Friday, May 28, 2010

More Questions Than Answers

We've had quite the conversation about the indictments against Crawford Lewis, Pat Reid (FKA Pat Pope), Vincent (Tony) Pope and Reid's secretary Cointa Moody.

That thread netted a list of questions that we need answers to such as:


  • Why didn't the Board of Education challenge some line items presented by Pat Pope at monthly board meetings?
  • The state even brought some issues to the BOE's attention that would have saved them millions, why was Pope never fired for wasting tax dollars or not filing proper paperwork?
  • What did board members know and when did you know there was a problem?
  • Why did you agree to allow Pope/Reid to continue to do business as usual when you red flagged some key construction problems?
  • Why did you allow Lewis/Pope/Reid to pour tax dollars into a new mega-office complex instead of repairing all the schools for our students?
  • Who is responsible for checking over and signing off on Crawford Lewis' P Card bills and why were the Bahamas hotel and the Ritz hotel bills paid? Who signed that payment?
  • Who is responsible for paying construction contracts? Who signed the checks made out to Anthony Pope's Architecture Company knowing that Pope was not supposed to be doing further business with DCSS? Who signed those checks knowing that paperwork showing board approval should be attached?
  • Why did the architect "quit" the Cross Keys project in the middle of the Pope/Lewis manipulations? Why did the board not question the lack of progress on promised SCHOOL projects such as Lakeside, Cross Keys, Dunwoody and Chamblee and instead rubber-stamp multi-millions being spent on administrative offices?
  • What exactly did the board know about allegations against Lewis when they "agreed" to separate with him, giving him a $90,000 severance package?
  • Additionally, are taxpayers REALLY saddled with $100,000 in legal fees for Lewis' defense of his actions against those same taxpayers?
  • How on earth were two people capable of manipulating multi-millions of dollars right under the noses of the elected officials charged with the fiduciary responsibility of monitoring school tax dollars and SPLOST dollars?
  • What does our board expect ordinary parents and taxpayers to think? There has been suspiciously little information coming forth from the board to the public on this catastrophe.  Why?
If you have answers, please post them in the comments.  If you (like most of us) only seem to have more questions, then post those as well. 

283 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 283 of 283
Cerebration said...

Great discussion here everyone - you are all such good researchers and thinkers. You are what gives me the confidence to know that in the end the good folks of DeKalb will prevail.... Keep it up!


DeKalb Parent -- By "package" - I guess I just meant to make an email and send it off to the entire board - you can do this by clicking the "Email the Board" link above the comments.

Teaching at a DCSS High School said...

@ Cere 9:56 and Anon 10:30

...My apologies for causing anyone unintended grief or offense for my sports related banter with another poster. I was up late last night and was disappointed by the outcome of a basketball game. I'll keep such comments to myself in the future.

.......However, I do assure you that my identification as a teacher is completly with intent.

Why?...... because I intend to highlight my committment to the education of DeKalb's youth and also my displeasure with what seems to be ineptness surrounding the people IN CHARGE of educating DeKalb's youth.

As a veteran of 20+ yrs., the only thing I intend to denigrate is the attitude, action, or articulation of anyone who opposes the help that DCSS needs in making our schools truly PREMIER.

Parents, volunteer at your child's school when you can. Join the elmentary, middle, and high school PTSAs (as a concerned citizen, even if you don't have children at the school).Be an ACTIVE voice in helping to turn this madness around.

Believe it or not, there is very little that we as employees can do. Forums like this seem to be the only places where OUR voice gets heard----thanks for listening.


.

Cerebration said...

No worries, Teaching! I didn't understand it enough to determine if it was offensive or not -- I think it was just plain old everyday basketball chatter or heckling or whatever that kind of sports talk is called - I know there's a word for it... (told you I'm a sports illiterate!)

Now -- back to our regularly scheduled program -

Anonymous said...

Lewis "Groomed for Bigger Things"

In 1994, Lewis was named a Milken Educator with a $25,000 prize. Even though I was a friend (at that time) of Lewis's, I remember being VERY surprised because by then I knew and worked as a parent volunteer with Martha Reichrath who was so much more deserving of that recognition. Milken does not officially accept nominations for this prize. However, there literally was nothing that Lewis had done at that point to bring him to the attention of the Milken Family Foundation.

Cerebration said...

Teaching makes a good point that many people may not be aware of -- you can participate - join - even hold office in the local PTA of your school. If your local school needs leadership but you don't feel that you can help since you don't have a child in the school - reconsider! You can and you would most likely be very much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

"In 1994, Lewis was named a Milken Educator with a $25,000 prize..."

This is the mother of all ironies!!!
"Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud in 1989 as the result of an insider trading investigation. After a plea bargain, he pled guilty to six securities and reporting violations but was never convicted of racketeering or insider trading. Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison and permanently barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the presiding judge reduced his sentence for cooperating with testimony against his former colleagues and good behavior, he was released after less than two years"

Anonymous said...

BOE,

Please tell me what's in Mrs. Ramona Tyson's resume and work accomplishments that remotedly qualifies her for even "interim superintendent"?

What are we covering up by having ill-qualified people hold high leadership positions??

fedupindcss said...

Cere is correct--anyone can join a PTA, at any school, even if you don't live anywhere near it. And, as a member, you can run for office.

I have always thought, as the name suggests, that it should be composed of parents and teachers. However, after watching some of the parents in various PTAs over the years, I am starting to re-think that. While there are those who genuinely want to help further the cause of public education in their community, too many use it as a vehicle for the advancement of their own children. As a result, they become very chummy with administrators, both at the school and county level, and do not want to rock the boat in a way that will effect their personal needs. I have heard PTA officers say that a certain principal or area superintendent is not effective, but then will turn around and back them wholeheartedly when faced with actual action. They often do not want to take on their Board reps because of their desire to "get stuff" for their school. This happens when people get in a position of access--they are loathe to rock their own boat.

All this is a long winded way of saying that maybe more non-parents need to get in there and see what is happening at the school level, go to ELPC meetings, and help with the business of holding our taxpayer funded officials accountable.

Anonymous said...

Some PTA's will not allow you to run for office unless you have a child in the school. The PTA at my school changed to this requirement in their by-laws several years ago. We had several PTA officers who had served many years and remained active long after their children had moved on, a group of parents objected and the change was made.

Not coincidentally, the PTA has been ineffective since then. I'm not even sure that all of the offices have been filled in recent years.

Anonymous said...

I met Ramona Tyson about 10 - 12 years ago. She was late -- with a bad attitude and no apologies -- to a meeting with some vendors from California (in Atlanta for another business meeting) who had agreed to provide some limited wireless connectivity and a couple of smartboards to Chamblee High School on a no-charge, no-strings-attached trial or pilot basis.

This would have provided easy access to the Internet and electronic media in the CHS library -- primarily for handicapped students who had real difficulty in getting upstairs to the library. We had attempted to get an elevator or a stair lift installed at CHS, to make access easier for these students -- especially when it was bad weather -- but were denied.

As I said, Ramona arrived about 30 minutes late with a bad attitude, no apology to the guests present, and then demanded that the entire meeting be re-started to accommodate her.

Keep in mind that it was just happenstance that these people were in Atlanta and they had not approached DCSS or CHS as a vendor. They were at CHS as a favor to a parent and had agreed to meet and send this equipment strictly as a no-strings-attached pilot because it would also give them some data they could use later. At the time, this kind of wireless access was relatively new.

By the way, this parent did not have a handicapped child at CHS. But, because the first answer from DCSS to any request from CHS was almost always, "No," CHS was very unified and all worked together for the greater good of the school.

Later Ramona refused to allow any wireless at CHS (though there would have been no conflict with the wired connectivity) and further refused to do the wiring necessary to make library access easier for handicapped students.

Prior to this meeting, these same people were taken to Snapfinger Elementary as an example of DCSS's high tech schools. Snapfinger was a math, science and technology magnet. I cannot remember if Crawford Lewis was still the principal there or not. I think he had just been promoted to Executive Director. At any rate, these technology people from Silicon Valley later noted that the technology at Snapfinger was about 5 or 6 years old. Ha! Some high tech!

Thanks, Ramona! You were and continue to be an embarrassment, as well as non-professional. You had to know what was going on in DCSS under Lewis and I am really hoping it turns out you were deeply involved in the wrong-doing that you so blithely ignored.

If you have read this far, you could probably use a good laugh about now. So, go take a look at http://www.edustat.com/cs5.html.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:09 pm

"Please tell me what's in Mrs. Ramona Tyson's resume and work accomplishments that remotedly qualifies her for even "interim superintendent"?

What are we covering up by having ill-qualified people hold high leadership positions?? "

LOL. Look at the DCSS organizational chart. Lewis only had 4 direct reports:
1. Reid (Pope - whatever you know her as) but she was under investigation
2. Bob Mosley
3. Ramona Tyson
4. Alice Thompson

Who would you have chosen?

Anonymous said...

Food For Thought

If it turns out that Tyson has known about the wrong-doing in DCSS -- and truly, how could she not know -- what does that say about the ENTIRE board who agreed with the recommendation of about-to-be-indicted Lewis that Tyson be the Interim Superintendent?

Surely that is the final straw and would make every one of them culpable and, I daresay, indictable for criminal neglect of their fiduciary responsibilities, at the least.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 3:18 PM

How about, "None of the above"?

Why would it have to be one of Lewis's direct reports?

The obvious answer is because the BOE could not take a chance on bringing in someone from outside the system who might actually take the job seriously. Note they are still not jumping at that opportunity.

I believe the rampant corruption extends into this BOE -- and possibly into former BOE members like Frances Edwards. They are still hoping that the investigation will not go any further. I wonder how well the BOE -- and others like Mosely, Thompson and Ramsey -- are sleeping at night. Their futures depend on Ramona "No Comment" Tyson.

Wow! What a leaky boat! I wonder who will be the first rat off the ship and squealing?

Anonymous said...

I had a flash of memory this weekend. When Arabia Mountain was opening amid pomp and circumstance - dedication ceremonies, etc. - a huge deal was made about the school coming in "under budget". I have this vivid pic of Pat(thoughtIwas)the Pope standing to acknowledge thunderous applause as she took credit for this accomplishment. Thankfully, from now on the only folks she's gonna see rise respectfully out of their chairs will be courtroom observers when the judge enters.

Anonymous said...

Part of the lack of ethics with the DCSS Central Office cabal is how former administrators are always allowed back to make more.

For years, until complaints from the public, any Central Office administrator who wanted to could come back and make up to $80k per year as a consultant, on top of their retirement.

Frankie Callway resigned in disgrace when WSB TV reported a story involving grade changes:

http://www.wsbtv.com/video/22250810/index.html

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/01/did-frankie-callaway-encourage-cheating.html

Now Frankie is back, as principal of the new DeKalb Leadershp Prep Academy: http://www.dekalblpa.com/#

The address for the new school: 6400 Woodrow Road Lithonia, GA

Funny, that just happens to be the same address as the New Birth Campus Family Life Center. Not funny ha-ha but funny sick to your stomach.

Also funny how DCSS has turned down so many startup charter schools, such as The Museum School of Avondale, yet the Leadership Prep Academy was approved without a problem.

And who is another retired DCSS administrator now a principal at a DCSS charter? Frankie's husband, Clarence Callaway, http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/destinyacademy/,

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/schools/centers/destiny/index.html

DCSS Central Office is an incestuous cabal, and they take care of their own, at any cost.


P.S. Cheers to the parents (mainly mom's) who worked for years to get The Museum School to finally become a reality. They needed help from the state.

All that The Leadership Prep Academy and The Destiny Academy needed were to hire retired DCSS Central Office administrators. As awalys in DCSS, it's not about merit; it's about who you know, and/or who you're related to (Where in the World is Jamal Edwards, Marcus Turk, David and Philandra Guillory, etc.).

Anonymous said...

I think marcus turk new what was going on, but i would think he was probably afraid to say anything. This is what happen when you have friends and family on the payroll. They know that the only reason they have the job is because of there name. I don't think the young man even knows what he is doing. As soon as possible they need to hire someone who has the education and the training to be over finance, this is very important. We must all remember that he went along with these checks and balances, so he also needs to go. Again we have to clean house so we can get this school system back on track. I think he should go back in the classroom because he did not get the job because of what he knows but who he is.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed something odd about the organizational chart.

There is position called Director - Internal Audit. This employee reports to Dr. Lewis and also indirectly to the BOE (per superintendent's organizational chart - also on PATS it says this position reports to the superintendent).

This is only position besides the superintendent that reports to the BOE (even if indirectly). The trouble is there is no one in that position.

This position was advertised last May, 2009 on PATS. I even had a friend who applied for the job, but was never called for an interview. Later on, I asked her what happened and she said the position was no longer posted so she assumed it was filled. Within the last few weeks, I saw that the position had been posted again on PATS - this is one year later.

Here is the job description:
"The DeKalb County School System is seeking a highly qualified individual to serve as Director of Internal Audit and Compliance. This individual will report to the Superintendent. The eligible candidate will perform internal audits for the District including, operational, financial, compliance, and risk assessment activities across the District."

" The Director of Internal Audits and Compliance performs professional performance, financial, information systems, compliance and risk assessment audits, conducts preliminary surveys, analyzes records of School System functions and departments to determine the accuracy of departmental financial accounts, adequacy of internal controls, and maintains the integrity of information systems applications to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and associated risk in program operations."

Apparently, they never hired anyone for this job. According to BOE minutes, filling the job was approved and then taken out of the budget and then looked at again.

It looks like the internal auditor would have a conflict of interest in uncovering any wrongdoing by his/her supervisor (superintendent). Shouldn't someone of this nature report only to the BOE?

It seems to me if an internal auditor reporting directly to the BOE had been auditing Pat Reid's department, tens of millions of dollars might have been saved.

Tell me if I'm way off track here.

Cerebration said...

One thing about Heery Mitchell. If they win their lawsuit, they won't break the bank - they have only asked for a half-million dollars all along. (Unless they now countersue for attorney's fees for their defense.) It's the school system that has spent upwards of $14 million or more making a case to counter-sue HM for what they've determined to up to $125 million.

This was determined by a company called Nielsen-Wurster/Marsh - which was paid an additional $3.6 million to generate a 54-volume report consisting of thousands of pages and estimating the school system's total damages suffered to be between $84 and $125+ million. Nice project!

The main point of DCSS's countersuit, as far as I can tell from the court docs I've seen, is that DCSS thinks HM should be liable for all change order costs - thinking that HM should have known up front that these items weren't designed correctly and should not have endorsed changes. So - using that logic - should the Pope's and Dr. Lewis be liable for all the change orders they implemented? (And even approved - without board participation? ) How about the deceit - waste - fraud - abuse? Will the school system now hire more attorneys to try to reclaim the money wasted (or perhaps stolen) by Lewis and Pope?

Where does it end?

Cerebration said...

For more on the history of the HM case -- which perhaps was the catalyst for the Lewis/Pope criminal case -- click the Lego men picture on the right side panel for the link to the story...

The Heery/Mitchell Backstory

themommy said...

Cere

Are you sure about that? I was at a party the other night and I thought I heard that HM was asking for many millions, though I am not sure that the source was accurate. Let me know.

Cerebration said...

Maybe they are now -- but the original suit was for a bit less than a half-million.

This is a quote from Atlanta Unfiltered --

DeKalb County schools’ multimillion-dollar damage suit over construction cost overruns may be undermined by a criminal probe of school contracts.

The school district has been locked in a court struggle nearing epic proportions since it suspended its construction management firm, Heery/Mitchell, in 2006. What began with the contractor’s claim for roughly $500,000 for unpaid invoices has escalated to the point that DeKalb, in a counterclaim, seeks damages of up to $125 million for mismanagement. The file for the court case is more than five feet thick.

fedupindcss said...

Anon 2:52--don't know how your PTA did that; they are not allowed to amend their bylaws to exclude anyone if they are a member in good standing, parent or no. No wonder your school PTA is bad--they can't follow rules.

Then again, that may make them just right for DCSS.

fedupindcss said...

Noticed in yesterday's AJC article that SACS finally weighed in on the situation, with a vague "we are watching things" answer. What more do they want in order to step in? They jumped into Clayton with what was basically personnel meddling. We have that and much, much more. I have not been impressed by their "oversight."

I would be interested to see where the SACS people live. If it is in DeKalb, then I would wonder if they are trying to hard to protect their own backyard. There would be no other reason for such inaction.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. The BOE--and Crawford--seem to have 2 defenses:
1. We had no idea this was going one--i.e., negligence
OR
2. We can't be expected to know this level of detail (in Crawford's case this actually, amazingly, seems to be getting advanced as the "Don't blame me. I'm dumber than a box of hammers" defense)--i.e., incompetence

3. The third option is, of course, malfeasance.

In any event, there's really no reason to keep any of these people around. Unless, of course, you think "Just because we have oversight over the schools doesn't mean we should know how the schools spend money" is a winning election strategy.

Dekalbparent said...

Cere - OK, will do

Anonymous said...

@ fedupindcss 5:35 PM

SACS Not Worth the Paper They Are Printed On

Consider this:
(1) On January 14, 2010 an e-mail was sent to Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED/SACS-CASI, outlining the DCSS issues and asking for assistance. Prior to this e-mail, others who had asked SACS for help concerning DCSS were told that SACS had huge files on DCSS.

(2) Despite that, SACS did nothing.

(3) Finally, after NO response from Elgart to the January 14, 2010 e-mail, the original e-mail to Elgart was re-sent to Mike Bryans, Associate State Director, on January 29, 2010. He did respond on February 2 after talking with Elgart. (Apparently Elgart does not communicate with the "little people" -- the "background noise" as described by Bob Mosely. BTW, I know Bob Mosely personally -- we were in the same Leadership DeKalb class and I have no regard at all for him.)

(4) Bryans said, "Please know that our organization is monitoring the issues with the DeKalb County Schools and communications with district officials occur on a continuous basis. We will continue to monitor the situation in DeKalb." Apparently SACS was taking their marching orders from the very people who were stealing as much as they could from DCSS.

(5) Meanwhile, as CLew-less and his cronies were running a suspected criminal operation and stealing millions of dollars from DCSS, SACS withdrew accreditation from Warren County, GA -- a 3-school, 800-student, 90% African-American school system. Why? First, because they could. Next, because -- among other equally minor things -- the Warren County BOE does not use Roberts Rules of Order in their school board meetings and they were warned by SACS that was something they had to do. Certainly that was nothing of the magnitude of what was going on right under SACS' noses in DCSS!

That kind of thing really makes the value of SACS oversight highly questionable. Losing accreditation means that any students in Warren County who had hope of getting out via college and the HOPE Scholarship could not get the HOPE Scholarship -- nor will they be able to get accepted to most colleges. Disgusting.

Yet, SACS completely ignores the egregious activities going on in DCSS. Again, that kind of thing really makes the value of SACS oversight questionable. BTW -- take a look at SACS budget sometime and see the huge amount of money DCSS pays to SACS for accreditation.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program, "As The Stomach Turns" brought to you in part by Barf SACS.

Anonymous said...

What on green earth will prevent regular folks from thinking that the Dekalb County "cannot handle the truth"?

Why do they seem afraid to hire an outside interim superintendent?

Are they fearful that they are not as pure as Ceasar's wife?

The sunshine of truth is the best desinfectant!

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed in some of the previous posts regarding excluding any school from any group. This is exactly what is wrong with this school system and board now. Some of the board members only care about their district and not the entire school system. We have too many little groups with their local interest groups which are important but what is more important is moving the entire school system forward in the entire county. We really need to work together in a big parents' grou to get something done to make changes. We have too many small parent advocacy groups. We need to stand united.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:37 PM

Could you be specific about which previous posts you are referencing?

Please provide your plan of action for effectively working together as one large group of parents.

How will it be organized? Where will we meet? How will decisions be made? What are the measurable outcomes? Since you propose to eliminate parent advocacy groups, that removes those pesky volunteer PTAs and parent councils.

Oh, my goodness -- I have just barely scratched the surface of considerations. But, I am certain you have a plan. What is it, please?

Anonymous said...

When someone says they want to "work together in a big parents group" to get something [as yet undefined] done ... almost always they mean they want someone else to do all the work while they [the big group advocate] disappear into the group to reap all of the benefits without lifting a finger.

I believe what Margaret Meade said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

No Duh said...

Anon 6:19. I think you got your point across. Three times with the same post is probably enough.

Anonymous said...

I wondered whether SACS lack of action was possibly connected to the fees paid to them by DCSS. Of course we pay to be accredited--I can't believe I missed that.

So if SACS isn't going to act, that leaves the state. With Kathy Cox about to get out of town, there really isn't anyone to focus on our situation. I think as much as the state sticks its nose into local education issues, they really, really don't want to take on the role of babysitter to DCSS.

No Duh said...

It's all about economics...that's why the Chamber of Commerce is getting itself involved. People move to places with good schools. People bring their money and taxes with them. People move away from places with cruddy schools. They take their money and taxes with them. You would think CEO Ellis would be very concerned...

But, then again, Ellis and Lewis live in the same South DeKalb subdivision. Along with construction guy Moody. If Ellis were to start screaming, it would upset the economic balance of their subdivision...

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it would be possible to file a class action suit against the DCSS BOE? I am not a lawyer, so I don't know what it would take or if it is even feasible.

cheryl said...

Marcus Turk is well qualified in finance from his degrees in finance and his previous experience prior to working his way up through the DeKalb System. He was Asst. Director under Rick Cost who highly recommended him for the job. As stated in the indictment, it was Turk who discoved the car buying tactics of Lewis and attempted buying by Pope. Remember Pope reported directly to the Supt and the CFO did not. Never heard of a CFO not reporting directly to the Supt. That explains hy Lewis & Pope kept their doings secret. How could other Cabinet members know this? It was a cover up. But I guess Lewis didn't like the advise given by Turk and changed the organizational chart to push him down under the radar. By the way, Mr. Turk has never been in the classroom. He is not a teacher but a Financial Expert in both degrees and experience. Just the kind of person DeKalb needs. Let's not throw out the babe with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

I just asked about a class-action suit against the DCSS BOE. Then I remembered seeing an opinion given by Thurbert Baker on the SPLOST-funded Cobb County computer debacle:

Thurbert Baker issued an Official Opinion in 2001 concerning the State Constitution & Code on SPLOST...

"First, proceeds of the tax must be used by the county exclusively for the purpose or purposes specified in the resolution or ordinance calling for the imposition of the tax.

"Second, the county is required to keep the proceeds in an account separate from other county funds, and such proceeds must not in any manner be commingled with other funds of the county."

At the least, the DCSS BOE** is guilty of not upholding the first rule of SPLOST law.

** Please remember that there are past and present board members to involve in a potential class action suit -- not just the current 9.

Does anyone still have a copy of the wording in the original resolution or ordinance passed for the current SPLOST?

Attorneys: what say you? Do the citizens of DeKalb County have the right to file a class action law suit against the DCSS BOE, jointly and individually, including asking for [property tax] damages?

If so -- how do we get this ball rolling?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Marcus.

Anonymous said...

What does it take to recall the BOE?

Anonymous said...

@ cheryl

"Marcus Turk is well qualified in finance from his degrees in finance and his previous experience prior to working his way up through the DeKalb System."

I know you didn't just say that.

"Remember Pope reported directly to the Supt and the CFO did not. Never heard of a CFO not reporting directly to the Supt. That explains hy Lewis & Pope kept their doings secret."


You are right. Marcus Turk reported to Ramona Tyson, our interim superintendent, who reported to Crawford Lewis.

Anonymous said...

Marcus Turk----How old is he?

He is now at a level where one would have to be at least in their 40's to have had the commensurate acumen and requisite experience to be a CFO of a 100 000 student school system unless...unless, of course, it is private family business.

Cerebration said...

So, does Lewis just have free rein of his Pcard? Is there anyone who approves his expenses? Did Marcus Turk go ahead and pay the bill - even though he apparently twice told Lewis it would be illegal to charge vacation hotels to the school system? Who ok'd these charges and who signed the check that paid the bill?

Anonymous said...

People now know about some of the contractors per the indictment. It should be known that the architect for the Arabia Mountain High school also is the architect for Dunwoody High School. This architecture firm is the last firm that Tony Pope worked for. Apparently Ms. Pope was not only looking out for her friends but for Tony Pope's friends as well.

Anonymous said...

Come on we know marcus turk had the help of his mother dr. c. turk, who retired from the system. In the real world there is no way he would have moved up that quick.

Anonymous said...

There must be written instructions on how to fill out expense reports
(i.e. which receipts to include and reimbursement limits).

When an employee is denied permission to claim certain expenses then the accounting assistant and bookkeeper must refuse to pay the expense. They should only pay allowable expenses and explain why other expenses are denied. This stuff is all coded.

Marcus did not do his job. He ignored the red flag of what was to come.

He was given prior warning to watch and personally review Clew's expense report just by the question Clew asked.

No excuse, he is paid the big bucks to stay up at night to make sure the books are right, Marcus is accountable.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:18 pm

"There must be written instructions on how to fill out expense reports
(i.e. which receipts to include and reimbursement limits)."

If I submitted a travel voucher (travel outside DeKalb County) or a mileage form (travel inside DeKalb County to a school from my office) that had an error, it was not paid and came back to me to correct it.

Travel outside DeKalb (e.g. a conference or to observe in another school system, participate in a meeting outside the county) must be requested well in advance and approved BEFORE you travel. There is a form to fill out, and the appropriate signatures need to be in place.

I guess Dr. Lewis felt the rules didn't apply to his travel. I agree that this comes under Marcus Turk's responsibilities - to ensure travel is appropriate for the school system business and procedures are followed, particularly in such tight budgetary times. Remember that Dr. Lewis had cut 275 teacher positions from the students during the 2009-2010 school school.

Of course, Mr. Turk's supervisor was Ramona Tyson. She only had 2 direct reports - Jamie Wilson and Marcus Turk. Ultimately she was responsible for approval of Dr. Lewis's inappropriate travel expenses unless Ms. Turk concealed this information from her.

Anonymous said...

Just think, most of this happened over two years ago! Those Nancy Creek parents were right! They kept screaming that something was not right. They even passed out those flyers at the state of the district at FBC off 285. Those parents wore red, even some school employees were there wearing red.

It's time we parents gather up our pitchforks and torches and head to whatever office these guys are in this week and protest. The media loves a picture and with the kids out of school I think moms and kids, as well as dads protesting is a great picture and video to show.. Until we scream loud enough nothing will change.

Those parents at Nancy Creek thought they were screaming loud enough, except the media, thanks to the AJC's, Kristina Torres, were made out as "noisy and vociferous".

Well we need to be noisier and more vociferous if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dunwoody mom. Have not read the charter info yet but it is suspect that we lease space when there are numerous schools sitting vacant that our tax money must maintain. McGiboney, former DCSS employee, who is over Ga. charter schools must be more watchful over what is approved. This is totally disgusting!

Charter petitions are first approved at the district level and then again at the state level following the check list provided by Georgia LAW. Charter denied at the district level can be appealed and approved by the state. First by a committee inlcuing citizen members and then all state approvals are done by the state board of education not by poor Dr. McGiboney.

Anonymous said...

Mention has been made about Sorority sisters being fast tracked at the front office for jobs. Previous posts have alluded to how many front office highly paid employees seem to all attend the same church.
By the numbers:
1. Since C Lewis took over, many front office salaries have zoomed from around 118k to 166k

2. Numerous posts, as previously mentioned about front office personnell all attending the same church.

3. Some of the mega church's (Creflo Dollar's in particular) ask to see member's W2 statements, so they get an automatic percentage of the member's income as a tithe.

4. Does the same type of automatic tithing occur in the church that so many of the DCSS employees belong to?

5. If the automatic tithe was say, 10%, then the church members at DCSS making 118K would have been
tithing 11,800 APIECE to said church 5 years ago. If they were currently making 166k, the amount goes up to 16,600 APIECE.

6. If there's ten or more highly paid DCSS employees attending a church that has a pre- arranged tithe, then that church is obtaining, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in the collection plate from a very few persons.

7. If the situation I've mentioned exists, then the highly paid employee still is making off like a bandit, even after the tithe:
roughly 150k vs 106k even after the tithe.

8. Is the person setting salaries at the front office a member of mentioned church?

Sooo... those that have mentioned DCSS that attend one church: which one is it? Does it have an automatic system of tithing in place?
If the answer is yes, and the persons that have got the largest raises are church members, this might get interesting. Pass the popcorn.

Cerebration said...

On the subject of churches - this is from WSB Radio News -

WSB News
Judge: No Graduations in Church
By Chris Camp @ June 1, 2010 3:20 AM

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A federal judge has ruled two Connecticut public high schools can't hold their graduations inside a church because that would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall made the ruling Monday in the case of Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School, both in Enfield.

The Enfield school board says it voted to hold services June 23 and 24 at The First Cathedral in Bloomfield because it had enough space at the right price. But two students and three of their parents sued.

The judge says Enfield had unconstitutionally entangled itself with religion by agreeing to cover much of the church's religious imagery. She also says the town coerced the plaintiffs to support religion by forcing them to enter the church for graduation.


http://wsbradio.com/localnews/2010/06/judge-no-graduations-in-church.html

Dunwoody Mom said...

I wonder how much it cost DCSS to have the Stone Mountain, Redan and McNair HS graduations at the Georgia Dome?

Dunwoody HS had their graduation at the 1st Baptist Church of Atlanta, which is really in Dunwoody. But, the church used to be an Avon Plant, so I guess it should be ok? :)

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/schools/GraduationSchedule/2010GraduationSchedule.pdf

Anonymous said...

I don't think DCSS pays to rent a venue; the families of the graduates do. I believe that's a large portion of what what those annual class dues and graduation fees go for. I had kids at two different high schools, so I see the differences in total class dues/graduation fees. Chamblee's graduation was at North Dekalb Stadium (cheaper, but the rain plan was the school gym); my other child will graduate at a megachurch.

Anonymous said...

But who decides what venue--what megachurch--gets the rental fee, wherever it comes from? I'm guessing parental input to this decision is limited.
And I don't even sign "Cynical? Yes!"
:)

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you that the reason that the cost for dcss schools is so much more than others is that the design guide that dcss publishes , is a guide that every architect has to design by. This guide is the best of the best material wise and that is why the price per sf is so much more. Also dcss does not use a school design over and over again. This is very cost effective. Other counties use a cookie cutter design which over time cost less and is alot easier for the maintenance dept.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that unless the case is challenged to the Supreme Court, it has limited applicability.

In Gwinnett, they rent out the Gwinnett Arena for 3-4 days and hold multiple graduations each day. The way it works is that if Norcross High, for example, graduates at 2 PM this year, they will graduate at 6Pm the next. (It rotates.)

We have no arena in DeKalb (and don't need one) and the nice thing about the mega-churches is that unless the school is huge there is a lot of seating and great broadcasting screens. For the last two years, Chamblee's graduation has been outside and has been very soggy. If it has to be inside, only 2 guests per graduate can attend.

Others are right, it is the class dues that pay for the venue. In Fulton, this year, many high schools went in together and rented out the Verizon Amphitheater (which has a large covered area) for a couple of days. In the past, even the N. Fulton schools have used the GA dome. (Which might be why Redan et all could get it this year.)

My point is, there really are limited venue choices unless you want outside or you want to ask families to drive a significant distance.

Cerebration said...

Lakeside held their graduation at New Birth - it's over 20 miles away (another 5 miles and you'd be at Arabia). There are a lot of schools competing for a graduation venue and really aren't a lot of choices.

I just found this court case interesting... It will be a long time before anyone sues over separation of church and state in Georgia... but placing a public charter school in New Birth church could be the first co-mingling to be challenged.

Anonymous said...

OMG CERE!OH MY GOD! Co-mingling...that a nice way to put it. I am so sick of New birth and Bishop Eddie Long. He needs to go buy an impoverished island somewhere where he can build his city of prosperity! the Da and the Federal government need to investigate bishop deep investment in a "PUBLIC" school system. His influence in our public school system runs as deep as his pockets. Bishop Eddie Long, Ralph Simpson, Ronald Ramsey and Lee Mays...all these pimps in the same pot or "pulpit". NOT GOOD...NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE SCHOOL...

Dunwoody Mom said...

Emory Univ is centrally located. I'm sure they have several venues that could handle a HS graduation. In fact Glenn Memorial UMC right there on the Emory campus has a rather large facility themseves.

Oglethorpe University has several venues that could handle a HS graduation.

What is the deal with New Birth?

Anonymous said...

These mega churches like New Birth get $10-$15,000 from each school to hold a graduation ceremony. The money comes out of the senior dues for each student. Do the math folks. Bishop Eddie Long is making a "killing" hosting graduations. I attended a graduation at the Georgia Dome. I did not like it. the student are so far away on the fields. Not personal enough. Does dekalb not have a venue or building to host graduations. May they should build one. It will pay for its self in 10 years. New Birth rakes in over 100 grand in the month of May for graduations. About 10 schools at $10,000 a pop.

they purchase that old Cubmart location for their Administrative offices. With the economy the way it is I am sure there are many old retail chains that could be purchased and converted.

SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

GET BISHOP EDDIE LONG OUT OF OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.

As a tax-exempt entity, New Birth has no stake hold in our school system for it pays no taxes to the county, state or federal government.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom is correct, Emory University IS centrally located. heck, Druid Hills is essentially on the campus. Did they use Emory's facilities? Maybe they did not because of the cost to use them or parking availability?

New Birth is probably the largest indoor venue in DeKalb County. It has plenty of parking. Churches is DeKalb can accommodate graduations easier than gyms, football fields, or other public sites. High school graduations are important for many and family members from all over share in the joy of the graduate. Unless you are proposing limiting guests to 5 people per graduate, where would you suggest having the graduations in DeKalb? Keep in mind, many residents don't like the idea of building a civic center for events like this.

Cerebration said...

Well, here's a quote from the lease agreement between New Birth and the Leadership Prep Academy (DCSS Charter school) - for the lease of the west wing.

Lessor demises the above premises for a term of 5 years commencing 1 June, 2010 and terminating on 31 May, 2014 or sooner as provided herein at the annual rental rate of One Hundred Twenty Two Thousand and Fifty Dollars ($122,505.00) payable in equal installments in advance...

That's $10,208/month - plus utilities, etc.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Leadership Prep an INDEPENDENT charter? They are responsible for selecting their leadership, teachers, staff, and PAYING for them. Who cares whether the principal is a retired DeKalb administrator? The school system has no say so in that. That is the choice of the charter board and the charter board only. Since it is a CHOICE school, if you have a problem with it, don't CHOOSE to send your children there.

Charters around the country have lease agreements with churches. Most INDEPENDENT charters cannot afford the lease payments to school systems. Ask ICS supporters about that.

ICS and the Museum school both will lease space from churches. Will they get the same scrutiny as Leadership Prep because of where they are housed?

This discussion is becoming a slippery slope.

Anonymous said...

The Museum school is leasing warehouse space.

Cerebration said...

Except that the Leadership Academy is a DCSS charter and the Museum School was approved by the state (after having been turned down by DCSS.) It's confusing, but there are differences in funding - and they are all still publicly funded - they are not private schools. I am a believer in charters, and I hope that the Leadership Academy is very successful. However, as a proponent of public schools, I also have big concerns about the effects that charters have on area public schools.

The original concern was due to the fact that there is already a private school on the New Birth premises and it becomes a risk of "co-mingling" of funds. The state will watch this carefully though. Also, as Sarah Copeland-Wood has pointed out, this school will take another 600 from the regular school rosters - emphasizing the need to close and consolidate the regular public schools in the area. She is very concerned about the effect these charters will have on her area schools. In fact, on top of the Leadership Prep Academy, DCSS also approved another charter called Peachtree Hope that will pull up to 650 students from DeKalb County schools. This school will also be housed in a church - Gospel Tabernacle.

There is an appearance that New Birth leaders and others may be creating an elite set of schools for area residents - with LPA leading directly in to nearby Arabia "Choice" HIgh School. A very elite education for a public school system. That's fine, I guess, unless it harms the regular schools in the area while serving to enrich area churches.

So you see Anon, the argument "don't send your child there" doesn't hold water when this school uses tax dollars to provide a quality education for some, but draining local schools of funding- leaving those students with less. IF these were pure private schools - then I wouldn't have an issue whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Cerebration! I agree with most of what you said however I believe there should be an amendment.

I understand there are conversion charters (like Chestnut and Chamblee) that are still part of the school system and continue to receive full student funding allocations. They are approved by the local school system. I understand there are independent charters like KIPP, LPA, ICS, and Museum are approved either by the local school system or the state charter commission. They do NOT receive full funding as facility maintenance and other related expenses are factored into the full student allocation. I'm not sure of the percentage they receive but it should be similar for the independent charters. Local, state, and federal tax dollars are involved.

If you did not know, some private schools receive tax dollars also through the Title 1 program.

Also, per the Museum school website, they will be housed on the grounds of Avondale Estates FBC. If that is where they can get a good deal for space. more power to them. It would be nice if they or ICS could have used the Forrest Hills space however it was probably to expensive to lease.

teachercreature said...

At some point, Dr. Lewis had a consortium made up of DeKalb County ministers, who met as some sort of advisement team for the DCSS. Many of us complained about the constitutionality of such a committee, but to no avail. I can't remember the exact name and am not sure if it's still in existence, but it blatantly violated church and state separation. "The last time we mixed religion with politics, they called it the Dark Ages."

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what happened to Kim Gocke? Both the Community Radar site and CKHS Foundation site seem to be down.

Anonymous said...

RE-"Thanks Dunwoody mom. Have not read the charter info yet but it is suspect that we lease space when there are numerous schools sitting vacant that our tax money must maintain. McGiboney, former DCSS employee, who is over Ga. charter schools must be more watchful over what is approved. This is totally disgusting!"

Misinformation-Charter school approvals are made by a series of committees culminating in a vote by the Georgia state board of Education. First charter school proposals in DeKalb are reviewed by a committee of DCSS employees which in a meeting make recommendations to Nicole Knighten, a DCSS employee. The district recommendation to approve or deny is forwarded to the state department of education. Denials may be appealed and are again reviewed by a committee of state employees and private citizens. All charter approvals must be finally approved by the state board of education. The process is guided by a check list that incorporates the requirements of the state laws on charter schools. Poor Dr. McGiboney has little to do with it

Anonymous said...

I have a HUGE problem with any public school co-mingling with New Birth. From what I've read, they are a homophobic congregation that seeks to "cure" people of homosexuality.

From their website:
“Out of the Wilderness” – Confidential counsel and discipleship of men and women struggling with homosexuality. Counselors provide caring support to individuals who desire healing and deliverance through the Word of God. http://www.newbirth.org/counseling.asp#Out_of_the_Wilderness

When Lewis had his teacher pep rally there a few years ago, I immediately contacted my principal to see if there would be an alternative location for teachers to watch the meeting, and there was. There was no way I was going to set foot in a building that practices homophobia under the veil of ministry.

New Birth is a church and is protected by the Constitution to have freedom of religious expression, and it's their right to practice their faith how they want to. However, I, and other staff and students, also have the right to not be forced to walk through New Birth's doors.

My high school holds graduation either in the gym or at a stadium. It's not ideal, but it's way better than New Birth.

Anonymous said...

NEWS FLASH.

It seems the Athletic Department is under scrutiny for mismanagement of funds. Did you know the school cafeterias fall under that Department? Guess what has happened? Athletic Department personnel (big wig) came around to each and every school to take away the cafeteria computer! Hmmm. Why would they do that? Here's a guess: To wipe the hard drives so the evidence is gone when the Feds come looking!

The only way to correct this pathetic, screwed-up school system is to get rid of the County Office personnel and start from scratch with people from the outside.

Dekalbparent said...

Druid Hills had their graduation at the Atl Civic Center. It was not ideal - kids too far away to take a picture, lots of yelling and air horns in an enclosed space, and VERY strict security - very hard to find your kid afterwords, because all non-students were shuffled out of the building quickly. Each kid was allowed 10 tickets, though - I'm guessing the reason schools go for big venues is so a lot of guests can come. Still would be a good idea to follow Gwinnett's lead and hire one place for several days and stagger the ceremonies.

I don't know why they didn't use some Emory facility...

The pre-graduation was held at Glenn, but only about 50 kids and immediate families, so it was OK. Glennis way too small for graduation, though.

Yeah, where is Kim?

One Fed Up Insider said...

What about the new money pit our tax dollars went to. The DeKalb County Performing Arts Center. The correct name slips my mind, but Vernon Jones built one on the south side of the county. How many seats does it hold? Is it big enough? Would the county let schools lease it at a small price?

Just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

During leadership meetings, Dr. Lewis often warned school administrators about misusing their P-cards. His voice would escalate to the point of yelling as he railed against charging one personal item - - - EVEN IF YOU PAID IT BACK QUICKLY!!!! Principals would wonder among themselves who would do something so stupid, not to mention illegal. Sounds like a case of "I think thou dost protest too much".

Cerebration said...

Oh, the irony!

Cerebration said...

Oh yes, the Sanford Porter Performing Arts Center!

http://www.co.dekalb.ga.us/PorterSanford/index.html

Not really big enough though -

The Porter Sanford III Performing Arts & Community Center is a state-of-the-art, 500 seat theater in the historic Candler Road district, bringing a diverse range of programming possibilities to Southern DeKalb County.

Our goal is to ensure that your organization has a positive and productive experience with this outstanding municipal facility. DeKalb has invested more than 17 million dollars to construct the most advanced performing arts theater in the history of our county. The Center is equipped with digital audio and lighting equipment throughout the entire facility and can accommodate a variety of performances including musicals, plays, ballets, weddings, and concerts.

The Center has a wide variety of rooms available for your event. Come visit our 500 seat main theater, the 100 seat "black box" secondary theater, or the outstanding "open-view" terrace of the 200 seat-style reception lobby configuration.

Porter Sanford III Performing Arts & Community Center typically host events such as:
Conventions
Tradeshows
Weddings
Parties

Upcoming Events

Jun. 5, 2010 - Elements (The Unperfect Storm)

Jun. 12, 2010 - Visual Art

Jun. 15, 2010 (premiere) - The Last October 7th

Jun. 25, 2010 - Kick-Off Concert (featuring Ken Ford, Dionne Farris and other musical guests)

Passionate... said...

DA should find and ask Debbie Loeb and Rick Cost, DCSS employees when C.Lew-less became superintendent, questions regarding "theft, bribery, monies, etc." They both left DCSS quickly!

Anonymous said...

@ Passionate 9:31 PM

I completely agree! Debbie Loeb quickly retired and moved out of state -- to North Carolina, I think. She and Marilyn Steele were very close friends. Amazing! Marilyn was okay/adequate -- at the elementary school level (Montgomery). However, Marilyn turned out to be one of the worst-ever area executive directors with a serious mean streak. Probably because she was promoted way above her level of competence

I was in two private meetings with Crawford Lewis and Debbie Loeb -- one was just the three of us; the other one included Gloria Talley. Both times Crawford flat-out lied to me -- and I was a long-time friend. Within about two weeks after the second meeting, Debbie Loeb retired -- quickly, quietly. She must have known Crawford had lied to me, but I did not realize he lied until a month or so later.

Rick Cost works for Gwinnett County Schools. He and Ren Hallford (also formerly in DCSS Finance) left at the same time and went to Gwinnett.

Passionate... said...

Anonymous@10:30 p.m. interesting that you and I were both lied to in closed door meetings

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lewis lied, exaggerated, omitted facts, etc frequently. I don't know if the last two posters are parents and/or teachers, but he needed parents to love him, so he said what he thought he needed to say.

Dr. Lewis spent his entire tenure as superintendent being in fear of losing his job. He would say what he needed to, so that you were appeased and he would then do exactly what he wanted to or what some other parent would want him to do, etc.

This is especially ironic, because when I expressed grave concerns about his hiring, the (then) board members assured me that he only would do the job for two years and by then the firing of Johnny Brown would be less fresh on potential candidate's minds.

Cerebration said...

Well, it appears that the Atlanta Public School leaders are certainly no better --

Atlanta schools defy bid rules on wireless contracts

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 9:29 AM

Well, it appears that the Atlanta Public School leaders are certainly no better --

Cold comfort, that.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:07 AM
and
@ Passionate

Yes, I am a parent -- a very active, involved, contributing parent -- who has known Crawford Lewis for for more than 25 years.

For credibility's sake, I really thought about using my real name here and/or listing what I have done for DCSS. But, I believe that Crawford is just the tip of the iceberg here.

Others who should be indicted include Ronald Ramsey, Robert Tucker, Debbie Loeb, Felicia Mitchell, Audria Berry, Frankie Callaway, Marcus Turk, Larry Hammel, Susan Hurst, Carla Smith, Chardra Gordon (best friends with Cointa Moody), Gloria Talley, Philandria Guillory (along with her husband, her mother and her brother) Jamie Wilson and the entire Board of Education. If they did not personally steal from DCSS, they knew of wrongdoing and did not stop it or report it.

I guess stupidity is not an indictable offense. However, not being a responsible and careful steward of tax funds should be.

These are dangerous people -- we are talking real money, in some cases federal funds -- and basically they have nothing left to lose. If found guilty, they will go to jail -- for quite a long time, I hope.

For those named above who are unindicted, as yet, their names will come up in testimony. That will likely lead to more indictments. So, they are on the brink of losing everything, as well. As I said, said, these are dangerous people -- desperate, even.

I have seen what they are capable of and willing to do to others. I am afraid of them -- and I am not afraid of much.

Crawford Lewis and Patricia Reid and their cronies are thugs. Although Crawford is more of a stooge and apparently not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Anonymous said...

And New Birth too?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see Richard Belcher today reporting on the book investigation? He left off Yvonne Sanders Butler. She made a huge profit selling her cookbooks at school. Plus, had other principal selling them at their schools for her. Ronald Ramsey , are you going to investigate Dr. Butler? Where are the receipts from her book sales and the other principals that sold her cookbooks for Butler?

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