I have included in this posting e-mail exchanges three years ago along with my subsequent letter to SACS. I received no response from SACS but the e-mails demonstrate that the Columbia high school project was challenged early on and no board oversight was provided and offers a glimpse of the level and length of negligence by board members.
I attended the meeting between the DeKalb Delegation, Chamber of Commerce representatives and members of the DeKalb School System and shared these documents with the DeKalb Delegation Education Committee Co-Chairs Mary Margaret Oliver & Steve Hanson and the Chamber leadership of Sadie Dennard & John Kelly.
At the February 3, 2007 DeKalb School System working board meeting, Board Member Zepora Roberts questioned Agenda Item #10, $600,000 to fund technology at the new Peachtree Middle School. It was her belief that technology funding for the school was not included in SPLOST II. Both the head of IT and Construction were fairly new in their jobs and neither could confirm when such funding was allocated. My letter is a response to that question, and another concern voiced by Ms Copelin –Woods with regard to Avondale High School. Please note their responses.
To Board Members Roberts & Copelin-Wood,
Since both of you are so full of energy & so focused on the proceedings of past SPLOST spending, may I ask a favor of both of you?
Thank you for your letter. Just as you always miss the train of thought on issues being discussed, Monday night's meeting was no exception. You once again missed the whole thing! As a matter of fact, you added points to your lopsided way of thinking that were not even said by me nor Ms. Copelin Wood. You once again used this opportunity to spread your poison.
I was elected to represent the people in District 7, and I will always do that with honesty, dignity and integrity. I do my home work before, during and after school board meetings, and I read everything. I don't think that I need you to summarize and clarify anything, because you are always off track. It is painful to hear the truth even in the year of 2007, and it is amazing that if there is something that we don't want to hear, especially the truth, we want everyone to play dumb and pretend that we don't know anything different. Well, I am not the one to go along just to get along. I have a rather good memory, and a very good knowledge of how much money was allocated for my schools, as well as other schools in DCSS. I also have records on most of them. For your correct information, I never said anything about Columbia HS being approved for a full renovation, or anything being deferred for Columbia. You need to stop trying to be the "Savior" in chastising and whipping Board members back in line, and before you even make an attempt to do so, ensure that you get the facts, and all of the facts before you take that chance.
District 7 School Board Representative
From: Faye Andresen [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 10:02 AM
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; CRAWFORD_LEWIS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; DEBORAH_T_LOEB@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; FRANKIE_B_CALLAWAY@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; GAIL_F_CLARY@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; MARGARET_C_FRANCOIS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; email@example.com; ELIZABETH_ANDREWS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; SARAH_COPELIN-WOOD@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; LYNN_C_GRANT@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; BEBE_JOYNER@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; JIM_REDOVIAN@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; JAY_CUNNINGHAM@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; THOMAS_BOWEN@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Subject: SPLOST response
Let me be very clear and state that
- I am a taxpayer and have a right to be interested in how my tax money is spent I have served on the SPLOST II Citizen's Review Committee since its inception
- You are an elected official who, as I understand it, is pledged to serve all of DeKalb
- You publicly requested proof of funding for Peachtree MS Technology - It was your understanding the funding had never been approved
- I sent you proof that the funding was allocated in 2004 - citing a board meeting Agenda item specifically
- Then I asked you a question- not pertaining to the discussion -- but pertaining to SPLOST funding in general
- You have responded with a letter that has attacked my right as a taxpayer, as a citizen, and you have attacked me on a personal level - you have attacked my character and my motives.
From: "ZEPORA W. ROBERTS"
To: "Faye Andresen"
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org, "CRAWFORD LEWIS"
Subject: Re: SPLOST response
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2007 22:18:13 -0500
Although I am an elected official, I am not obligated to respond to you in any form or fashion, and as of this date, February 7, 2007, I will not waste my time in the future trying to respond to you. Serving on the SPLOST Committee does not make you an expert on anything. Even though you have access to a lot of data, you still have it all wrong. You have forgotten that I served on the first SPLOST Review Committee until I was elected to the board, and we accomplished quite a lot. Frankley, I don't recall you being on that committee. I feel sorry for you, so take your lopsided, twisted thoughts where they belong, to the trash bin. Thank you.
District 7 School Board Representative
From : SARAH COPELIN-WOOD
Sent : Wednesday, February 7, 2007 8:13 AM
To : email@example.com
CC : "BEBE JOYNER"
Subject : SPLOST II Confusion
Attachment : 272007_80659_0.png
January 7, 2007
It is evident from your e-mail that you are continuing to weave your web of deceitfulness.
It is also apparent that you are most definitely "Confused."
Therefore, let me help you - The Election Is Over - Get Over It.
HAVE A GREAT ONE!!
You accuse me of deceitfulness. This is a serious charge that concerns me greatly. I merely responded to questions raised in the public venue of a board meeting and asked for additional documentation and information concerning funding protocol.
What part of my letter is deceitful?
To SACS Representatives
Approximately 18 months ago I called SACS to inquire as to the possibility of a group of parents/taxpayers lodging a complaint against the DeKalb County Board of Education regarding its lack of proper process and oversight of SPLOST II project spending. I was told that SACS does not involve itself in educational funding issues of this type. With the rumored threat of state intervention, the board did finally decide to conduct a forensic audit and, as things have played out, are in the beginning stages of a lawsuit against Heery-Mitchell.
I am coming to you once again not knowing if SACS touches on this part of the school system but will present my complaints nonetheless. My first complaint concerns responses I received from two board members. Included in this packet is an e-mail exchange between Ms Roberts, Ms Coplin-Wood and myself. Although an acknowledged thorn in their side, I am still a simple resident-taxpayer-parent in DeKalb County; they are elected officials. Not only does what they have written give me cause for concern but the way it was sent – copying administrators and the other board members – demonstrates their feelings of complete impunity from the most basic ethical and legal constructs of elected official behavior. I have no desire to institute a libel lawsuit but find this type of board behavior unacceptable and am looking for a means of putting a halt to such rhetoric… to me or other taxpayers.
My second complaint is that while conforming to the letter of the law, the board’s scheduling of meetings and scheduling of agenda items within meetings does not serve the public well. Having ceased sub-committee meetings months ago, the board frequently meets on any given day, at any given time to receive information from the administration and do just a bit of called-to-order business. Often these meetings are interrupted by closed executive session. Case in point, Called Meeting on January 19th, meeting started at 9:35AM, board listened to an instructional program up-date then adjourned to private session at 9:55AM. The board reconvened at 3:50PM and proceeded to conduct another item of business.
I would not complain if the above meeting was a singular instance of impromptu scheduling but it is not. Throughout the fall while negotiating the Capital Improvement Plan the board scheduled meetings and interrupted meetings with executive sessions on any given day, at any given time. As concerned constituents were marginalized, true information did not filter into communities. Very few parents/taxpayers heard the demographer’s presentation; few followed how the CIP was altered to meet the concerns of the board. Only now, as we move closer to the SPLOST III vote, are many parents becoming aware of the decisions made in December. Many parents have scheduled meetings with school administrators to demonstrate the true needs of their neighborhood school. Many parents discount the demographer’s report and seek to change the plan. Very few parents realize their time to truly affect the plan has passed. The plan was approved by the Board just days before Winter Break… one of the busiest weeks of the year for parents.
Notable also is the fact that the board and administration consistently fail to include details of agenda items on their web-site. A citizen can down-load the agenda but the detailed information is omitted. At the board’s February work session, DeKalb Early College Academy’s possible re-location was a popular 3-minute parent comment topic. On Friday, February 23rd, the board went into executive session at 10:15 AM and resumed the public meeting at 12:15; they adjourned at 1PM. Somewhere in that meeting, the re-location site of DECA was announced and discussed by the board but only the most stalwart of unemployed parent could have attended. And no detailed information – the actual decision – is posted on the board web-site.
The DeKalb County School System faces many challenges. The focus, the priority should be on instruction and I believe SACS plays an important part in keeping school systems focused on instruction. But the DeKalb School System is also a very large public business, 27th largest school system in the U.S. (USA Today.) The system has responsibilities to its public. Its elected officials have responsibilities to its public. I believe DeKalb is failing to meet the requirements of the covenant it has with its taxpayers/ parents in the ways I have discussed. I hope you will take my concerns seriously as you evaluate the system and suggest corrective actions or ways in which the system can improve.