Monday, November 22, 2010

Rut row! The Heery/Mitchell lawsuit has moved to federal court

Hot off the AJC online press: DeKalb schools move lawsuit to federal court

After spending an astounding $15.5 million in trial preparation, DeKalb County school officials will attempt to cut down on additional legal expenses by moving a lawsuit against construction manager Heery/Mitchell to federal court.

On Monday, the school board opted to transfer the suit from DeKalb County Superior Court to federal court, schools spokesman Walter Woods told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The board requested the transfer on the same day a DeKalb judge signed an order allowing Heery/Mitchell to sue individual school board members, former superintendent Crawford Lewis and other administrators. The suit previously named only the school district. . . .

“We’re trying to take the route that will get us to court the soonest," Bowen said. "The federal docket is managed much tighter to keep cases from moving. The faster we get to trial, the less expensive it will be.”

Even with the change in venue, Bowen anticipates the trial won't be scheduled for another year.

$15.5 million! (Heavy) Sigh!


Anonymous said...

Another law suit suggestion:

If it is true that DCSS has been ILLEGALLY shaving off $1000 of teachers's salaries under the reign of Lewis, do the teachers have a case?

Because it seems that though the State has been providing appropriate funding Lewis and Turk have been low-balling the State money intended for teacher salaries while claiming that DCSS is putting in its fair share of local dollars per the legal contract into these salaries...

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that SCW and ZR are sweating bullets? They are the only board members still on the board from the Heery/Mitchell days.

I am sure some of the board members from the past are worried as well, but I bet the two of them are really squeamish right about now.

Anonymous said...


We also have a case with regard to the board not paying our retirement. Not for this year--we knew it had already been cancelled and made the "choice" to stick with Dekalb. But the previous year, we signed contracts and committed to our jobs and were told months later that the retirement was gone. So yes, we teachers have two cases.

Now look at that dollar amount referenced in with respect to the lawsuit here. Since we have no union, we have no one to go to court for us. There is no formal way for us to collect funds to bring such a lawsuit. And DCSS knows it.

fedupindcss said...

Sorry, I know I'm a broken record with this, but theaters' unions AREN'T ALWAYS BAD! They help safeguard the rights of their members, and can enshrine positives in contracts (like class size restrictions).

As for the lawsuit, I am finding myself oddly sympathetic to HM. Usually I am ready to toss general contractors under the bus, but they sure were lucky in their foes on this one. Glad to know our tax money isn't being wasted on education or anything.

fedupindcss said...

Speaking of construction, has anyone else heard that the Lakeside principal is strong-arming all the school booster clubs to stop fund raising until his "Valhalla Project" makes more money? And that he asked all the school booster clubs to kick in part of their funds towards it? Isn't that against some policy for a principal to do that?

Anonymous said...

Fedup: Heard that as well. Weird.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the whole focus on "Valhalla" is getting under the collective skins of some of the organizations and teachers at Lakeside. The idea of leaving a legacy is all well and good, but it's too much of a personal agenda.

Each group works really hard to raise funds to keep their organizations running, and they should be able to allocate their funds as they see fit without being made to feel as if they are not "team players."

It's like any charity--it's my money, and if believe in your cause--great. I will share accordingly.
If not, best of luck to you, and take "NO" as my answer.

Not sure whether I would call it "strongarming," though you may know more than I do. But there is an awful lot of attention being paid to this, and it seems as if
the energy could be better spent.

Why not raise money to create a sustained support program for students who struggle in math? I would throw a few bucks into that fund. Think what $1.5 million (I think that's right) could do to reform the education in the school!

I am a big proponent of sports and acknowledge their place in the larger picture. But now is not the time.

Anonymous said...


I agree. We have ODE and such organizations, but all they do is rattle cages. I actually got a letter from one of the groups--I forget which--taking credit for getting rid of the remaining furlough days. HUH? That was federal money that had to be used. No advocacy was involved.

Yes, unions can be a pain, but my friends in New York aren't having to put up with this crap.

Anonymous said...

10:59, by the way, did anyone notice that class sizes are slated to go to 36 next year?? I know--only 2 more kids--what the heck?

But that is 6 more than 3 years ago, which amounts to 30 more per teacher for those of us not on block. Essentially, we are teaching the equivalent of another class. 20% more than 3 years ago.

I am not whining for my sake--what about your kids? If I am teaching 20% more kids, they are getting 20% less instruction.

Before you jump on me--"Oh, if you care, you will step up," and so on, consider what you would do if your boss increased your workload 20% and lowered your pay? Yes, teaching is a very special case, but it's still a job, and I am still a professional. Dedication can only be stretched so far.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Parents, take note. Despite what the movies tell you, unions can be your child's friend. I went to school in the northeast, union central, and it was nothing like GA.

Anonymous said...

Dekalb County Taxpayers are being robbed blind by an inept DCSS Administration that is not accountable to anyone. We taxpayers may need the Governor to step in and relieve some DCSS personnel of their duties. The absurd amount of money spent on the HM lawsuit is just one example of how our tax dollars have ended up in some lawyers pockets and not in the classroom. I do not pay taxes so DCSS Admin and multiple lawyers can enrich themselves. I pay taxes so my children can get a quality education. Maybe I should suit DCSS for improper use of my tax funds.
Keep fighting the good fight and let's push hard for an open checkbook, going forward.
If we make enough noise, DCSS will eventually bend or break. Either one would be a good start to cleaning-up the mess that is DCSS.

Anonymous said...

"10:59, by the way, did anyone notice that class sizes are slated to go to 36 next year?? I know--only 2 more kids--what the heck?

But that is 6 more than 3 years ago, which amounts to 30 more per teacher for those of us not on block. Essentially, we are teaching the equivalent of another class. 20% more than 3 years ago."

Jim Redovian and Zepora roberts voted for the resolution to allow class sizes to go to 36 for math, English, science, and social studies and 39 for all other subjects. They didn't even ask Ms. Tyson about trimming in the 8,500 strong admin and support area. Remember that when you go to the polls for the run-off election next Tuesday, November 20th.

Mr. Redovian's and Mrs. Robert's vote along with the other BOE members (it was unanimous) left students packed into classrooms so that science experiments will be dangerous to students, English teachers cannot possibly grade all those papers, and math teachers cannot give individual help to all the children who need it.

Anonymous said...

Maureen Downey's AJC blog today is about a teacher with 50 students a period. I don't think it is DeKalb because we would have heard about it on here, but this is a state issue.

Go read it. Then write Governor elect Deal and tell this is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

There was a study about TSL (Total Student Load). That is, the total number of students that a teacher taught in a a day (# of class periods time number of students per period). As TSL increases, student learning decreases. But there was no suggestion on where to get the money to decrease TSL.

Anonymous said...

"But there was no suggestion on where to get the money to decrease TSL. '

Personally, I think we could trim 1,000 from the 8,500 admin and add it to the 6,500 teachers. That would bring us to 7,500 teachers and 7,500 for admin and support - approximately the same level it was before Lewis took control.

Anonymous said...

"The same level before Lewis took control."

What an incredible statement by the previous poster. Lets hope Jester and Edler win so we can begin to empty the corrupt swamp that the DCSS has become.

I hope the Heery/Mitchell case takes some current and former BOE members down! It's time for common sense to reign and the stakeholders are the only ones who will be able to achieve this, by continuing to ask tough questions and slam Ramsey's office with Freedom of Information Act requests.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant for the corrupt leadership that continues to control DCSS. The whole Lewis leadership cabal need to go sooner rather than later. Tyson, Turk, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Beasley, Ramsey, Hunter, Guilroy's, Edwards and everyone else who have taken advantage of OUR children and the funds that are meant for their education need to be shown the door quickly.

These people have led our system into the ground! Any number of charades... charettes will NOT solve the problem. ACTION needs to take place. ACTION against this corrupt regime that has been in place way too long!

Want to change DCSS? Begin with voting Jester and Edler on November 30th. They will hold DCSS leadership accountable for their disgusting actions!