Monday, October 25, 2010

Opine on policies please



Even though the election is next week, the business of the DeKalb Board of Education continues.
We are in the thirty day public comment period for proposed changes to existing board policies.

The policies currently up for discussion are:


Pending Policies
The following policy(s) are currentlypending and available for public comment
AA - School District Legal Status
AB - School Board Legal Status
ABA - Board Authority
ABB - Board Powers and Duties
ABC - Board Member Legal Status
ABD - School Superintendent Legal Status
BH - Board Code of Ethics
BHA - Board Member Conflict of Interest
GAD - Professional Development Opportunities
JDF - Teacher Authority to Remove Students from Classrooms

I expect that the policies of most interest to readers of this blog are Board Code of Ethics and Board Member Conflict of Interest but glance at them all, if you have time. Please feel free to share your comments and concerns with us!


59 comments:

Dunwoody Mom said...

Do we know what the definition of "immediate family" is?

Also, I cannot imagine certain BOE members adopting this without some public angst. Maybe the will surprise us all?

themommy said...

Oh, I think there will be angst.

themommy said...

Here is the definition of Immediate Family as listed in the Conflict of Interest Policy
F. Definition of Immediate Family



As used in this policy, the term “member of immediate family” or “immediate family member” means a spouse, child, sibling, or parent or the spouse of a child, sibling, or parent.

PolitiMom said...

Its great that they are creating/updating all these policies, but it's only the first step. The more important step to me is what disciplinary actions they take if the policy is violated. I have looked at several, and each time have been disappointed in whatever they have created for the procedure for violation of said policy. It does us no good to have a conflict of interest policy without a strong disciplinary policy for violating it. To say the board "may censure" is rediculous. To say that accused board member, if found to have violated the policy by an independent counsel, must resign or must donate a sliding percentage of their salary to the Dekalb Schools Foundation, or loses funding for a project in their district--hit em where it hurts and incentivize them NOT to break the policy! A policy without teeth is a non-starter.

Dunwoody Mom said...

A policy without teeth is a non-starter.

Very well put. Does anyone know if there is a state rule about type of "punishment" a board can mete out to its members? Since these policies were drawn up by a law firm based on the state DOE policy, perhaps that comes into play?

Anonymous said...

Read the others as well. Board duties include ensuring adequate facilities for students...perhaps unstated is the exceptional ones they obligate themselves to ensure for administrators and themselves. Shy do we aim for adequacy rather tham excellence with anything that involves students? There are also some glaring cut/paste typos. Who is in charge of this work? I'd think it would be cleaner before going to the public?

Anonymous said...

I see my own typos above but please forgive, I'm not at my desktop. (I do see the irony.)

themommy said...

Politmom is right on. You have to have board members willing to take each other on and hold each other accountable.

That is true of all political bodies and it doesn't seem to happen very often. I think most elected officials hate to "discipline" other elected officials.

Anonymous said...

Gwinnett Commissioner Kevin Kenerly, won't resign in the wake of bribery and other charges handed down by the grand jury!

Just wow!

Anonymous said...

PolitiMom I totally agree. Having any law/rule with so many loop holes doesn't do the children or the school system any good.

It's like the discipline handbook that the teachers go over every year with the kids. The kids take a test, and everyone knows that discipline is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't any of these policies be retroactive? For those not included by the retro coverage is there any way to limit the promotion of those nonqualified for their position who are already "in" the position so to speak?

Anonymous said...

@ the mommy 6:56

Well, I believe Eugene Walker has all of those except a parent. Until the AJC published the list of family members working for DCSS, I had no idea he had the most of anyone. Roberts pales by comparison to Walker.

Anonymous said...

10:11 hits the nail on the head--what can we do not only about future Friends and Family but also about the ones already profiting from making our kids suffer an education less than they should receive?
Most likely the best and only thing we can do is to essentially block their advancement until they decide to leave, but since many of them are ROAD (Retired on Active Duty) anyway, that might have minimal effect.

Anonymous said...

2:37 who is going to leave a position where they are getting paid more than they would in the private sector doing less than what they'd have to do? These people aren't going anywhere unless they are let go. The shame is that many of the friends and family members never deserved their position in the first place and are wasting valuable tax dollars that could be used to lower classroom size and better the education of our children.

The entire school board and these policies are a joke. I hope that the elections on Tuesday bring new blood, but know that any newbies will be fighting a loosing battle, as they will be out numbered.

Anonymous said...

I think a new superintendent will clean house. However, as parents/taxpayers/interested observers we must be prepared to support this person as they go through the process. It will be rough.

Cleaning house was part of the reason that Johnny Brown failed. Weakened by the divisiveness over mandatory uniforms and the paranoia that he was going to eliminate choice programs, he was vulunerable to undermining by the central office staff.

Hopefully, the next superintendent can be more succesful and start and finish the job.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the DCSS house needs to be cleaned, but if a superintendent does all of the cleaning need to be done, than there will be many angry people from the jobs that are lost. If the house is cleaned, we (the DeKalb public) need to remember that this house cleaning is what is best for the children.

Anyone who is hired as the new superintendent is going to have to have thick skin, as whatever he does people are going to hate him.

Anonymous said...

A. Financial Governance
Conflict of Interest
1. No Board member shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages, or employment for himself or herself, for any member of his or her immediate family, for any business organization with which the Board member is associated, or for any others.

QUESTIONS:

1. Does "unwarranted" modify all of privileges, advantages or employment?

2. Can there be "warranted" privileges, advantages and employment. Like Dr Walker has been subject to discrimination since 1725 or so?

3. Mr Bowen's wife's step mother does not seem to be an immediate family member. But she does fit in under "any others". But her employment clearly was not due to unwarranted whatever

I did not see a grandfather clause to protect all of the current family members. But that is probably not needed. No one even remotely related to a BOE member ever gets fired from DCSS.

Will "Rocky" (Zephorah) do a family disassociation to make sure that her kids are safe and sound? There might be some reverend around who could handle this.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "cleaning house", whatever happened to the super accountant that was hired with much fanfare a few months ago? Has Ramona and Mr Turk already taught him the DCSS go along get along way of doing business?

Anonymous said...

He is still there. I understand that he is working through a tremendous amount of stuff.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:00 I can only imagine what he has to go through.

Anonymous said...

What Is Jim Redovian Hiding?

Numerous no-shows at public election forums ...

Followed CLew-less right over the cliff in spite of many warnings ...

Non-responsive to constituents ...

No-show on filing critical campaign financial disclosure reports ...

There have been enough embarrassing bad surprises lately about BOE members and some of those running for election ...

I would rather not wait until after November 2 to find out just what Jim is hiding. I'm not willing to gamble with our children's future and, indeed, the economic future of DeKalb County.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone know that a DeKalb Cuonty school counselor is running for the school board in Gwinnett? His name is Mark Williams.

Anonymous said...

For all of the school board's mistakes, at least the majority of the members are not ignoring SAC's requests/demands.

The City of Atlanta school board seems to be realy thumbing its nose at SACs and everyone else.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/10/27/atlanta-school-board-marching-off-the-same-cliff-as-their-clayton-counterparts-and-dragging-students-with-them/

Anonymous said...

Board Policy is created (agreed upon) by the Board of Education. Any contradictory policies (decisions) by the Board of Education become policy. The Board creatith and the Board takenith away.

Ella Smith said...

Dear Dr. Hall and Ms. Butler Burks,

I am writing to inform the Atlanta Public School System that AdvanceED/SACS CASI has been monitoring the ongoing dispute between the Atlanta Public School Board members. Despite the Advisory Opinion of the State's Attorney General, the Board has failed to take steps to come into compliance with said opinion. The conclusions of law contained therein are valid and reinforce the need for the Board to correct its course of action.

The Board's continued failure to adhere to its policies, as well as state and local laws, clearly supports a determination that the Board of Education of the Atlanta Public Schools is not meeting AdvancED Standard 2 concerning Governance and Leadership.

If the Board does not take corrective action to come into full compliance with AdvanceED Standard 2 by December 1, 2010, the Accreditation Division of AdvancED will make a recommendation to the AdvancED Georgia Council and the AdvancED Accreditation Commission concerning the accreditation status of the Atlanta Public Schools. Atlanta Public Schools should provide my office with evidence of any and all steps taken by the Board to establish its compliance with said standard by December 1, 2010.

Clearly, the ability of the current Board of Education to govern the school system is in a state of gridlock. If this situation is not resolved in an expedient and effective manner, the Board will cause irreparable harm to the school system, including negating nearly a decade worth of recognized improvement. It is essential that the Board of Education refocus its energies on the needs of the school system and its students rather than on individual members of the Board of Education and conflict over who is in control.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Respectfully,

Mark A. Elgart, Ed.D., President/CEO
AdvancED*

cc. Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Members
Brad Bryant, State Superintendent of Schools
Annette Bohling, Chief Accreditation Officer
Mike Byrans, Director, AdvancED Georgia

Ella Smith said...

Looks like to me Atlanta is in big trouble if they do not do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

There is NO WAY Zepora Roberts, Sarah Copelin-Wood and Gene Walker will EVER agree to any board policies that limit conflicts of interest, nepotism, cronyism, etc.

themommy said...

It doesn't matter if the three of them don't agree, they won't win. It doesn't take an unanimous vote to change a policy.

Anonymous said...

Where is the Georgia arbitrator?


The Minneapolis Star Tribune (10/27, Mitchell) reports that "the Minneapolis School District will have to pay out almost $17 million to teachers and support staff after a state arbitrator ruled that the employees were unjustly denied raises and merit pay for two years." The district did not "pay salary schedule raises and merit pay to teachers" during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years due to "budget problems." But the arbitrator "found that the decision was made without sufficient reason." The Star Tribune adds that "In a separate ruling," a different arbitrator "found that the district failed to provide raises to support staff after their contract expired in summer 2009." The support staff members are due about "$2.8 million in back pay."

Anonymous said...

I think an arbitrator exists in unionized states. GA doesn't have real teachers' unions.

Anonymous said...

The unions are looking at Georgia.

Watch Washington DC very carefully over the next two months, there is a bill that that is being authored, as a favor to big labor. This bill will basically take all the power away from right to work states, like Georgia. I heard this on one of the business channels and will research tonight.

When you have such a top heavy system like DCSS, the teachers have ended up with no one to turn to for help! It would not surprise me if Education Unions head to Georgia, if Barnes wins.

The Dems hope that Barnes wins Georgia on Tuesday. It's going to be a long night of losses and Georgia just could be the one bright spot in the South.

Anonymous said...

Barnes won't win -- at least not on Tuesday night. I expect he is headed for a run off. Latest polling numbers show the same outcome (runoff) for several state races. Some school board races might be headed to a run off as well.

This election season is never going to end. :(

Anonymous said...

9:42 I heard the same thing about the unions. Very scary. Not sure what the answer is to improve education, but I know that unions and what we have now isn't it.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and I sure hope Barnes win so we are not continuing to cut the school year , furlough teachers and no pay increases for the next 8 years as Deal lives rent free in the Mansion. That man is dangerous for Education!!!!

Anonymous said...

I read all the proposed policies. The last one was blank - no proposal? They said all 200+ policies will be under review, so are we going to get a batch a week or something?

Anonymous said...

Each batch of policies that are going to be changed, must sit on the table for 30 days, so no it won't be once a week.

Anonymous said...

Why is DCSS trying to outsource these jobs? Why are they doing stuff undercover......

Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
District Wide Comprehensive Grounds Maintenance Service RFI 11-03
Attachment 1
Bid Question & Answer 1


Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
District Wide Alarm Monitoring RFI 11-04
Attachment 1
Bid Question & Answer 1


Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
Equipment Repair Service RFI 11-05
Attachment 1 No Addenda


Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
District Wide Glass Repair and Replacement RFI 11-06
Attachment 1
Bid Question & Answer 1


Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
District Wide Pest Control Service RFI 11-07
Attachment 1
Bid Question & Answer 1


Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
District Wide Air Conditioner Filters & Replacement RFI 11-08
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Bid Question & Answer 1


Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
District Wide Cleaning Service RFI 11-09
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Bid Question & Answer 1


Opening Date: 10/27/2010 2:00 pm
The following bid must be in the Purchasing Office before 2:00pm on 10/26/2010
District Wide Painting Service RFI 11-10
Attachment 1
Bid Question & Answer 1

Dekalbparent said...

Anon - maybe they are fishing to see if they can get the services cheaper... I gotta say the grounds could be better at many schools, and the alarms in several of the schools around me either don't work at all or go off randomly (per reports of students).

I know non-functioning alarm systems allowed several large robberies at high schools in the last two years.

As to pest control, cleaning, glass replacement, etc., perhaps that can be done on a more consistent basis, as well. We have discussed the possible advantages to contracting these services on this blog, and I know the cleaning is already contracted at Arabia Mountain - cd be there was a good experience with it.

Anonymous said...

"Why is DCSS trying to outsource these jobs? Why are they doing stuff undercover......"

You see undercover and I see good business practice.

Don't most security alarms have a 24 hour company that monitors alarm incidents just as they do for home alarms. That contract has to be bid. Why would you think asking for bids in a normal fashion is uncover? Likewise pest control(bug spraying) needs to be done by a licensed and bonded company and is regularly bid out. Again copy machine repair is also bid out on a regular basis. Major painting is also bid out. With the layoffs someone has to do grounds and regular filter replacement. I would need to read the district wide cleaning RFP to see what that really meant.

Maybe you should learn more about what DCSS does bid out on a regular basis.

Don’t let paranoia destroy ya

Anonymous said...

Anon. 11:26 - I don't know how Barnes is going to pay for it. Tax receipts are way down and that's the problem. Plus, our state constitution states we must have a balanced budget. You have to cut somewhere.

I was against the Bass Boat Dock Boondoggle of Sonny's and I'm against raising taxes in the current environment!

We must get businesses hiring first and then we might get the economic engine working.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 11:24
The robberies continue. Henderson Middle School was broken into Tuesday night/Wednesday morning - 30 laptops, 3 MACs, a large screen TV and DVD/VCR stolen out of media center.

Anonymous said...

Barnes can scream I am gonna save those teachers all he wants, you ultimately need to pressure your GA representatives and Senate leaders.

He even admits that the educational woes wont be solved in 3-4 years. While I know furlough days arent the best and yeah it hurts I am getting paid less than last year. I am happy knowing I can put food on my table and clothes on my back and come teach. I am not going to tell anyone to deal with it, but the thing is that 1 out of 10 Georgians are unemployed. If your one of the 9 be happy for once.

Stop looking to Barnes to save you and look to the local politicians and your state representatives to really help you out. Any one of the gubernatorial candidates can sell snake oil from the dept store counter

I wonder if you were a teacher when Barnes was in office. while he did some ok things, overall it was awful how he treated teachers like my mother and aunt.

Anonymous said...

Not that the local leaders arent much help either...vote them out.

PolitiMom said...

Anon 11:26-
Ironic how you (and several of my other teacher friends) are voting for Barnes now, but teachers and flaggers were the ones that voted him out after one term the last time--and all because he wanted to eliminate teacher tenure on NEW teachers (not retroactively.) Had Perdue not undone much of what Barnes started, we might not be in such a terrible place now. Don't get me wrong, Barnes wasn't a hero back then. But he did make some sweeping changes that were never allowed to blossom because Purdue rolled everything back. I'm not endorsing him (then or now), but I wish we could have seen what would have happened had his reforms been able to take hold.

Anonymous said...

"No Board member, or any member of his or her immediate family, or any business organization with which he or she is associated shall sell supplies or equipment..."

Supplies and equipment? What about property, goods and services?

The DeKalb BOC organization act clearly states that "Neither the chief executive nor any member of the commission or other county officer empowered to use public or county funds for the purchase of goods, property, or services of any kind for public or county purposes shall be financially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract to which the county is a party, either as principal, surety or otherwise; nor shall such officer, his partner, agent, servant, or employee of a firm of which he is a member or by whom he is employed purchase from or sell to the county any real or personal property, goods or services."

It does not matter anyway, there is too much corruption. Does Jacobs JJG still sign Jeff Rader's paycheck? He's abstaining more and more as the number of their DeKalb contracts increase since he's been on the board. I think Jacobs JJG is a subcontractor to Parsons (yea,as in Barbara Colman)on the Snapfinger and Pole Bridge wastewater treatment plant design expansions. Is the design of the Snapfinger plant really finished or will Parsons and Jacobs JJG get a big fat change order? Another subcontractor to Parsons is "their major LSBE sub", EGM (yea, Vernon's buddy Art Queen). EGM could not even spell engineering and EGM was not licensed to perform engineering in the state for two years while collecting paychecks. Even now, thier license has lasped. Parsons and EGM made all of the LSBE firms become a sub to EGM, third tier. These subs include The Collaborative Firm, as in Michael Hightower. This firm is still not licensed in the state to perform engineering services, but this does not matter in DeKalb County. Two Dept of Watershed Management Deputy Directors were fired within the last month. Silence is golden when corruption is involved.

But yet, our water/sewer cost doubles, a business tax rate is proposed and property taxes are very likely to go up next year.

Sorry there is no DeKalb County Government Watch blog, so I had to vent here!

Anonymous said...

"Why Is DCSS Trying to Outsource These Jobs?"

@ Anonymous 10:17 AM

I am confused ... it looks like the closing date for the bids was the day BEFORE the opening date. Did you copy, cut and paste this from the official website or is that a typo?

If you did copy, cut and paste this from the official website, then it looks like DCSS is up to its usual tricks: Ready! Fire! Aim!

Anonymous said...

Even if it becomes legal for teachers in Georgia to unionize, you can't have a teacher's union unless the teachers vote to have one. The best way to keep unions out of the State of Georgia is to treat teachers fairly. That means, good working conditions, paying competitive salaries, reasonable expectations about time spent working after hours, etc. Changes in federal law might make it possible for teachers to unionize, but that doesn't mean it has to happen. Mr. Barnes will not have any control over what happens in Washington and Mr. Deal will not be able to stop this from happening if he is elected.

Anonymous said...

SACS to probe DCSS schools per ajc

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/sacs-will-investigate-dekalb-699240.html

had a sick to my stomach feeling we were next

Anonymous said...

SACS Will Investigate DeKalb Schools

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/sacs-will-investigate-dekalb-699240.html

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to SACS' response dated October 28 (from the DCSS website):

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/sacs-casi-accreditation/sacs-casi-response-to-dcss-(2010-10-28).pdf

In my opinion, there's a disconnect between SACS' actual response and the way that response is characterized in the DCSS press release (also on DCSS website).

Anonymous said...

Actually the AJC is reporting that SACs will not pull accredidation.

Unlike Clayton and now apparently Atlanta, the DCSS board is doing what SACs tells them to do.


DeKalb County schools’ accreditation is safe for now, but the school system will undergo a national probe.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools decided Thursday night to investigate the school system, citing several areas of concern. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned that SACS will visit in February.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:17 am

The opening date is the date the sealed bids are opened, not the day that is the opening for receiving bids. Apparently, when a government or business seeks sealed bids they open them all at once.

Anonymous said...

Here come da SACS!

Anonymous said...

Stop allowing AJC to be your resource. Somewhere between what ajc wrote and the release by DCSS is the truth. If any of you are familiar with the SACS process it is a lenghthy 12-18 month process, so SACS is not coming to DCSS because of what Pope,Lewis,et al have been alleged to have done. It is just that time to start the process. It seems that through all of this, a change on the school board, and a new superintendent, and SACS re-accreditation, 2012 will have DCSS on the road to being a leader in GA public education.

Please no negative comments to this. DCSS, which includes our children, has been beaten and dragged through ajc mud enough. When do we as adults stop going along with the nonsense?

Anonymous said...

And I forgot, these are some good post regarding the policy changes. Please go to DCSS website and add your comments for there to be a record of your comments per each policy.

Dunwoody Mom said...

AJC has already changed their headline. Read the letter from SACS....

My take upon reading the letter from Mark Elgart is that they want to make sure the Super search moves along and the ethics policies are adopted and followed.

The Super search may be the easiest part of this.

Anonymous said...

DCSS, which includes our children, has been beaten and dragged through ajc mud enough. When do we as adults stop going along with the nonsense?

DCSS leadership has gone wallowing through the mud and the AJC simply has followed along to report. If DCSS has looked bad, it is the fault of the leadership, not the paper that reports it. Without the AJC to report what has been going on, it would be impossible to hold the Board accountable.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:12, you are absolutely right! If you read the original AJC article, it include opinion (accreditation safe for now) rather than factually reporting of what SACS said. Allow me to draw my own conclusion from what they said, don't try to influence my opinion.

From the SACS letter I read on the school system website, the SACS visit is a part of the normal process to help the school system meet accreditation. I got that they would offer direction, advice, and monitoring assistance. That's probably something they would offer for any district that was in between superintendents.

The AJC is trying to influence opinion, don't fall for it.

Anonymous said...

http://www.playgroundmag.com/playground-news/video.cfm?id=2231&flag=1&nav=99


This would never work for DCSS, because it means asking for feedback and comments from students and staff. We have some really poor playgrounds at the elem schools.