looks like DCSS can't get the correct data. How difficult can getting this information be? Aren't the computer programs that the district spent so much money for able to keep correct data? If not, why did we spend so much money on them? Why are decisions being made with data that is not correct or valid? How can good decisions be made with incorrect data?

Doesn't the board and higher ups realize that this decision of closing schools is a decision that will affect the county in many ways for many years? It already seems to be causing racial issues and pinning North and South DeKalb against each other.

Disgust is all that I can say. Not sure how you can give contracts to teachers when decisions for scheduling and the number of needed teachers hasn't been decided upon.

Anonymous said...

$20,000,000 in salary and benefits for 290 MIS employees. You would think they would get the numbers right.

Anonymous said...

Cere said her numbers were from 2008.

If you go here, you can find all the data you would ever want to know about enrollment and capacity of elementary schools in DCSS. Start with the last and first meetings handouts.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/public/CPTF/

The Task Force materials show LR with 408 students.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/public/cptf/files/03-16-2010/Matrix_All_ES_Corrected.pdf

Cerebration said...

@ Anon March 16, 2010 9:17 PM --

Well, it's now June 30, 2011 -- and still I'm hearing crickets... I guess I won't have to make that "apology" you demanded back in March of 2010 anytime soon! (Told ya!)

The school system leaders themselves are the holdup I believe. Geesh - they have been called out for not cooperating with the DA and are in fact, now doing everything in their power to NOT hire a new superintendent and keep Ramona Tyson (aka: Status Quo) in place.

You gotta wonder why.... Seems to me there is much to cover up - and Ramona makes a nice shield. If you ask me, she'd better watch it - shields often get tossed under the bus in the end.