Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday June 7 Board Meeting

Oh no!  Ok - I missed it - what happened? Let's have a collaborative report...

UPDATE -- Lynn Deutsch, an active DCSS parent shared her 3 minute speech she gave to the board at last night's meeting.  I think her speech accurately reflects how most of us feel.  Read on --


Good Evening.  I am Lynn Deutsch, a DeKalb County parent and taxpayer.  Like so many others, I am beyond frustrated with the current situation in DeKalb.  

As Board Members, whether or not you believe you created this mess, you are responsible for turning this around.  Right now, among both interested observers and the general public, the DeKalb County School System has no credibility.

First, you must order a forensic audit.  Hopefully, this thorough examination of the system’s contracts, expenses, purchases, and much more will uncover nothing more than routine day to day operational expenditures.  However, as many of you have stated to the media, major changes occurred without your knowledge.  This Forensic Audit will give you a much clearer picture of how a billion dollars a year is being spent and afford you the opportunity to offer a transparent view of the finances of this school system to the taxpayers.  In addition, having this done before a new superintendent is in place, offers that person some protections because any wrong doings or errors will be corrected before they assume their new job.

Second, you need to act like the indictments are a big deal.  They are.  Regardless of the outcome of the case, this is a real black eye to our school system and a reflection of, if nothing else, pure sloppiness in how things were getting done.  This matters.  It will impact the school system for months, and perhaps years to come.  From the seriousness of possibly having accreditation impacted to the loss of potential donations from foundations, this is a mess that will linger.  Get this system in order and get it in order now.

Third, you need to adopt a new P Card policy.  At most governmental institutions, misusing a P card once may be grounds for firing, even if the misuse is accidental.  Misusing multiple times, would certainly be grounds for dismissal. It is my understanding that the current policy in DeKalb is to remove the P card from the user for a set period of time.  Enough said.

Fourth, I am greatly concerned that we remain a top heavy, inefficient bureaucratic organization.  Concerned, but not surprised.  It is time for you to change the Reduction in Force Policy.   It seems to me, after sitting in budget hearings where there were many concerns expressed about cutting low hanging fruit, this is exactly what happened.  In a few months when all the dust settles and school begins, I expect that there will be a continually growing outrage.    Do you think you should have kept the core subject coordinators’ positions in math, science, reading and social studies?  Have you looked at test scores in this system recently?  

Fifth, speaking of test scores, our next superintendent should be someone with a proven track record of improving student achievement.  We need an outsider who can come in and put a sharp eye to the challenges and barriers to student achievement in DeKalb and then come up with a plan to address them.   From AYP status to SAT and AP test scores, DeKalb’s data shows there is a problem.   Find the very best person to lead this system and help DeKalb students achieve more. 

Do not let the children of DeKalb down.  Their futures are in your very hands.  Shape this system up now by shaking it up.  Do what is necessary to make sure that we head back in the right direction.


andi said...

I recorded it and am watching the citzen comments not. Oh how I love the comments. Everyone is giving it to the board.

Anonymous said...

oh please , let's hear it - did not realize it was on and would have loved happy hour with a sizzle

Anonymous said...

Most of the meeting dealt with reports by Ms Coleman concerning building improvements or change request. She really did an excellent job in presenting the information. For example it was discussed that due to the change in the economic picture, that the improvements proposed for Dunwoody, a number of years ago, could now be done for less. Jim R asked Ms Colemen to explain that it would now cost 25 percent less to do the improvements.
SCW made a request to see the amount that was spent at Arabia Mountain on utilities to determine, if the DCSS was saving money at that school.
I did not watch the entire meeting.
Was there any discussion concerning furlough days? The current proposal provides no pre planning day for second semester. It also has no post planning day. At the beginnning of the school year, the Head Counselor, and 11th month assistant principals and the registrar will return the same day as the teachers return. If this was discussed by that time, I was no longer watching the meeting.
Ella was there for the citizen comments. She supported the concern made by a Huntley Hills parent that the students in wheel chairs could not make it to the play ground. The parent that had initially voiced this concern was upset that money was spent on administrative improvements, as opposed to school based needs. I am sorry this is not in very good order.
A friend of mine mentioned that the schools are now in 5 regions instead of 6. CK is no longer in the region with Dunwoody and Chamblee, those two schools and their feeders are now in the region with Lakeside and Druid Hills.
To my knowledge this was not discussed at the board meeting, but I thought that I would provide that information.

Anonymous said...

More info in AJC here:

Kim Gokce said...

Regarding "region" changes, I heard the same thing today.

Elizabeth Heckman, Area Super for Region I is retiring at month's end. Instead of replace her, the word is they are going to collapse her assigned schools into the other regions. Segovis gets Dunwoody and Chamblee and Bradsaw gets CK.

I have no idea what criteria were used but CK is know in with Redan, Stephenson and St. Mountain.

Cerebration said...

Good quotes from the AJC -

"As board members, whether or not you believe you created this mess, you are responsible for turning this around," said Lynn Deutsch, a parent. "Right now, [among] both interested observers and the general public, the DeKalb County school system has no credibility."

Deutsch and Tasha Walker, another parent, told the board that the school district should be audited. Deutsch wanted a forensic audit. Walker asked for a federal audit of every construction change order.

"And every [purchasing] card needs to be looked at," Walker said, referring to the school district charge card that certain employees use.

Cerebration said...

And hurrah for John Evans!

John Evans, a DeKalb County NAACP board member, drew applause when he assailed the school board for approving cuts of lower-paid employees rather than higher-paid administrators to balance its budget.

"You don't care nothing for [poor] folk and you don't do nothing for [poor] folk," Evans said, adding that the board has rubber-stamped administrative decisions with no oversight. "It seems school boards are just insensitive."

"You know it ain't right half the time and you just go ahead and approve it," he said.

Maybe the board will hear it when John Evans says it -- lord knows they don't hear us when we say the same thing.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that some of the Board has been reading the Blog and that several of them read the AJC article about the bidding/awarding irregularities in the City of Atlanta schools. They certainly were asking a lot of questions tonight.

That said, I often attend the June meeting and they always seem to ask a lot of questions at this one. Historically, the agenda is loaded with all this kind of stuff and I am guessing the sheer volume of it gets the BOE on their toes.

That said, they certainly didn't seem to fixate on some of the important stuff, like why the Elks Club Renovation was labeled training facility when the reality seems to be that it will (now?) be used for offices for the transportation department. Isn't there enough room at Mountain Industrial for their offices?

Color me confused,

Lynn Deutsch

Cerebration said...

Wasn't the Elks Club tabled for construction a few months ago due to the fact that it's on a flood plain and has flooding issues - thus they decided they couldn't store buses there or use the land really... I guess they only intend to use the building?

No Duh said...

"Maybe the board will hear it when John Evans says it -- lord knows they don't hear us when we say the same thing."

That's because they know reverse discrimination lawsuits are harder to prove than discrimination lawsuits.

Ella Smith said...

My concerns were that when the students with wheelchairs could not get to the playground and this was brought to the attention of school officials and nothing was done about it and now it was brought in front of the school board there is a big problem.

The problem is that no group of individuals can be denied access to services or an area that that other groups of children have access to. When the disabled students could not get to the playground and it was reported and no one did anything about it the school system was discriminating against this group of individuals. Many times we discriminate against groups and do not even realize we are discriminating against them. This is the sad part to me.

I was assured that school officials will be at Huntly Hills tommorrow looking into the situation and correcting the situation.

Ella Smith said...

I was also suppose to be interviewed tonight by channel 2 staff as a parent, but I was going to the school board and was not available to be interviewed regarding the extra 10 million dollars the investigating reportor found that the school system had not filed the papers with the state in order to receive. It is suppose to be on channel 2 this afternoon and tonight.

No Duh said...

Sad the principal at Huntley Hills couldn't get that kind of action. said...

Can we ever get away from the race card either way. John Evans is a citizen just as other speakers. The issue is not racial, it is about treating and educating "all students" regardless of disability fairly. Let us set a example for our students. We have a big cloud over our heads now in terms of credibility is concerned and we must work together to get back where we were during the Freeman regine! We can do it, if we keep our eyes on the "prize" QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL.

Anonymous said...

I was proud of Redovian for a minute ... I think he realizes the mess that has been made, maybe even has a few regrets.

He spoke up ... certainly wasn't happy with Jamie Wilson's (HR "head") report about the 7,000-8,000 contracts that were being renewed as though it was just a passing remark. Redovian asked for a list of names and didn't like being told after the fact, after the decision had been made ... he said he was not going to vote for it for this reason. Now, for those who know more, please correct me on the facts if necessary.

I just mainly want you to know Redovian stepped up to the plate and said the right thing. He even commented that he figures the Board members who are up for re-election know their time is up, even though "he would like to hang around awhile."

The Board members (McChesney excluded) seemed to be bored most of the time ... waking up now and then to ask a question or two. Unfortunately, anything they offered to most of us is too little, too late. Tyson fell right in line and didn't look any different than the rest of them.

One final comment to everyone in blogland:

I wanted to use 5 seconds of my 3 minutes during Citizen Comments to just ask "HOW ON EARTH, WITH ALL THE CHECK SYSTEMS IN PLACE, DO WE FIND OURSELVES IN THIS HORRIBLE POSITION ?" and then use the remaining 2 minutes, 55 seconds to just stare at them to see if I saw any remorse, any glimpse of emotion or regret.

I didn't do this, but wanted to.

Cerebration said...

I think the board will listen to John Evans because he is respected in the community as a civil rights activist - I didn't think he meant his statement as racial - more as classism, which I completely agree with. This really is an issue within the black community itself - it's not racial at all. The layoffs effected far too many low-paid staff (many who have direct contact with students) so that jobs in administration could be protected. One 100,000 manager cut could save 4 parapros in the classroom. However, the manager makes decisions and forges relationships with top level administrators - paras do not, they are busy in the classroom, helping children. Really, I'm pretty shocked that the board went along with these changes AND went out on a limb to save transportation to magnets - costing many in regular schools their jobs.

Just sayin'

andi said...

The very last comment was about the announcement of the millage rate hearing on 6/14 at the William Bradley Bryant Center.

Anonymous said...

EDIT for 9:46 PM:
What Redovian actually said is that Jamie Wilson gave the board members a CD with 7,000 to 8,000 names on it for contracts to be renewed and expected the Board to vote on "all or none" and only gave a short time for them to review it. There were a few names on that CD that Redovian might not have approved. His complaint was it's absurd to approve that many with this impractical of a procedure, therefore he was not going to vote for it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a magnet parent and cannot believe the board voted to keep some of the magnet transportation. Irresponsible! I've always thought we should be responsible for transporting our children to and from school. Families can set up car pools. What a shameful decision.

Passionate... said...

I agree with Cere that the BOE will listen to John Evans. I heard Cross Keys joined Redan Stephenson and Stone Mountain because those communities will not cause problems and because the schools are much lower in performance than Chamblee Dunwoody Lakeside and North Druid Hills. Bradshaw is to be over CRSS. Debra White and Ralph Simpson flipped schools. Not sure what the reasoning was behind those changes. People at the top were not let go for fear of lawsuits that may win. Apparently they have more money than paraprofessionals and others at the bottom of the pay scale to fight for their rights. Central office and school based administrative positions are to be on PATS internally. Positions are to be filled with "non renewed" folks. Current principals and assistant principals are not to apply for the advertised positions because they will not be moved. This makes a lot of sense to me [right!] Let's continue the madness and allow folks that have been earning their online degrees and doing nothing for students to apply and secure a top administrative job at a high salary instead of a younger person with energy, initiative, and foresight to actually work on a daily basis for the benefit of our students. Jamie Wilson's CD is ridiculous! Ms. Coleman did do an excellent job with information presented. We must get stand united and get away from the "race card".

Anonymous said...

Passionate, PLEASE say it ain't so! There HAS to be a way to get those high paid, "sit on their ass", do nothing blood suckers out of the system. Can someone find out which law firm represented the secretaries when they filed against DCSS?? This was a few years ago when the secretaries were TOLD by dcss that they HAD to work overtime and not claim it.... you KNOW there had to be a law firm involved. Who? Wouldn't THAT firm be able to oust the overpaid leaches?
I KNOW one thing. I cannot and will not vote for any more splost. What a waste of my tax dollars. And yes, Ramona Tyson HAS to go. She's as guilty as Lewis. She yells a lot when she doesn't get her way. Yes, I've heard her.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Agree - I am not sure what was racial about Evan's comments - I certainly did not take it that way.

Also, on this straight "up and down" vote on employment contracts - that's lunacy. Is that SOP for school systems?

Anonymous said...

Here is the current DCSS Board Policy on Reduction In Force. (It is my bolding on the part that I think is most problematic. I am guessing that is part of the reason Ms. Guillory still has her job?)

Board Policy
Descriptor Code:GBKA
Professional Personnel Lay-Off Print Policy


MISSION: To ensure that fair, efficient, and consistent procedures are administered when applying the reduction-in-force action.

The DeKalb County Board of Education will attempt to avoid exercising reduction-in-force procedures through planned management techniques including budgeting, maintaining adequate financial reserves, projecting student enrollment, projecting staffing needs, absorbing vacancies arising from attrition, contracting teachers (employed midyear for the balance of the year only with no commitments for further employment), and nonrenewing contracts (for teachers having less than three complete academic years of service in the DeKalb County School System). However, the Board recognizes that reduction-in-force actions may be necessary when overstaffing occurs due to the following reasons:

1. inadequate funds

2. insufficient student enrollment to merit continuation of a program

3. decline in average daily attendance (ADA)

4. shift in selection of courses by students

5. decline in need for services rendered by a position classification

6. return of contractual personnel from sabbatical leaves of absence

7. discontinuation of a program by action of the Board

8. budget reduction by action of the Board

9. introduction of the four quarter school year

10. change in pupil‑teacher ratios

11. closure or change in purpose of a school or education center

12. reorganization

13. legal mandates

14. judicial decrees

15. other exigencies

Reduction in force must be accomplished by using fair, efficient, and consistent procedures while constantly providing for the optimal welfare of the students of the school system. Reduction-in-force actions shall be based on position classifications, EEOC classifications, lengths of continuous service, and certification if applicable. In addition, reduction-in-force actions must not adversely affect judicial decrees. First consideration in the implementation of reduction in force will be to cause minimal disruption in the academic program of the school system. All other programs will be continued only as they can be related to remaining academic staff.

Based on student enrollment, funding sources, legal mandates, judicial decrees, educational program priorities, state standards for public schools, accreditation standards, and other related factors, the Superintendent will assess staffing needs and determine surplus personnel by position classifications as well as the date such reductions are needed. The Superintendent may designate selected position classifications as having protected positions within those classifications in order to maintain vital programs, functions, and/or services. Only those personnel employed in excess of the staff necessary for the efficient operation of the school system will be declared surplus personnel subject to reduction-in-force actions.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I heard Cross Keys joined Redan Stephenson and Stone Mountain because those communities will not cause problems and because the schools are much lower in performance than Chamblee Dunwoody Lakeside and North Druid Hills. Bradshaw is to be over CRSS.

Okay, well, I'm not sure what that statement means, but it seems rather "uninformed".

What is North Druid Hills and CRSS?

Dunwoody Mom said...

First consideration in the implementation of reduction in force will be to cause minimal disruption in the academic program of the school system

Well, they ignored that rule right off the bat, didn't they?

Anonymous said...

I cannot commend any current actions or comments of the Board members. They spent years helping to create this mess.
Some may wish to commend Mr. Redovian for his refusal to approve the mass hiring this time, but remember he approved them this way for years. Along with anything else Dr. Lewis brought his way.
He is right about one thing, he needs to move on.

Anonymous said...

Both Lynn Deutsch and Pamela Buncum made really excellent comments at the board meeting. Lynn - you should post your comments here so everyone can read them.

The business portion of the meeting consisted of a listing of contracts that were placed on the table to be voted on at the next meeting. McChesney had a lot of questions as to whether competitive bids were sought. It was clear he had done his homework. Copelin-Woods made it clear that she was only interested in "her" schools. No matter what contract was being discussed, Sarah's questions were all of the "what about my schools" variety. Redovian again expressed frustration with the bungling of the ESIS rollout and Walker wanted to know if we could ditch ESIS altogether and go back to the old system.

Tony Hunter said there would be continued improvements to the SchoolNet system. Currently, it takes 2 to 3 weeks before teachers receive any data from all the ridiculous benchmark tests they are forced to administer. Three week old data is useless when it comes to planning lessons. He claims there will be a 24 hour turn around on benchmark data, which will provide teachers with meaningful feedback about student strengths and weaknesses. (Of course, it is only meaningful if the tests themselves are valid, but that is another issue entirely.)

Dunwoody Mom said...

He claims there will be a 24 hour turn around on benchmark data, which will provide teachers with meaningful feedback about student strengths and weaknesses

Do we really need a "system" to determine a studet's strength and weakness? I would bet teachers can spot these things quicker than some computerized program.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if America's Choice will be back? I thought it would be discussed at the meeting, but it wasn't.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with you on CK being placed with Redan region because those school don't perform well. Redan made AYP 7 out of the last 8 years. Seven years in a row, only Chamblee and Lakeside did that. Redan made newsweeek best high school in the nation this year, no other Dekalb high school made it. Don't lump us all into one boat thinking our community doesn't care about learning process. We can handle our own!!

Anonymous said...

I think Redan is dong great. Originally, before Lewis went away, I understood we were going to three areas. Just like the cabinet shrinking, this didn't happen.

I will send my "speech" to Cere to see if she wants to post it (no hurt feelings if not). It is to long to post in the comments I think.


Cerebration said...

Thanks for sharing the board policy, Anon. I hope you forwarded it to the board themselves, it seems they have not read it.

Reduction in force must be accomplished by using fair, efficient, and consistent procedures while constantly providing for the optimal welfare of the students of the school system.

Anonymous said...

The parents of the children at Huntley Hills need to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. It is clear discrimination on the basis of disability. Just the threat of an OCR complaint shouldwill get DCSS to jump - they have been successfully sued on this basis a number of times.

Of course, this fact (the successful suits) makes a sad commentary on DCSS's treatment of children with disabilities.

Anonymous said...

I also need to share with you something Sandy Purkett said at the meeting last night. She said that while they were looking at building related stuff, could someone please make sure the cameras, lighting and technology were all aligned at Redan. Her car was vandalized and the camera wasn't aimed correctly so they couldn't see who did it.

They can deal with the rain coming in the building, but it would be nice to get this little problem fixed.



Anonymous said...

When the parents at Huntley Hills were fighting so hard to keep the Montessori program, why didn't they also bring up this blatant ADA violation?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Yea Lynn!!! Bravo.

Cere, I hope you don't mind, but I linked this over to my blog - hope that's okay.

Cerebration said...

We're all in this together, DM - the more linked the better! Glad you're blogging!

For those in Dunwoody who haven't seen Dunwoody Mom's blog yet - here's the link

I've often said that the board or the school system should maintain a blog in order to answer questions before misinformation spreads... but they haven't done it yet. So - instead, I hope school communities will form their own blogs - and email communications (Lakeside and other use Constant Contact) - to keep people informed. It's very easy to set these things up - it just requires a bit of dedication to maintain it and to compile information. Lakeside's parents do an excellent job with their emails. I would encourage every PTA to set something up.

For $15/month, you can send emails to hundreds of people. Even better, they can sign themselves up or unsubscribe themselves. They can also forward the email to others who may want to sign up - it's all done electronically.

To set up a blog - I recommend either Blogger (that's what this one is) or WordPress (has a few more tools...) They are both free!

Ella Smith said...

I asked Lynn from Huntly Hills if she had a child which had exceptional needs and she does not.

I appreciate that Lynn was asking for needs for all children at Huntley Hills. She was not just concerned with her child's needs.

On the way home from the school board meeting, I realized that Huntley Hills must be a nice school for the community children with parents like Lynn fighting for the needs of all the children.

The current school board will make sure that this situation is corrected as soon as possible. The problem is how many more situations in the county are like this and parents have not complained.

Innocently school officials and business owners discriminate by denying access to facilities all the time. All of the trailers in the school system are also not accessible to parents in wheelchairs during parent meetings. The lease was extended on them last night. I waited with a parent outside a trailer who could not get into several of the PTA Open House 5 minute meetings one night as we traveled around and met our children's teachers. I was very sad that we did and do not allow access to this parent and other parents in wheelchairs to their child's classes like we do other parents. Trailers are not temporary structures when they stay in place for 10-25 years as many of this trailers do. No one thinks about these type of things. They think about renting a trailer for $333.00 a month which is cheap verses redistricting the school so we do not have this as an issue to start with. Redistricting would be a political incorrect thing to do as it might cost a board member there position on the board.

I just wish the school board members and school officials would put the school children and the community first when making decisions. Sometimes I do not feel some of our board members do this.

I also respected what John Evans had to say. He is respected in the community and is a very nice guy if you get to know him. I know that he has a history that cause some people not to like him. I look at the good things John Evans is doing today to try to help others and try to judge him on his efforts today. However, you have the right to feel however, you chose to feel.

John Evans appears to be advocating for individuals who need advocating for, so I appreciate him for his advocacy for these individuals.

Teaching at a DCSS High School said...

To Lynn (Anon) @ 8:25...

RE: Sandy Purkett's comments

While her comments may not be reflective of the general crisis facing our shool system, they do shed light on the concern that Sandy has for the safety and security available for person and property at Redan.

Ever since renovation construction began over a year ago; delays, shoddy workmanship, stolen supplies & equipment, bad equipment, lack of equipment, roof leaks, construction odors & dust, changes in contractors/foremen, and ill-advised construction decisions have contributed to our school being less than conducive to learning.

Yet, we still rise above the standard of mediocrity present in the school system (check out our GHSGT scores).

Ms. Purkett has long been an advocate for Redan and the community at large. Please don't denigrate her comments.....her heart has always been towards educating young minds and making opportunities available for them, while those she addressed at the BoE meeting stall the progress of DCSS with political posturing and incompetence.

Leave her alone.....or pat her on the back and applaud her for being who she is.


Molly said...

Elle - I was the parent from Huntley Hills, not Lynn.

Anonymous said...

So from what I can tell, moving CKHS and its feeder schools to a different region then all of its surrounding neighbors, means that racism is still alive and well in DCSS.

What other reason could you possibly have for gerrymandering this High School.

If it's all part of an overall plan, then tell us what that is and explain why this is fair and appropriate. Right now, it doesn't pass the smell test.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't mean to denigrate Sandy. I love her and have long been a supporter of her work.

I think I was trying to point out the problems at Redan. Sorry, if you took the comment the wrong way.

I love Sandy and her Pilot program and think she does absolutely fabulous work. I also (as I said) am very impressed with Redan.


Anonymous said...

DM @ 7:34 asked: "Also, on this straight "up and down" vote on employment contracts - that's lunacy. Is that SOP for school systems?"

Former board member here DM. Any board member could have offered a substitute motion accepting the majority of the list with certain specific names removed. With a second to the motion, and a majority vote it would have been done. It's important to note that a board member(s) cannot add names to be hired (they can only approve/deny those the superintendent recommends).

Presenting a big list is just a courtesy to the board so they don't have to make 7000-8000 individual votes. If the board majority wanted to reduce the number of central office staffers by not offering some contracts the substitute motion described above would have done it.

Ideally they would have had individual discussions with the superintendent well before the meeting so the super could present a list with only names that he/she felt would have majority board support.

Cerebration said...

We all love Sandy Purkett at this blog! I think Lynn was just expressing exasperation at the way we've all been trained to overlook the elephant in the room - that so many of our buildings are crumbing messes while some are glorious taj mahals (admin offices now included). Parents need to stand up to the board and demand that the SPLOST 3 money be spent as promised. So many of the original projects listed on the brochure convincing us to vote yes to SPLOST 3 have not yet seen a shovel -- and now, Chamblee construction has been completely tabled! This is a school with mold and rodent issues! But - hey - at least the board approved the tens thousands of dollars for a change order to add sound-proofing to the superintendent's office (at least now, we know why that was necessary!)

Go Sandy - ask for everything Redan is due! Redan reminds me of Lakeside - crummy old building but great kids, solid education and involved parents. But Redan has a way more awesome band!

Molly said...

@Anon 8:30
When the parents at Huntley Hills were fighting so hard to keep the Montessori program, why didn't they also bring up this blatant ADA violation?

I was one of the parents fighting so hard to keep the Montessori curriculum, and I am also the parent who brought up the accessibility issue last night. Why didn't I bring it up earlier? I will be the first to admit that I hadn't paid any attention problem. My own children are not disabled, and like many whose immediate family is not touched by disability, I just never thought about it. Frankly, I am embarrassed that it took me so long to become aware of the problem.

Cerebration said...

Thanks Anon 10:21 AM. Very insightful info - which highlights the fact that our current board is ill-trained.

Cerebration said...

Molly, thank you for advocating for children with disabilities. This could be a good motivator for PTAs to include a disabilities/special education rep on their boards. That would be inclusive! How about it, PTAs?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Cere, I think I have a little better understanding of the Chamblee HS situation. If I understand correctly, the money for Chamblee is still there. However, the community needs to decide whether they really want to put money into this crumbling building (How did it get in such a state of repair is a question I have) or wait for a SPLOST IV and build a whole new facility. If someone has any different information, please clarify.

A whole new facility brings me to my own question. The CHS campus is small, maybe one of the smallest in the county. If a decision is made to rebuild the high school, is it rebuild on the same site, as was done with the early '70's build and tear down, or moved to land where a larger and more appropriate high school can be built.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Thanks, anon for that explanation. Perhaps, DCSS also needs to change the way they approve contracts - not just lump them all together for approval by the board.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Well done, Molly.

Cerebration said...

Since I moderate this blog, I have the privilege of an occasional rant - so I am going to repost one of my regular rants --- below is the text of the brochure encouraging us to vote for SPLOST 3

Referendum: March 20, 2007
This Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an opportunity for voters in DeKalb County to continue the onecent sales tax for school improvements. This sales tax extension is limited to 60 months or until an established cap of $645 million has been reached, whichever comes first.

If the continuation of the one cent sales tax is approved by the voters on March 20, 2007, improvements for our kids are funded by everyone who buys goods in the county, regardless of where they live.

With the extension of SPLOST ...

• Over 2,646,000 Square Feet of New Roofing
• Another 201,800 Square Feet of Roofing Repairs
• 2,535,000 Square Feet of School Renovations
• 185 New Technologically Advanced High
School Classrooms
• 183 New Innovative Elementary School Classrooms
• Over 1,206,000 Square Feet of durable Asphalt
• 7,000 Square Feet of safe Concrete Walkways
• 6 New State of the Art High School Teaching
• 22 New Advanced Career Technology Instructional
• 25 HVAC Replacement, Repair, and Upgrade


In order to maintain a healthy and safe learning environment for the students of the DeKalb County School System, a Capital Improvement Plan [CIP] has been developed and approved by the Board of Education.

The CIP outlines the most pressing facility needs.
The CIP is aligned with Board /Superintendent Goals, the Facility Needs Assessment and the Demographic Study. The plan is educationally sound, philosophically based, and fiscally responsible. To that end, the focus of the plan directly addresses the High Schools That Work principles and the commitment to learning environments that are healthy and safe.

The Capital Improvement Plan will touch every facility, school and center in the DeKalb County School System.

The main areas of focus for the CIP are as follows:
􀀵 Retirement of existing COPs* financial debt
􀀵 Completion of deferred SPLOST II work
􀀵 Major Roofing, HVAC, Code & Life Safety Improvements
􀀵 High School Improvements
􀀵 Career Technology, Fine Arts, & Classroom Additions
􀀵 Renovations of Classrooms from floor to ceiling
􀀵 Technology Upgrades to ALL Facilities
􀀵 Transportation Additions of New Buses to replace
Aging Vehicles
*Certificate of Participation

Facilities Affected

􀀵 Technology Improvements & Upgrades will be completed at ALL Schools & Centers
􀀵 Other Specified Projects Elementary Schools
Allgood, Austin, Avondale, Bob Mathis, Briar Vista, Cedar Grove, Chapel Hill, Chesnut, Clifton, Evansdale, Fairington, Fernbank, Flat Shoals, Forrest Hills, Glen Haven, Hambrick, Hawthorne, Henderson Mill, Hightower, Hooper Alexander, Huntley Hills, Idlewood, Indian Creek, Kingsley, Knollwood,
Laurel Ridge, Livsey, McLendon, Meadowview, Midvale, Midway, E.L. Miller, Montgomery, Murphey Candler, Nancy Creek, Oak View, Oakcliff, Pleasantdale, Rainbow, Rockbridge, Sagamore Hills, Sky Haven, Snapfinger, Stone Mill, Stone Mountain, Terry Mill, Vanderlyn, Wadsworth, Woodward
Middle Schools Champion Theme, Henderson, McNair, Miller Grove, Salem, Sequoyah, Stephenson

High Schools
Chamblee, Clarkston, Columbia, Cross Keys, Tech-North, Tech-South, DECA, Druid Hills, DSA, Lakeside, McNair, Open Campus, Redan, Stone Mountain, SW DeKalb, Towers Centers Clarkston, Coralwood Diagnostic, Transition Academy, Doraville Driver Ed, Fernbank Science, Freeman Administrative Building, Heritage, Sam Moss, Warren Tech

􀀵 Large Model Additions
Dunwoody, Lithonia, M.L. King Jr., Miller Grove

􀀵 New Schools
COPs Retirement: Evans Mill ES, Dunwoody/Chamblee Area ES, Rock Chapel Area ES
Tucker High School

Cerebration said...

Speaking of ADA issues, according to the above promises for SPLOST 3 all schools were supposed to get new roofs. This includes Hawthorne ES, I assume. However, this has yet to occur. Hawthorne has many disabled children - some use wheelchairs and one is blind. When it rains, they must put out trash cans in the middle of hallways to catch the leaking water. This makes it nearly impossible for children with walkers, wheelchairs or guide sticks to navigate.

Please - fix Hawthorne's roof AS PROMISED.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb can build ramps that will allow for wheelchair access to those trailers. It takes more space and more wood. This is another reason why trailers don't make good classrooms.

Cerebration said...

This is quoted from the MArch 2009 CIP ADA Projects Plan - posted at DCSS website -

The objective of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Americans with Disabilities (ADA)
Act Projects plan is to have the work listed on the Dekalb County School System (DCSS) ADA priority list 2007-08 completed by the end of 2010.

This task will be accomplished by assigning schools to one of the five Groups listed on
the CIP budget break down sheet as Groups A through E. This grouping will expedite
the work.

The scope of the work will be as follows:
• Exterior improvements such as repainting and striping existing handicap parking
zones, sidewalks, curb cuts, etc., as well as ADA compliant concrete ramps.
• ADA compliant restrooms.
• Elevators, entry door replacements, and/or people lifts requiring Architectural and/or Engineering services.

Grouping of the schools in Groups A thru E are attached.
• Group A-1 is comprised of 11 Elementary schools requiring exterior work; Group A-2 is comprised of 8 Elementary schools requiring exterior work
• Group B is comprised 13 Elementary schools requiring exterior work and restroom renovations.
• Group C is comprised of 8 schools requiring Architectural/Engineering services for design and location of elevators and ADA compliant people lifts, in addition to exterior and restroom work. Monies allocated to Group C will be used to purchase ADA- compliant modular ramps to provide access to Elementary school play areas.
• Group D is comprised of Middle schools requiring exterior work and restroom renovations.
• Group E is comprised of High schools requiring exterior work and restroom renovations.
CIP ADA Projects Plan March, 2009 2

• DCSS reserves the right to procure the work at individual schools as it sees fit to
expedite the work in a timely manner.
• Work requiring Architectural/Engineering services will be accomplished through
the issuance of Design Build contracts or through Work Authorizations.
• Proposal packages including general specifications and documents indicating the
general area of work will be developed and provided to prequalified contractors
at a preproposal conference prior to work commencing in each of the Groups.

Scheduling of the tasks to complete the work will be determined for each individual Group. Preliminary schedules for each group are attached.

Cerebration said...

CIP ADA Projects
Group A-1
CIP PROJECT #: 421-301 Budget $300,000
Exterior Work: Refurbishing of accessible parking areas; On-grade (flat) accessible routes and curb
ramps; ADA compliant concrete ramps
1. Bob Mathis ES
2. Idlewood ES
3. Kingsley ES
4. Avondale ES
5. Ashford Park ES
6. Panola Way ES
7. Allgood ES
8. Indian Creek ES
9. Laurel Ridge ES
10. Glen Haven ES
11. Gresham Park ES

Group A- 2
CIP Project # 421-301 Budget $920,065
Exterior Work: Refurbishing of accessible parking areas; On-grade (flat) accessible routes and curb
ramps; ADA compliant concrete ramps
1. Hightower ES
2. Livsey ES
3. Eldridge L. Miller ES
4. Fernbank ES
5. Columbia ES
6. Kelley Lake ES
7. Cedar Grove ES
8. Flat Shoals ES

Group B
CIP Project # 421-302 Budget $572,327
Exterior Work: Refurbishing of accessible parking areas; On-grade (flat) accessible routes and curb
ramps; ADA compliant concrete ramps
Interior Work: ADA compliant restrooms
1. Austin ES
2. Kittredge Magnet at Nancy Creek
3. Medlock ES
4. Montclair ES
5. Brockett ES
6. Smoke Rise ES
7. Midway ES
8. Peachcrest ES
9. Rock Chapel ES
10. Woodridge ES
11. Oak View ES
12. Sky Haven ES
13. Rainbow ES

Group C
CIP Project # 421-303 Budget: $2,000,000
Exterior Work: Refurbishing of accessible parking areas; On-grade (flat) accessible routes and curb
ramps; ADA compliant concrete ramps
Interior Work: ADA compliant restrooms, elevators, wheelchair lifts, entry door replacements, requiring
1. Chesnut ES
2. McNair MS
3. Henderson Mill ES
4. Midvale ES
5. Briar Vista ES
6. Oakcliff ES
7. Fernbank Science Center
8. Snapfinger ES

Group D
CIP Project # 421-304 Budget $362,700
Exterior Work: Refurbishing of accessible parking areas; On-grade (flat) accessible routes and curb
ramps; ADA compliant concrete ramps
Interior Work: ADA compliant restrooms
1. Henderson MS
2. Salem MS
3. Sequoyah MS
4. Shamrock ES

Group E
CIP Project # 421-305 Budget $520,500
Exterior Work: Refurbishing of accessible parking areas; On-grade (flat) accessible routes and curb
ramps; ADA compliant concrete ramps
Interior Work: ADA compliant restrooms
1. Stone Mountain HS
2. Margaret Harris HS
Other schools as needed

Cerebration said...

Have these promised funded by tax dollars been implemented? Do we need to ask for judicial oversight of our tax dollars?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Why is Huntley Hills not even on that list?

Anonymous said...

Ella and everybody - It is a violation of ADA for a parent with mobility issues to be denied access to any event (Open House, school meeting, arts production, etc). The legally correct thing for the school to have done is to move that teacher's group to an accessible place. Yes, it's a pain, but it's what the law requires. Of course, the school needs to be aware of the need, which means the parent needs to notify them. But if the parent does that, the school must accommodate them.

Cerebration said...

DM - According to the CIP January 2010 Report, page 22 listing of "On Hold" projects - Chamblee HS, among others is listed as on hold.

Cerebration said...

All this said, I have a gut feeling that we actually have some real construction pros in charge now and hopefully, they have been taking a hard look at the plans, the numbers, and the rip-offs and trying to make plans to make it right. The latest report - in it's 120 pages of transparency as well as Ms Coleman's level of professionalism at the board meetings gives me much hope that this is true.

Muckraker said...

Actually, Cerebration, we don't really have any construction pros on board. At least, not any that care and/or evidence any ability or professionalism.

Coleman was out to Chamblee Charter High School for a meeting, with a flunky tagging along behind her, carrying a big, fat binder on CCHS. Her surprise at what is reality at CCHS was amazing. Clearly she and said flunky had not looked past the binder cover to be sure they brought the right accessory to the meeting. I guess she and her porter think that carrying the binder around is enough -- that the information will somehow be magically absorbed through osmosis. Since Coleman's first and only appearance at CCHS, nothing has changed.

How on Earth could Coleman be any good? She and her group -- I hesitate to even call them a team -- were selected by the very people who have caused so much grief -- many of whom should be indicted, at the least, -- and definitely on their way to jail once convicted.

Construction pros on the job? As my grandmother used to say, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."

Anonymous said...

Construction pros?

Here's a thought, maybe Millard Choate, former Chamblee Charter High School parent, would be willing to give his professional opinion on the Chamblee Charter High School facility. Also, maybe he would be willing to take a look at the credentials and past performance of Coleman, et al and give his professional opinion as to whether or not they are "pros."

Millard Choate is the real deal -- you see his distinctive black and gold Choate Construction signs everywhere. Millard Choate is a construction pro -- a professional's professional.

Anonymous said...

Please see the article on WSBTV.COM about the money that the DCSS did not get from the state.

Larger class sizes, fewer school based people, less suport with technology, furlough days, fewer buildings being repaired.

What could 10 million dollars have provided for us?

I know the money may not have been able to be applied to those things listed, but did we take money from other resources and use it to cover the money we did not get from the state?

Someone may say we couldn't have moved money from one budget to another.

Please, think about just the little bit of information that has been revealed.

I am sure that there is much that we do not know.


Thank you for this blog.

Anonymous said...

Has it occurred to you that perhaps the binder Ms. Colman had was put together by Pat Pope and her cronies? That maybe that was the reason she did not have all the facts about Chamblee?

The fact that the project has been put "on hold" until the community can come together and decide what to do speaks volumes to me - that someone in DCSS is finally allowing a community to be a part of the decision-making process.

And what is with the blatant advertising for "Choate Construction"?

Cerebration said...

Aaak! This is soooooo bad. All I can say is - what buffoons we have leading us! Idiots! Worse - idiots with very large egos who stole from us!

Below is a list of each school construction project the state questioned, the reason for the problem, and how much money the school system lost.

Arabia Mountain High --$1,231,990.00
5-year deadline passed for expending state reimbursement bonds *MONEY CANNOT BE REGAINED

Miller Grove High --- $1,173,659.00
5-year deadline passed for expending state reimbursement bonds *MONEY CANNOT BE REGAINED

McNair Cluster Elementary--$524,999.50
5-year deadline passed for expending state reimbursement bonds *MONEY CANNOT BE REGAINED

McNair High -- $ 297,010.00
18-month deadline passed before DeKalb Schools submitted the request for reimbursement

Peachtree Middle-- $733,468.00
18-month deadline passed before DeKalb Schools submitted the request for reimbursement

Stone Mountain Middle --$ 890,131.20
18-month deadline passed before DeKalb Schools submitted the request for reimbursement

Columbia High-- $ 907,904.00
DeKalb Schools violated state law by failing to bid out 2nd phase of construction, Pope’s ex-husband remained on project

Flat Rock Elementary-- $4,747,248.00
After money was approved, DeKalb Schools opted to fund with local bonds instead Mountain Industrial Center. No money forfeited. Failed to submit architectural plans for approval until AFTER students were already in the completed building

Cerebration said...

Sorry for the outburst - I'm just flabbergasted.

Dunwoody Mom said...

"I can't comment on whether it's criminal or incompetence, but I'm going to take the latter and say maybe it was a willful disregard," added Womack.

No, Mr. Womack, it was not incompetence, it was criminal. Why can't any board member just call it what it is with Lewis/Reid a criminal enterprise.

Anonymous said...

ANSWER to question asked in the June 8, 6:46 PM comment:

"Can someone find out which law firm represented the secretaries when they filed against DCSS??" ...


"This was a few years ago when the secretaries were TOLD by dcss that they HAD to work overtime and not claim it.... you KNOW there had to be a law firm involved. Who? Wouldn't THAT firm be able to oust the overpaid leaches? There HAS to be a way to get those high paid, "sit on their ass", do nothing blood suckers out of the system. "

Anonymous said...

Why is Cary Reynolds left off all lists for ANY improvements??!! Ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Lakeside is moving all (20+) trailers to the softball field and none of them will be wheelchair accessible. All foreign language will be housed in trailers, how are the wheelchair bound students going to take the mandated foreign lang. courses?

Cere 10:33am says "This could be a good motivator for PTAs to include a disabilities/special education rep on their boards. That would be inclusive! How about it, PTAs?" It will never happen at Lakeside. Inclusive isn't a word in the vocab of those in charge of the PTSA. Incestuous fits well. Two members of the current executive board are a parent without a child in the school and the just rolled off President as a VP. Sad when you think about it really, there are potentially 3000+ parents that could fill those two seats but the same old blood keeps being recycled in different positions.

Anonymous said...

If I were a Chamblee parent I would not count on a SPLOST IV passing.

Anonymous said...

"Here's a thought, maybe Millard Choate, former Chamblee Charter High School parent, would be willing to give his professional opinion on the Chamblee Charter High School facility."

Not a problem as long as he agrees not to bid on any work connected with the school.

Anonymous said...

Now correct me if I am wrong, it may be just a Gwinnett County SS thing. I do not know if it is a state requirement, but, if you hold classes that a wheel chair student can not get to then you must offer one of the classes inside the building.

Meaning if you have all language classes outside, you must put one of them inside for the student.

So I am wondering is LHS going to offer one class inside the building to get around this rule?

Anonymous said...

No, it's not a Gwinnett requirement - that's a requirement of Title II of the ADA.

Anonymous said...

Lynn Deutsch gets a big standing ‘O’ for this terrific speech. A forensic audit is essential. The state (or the courts) should come in and do it now. We need to have an entirely new interim board and superintendant appointed now. This board cannot do the job. Ramona Tyson cannot do the job. The problems in the DCSS are so serious, so deep, so wide, and so long-standing that we cannot risk waiting for uncertain election results. Even if we can elect a few good new board members--and I'm not optimistic about the prospects, given past history--the incremental change this would bring is too little, too late. The criminal enterprise that has been thriving in DCSS for many years needs to be cleaned out entirely. The criminally negligent mismanagement of our system needs to end today. It can’t wait.

Do you agree? How do we make this happen? Do we write letters to the governor, our legislators, the state education department, AJC, others? Whom do we petition and how? I know that many of you anonymous bloggers have ideas, contacts, experience that would help.

Deborah Rolka

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry to say, I have to agree with you Deborah. We are in too deep of doo doo to trust the current leadership to dig our way out.

These people need replaced - the board and the administration. I hope voters weren’t fooled by the weak display of feigned diligence we saw at last night’s meeting. On their way out the door, let’s give them an “Oscar” for best acting.

Anonymous said...

Please be careful of any comments by John Evans. He was DeKalb County's first ever black county commissioner. And DeKalb County's first county commission to be convicted for bribery.

As much as any single person, he to this day feeds the North DeKalb vs. South DeKalb divide. He jumped for joy when DCSS Internal Affairs Director/State Senator Ron Ramsey went on the floor of the Gold Dome and called for an economic boycott of the City of Dunwoody.

I'm surprised that Evans called out the BOE, as he is friends with Zepora Roberts and Sarah Copelin-Wood. John Evans is out for John Evans. Again, please be careful of any comments by him.

Ella Smith said...

Molly, I am sorry. I am horrible with names. Please forgive me.

Annoynomous, you are correct that the parent in the wheelchair could have contacted the school and told them he was coming to parents night and they could have moved the teachers of his child into the media center so he could attend the event.

The problem I have with trailers is that they are not temporary in many cases. They do not have bathroom access so the children have to go in and out in the weather. The floors are cold in the winter. I wore boots in the winter when I taught in one so my feet would stay warm. There is no insulation under the trailers.

It is an ADA violations. However, the county can get around it because they are temporary and the county officials will give them a waiver. I think if trailers are there for over a year or two then it is time to build a ramp. Many students break legs also and are temporarily disabled. It is just the right thing for the school system to do. It only cost them $333.00 to rent these trailers. They need to bite the bullet and build ramps to the trailers. This item has always bothered me.

Anonymous said...

Ella (and I know you are on the same side as I am) -

it doesn't matter if the county gives the trailers a bye because they are "temporary". If there is a kid or parent who can't get into one, even if that trailer just got there, it is a violation of their civil rights, and a complaint can be filed. Time for us to stop letting the county violate the rights of people with disabilities!!

Passionate... said...

CRSS is Cross Keys, Redan, Stephenson, and Stone Mountain clusters under Bradshaw. Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, and Druid Hills [not North Druid Hills] clusters under Segovis.

Passionate... said...
AYP reports for 2009 [not this year!]
Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, Druid Hills all made AYP
Cross Keys, Redan, Stephenson, and Stone Mountain did not make AYP

Anonymous said...

One of the hardest things a board member can be asked to do is to redistrict. If the current members really believe they'll be voted out this year, please redistrict before you go.

No Duh said...

Cere: You said, "Maybe the board will hear it when John Evans says it -- lord knows they don't hear us when we say the same thing."

Then I said "That's because they know reverse discrimination lawsuits are harder to prove than discrimination lawsuits" (In other words, the Black BOE members are not "afraid" of the white taxpayers, so they don't listen to them or even acknowledge them.)

Then a few people on the blog started spouting about getting off the racism track and that it's not relevant.

Then on another thread Cere said: "If Womack and McChesney do it, they will be called racists. Zepora, Sarah and Jay don't have backbones. It's you - Gene Walker - step up."

The way I see it, if ZR and SCW and GW and JC and John Evans want to call me a racist, more power to them. ZR has already called me a racist to my face.

I KNOW I'm not a racist. I don't need to worry what some hateful ignorant person calls me.

For instance:
I need to worry about fairness, inequities in SPLOST and instructional spending, etc. I am appalled that there are not as many AP classes offered in the "South DeKalb" schools as there are at LHS and Chamblee (for example). But, I am not going to assume it has anything at all to do with the COLOR of the students in the schools. I am going to ask for an honest appraisal of WHY aren't these more equitible? WHY aren't more students taking these classes? etc. HOW can we as a school system bring more COST-EFFECTIVE instructional opportunities to students in order to level the instructional playing field?

As a taxpayer, I wouldn't mind paying to bus a student from a South DeKalb school for a half day of AP classes at the North DeKalb school UNTIL those AP classes can COST-EFFECTIVELY be offered at the student's home school. But, I want the student to RESIDE at his or her home school. That is the only way for these schools to ever know how many students really can and would take AP classes if they were offered.

Anonymous said...

Redan missed AYP because of attendance. I didn't see Chamblee, Lakeside or Dunwoody name on US News and World report for best high schools this year!!!! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:43 - Congrats to Redan.

Lakeside, Chamblee and Dunwoody made Newsweek's Top High Schools list - Thank you....

Anonymous said...

I am a special ed teacher and the daughter of a mother with a spinal cord injury. I went into sped because of my experience growing up. I am a huge fan of ADA and accessibility. All of that being said, I have a big problem with the way some people on this blog just jump on an issue they have NO personal knowledge of. How many of you who have commented on the Huntley Hills accessibility situation have been there personally and know the needs of the specific students there? The only person who seems to have been there is Molly who admits she just brought it up. Some are even recommending lawsuits and OCR complaints. Does anyone know if any teacher or parent at HH has ever lodged a complaint - to whom and when? If a complaint was lodged and ignored, someone should lose their job - end of discussion. I suggest we start with the sped teachers who allowed this situation to go on all year (if we believe the playground is truly inaccessible they should have been screaming all year.) If the teachers did report it, then let's fire the person they reported it to - the principal, lead teacher, etc. Whoever is the highest ranking person who did nothing to rectify this problem should be gone - forget the lawsuit. However, I seriously suspect no one has reported this. I know the sped ed coordinators in the central office. They would have taken this complaint seriously. Molly, when did you first make someone aware of your concern and to whom did you make it? If the first complaint was at the board meeting on Mon. night and administrators agreed to visit on Tuesday (per Ella), then I'd say kudos to the admins for such a timely response. While I appreciate your passion for all things sped, Ella, sometimes you hurt our cause with your lack of accurate information.

Anonymous said...

What "inaccurate" information did Ella provide?

Anonymous said...

"If I am elected I will only serve two terms." Please hold Zepora to her word. She is currently serving her second term.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to figure out what Zephora's comment "My record speaks for itself" really means.

Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Zephora's comment "My record speaks for itself"

Yep, it sure does Z. Your record is plenty of reason why you will never ever in another election again!!!

Ella Smith said...

Annonymous 1:21

I am sorry you feel like I hurt your cause. I respect your opinion. You have every right to feel the way you feel.

However, you apparently do not know me. If you did you would know that I taught special education in Dekalb County for many years and one of the reasons I left as a teacher in Dekalb County was because as a special education teacher I could not always be a true advocate for the students I taught due to the administration in special education at the county office. You know if you are a special education teacher that they do have control of what we can recommend and not recommend for our students at the administrative level. I know many of the special education administrators and they know me. I am sure that they will fix this situation now that it has come to their attention. I know that they will do this also. The problem is that the administrator at the school or lead teacher should have already addressed this issue and it should have been fixed.

I had special needs children also and I had to go to due process hearing to get the services the law requires. So see you really do not know me at all. If you do you would know that I have always fought for the rights of students with disabilities in this county.

I am not only an individual who is disabled but I also am certified as a special education teacher in five different areas. I also have been an Autism Spectrum Disorders teacher and a Severe Emotional Disturbed teacher at a center. I have my masters in curriculum and instruction and I am talking my last class to get my EDS in Administration and Leadership. I have been a special education teacher for most of my thrity years of teaching also.

As an individual who is disabled the problem appears to be a 504 issue and not a special education issue per say. It is the 504 issues that the Dekalb County Schools and many other districts are so ignorate about in my opinion. It is innocent and just lack of knowledge. I see the same ignorance and lack of knowledge regarding 504 law in other counties.

504 laws were ammended in 2008 and went into affect in 2009 and the new 504 laws are much stronger than the earlier laws and could have more serious consequences and hold school systems and businesses liable for damages.

I am sorry that you feel I hurt the cause but at least I got someones attention and something will be done about the situation which was my intention. Apparently our cause is very different as I want all children to have equal access to all facilities, equipment and learning opportunities in Dekalb County. This situations was definitely lack of access and I am willing to fight to make sure things like this do not occur in any school system in Georgia.


andi said...

Does anyone know where I can get the minutes from the BOE meetings? I'm working on a voting history project.

Passionate... said...

My sincere apologies to Redan! I think it is fantastic that you all made US News and World Report List of Best High Schools. I was simply reporting what I heard was the reason that Cross Keys High School was moved into a different region. School based staff members in the trenches everyday are making a difference with students regardless of the location. In each building, there are heroes. Amidst the "bad news" constantly heard about DeKalb, it would have been wise for decisions of moving clusters and region superintendents to make more sense than a "52 card pick up."

Anonymous said...

Did I hear the potential of a DCSS outside custodial contract?

When the board questioned Steve Donahue,Executive Director of Plant Services, concerning cost
saving analysis for Arabia Mountain, he spoke as if they have plans to replace the current DCSS employees with contractors.

Another group of lower paid employees with targets on their backs.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 11:11
If contracting out custodial services saves money that can be reinvested in teachers to lower DCSS class sizes, then this should be a non issue. Quite frankly, we should be looking at outsourcing HVAC, many areas of MIS, Security, nursing, grounds maintenance, transportation, and even areas such as Professional Learning and Development. If we can get the same service or better (more responsive) for less money or equivalent money without the cost of
positions, we owe it to the students of DCSS to move this way and free that money up for direct instruction.

DCSS needs to spend every cent we can on direct
instruction for kids. That's the sole reason we exist.

Anonymous said...

There already is a contract for custodial service at Arabia. We should definitely look to outsource custodial as many businesses have done successfully. We have a school ssytem to educate our children, not to provide a jobs program.

Anonymous said...

My husband is a scientist at CDC. He says they outsourced the custodial services long ago with no degradation in services. CDC also has a skeletal stall for their Information Systems services and use contract labor for the programmers, network, repair, etc. CDC has long wrestled with budget cuts as they are still expected to prevent disease outbreaks. Outsourcing has allowed them to reduce the cost of benefits. They can then afford the science personnel who fulfill the core mission of CDC.

DCSS has a core mission to educate children I'm DeKalb County. That should be our only consideration.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6/12@12:16 Outsourcing can save money. IBM is planning to outsource almost everything (mostly to India) within the next five years and save a Billion $.

If we paid (not even outsource) only DCSS administration people real life salaries, $15-20 million per year could be saved. Also, aren't most of the administration folks "11 month employees"? If so, a great deal. An even more inflated salary.

Anonymous said...

Often when something like custodial or groundskeeping is outsourced, contractor will hire people the people who did the job before. If this is the case if DCSS outsources, I don't see people losing jobs so much - although I suppose the new employer may require a recommendation, so someone who wasn't doing a good job may have a problem... Unless the recommendation is provided someone not familiar with their work... Oh no, that would never happen...

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:16 PM said:
"If contracting out custodial services saves money that can be reinvested in teachers to lower DCSS class sizes, then this should be a non issue."

And, Anon 2:35 PM said:
"Often when something like custodial or groundskeeping is outsourced, contractor will hire people the people who did the job before."

Considering the terrible errors that our county has already suffered, please make sure this idea is studied carefully and contracts are detailed and comprehensive. We have all become aware of programs that sounded good at the BOE meetings but are now a questionable expense.
Unlike corporations, our custodial staff is an integral part of the daily life of all of our students and staff. We could not get by with a staff that only comes after hours to clean or does a minimum list of chores.
Our staff never stops all day: moving and setting up tables, moving supplies and delivering to staff (including Fernbank exhibits), cleaning up vomit and spills, spraying a lot for ants, cleaning up after vandalism episodes, cleaning up and maintaining toilet overflows and supplying bathrooms all day(remember hundreds of kids using bathrooms multiple times all day!!), constantly sweeping and vacuuming, unlocking classroom doors for subs,keeping marquees updated, moving desks and chairs especially in August (will need a lot more in each room this fall!), helping staff members who move to new rooms each August (overcrowded schools are constantly shifting and moving), moving boxes of old textbooks to be picked up and moving new books and unpacking them then breaking down boxes for trash, hauling broken equipment and furniture to separate areas to be picked up by county, cleaning and painting scuffed walls, maintaining garden areas and other yard work chores, cleaning out lounge refrigerators and appliances, doing quick repairs on furniture and a multitude of other jobs that I can't even recall right now.
Our custodial staff is hardworking and dedicated to our school and students.
I am concerned that a contracted company would not handle all of these things. And all of the above do not magically get done without someone's hard work. Perhaps everyone would say that the above are not all custodial chores but who else would help us do these things and do it with a positive spirit? The head custodian also handles much paperwork while pitching in on all of the above.
It is my understanding that the head custodian is the only one who is allowed to participate in the state retirement system.
So most custodians do all of the above and are not even looking forward to retirement benefits (used to get the annuity that was cut out I think).
Hopefully these workers who make less than anyone else would be allowed to apply for the contracted jobs.
I know others have commented on lazy staff but this is not the case everywhere.
Sorry to be so lengthy but this is a great concern to many of us.

Anonymous said...

I am going to defend the BOE on
trying to get solid business data.

I think HR needs to understand a "historic DCSS employee" cannot be trained in a couple of weeks to handle the IT or Business Operation needs of a school system the size of DCSS. This is business.

I respect the value and knowledge of the teacher in the classroom. HR should respect the skills of public CEOs, COOs, Auditors, Business Managers and Analysts.
We know business, our customers understand classrooms.
We get MBAs not Masters in Instruction. There is a difference.

I watched the latest board meeting
on pds24. I cannot believe how many former teachers and principals have been hired to handle critical business areas.

If DCSS was a "for profit" business, they would fail in under a year.

These meetings show how much the Central Office employees are SOS, Stuck on Stupid.
Each and every meeting D. McChesney is asking for competitive bids. Each and every meeting fake Business people stand on the "stupid" square. They are failing to provide the "bosses" the data they need to make sound business decisions.

Mr. McChesney, I understand you would like to see competitive bids
which includes a summary of the product comparative analysis and a feasibility study to determine if the lower price is worth the transition and man hours required to implement it.

I don't think the BOE is dumb or bad. I think they need to fire some of these idiots who constantly fail them.
These BOE folks are asking business questions and getting crap (no reports, no data, no answers).

The eSIS application should have never ever been implemented without a backout plan. Then it should have been run parallel to the existing system. There should have been a live study group running on eSIS with a subset of it's data imported to Smartweb for comparative analysis.
A good Database administrator can do this. I am not going to even get started on what I heard about the eSIS training.

I guess without shareholders to answer to, education funding is just a "cash cow" family business. And so enter the rats: reid-pope, clew, pope,etc.

Cerebration said...

Very well said, Anon. I have always considered it insulting that the administration thinks a principal has the skills to do any job anywhere in the system. I'm sorry, but I don't want an educator leading transportation or any other critical business function. We need our good principals to remain in the schoolhouse - leading instruction.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 4:38pm

You make some good points. However, I think Dr. Lewis, Ms. Tyson and the BOE have dug us into such a financial hole that students' education will be severely impacte. If we do not begin cutting, consolidating, and outsourcing every possible admin and support position we can. DCSS simply cannot physically pack any more students into our classrooms and we are told the situation will be worse next year. I certainly hope they seek teachers' input as to how satisfied they are with the current cleanliness and promptness of service at their schools. I've been in most of the schools in DCSS and the service is good in some and awful in others. I've been in business situations where the contracted custodial service was taken away from vendors and given to others vendors when the end users were not getting the service they needed. IMO this was one of the best benefits of contracted services.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter chose eSis ($4,000,000) and SchoolNet ($7,000,000) and we've been paying for them for 3 years. We have yet to get a dime of benefits for the classroom for SchoolNet because the underlying infradtucture that would allow students to take the benchmarks online is not there and there is no hope that it will be (I mean really - pencil and paper and teachers scanning hundreds of tests in every six weeks and then no access to the information - they simply refused to listen to anyone who told them the reality of their recommendation). So little understanding of educational systems is appalling.

Now I hear Tony Hunter is up in front of the BOE defending eSis and SchoolNef with same tired buzz words he and Ms. Tyson used to sell it. $11,000,000 of general fund money for nothing but aggravation for our students and teachers.

Dekalbparent said...

However, Hunter said that eSis should have been rolled out differently and it did have/cause a lot of problems. WAAAAY too little too late, Tony... But he tried to sound like a dispassionate professional when he said it. Distancing himself.

Too bad we can remember back to the beginning of the school year when we were told repeatedly that the glitches were minor and they were all ironed out in the first few weeks. Even though those in the trenches were telling it differently...

Anonymous said...

I watched the June 7th board meeting. Ramona helped Tony out by saiding they would address eSIS during the next meeting. I can't wait to hear the explanation for this junk.

My CTSS said teacher workstations need more memory. I have 512. He said I am lucky. I could have a Vectro computer, it has 256k.

What type of computers do they use in the central office? Maybe this is why C Lewis was unaware. They sent his emails on First Class and his data reports to a Vectra computer using eSIS.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone log onto the school system website? I want to see the agenda for tomorrow's meeting. I think it is down, but want to make sure it isn't just me.


Anonymous said...


Just saw your post and tried to go to the DCSS website. I couldn't connect either (tried with Safari and Firefox.)

Sandy Spruill said...


I just tried to connect to DCSS via Chrome and that did not work, either. It's not you.

Sandy Spruill

Anonymous said...

The website is down.

Cerebration said...

256k??? My phone has 2 GB!

Anonymous said...

Muckrucker (June 8, 12:28) is right on target. Chamblee gets nothing but grief and unkept promises and "going through the motions" from DCSS, and Chamblee is the jewel that keeps on shining, and always has been (current leadership aside).

Chamblee is still strides and strides ahead even with the old dilapidated building. Why? Because the people who WORK there take pride in its appearance (outward/inward), from the custodial staff to the teachers in the classrooms to the parents who volunteer their time to the exceptional support staff.

Chamblee has an essence of excellence and a lot of character ... a lot of other schools are just buildings with students in them.

You would have to experience Chamblee as compared to other schools to "get what I'm saying."

The BOE, and certainly not Lewis, doesn't care about this kind of "excellence" or we wouldn't be in the shape we are in.

Excellence and integrity and "doing the right thing" got lost in all the ignorance and rush toward corruption and protecting the "inner circle" (aka family and friends) at all costs. The biggest cost being the excellence I'm talking about. When people are willing to sell their souls for greed and gain, this is what we're left with. What surprises me is that SO MANY were willing to do it.

Anonymous said...

Chamblee is the jewel that keeps on shining, and always has been (current leadership aside).

Really? Then why does the Chamblee administration and DCSS continue to "hide" the test scores for the resident community? Is it because they know how bad those scores are? Let's face it, Chamblee's "name" is predicated on the magnet program - nothing else.

Chamblee is still strides and strides ahead even with the old dilapidated building

There are many buildings as old or older than Chamblee. How did it get in such disrepair?

Anonymous said...

The ESIS issues as related to computer hardware were known way back at the beginning of implementation. Why isn't anyone being held accountable? It was clear from day 1, that most of the system's computers couldn't run this thing. My son came home from high school and said that it was a nightmare for his teachers.

Anonymous said...

eSis ( $4,000,000) was purchsed because it integrated with SchoolNet ($7,000,000). SchoolNet was suppose to give teachers instantaneous feedback on benchmark tests. Three years later, eSis has been nothing but a heads he for teachers and parents. Students don't have enough computers to take their tests online so the kids use pencil and paper to "bubble in" their test answers. Teachers have to manually scan in the answer sheets and then only a few teachers even have access to the results. Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter presented these two integrated systems to he BOE as if the infrastructure (computers for kids) and programming expertise are in place for DCSS, but it is not. Now we've been paying for this $11,000,000 (eSis and SchoolNet combined) for 3 years and will be ponying up millions more this year. SchoolNet will never work the way it's supposed to because we don't have the access for students necessary to make it work. Most of our technology money goes for personnel salaries and benefits. Some posters have wondered why we have so little and antiquated and non-working technology. Well, there's the answer. DCSS spends almost $19,000,000 a year on this inefficient MIS department. This comes out of the general fund. We spent millions and millions for our network. We have a big network and loads of personnel, but very little and antiquated equipment hanging off the network. Very bizarre way to run a Technology Department.

Anonymous said...


Tonight the Board of Ed will be voting on a new calender for next school year.

There are some fairly significant changes. Here is the administration's summary of the changes...

The proposed amended 2010-2011 school year calendar contains the following features:

* 179 student-contact days.
* 183 teacher-contract days with the final day (Day 183) being comprised of four (2 hrs. each/2 per semester) conference nights during the year as scheduled by each local school.
* Includes three teacher workdays – Teachers will have three pre-planning days (Wednesday-Friday, August 4, 5, 6, 2010) - Principals will receive a reconfigured strategy map for preplanning. Two of the previously designated pre-planning days (Aug. 2 and 3, 2010) will serve as 10 and 11 month employee furlough days.
* Takes into account state-designated testing windows and dates.
* One student contact day (Friday, September 3, 2010) will be used towards the 10 month employee furlough days; this creates a four-day Labor Day weekend.
* Two previously designated staff development days (Oct. 8, 2010 and Feb. 18, 2011) will be used for furlough days.
* One 10 month employee furlough day will occur on the day prior to the revised beginning of the Second Semester (Jan. 3, 2011). This date would typically serve as a teacher workday.
* One 10 month employee furlough day (May 23, 2011) will occur on the day immediately following the amended last day of school. This date would typically serve as a post-planning day.
* Parent-teacher conference days are retained in the school calendar.
* Concludes the first semester before the Winter Break in December - which prevents students from returning from the break with final exams and End of Course Tests (EOCT).
* Schedules spring break during the first week in April, in accordance with surrounding school systems.

Lynn Deutsch

Anonymous said...

However, the administration left out the fact that the ending date of school has been moved to Friday, May 20th from the originally approved Wednesday, May 25th by eliminating three teacher/student holidays. We now go back to school on the first Tuesday in January rather than the first Wednesday, we no longer have a 4 day weekend in October and we are back to having no days off in March.

Regardless of what I think about these changes, one had to figure this out for oneself.

So much for transparency.

Lynn Deutsch

Dunwoody Mom said...

Two previously designated staff development days (Oct. 8, 2010 and Feb. 18, 2011) will be used for furlough days.

Instead of using staff development days for furlough days, why not use the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week? There is already a huge number of student not in school due to Thanksgiving holiday and ultimate travel, so I don't think much instruction would be missed.

Anonymous said...

And here is the email I sent my board members today

Here are my concerns about the proposed calender and its changes:

First and foremost, have you looked at the Math CRCT scores? In fairness, these scores could be an improvement from last year, but there are about 24 elementary and middle schools that had more than 40 percent of their students score Level 1 on the Math portion of the CRCT. In addition, there are 25 more elementary and middle schools that had more than 30 percent of their students score Level 1 on the Math portion of the CRCT. A quick glance at this chart indicates that many schools did see an increase in the number of students failing the test. (The data the AJC used hasn't been validated by schools or systems, so some of what I wrote may change, but I expect not by very much. In addition, this data of course doesn't include the summer retake.)

Further reinforcing my concerns about math performance are the December EOCT scores. While 59 percent of all GA students who took the Math I EOCT passed, only 39 percent of DeKalb's students did. For the Math II EOCT, only 42 percent of DeKalb students passed, while 64 percent of GA students did. (This data is only from the students who took these courses on the Block first semester and includes no students from Arabia Mt, Lakeside and Chamblee. Spring scores will be higher, but still that is pretty dismal data.)

I believe that you need to restore the professional development days and have two fewer student contact days.

Second, it was my understanding that the schools would be locked on furlough days, therefore making it impossible for teachers to work those days anyway. From the amended calendar, it appears that 12 month employees will not share some of those furlough days and thus the schools will be open. What is being put in place to make sure that teachers don't work those days and more importantly, that principals don't force teachers to come in those days?

You are eliminating the pre-planning day at the beginning of second semester. For most teachers on the block, as well as those that teach one semester courses, you are removing their one day to get ready for second semester. I am not sure how you expect high schools to be ready to go as even counselors and assistant principals won't be in on that day to make schedule changes and register new students. This needs to be fixed as well

Finally, why is the only student contact furlough day in September? Teachers and students will have just started back. Why not use that day in March when we could all use a break or if it needs to be first semester, then how about the October weekend, making it a 4 day weekend?

As an aside, please ask Ms. Tyson and Mr. Hunter what the plan is for Esis on Thursday, August 5th and Friday, August 6th since the work that normallly would have been conducted on two days will now be crammed into two days. Will Esis function or will it crash?

Lynn Deutsch

Anonymous said...

conducted on two days will now be crammed into two days.

should instead say

conducted on three days will now be crammed into two days.

Cerebration said...

The test scores show that we have two very different "systems" within our system. Some schools have very low "failure" rates - from 0%-2 or 3% and others are abysmal with failure rates between 30%-50% and as shockingly high as 80-90%. How absurd. The mean scores do not tell the story - the discrepancy does. Some of our schools test very well and can hold up statewide or nationally. Some of our schools should close their doors - as obviously they are not even doing a basic job.

Anonymous said...

Is Mr Swanson, API from Redan HS, the new principal at Dunwoody HS to replace Dr. Harris, who just got here a couple of years ago from City of Atlanta Schools?

Anonymous said...

Here's his bio:

Rodney F. Swanson, son of Charles and Mary Swanson is a graduate of Frederick Douglass High School (1985) in Atlanta. He is also a graduate of The University of Georgia (1989) with a degree in marketing, and Jacksonville State University (2001) with a degree in Educational Leadership. He has taught over 1,500 students in his 17 year career. He was named teacher of the year in 2002. Mr. Swanson is also a graduate of the DeKalb County Leadership program (2003). Mr. Swanson is married to the lovely Michelle Swanson and has two wonderful children, Jordan and Joshua. Mr. Swanson enjoys reading, sports, family activities, and music.

Cerebration said...

To read more about Mr Swanson, visit this link at Heneghan's Dunwoody blog -

Rodney Swanson Named Principal of Dunwoody High School

Cerebration said...

And in other related news ---

This is from a writer in Oregon - so you see, these issues are playing out nearly everywhere in this country today -

Instead of laying off teachers, eliminating physical education and jamming more students into already crowded classrooms, the state and school districts should be targeting non-classroom personnel, delaying purchases of all textbooks and commercial materials, reducing sports and other extracurricular activities, eliminating teacher professional development programs, denying approval of additional charter schools and, above all, putting a moratorium on state tests.

To read the entire article, copy and paste this link -

Cerebration said...

Testing news in New Jersey reveals that thousands of students are failing the graduation test there. Many were allowed to graduate since they scored in acceptable ranges on the SAT. Sadly, these tests are showing that by and large, immigrant students - speakers of other languages as their first language - are suffering the most.

Almost 3,000 New Jersey seniors have yet to graduate after failing tests

Anonymous said...

I have no issue with Mr. Swanson, and I have no stand on his abilities. What does bother me is that his children go to Shamrock and Druid Hills, while he lives in Stone Mountain...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we need a new string on AYP and testing. The first School Choice meeting was held July 1 and very, very few DCSS schools made AYP and can be receiving schools.

Cere, Arabia Mtn (which was magically exempted by our administration last year) should be a receiving school yet I heard that Mosely/Berry announced that it is "full" and therefore it will not take NCLB/ESEA transfer students. Instead our management has designated Chamblee, Lakeside and Druid Hills as the receiving schools. Last I heard, Chamblee and Lakeside were already overcrowded. Not sure about Druid Hills now that they have their addition complete. They are also offering an annex and the on-line academy as options.

The next meeting is July 13 at Chamblee.

Anonymous said...

How can Lakeside possibly fit any more transfer kids in????? I tell you, if they do any redistricting, and we get redistricted out of Lakeside, I will be SO PO'd. Not fair to overcrowd the school with transfers. How many trailers does Arabia Mtn. have???

Anonymous said...

And of course, DCSS is closed this week and didn't bother to get the plan up on the website last week (on Friday after the first meeting).

DeKalb has very litigious parents and if it does turn out that Arabia Mountain isn't on the list, I challenge parents to file a complaint with the United States Department of Ed division that oversees NCLB.

Once the plan is officially released, I will make sure the contact information for that division is available.

I wonder what they said about middle schools. I have a friend who is worried because Chamblee Middle should have 100s of spaces next year, as their enrollment juts reached about 800 this year.

Anonymous said...

"I have no issue with Mr. Swanson, and I have no stand on his abilities. What does bother me is that his children go to Shamrock and Druid Hills, while he lives in Stone Mountain."

This is a good question to ask all the board member candidates. Where do they live and where do their children go to school?

How do they feel about capacity and transfers, etc?

Anonymous said...

Please correct me if I am wrong but Chamblee, Lakeside and Druid Hills all have trailers and are all landlocked with no room to expand. Arabia Mountain has no trailers and lots of empty land.

And I have always wondered why DeKalb School of the Arts (which always makes AYP) does not take school choice students? The transfer students don't have to take arts courses. They could take all academic courses.

Dekalbparent said...

Druid Hills was over capacity by about 150 last year, and I can see no reason why they would suddenly be under-capacity. The addition did not really add more capacity - there were some classrooms that were too small by state standards, so they had to move walls, turning three rooms into two rooms. The addition also houses offices, and part of it is a two-story "atrium" (no windows, just air), so that is not classroom space.

The Health Sciences magnet program is not going to be there this coming year, so perhaps they are counting on there being seats from kids who won't be going to DHHS because of that. Hard to believe that would actually create capacity, though.

I agree with Anon 4:12 that the designation of Arabia Mtn as a non-receiving school needs to be checked into. I also can't see how they can designate Lakeside as a receiving school when there is construction going on. Talk about a three-ring circus!

Anonymous said...

With Mr. Admin Transfer Crawford Lewis outta here, it's finally time the board demands much more transparency when it comes to admin transfers, which just crush Lakeside.
Admin transfers should be few and far between.

Then again, some of the BOE members are the biggest abusers of admin transfers.