Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Kind of Superintendent Do We Need?

So the AJC is reporting that the School Board, at today's called meeting, has decided to try and have a new superintendent in place by next summer. The bolding for emphasis is mine as are the comments in italics!

DeKalb looks to speed up superintendent search
By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
3:11 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, 2010

DeKalb County schools could have a new superintendent within the next 10 months, if not sooner.

The school board launched the search Wednesday following complaints that it was stalling on finding a permanent leader for the troubled system. However, members still have not decided when they will hire a search firm.

The board initially said it planned to take 18 to 24 months to find a replacement for Superintendent Crawford Lewis, who was terminated in April. He has since been indicted on charges of running a criminal enterprise at the school system.

“The real problem with the system right now is leadership, a flaw in leadership. It was not the system that was indicted, but a couple of individuals,” board member Eugene Walker said. “A lot of people said we had a reign of terror in our system. We need the kind of leadership that will ensure the board, the public and everybody else that we make decisions that are data-driven, sound and transparent.”

The board reviewed a tentative timeline for the search that calls for hiring a search firm in August, interviewing candidates in February and voting on a selection in April. However, some board members said that timeline is still too long.

“We need to speed this up. I think we have been without a superintendent long enough,” said Zepora Roberts, the board’s vice chair. That is right, let's rush this search. So we can find another person you can make sure will protect your family and friends?

Board chairman Tom Bowen said the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits DeKalb schools, advised the board to take its time.

“It was very important we identify the right candidate, as opposed to hiring the first candidate,” Bowen said.

Board member Don McChesney said the 10-month timeline will allow the board to have someone in place before the end of the school year and give the newcomer time to adjust before starting in July 2011.

“We really need to get the right person. I don’t know we can do that in three months,” he said. Barring some unforeseen miracle, McChesney is correct.

Roberts, one of five board members up for re-election in November, said she hopes the board doesn’t delay until those seats are filled. She said some board members have floated names of possible candidates and she is worried that could drive the election.

DeKalb, Roberts said, is also competing with other large systems -- Bibb County and possibly Cobb -- that are currently looking for new superintendents now.

“If we prolong this too long, we will have to get what is left from what is picked by the top,” Roberts said.

Mark A. Elgart, SACS’ president and chief executive officer, said the indictments should not have any major impact on the district’s search. But the system’s size – it is the 27th largest in the nation – could limit the number of qualified candidates.

SACS also advised that DeKalb must be willing to pay a salary similar to other large districts, between $275,000-$300,000, Elgart said. Lewis made $255,000.

After complaints from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, the board agreed to discuss the search in public. It previously met behind closed doors to talk about the timeline and candidate qualities.

Board members agreed Wednesday they would like candidates with experience running a large system or organization, and preferably have classroom experience.

However, board member Jim Redovian said a teaching background is not necessary and he would prefer someone who has experience running an organization with 14,000 employees and a $1 billion budget, like DeKalb.

“I think the number one issue that this system needs is a culture change. We need a superintendent that has absolutely no experience with DeKalb County,” Redovian said. A truer statement has never been said.

Board members also agreed they would like a search firm that seeks out candidates with experience and not just people who are looking for a job.

Bowen said he also wanted to see a candidate who can come in and evaluate the system to make positive changes.

“Someone who can make recommendations to keep the good things we do, but there are a lot of things we do that don’t make sense,” he said. “I want someone who has put in a corrective plan before and actually done it.” Please make this a top priority.

What are your priorities for the type of person you would like to see? If we make a list of qualities, like, say honesty, I will type them up and send them to the Board Members.


Anonymous said...

Zepora again makes a statement that shows she really does not understand that we do not need to rush our decisions. I bet she thinks it should be someone from within!

Dekalb needs a leader (not necessarily from education) who can select the people with the correct job skills to help move our students and teachers to the next level. I would like this person to empower the principals who understand their community to facilitate the needs for their school and who will stand up to parents when needed to make those tough decisions. You will NEVER please ALL but you can listen and make the BEST possible decision in the best interest of EVERYONE.

I believe this next superintendent should have a good business sense. You can put your educational leaders in place on your cabinet.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the board hires a company to help with the search. I do not think that these individuals are capable of a performing a thorough search on their own.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:34pm. I did not hear Ms. Roberts say to speed the process. What I read was that they have been waiting since April to even begin talking about the process and who to hire to do the search. I understand waiting until the new fiscal year to put down the cost of a superintendent search, but each BOE member should come to the first meeting of the new fiscal year with ideas and comments from parents, and ready to search for a search company. No where did she say hurry the process, to me I read that the process has been stalled long enough (April-August).

Anonymous said...

More mess, with Zepora in the mix as always:

Anonymous said...

1) FIRST get an INTERIM superintendent who is from the outside, one who will "clean up and out and then move on" ... this person should have no ties at all to the employees so as to make honest unbiased evaluations as to who should go bye bye. Because their position is temporary, they will have no qualms about getting rid of the baggage.

2) Then hire a new permanent superintendent (yes, Mr. Redovian, someone from the OUTSIDE totally NEW to DeKALB). They can start with a clean slate, a BUSINESS MAN OR WOMAN WITH FINANCIAL BUSINESS SENSE TO RUN A COMPANY WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES AND A LARGE BUDGET, that will run it more like a Home Depot, a Coca Cola, etc. It would be an added benefit if their background is education, but that is secondary to the other qualifications that are needed.

3) Make a new rule: LISTEN to your employees who come to you for help. Give them a fair hearing. It's just possible they will have an honest story to tell about other insiders who have made it their personal goal to "get rid of them" for their own personal reasons, or because a superior has directed them to do so. Don't brush them aside. Often it is THESE who are the loyal employees trying to do the best job they can do for the RIGHT reasons. DCSS needs more of the castaways and fewer of the "stay puts." Therefore, SELECT A BOARD MEMBER WHO HAS DISCERNMENT, WHO HAS A SHARP EYE FOR EVIL AND GREED AND DISHONESTY, AND WHO PLAYS NO FAVORITES.

4) May I repeat ... HIRE SOMEONE WITH NO TIES TO DEKALB OR EVEN GEORGIA. SOMEONE WHO HAS A PROVEN TRACK RECORD RUNNING A LARGE BUSINESS. Then, no one will mind the large salary that goes along with such a position. It will be fairly earned and we will have confidence in our leader. Then we will truly be PREMIER.

Anonymous said...

meant to say "SELECT A SUPERINTENDENT" ... not select a board member ... sorry for the mistype on the comment above.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 12:02 so much negative has been spewed regarding someone with little to no classroom experience (Ms.Tyson). DeKalb parents and teachers are going to have to realize that DCSS needs a leader who knows how to find the right people for the right positions in order to get the work done.

But your 3 points are well stated and so true. Rudy Crews would be great as he is pro-parent and understands that the parents are necessary to turn around any school system Unfortunately, the Cuban community forced him out of Miami-Dade when he did not cater only to their needs.
Great day everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you SACS for getting the board off its duff and on this task.

Ella Smith said...

However, I think you might find that the school superintendent has to be certified in Educational Administration and Leadership. We need to do our homework on this and see. I suspect this might be true. You find some military guys who have this certification as they go to school while they are in the military and could even have their specialist or doctorial degree and might not have taught school but I suspect it would be hard to find a business person with a degree in Educational Administration and Leadership.

I will do my homework and get back to you guys. I am not for sure on this one either so I will do some research to make sure.

Ella Smith said...

I did my homework and there have been changes and the changes are listed below:

F. Certification of the Superintendent
Finally, of personal interest to superintendents is the language in the proposed rule requiring
superintendents to have performance based certification at both the school and system level. Of
course, current superintendents are grandfathered in under the terms of the rule. Of more interest
will be the extent to which superintendents and their boards, at least in the interim, turn to the
permit rule of the PSC, Rule 505-2-.10, authorized by O.C.G.A. § 20-2-101(b). Under that code
section, the superintendent may be employed if he or she “possesses acceptable business or
management experience as specified by the Professional Standards Commission.” As
performance based leadership certification becomes the norm, most boards of education will
clearly look for their chief educational officer to possess proven leadership skills at both the
school and system level and the certification process outlined by the new rule provides that
If superintendents and school system leaders have learned anything in their experience, it is that
the unexpected can be expected and that all new laws and administrative rules have legal and
practical consequences, some of which cannot possibly be anticipated. The basic legal concepts
identified in this document form the framework for the consideration of any issue likely to arise
and at this early stage of the implementation of a most ambitious new program, that is

Anonymous said...

How about the soon to be retired
4-star general?? Army's loss, DeKalb's gain. Talk about someone who could clean up a mess!

Anonymous said...

I would like for the BOE to select a superintendent who has experience in working with diverse student populations. In order for our students to be academically competitive with the best and brightest students, it's important that our leader be a person who has a global vision on educating our young people.

Having said that, I also want assurance that the BOE uses a CREDIBLE search firm in looking for a superintendent. It is imperative that the Board be judicious in its selection of the next leader if it wants to maintain any public support whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I'd hope they'd hire someone knowledgeable, trustworthy (if that exists anymore), and NOT based on the color of their skin or fraternity/sorority!

Anonymous said...

I believe that the proposed timeline is adequate to select the best candidate available. We do not need to rush or stall the process. The timeline affords the board enough time for proper vetting to take place. The time is especially needed if the citizens of Dekalb go to the polls and replace those Board memeber whose actions (or inactions) help DCSS to get to this crisis.

A new interim super. would only stall the process further.

I would suppose that an acceptable choice for superintendent would need to PRO-EDUCATION as opposed to pro-parent or pro-employee. I hope we can find someone from the outside who can't be touched by the "Friends and Family" politics, has no skeletons worth resurrecting, knows how to shake things up (without tearing down the good), can get the job done (without alienating the community or employees, at large), and by all means has the integrity, ability, and experience to LEAD DCSS without appearing to be the puppet of any group of stakeholders.


Anonymous said...

One of the hardest thing for any new superintendent to do is to clean house. More than a new board, we need a pared down central office. Ramona Tyson won't be able to do this. An interim could spend the next year getting everything in order for a new superintendent.

Otherwise, like with Johnny Brown, the longtime central office employees will make trouble (tons of it) for the new superintendent.

Also, as been said here before, we have to be careful who we vote in. I am gravely concerned that we won't have good choices.

Anonymous said...

We MUST clean house first. Let's not make the same mistake with Johnny Brown. Anyone from the outside will know that our system has friends and family of BOE and others. They must know that they can lead without the preconceived notions that, the inexperienced, overpaid and inept friends and family hires, will remain on staff.

The BOE must wipe the slate clean of the corrupt leadership that has been in place too long. Tyson, Turk, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Ramsey, Guilroys, Edwards and others should be fired so the new leadership can begin with fresh people. People who will think of the taxpayers and kids before thinking about lining their own pockets with OUR money.

It's time we think of the classroom instead of the Palace on Mtn. Industrial and inexperienced overpaid friends and relatives.

Zepora should do everyone a favor and resign her post early. Her comments are exactly what's wrong with our "premiere" system. BOE DO SOMETHING COURAGEOUS, IN THE NEXT MEETING, AND LOSE THAT RIDICULOUS MONIKER "PREMIERE". Clew-less and his minions made sure we were not.

Anonymous said...


This is why we need a new interim...

Anonymous said...

Ok. I've re-thought the need for an interim, but the time for replacing Tyson is this summer.....

If we get a new Interim, this person needs to be in place within the next 2 months. We would need to select someone from within the system who was willing to sacrifice their friendships, working relationships, their current job, but not their integrity, in order to really make the necessary personnel changes for the good of the system. Selecting an interim from the outside would essentially amount to an actual permanent superintendent search.

What do we do?


Dekalbparent said...

Didn't Clayton hire an interim super? I think there are "professional" interim superintendents, who don't want to be full-time (politics and all) - they just get in there and do what they think is needed for a turnaround (working with the Board), and move on.

Ella Smith said...

A retired assistant superintendent or an retired assistant superintendent might be able to do it.

Just Kidding, "I am all for Gene Walker to do it." It would make things a little easier on me the next few months."

Actually, I do not know if Gene could do what needs to be done. He like to employ individuals and like to make sure individuals keep their jobs. This really would not probable be the job for him. It was a selfish thought!!!!!. However, there is one current school board member who might actually be able to go in and clean house. He is good at things like that. It would not bother him a bite. He is a businessman. He actually might be able to ride his white house in and do what needs to be done. He actually could just be the right person for the job. I suspect he would clean house. Then his position would open up and maybe we could get Shayna appointed to that position. That would be nice. He would do a good job and Shayna would be our new school board member. It would be a win-win situation for everyone.

I really think we have a business man on the board who could do this.

I am dreaming now, but it was a thought in a dream I had.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb parent is right on the money. There are certainly professionals out there willing and able to do this job for a year.

The key is convincing the the Board that this needs to happen. How do we do that?

Cerebration said...

This came in over the Yahoo user group -

Good Day to all Yahooer's: It is official, at 2:40 p.m. today, I (Corey E. Wilson) qualified to have my name placed on Nov 2010 General Election. I am looking to hold the seat on the Board of Education for the South Dekalb area. My campaign rest on 3 pillars: TEAMWORK, PROFESSIONALISM AND LEADERSHIP. All of these qualities are neccessary for our children to successed. I am a product of DCSS since 6/24/79 and am now bringing up two young men in the same area. I look forward to having your support in the upcoming months. Please feel free to e-mail me @ CEUUILSON@GMAIL. COM

Corey E. Wilson

Dist 3 Nov 2010

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the Board is required to inform the public as to whom the finalists are before they make a selection? I don't think we need any "surprise" announcements when the new person is named.

On a side note, I would like to suggest that some of the Board members attend a few sessions of Toastmasters. As elected officials, it is important to be able to articulate in a public venue. When I listen to the Board meetings, I am appalled at the incorrect grammar usage and the poor speaking skills of some of these individuals. How can you represent a "premier" school system, yet not be able to piece together a grammatically correct sentence yourself???

Anonymous said...

Because DCSS is NOT premier! That's how.

Tomorrow is the deadline for qualifying for BOE. We need leadership! We need someone who can ask for the resignations of everyone who was in Clew's cabinet.

We need a temporary super. to come in and clean house. Then we need a new Super with no ties to DeKalb.

Edukalb is a fraud, the leader is a good friend of CLew's and Vernon Jones, two people who have created so many problems for DeKalb. How can we trust Ernest Brown? He and Clew were too close, no matter what he says. I fear EduKalb will only give us much of the same and the friends and family will remain at the Central Office and only cosmetic changes will be made. We need a total make-over at DCSS, EduKalb is not the place to find the leaders needed to make that change the taxpayers and our kids need.

A former BOE member has stated that current BOE members knew everything that was going on with Pope-Reid and Clew, the BOE were told by the auditors to watch the construction closely, yet this BOE just looked the other way. This BOE failed us, we must take OUR BOE back. While the current BOE continue to point fingers at each other, our kids will suffer the consequences.

It's time for REAL change at DCSS, let's first drop PREMIER, roll up sleeves and take our school system back.

Ella Smith said...

I have the upmost respect for Ernest Brown. He is a great guy. I also have great respect for a few other individuals on Edukalb board.

Many people felt Dr. Lewis was a good guy and he has actually not been found guilty of a crime as of yet. In fact according to the law, he is innocent until proven guilty.
However, it does not look very good for him in the public right now.

I will always come to the defense of Ernest Brown. I think he is a great guy. I am sure he did know Dr. Lewis. Many people did and many people liked him. But, they many not approve of the situation he is in now.

There are a few people I will always have their back and he is one of them. Ernest Brown is a class act in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

On a side note, I would like to suggest that some of the Board members attend a few sessions of Toastmasters. As elected officials, it is important to be able to articulate in a public venue. When I listen to the Board meetings, I am appalled at the incorrect grammar usage and the poor speaking skills of some of these individuals. How can you represent a "premier" school system, yet not be able to piece together a grammatically correct sentence yourself???
July 1, 2010 9:21 PM

On a similar side note, Anon Above, I would like to suggest the people running for the BOE likewise be aware of grammar and spelling and the like. Your blogs here is all some people will ever see of you. Your comments need to be grammatically correct ... for your sake. If in doubt, have someone proofread your comments. Believe me, I WANT you all to make a good impression. I want these incumbents GONE.

Anonymous said...

Ella, Ella, Ella ... think before you speak. Please. It hurts me for you.

Teacher said...

For DCSS employees, the longer it takes to identify and hire a new superintendent, the longer we remain in limbo about our jobs. This year was truly disastrous for morale, and the thought of dragging out the "maybe you'll be fired, maybe you won't" for another year and a half is very stressful. What business that employs this number of people waits one year to find a new CEO?

The list of potentially suitable candidates cannot be very long, as experienced candidates with proven records of turning around failing school districts are few and far between. Do we really think that some ideal superintendent-type is just hiding somewhere? Such a person would have to have accomplishments that are newsworthy and that have been described as such. Someone heading up a small district would probably not qualify, unless he or she has shown really outstanding qualities in managing diversity, a largely-minority population, low graduation rates, etc.

Imagine a state without a governor or a country without a president--for one year. We should demand that the Board conduct an ethical, transparent process that lets us know the criteria that they most value. Being from not-DeKalb, having shown improvement in academic achievement as measured by both grades and graduation rates, being a good communicator--these are three main areas it makes sense to start with.

Please don't put DCSS teachers through more down-to-the-wire anxiety about who will be laid off and when and how layoffs will happen. The longer we wait for a new suer, the longer employees will be in a state of fear about their jobs and their futures. And this fear impacts our ability to do our best work.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that several businesses pulled their representatives off the EduKalb board after Zepora tried to sink the AT and T contract (or whatever it was).

DeKalb isn't the City of Atlanta in terms of corporate headquarters. The City of Atlanta Chamber is large and powerful. While the movers and shakers all probably "know" each other, they probably don't really know each other, if you know what I mean. In other words, I doubt that the CEO of Coca Cola has ever gone through Leadership Atlanta, but many of his employees have. Beverly Hall and the CEO of Coca-Cola, Delta, etc probably don't socialize.

Many of our most influential companies/businesses in DeKalb are comparatively small. In DeKalb, it is unrealistic to think that our movers and shakers aren't somehow associated. There just aren't that many of them. Then you have the whole New Birth church thing which is so beyond my comprehension that I can't even write about it.


Anon said...

From the Georgia First Amendment Foundation’s publication, Georgia Public Schools and Open Record Act, comes this:

At least fourteen (14) calendar days prior the meeting at which final action
or a vote is to be taken for a university president, school superintendent, or other similar executive, the public agency making such decision shall release all documents which came into its possession in connection
with the three or more finalists for the position. Prior to the release of these documents, the public agency making the decision may allow a finalist to decline being considered further for the position rather than have documents pertaining to her or him released. In that event, the public agency shall release the documents of the next most qualified person under consideration who does not decline the position.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Ella and Others ...

I have known Crawford Lewis and his family for more than 25 years. I thought we were friends, I thought he was an honorable man, and he knew me to be a dependable parent volunteer and friend who would always tell him the truth with no other agenda. So, I was stunned when I brought some issues to his attention concerning the fake demographic study and the manipulated committee on the future of Fernbank Science Center -- and he knowingly, flat-out lied to me -- in front of witnesses including DCSS employees Debbie Loeb (now retired) and Gloria Talley (now resigned).

Previously, I had cheered as Crawford Lewis rose through the ranks and I supported Crawford Lewis for Superintendent. Whether he is found guilty (as he should be) or not, he was clearly aware of what was going on with his minions and cronies; he knowingly, brutally ruined other people's lives.

Crawford Lewis and his buds stole big-time from our children and their DCSS teachers. He and his cronies stole years from our children's education that can never be replaced. And they stole from the neediest (Title I) among us without a second thought and no remorse.

Dishonesty, meanness, and greed: Crawford Lewis was a stunning disappointment and a cautionary tale.

Anonymous said...

Be True

I am curious what you thought about the Fernbank Science Center committee?

I agree with many of your observations about Dr. Lewis. He was a huge disappointment.

Be True to Your School said...

I am curious what you thought about the Fernbank Science Center committee?

@ Anonymous July 2, 2010 11:21 AM

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, Anonymous. When considering how best to answer your question, I decided to go back through all of my e-mails and extensive notes on this committee. There is way too much to include here. But, if you will send your name and e-mail address to me at, I will be happy to send you the Final Report from the Institutional Advancement Sub-Committee.

This report, including our sub-committee's concerns, was sent to Crawford Lewis and Debbie Loeb on March 22, 2006. A paper copy of the same report was hand-delivered to Lewis and Loeb on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 during a meeting that ultimately included Gloria Talley.

To my knowledge, nothing ever came of the hundreds of hours of work of the Fernbank Science Center Committee.

My impression was that, under the guise of "advancing the mission" of Fernbank Science Center, Lewis was really aiming to open a similar science center at Arabia Mountain. There was definitely an attempt to "steer" the committee in that direction.

Approximately 8 months before the final report was filed, the Institutional Advancement Subcommittee notified Lewis, Loeb and the entire Fernbank Science Center Committee that there were serious concerns and legal matters that, until resolved, precluded moving ahead with any plans for Fernbank. All of this is detailed in the final report.

A number of people -- committee members as well as DCSS employees -- seemed to have their own competing agendas with regard to Fernbank. With potential grant opportunities on the line, Marcus Turk, Mac Suddath (then in charge of Fernbank) and the DCSS attorney all stonewalled and/or refused to respond to reasonable requests for information from committee members.

It was a BIZARRE, Alice-in-Wonderland-type experience!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting back to me!

My friend thought it was very bizarre as well and thought how you were all so divided up worked against any potential success you might have had.

This person also found some disturbing things about tracking of both resources and time and believes that there has been no improvement in that area.

Your thoughts about Arabia are interesting. One thing we know for sure, it never occurred to Dr. Lewis that the money would run out.

Be True to Your School said...

More on Fernbank Science Center

@ Anonymous, July 5, 7:03 AM

Here are excerpts (edited for space) of the cover letter sent to Crawford Lewis and Debbie Loeb with the final report of the Institutional Advancement Sub-Committee. There was never a credible response. Even at a face-to-face meeting with Lewis, Loeb and Talley.

"For the past 8 months, we have repeatedly told the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Fernbank Science Center [FSC] that there are serious legal issues that must be resolved before any planning for the future of [FSC]. There may not be a future if these issues are not resolved. It is essential that you and Susan Neugent, president of Fernbank Museum of Natural History, meet as the CEOs of your respective organizations, with legal counsel, to clarify and resolve these lease, deed, and legal issues, as well as to determine a division of institutional responsibilities.

"Against our strong advice, the [FSC] Task Force is [sending] you a report and recommendations that are essentially useless until critical lease, deed, and other legal issues (identified in the attached final report of the Institutional Advancement Sub-committee) are clarified. Interpretation of legal documents is the responsibility of DCSS legal counsel, not volunteers.

"When [DCSS] establishes a blue ribbon task force, all DCSS employees should be directed to promptly and willingly provide requested information, as well as offer additional related information, so that our volunteer service can be accomplished effectively and in a timely manner.

"There should be significant penalties for DCSS employees who are non-responsive and/or knowingly stonewall and mislead task force members. [It has] been difficult to obtain the information [and] we have been stonewalled by DCSS employees at every juncture. Middle management and high-level DCSS employees are culpable with regard to the current state of affairs at [FSC].

"The final report of the Institutional Advancement Subcommittee is attached. We strongly encourage you to read this report and take steps to act on the issues it raises. We cannot and will not be signees to the overall final report and recommendations coming from the task force.

"We also are attaching our recommendation for bringing [DCSS] into the 21st century through the use of digital telecommunications technology. It is time for [DCSS] to advance past its 1950s / 1060s educational model.

"In the words of Albert Einstein, 'We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.'”

Anonymous said...

We need to know more about, Donny
"muahmmad" Grogan