Monday, August 29, 2011

Board Votes in Dr. Atkinson

After much discussion and what Don McChesney admitted was a very unexpected process, the board voted to hire Dr. Cheryl Atkinson as superintendent. McChesney also admonished the board in detail for the previous leaks and expressed disappointment that there was no interest in pursuing the persons who sabotaged earlier candidates. He asked "Why is Lorain officially by the state of Ohio ranked two levels lower than when the superintendent started the job. Today they are at one level below when this superintendent started. I remind you that this is the reason others rejected others. I have stated that if The children of DeKalb county have been marginalized for a decade or more. It must stop. Because of that, if hired, I will support Dr. Atkinson in every way."

Sarah Copelin Wood then basically stated that this is a majority board decision and "just because it is not your decision, doesn't mean that you can work to destroy it."

And Nancy Jester had a prepared statement, which is available in it's entirety on her website. In part, she says, "I believe we saw other candidates with better records and potential to redevelop talent within our district. Unfortunately as you know, our search process was hampered by leaks that were designed to scuttle any forward motion with or about some candidates. I think the most important question about the process and leaks, is, “Why did that happen?” Why did we reject candidates with better records? Why?
My vote today also reflects my dissatisfaction with the superintendent’s contract. I do not think it is in the best interests of the taxpayers."


The vote was then taken and Atkinson was hired by a vote of 6-3. (McChesney, Speaks and Jester declined.)

Dr. Speaks point of personal privilege.

"The search for a new super has been an arduous and painful endeavor. I expected arduous, but not painful. I expected that we would interview highly qualified candidates. I did not consider that person needed to look like me. I will support Dr. Atkinson. I pledge my full support to her. "

Donna Edler thanked each and every board member and commended the board for their effort.

118 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sooo, the clock is ticking! Will it just be a new spoon stirring the same old ingredients? To make a new product requires new ingredients. So far, it's just a new spoon. No Change Without CHANGE!

South Dekalb Parent said...

As a South Dekalb County tax payer, I am very excited that Mrs. Atkinson has been hired as our new superintendent. We look forward to a great year!

teacher said...

I don't like this candidate. I will be watching her closely and be watching every decision that she makes, as our children and district can't afford for any more mistakes and moves that aren't truly focused on the children and the quality of education that they receive.

Parents for DeKalb County Schools said...

Join with us to hold Dr. Atkinson to her promises and to ensure the board backs the implementation of her vision.

ParentsForDeKalbSchools.org

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Finally, the dark days of Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope in control of DCSS are finally coming to an end!
When does Dr. A officially start?

When will the BOE ask Ramona Tyson to resign her interim post? Will Ms. Tyson return to MIS? Will Mr. Tucker have to resign his post as head of MIS? Will Beasley, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Ramsey be asked to leave? Who will Dr. A bring in? If educating our children is important to her, like she said Saturday, then SOME of the current leadership, at the Palace, should start looking for new jobs.

There is a new sheriff at DCSS, and she promised us an accounting of all the Central Office jobs and who is doing something to improve our student's education and who is not!

Dr. A you have a heck of a job ahead of you! I hope you listen to all the stakeholders and value the kids of DeKalb, like so many of us do and our BOE does NOT. It's time for change Dr. A and you're the one leading us down the path of success.

Trials, lawsuits and the contentious BOE trimming from 9 to 7 will be a distraction for Dr. A, while she begins setting the right path for DCSS. Let's hope our BOE, led by Tom Bowen, allows Dr. A to do her job and not get caught up in the racist minutia our BOE can never shake.

I still think we need to get to the bottom of the Super search leaks. Someone on the BOE or staff must be held accountable for a process that was rife with corruption and racism. There are laws in place for a reason, but our BOE sees no reason to follow the letter of the law or find out who violated the trust and ethics of DCSS. Nothing new for our failing system.

Good luck Dr. A! You're gonna need a lot of it to be successful in this county! I wish for only the best for you Dr. A, we're looking to you to change the way business is done at DCSS.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Tyson moved out of the superintendent's office Friday

Syncopated pickle said...

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Anon. 11:47 How do you know that McChesney is a republican? I thought the BOE was non-political. If it is not, then please tell me why the parties affiliation is NOT beside each name when I vote for BOE?

So Anon 11:47, in your world, McChesney, Jester and Speaks should just jump on board like everyone else and vote for a person or policy, even if they don't agree with the majority? Look, at least they are being honest! I'd rather have a BOE member who is honest and let's me know why they are voting for or against something or someone.

What I don't like, is the race baiting our BOE enjoys so much. I also don't like having a search process hijacked so badly by the Chairman of the BOE. How did a former BOE member have information that was suppose to be confidential? How come Tom Bowen does not want an investigation in how the search process was leaked? The truth must not suit the needs of the Chairperson of the BOE or others who didn't seem to be bothered by the leak. Obviously, they were not bothered by it, since they were able to hire the person THEY wanted.

I just want an open, honest, transparent process, followed to the letter of the law, that is on the books. Not much to ask for! If this search had not been derailed, maybe there would have been a bit more civility. But the people who derailed the process are to blame for the lack of civility that is taking place in our county.

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce has some work to do. I wonder how they explain, to a new business looking at DeKalb, that a newly elected sheriff was murdered by his election opponent and that a Super and COO of DCSS was indicted on RICO charges. That's just two items of many! The DeKalb Chamber has a PR problem and I was just wondering how the heck they get any business to move into a county like DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

@Anon, and everyone else. In the future, all race-baiting comments will be removed with no further explanation. Saying this had to do with Republican politics is also nonsense. This disagreement had to do with test scores and performance concerns - not about race or politics. It is perfectly ok in this world for groups to be in disagreement. Majority wins and did win, and that is how the process works -- in every election of every kind. Yes, it would have been nice to have had all board members unanimously agree, however, that is a rare occurrence. The three who did not vote for this candidate are very well-entitled to their opinions and certainly will now support her fully -- just as they promised.

Anonymous said...

Racism is alive and well! You wont come out and admit the reason you don't like Mrs. Atkinson is because she is African American. It has nothing to do with her record! Mr. Womack saw that race was the only reason the three didnt want Mrs. Atkinson. He decided he did not want to be a part of that and voted who he knew would be the best candidate. Good for you Mr. Womack!

I get so tired of the racism and yes, thats all it is Racism. It wouldn't matter who they chose, there would be some controversy if the person was African American

We have a GREAT school board and Ramona Tyson did a great job as interim! Jester hasn't been there long enough to be an expert and her racism is very clear.

South DeKalb is very happy with the selection. The few of you in Dunwoody who aren't happy should know that the few can't control the MAJORITY. We will not sit back and let you try and control us. This comment will probably not get posted because you only want to post comments that are against our school board!

I pray for all of you who only want to attack what is a good school board and great school system. Racism and the attack on public schools must stop! It is detrimental to our society.

Syncopated pickle said...

"I pray for all of you who only want to attack what is a good school board and great school system. "

Um, are we on the same planet? Good and great are not quite the words I would use....

Yes the majority ruled. Good. Just don't object when the majority State Government takes action because those in power failed to do so.

teacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cerebration said...

Below is a quote from Atkinson at the meet and greet (from the AJC Get Schooled blog)

“My focus will be on our students and student success first with adults and political issues taking a distant second. Children must come first. Our decisions, my decisions, must first and foremost focus on what is good for all children. My intention is to create an internal structure that will allow effective educators to focus on the core mission improving academic performance. We do not have the luxury of allowing non-academic related issues to consume the attention and focus of all our educators,” she said

I think it is time for everyone in this entire county to do everything in our power to help her achieve this goal.

queenb4real said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinions but DCSS is not a "great" school system. And, we certainly do not have a "great" school board. There are some that will make these issues about race because quite frankly that is all they have. It is what they have been taught - it is indoctrinated. We can't change that. But, we can shed light on some of the real issues that plague our schools and work together to do something about it. I am a South Dekalb parent of two bright and talented girls. Just as any parent would, I want the absolutely best education for them and will do what I need to ensure they get it. I am not impressed with Dr. Atkinson. However, I do support her as our new Super and hope that she can implement change such that all students are achieving academically, the schools have the tools needed to ensure academic excellence and we are not wasting tax dollars on lawsuits, etc. I know that test scores are not the only indicator of a child's academic achievement. However, when a school has a 13% pass rate for Social Studies for its 7th graders we have to admit something is terribly wrong. I encourage all South Dekalb parents to look at the numbers for yourselves and if you are satisfied with 50% reading pass rates, 55% math pass rates, 13% ss pass rates then so be it. For me though, I believe our children can do better and until they do all is not well in South Dekalb.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck, Dr. Atkinson. Our hope and prayers are with you.

SW said...

People have expressed their opinions regarding the selection – for or against – Dr. Atkinson. While many want to continue making it a race issue or a North vs South issue, I don’t want to believe that is the case. I am sure there are people in South Dekalb who opposed the selection of Dr. Atkinson, just as there are probably people in North Dekalb who supported the selection. I want to believe that everyone’s concern is improving our school system.

At any rate, the vote has been taken and we have a new superintendent. While we assume (right or wrong) that the new superintendent will have issues dealing with the BOE, my question is, will she have issues dealing with US?

There are those who might not be in favor of something, but in the long run, they can put aside their dissatisfaction and do what is necessary for the good of THOSE THAT MATTER. They will look for the positives of what this superintendent has to offer and will work with her to make sure this school system begins to make changes for the better.

But unfortunately, there are those who cannot look past their dissatisfaction. Some people have taken every opinion in opposition to the new superintendent to heart such that they will be uncooperative, suspicious, and overly critical of EVERYTHING this superintendent does; even if it’s something that we have asked for or something that will benefit the school system.

Can we draw a line at this point and move beyond the fiasco of the selection process? Can we focus our efforts on holding her accountable for what she does or does not do for THIS school system? Can we continue to scrutinize the BOE to make sure THEY don’t sabotage her efforts? Can we stop nit picking everything that she says and look at the big picture? For instance, the iPads are an innovation that many school systems are considering, so it’s not so far-fetched. But do we really believe she’s going to go out on day one and start buying and issuing iPads to students? I would hope that several things would take place first including making sure the funding is in place and determining a process to insure the iPads will be secure. Fencing and lacrosse may not seem realistic, but the whole point was to come up with ways to keep students engaged. Sometimes it takes something outside the academics. There is not one person who believes that anyone would be able to turn DCSS around immediately. Everything that we do or don’t do, by word or deed, will impact the students who we claim this is all about.

I come to this blog to stay informed. People are dissatisfied and frustrated with this school system and this BOE, and rightfully so. The downhill spiral began probably before we even realized it. So it will not be a quick fix. But all the negativity is starting to become a drag. There is enough of that on the AJC “Get Schooled” blog. Constructive criticism and feedback? Yes. Just plain negativity? No.

South Dekalb Parent said...

SW, even you have negative things in your comment. Most of us feel there are kids getting a great education in DeKalb County. We also feel we have a great board and we are not influenced by the few same voices. We are not blinded about test scores nor do we turn a deaf ear to experts in their reports. But we do not listen to every negative thing that is said about our school board and school system.

We are informed parents and we do our own research. I have heard comments from certain board members that South DeKalb Parents are "uninformed". This is far from the truth.

We are very informed and want whats best for all the children of DeKalb County, wanting Mrs. Atkinson as our new superintendent. This is a GREAT day in DeKalb County!!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:47
Must be hard to live with all that bitterness.
Sorry, but you are totally out of touch with reality if you think this vote was about race. It’s disappointing that there can’t be opposing views among the Board without this knee-jerk reaction being injected into the conversation.
No one on the Board has exclusive ownership of “caring for the children.” Based on recent their performance, my perception is that a few of them care little at all about the children. That’s a sad comment on our Board, I know, and, hopefully, it is just my perception.
I believe only three of our Board members have ever spent time in a DeKalb County classroom. Two of those voted against Dr. Atkinson. That says a lot to me.
Teachers know what they need in order to teach our kids. They know when they are having to put up with administrative BS. They know when they have the support of administration and when they don’t.
I am a product of the DeKalb County School System. I wasn’t taught to spell, to read, or to add and subtract by an administrator. I was taught by TEACHERS who knew their subject, knew how to teach, and were allowed to do so.
With all due respect to Dr. Atkinson, I believe the Board has settled for a mediocre second choice, based on all that I’ve researched and read about her. Having said that, I don’t wish for her to fail. I wish for her to succeed and to do so beyond my wildest expectations. I wish for her to succeed in getting the emphasis on teaching and the resources required back into the classroom where they belong.
Good luck and God Bless you, Dr. Atkinson!

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed and frustrated beyond words. The only people on the Board that I trust to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of students and taxpayers are Jester, McChesny and Speaks. Dr. Atkinson is not qualified, her achievement record is terrible, her past is a bit shady and the reasons she was voted in (and the other candidates were leaked) have nothing to do with qualifications. I have zero confidence she is capable of making the changes our system requires. There are several other factors at play and to deny this (and/or block it from the blog) is just irresponsible and prevents us from moving forward. And I am definitely NOT just talking about race! I will support her because I have no choice and it's in the best interest of my kids and all of DeKalb that we help her however we can.

Fred said...

Well said, SW! The vote to hire Dr. Atkinson is now in the past and citizens should begin to focus on the future of this school system. I have some concerns about her also but I'm willing to give her my support in moving this school district forward. We need her to succeed! I hope others that had concerns about her can support her with the realization that any candidate will have challenges and need time to make the necessary changes in this school district.

I do want to respond to a point raised by Atlanta Media Guy that many still seem to misunderstand. Tom Bowen was not elected by the citizens of DeKalb to serve as the Board Chair. He was selected by his fellow Board members. He has no additional authority over the Board in his role as Board chair. As Board chair, he leads the meetings, serves as the Board spokesman and signs documents on behalf of the Board. He has one vote like the others and could not authorize an investigation or take any action without the support of a simple majority of Board members. I have some concerns with Tom also but he should not take heat for things he has no control over.

Anonymous said...

Speaks in wrong, Dr. Atkinsoon does not "LOOK LIKE HER and Definately Doesn't ACT Like Her". She can stand on her on two feet and not lean on others to have a thought.Which one of the two wrote her "prepared statement"?

Anonymous said...

It's a new day in DeKalb! Let's move forward and stop the negative comments to yourself. Don't make this blog another sephic tank of one sized comments. Can we set examples for our children or are we going to continue the bullying?

DCSSFrustatedParent said...

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own facts"

Fact : The DCSS BoE derailed candidates who had more proven experience

Fact : The Administration has been spending MILLIONS of our $$$$ with plummeting demonstrated results

Fact : Our new Superintendent left her previous school system lower in that states rating system than she found it

I truly wish the new Superintendent all the best and REALLY hope she is able to do all the things she committed to on Saturday but I have to admit that I'm skeptical to say the least. I believe the folks on the BoE who put her in power are going to keep her on a short string as to what she is able to review and who she is able to rightsize.

We will see come this time next year whether we have a true leader or a placeholder - for the children's sake I hope she is a tough and inspirational leader.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Fred, I understand your point. However, there have been times when the chairperson of the BOE must make sure fellow board members are acting properly and within the rules of the BOE. Wasn't it Tom Bowen who asked Zepora "I'm gonna slug you!" Roberts to apologize?

During the vote to pare down the BOE from 9 to 7, Tom Bowen used the digital signatures of every BOE member, on a letter to the DeKalb Legislative Delegation in disagreement to the bill that would cut the BOE from 9 to 7. There were at least 2, maybe 3, from the BOE who had not authorized the use of their signature on that letter. Is Tom in charge or not?

If Tom Bowen does not control the BOE, like you say, then hopefully one of the BOE members will ask for an investigation into the leak. I think it's time the stakeholders know who derailed the search process. I know we have a new Super and I'm happy about that. However, how can we expect anything to get done in executive sessions, when the items discussed in those private meetings could be made public? Most of these meetings involve personnel issues that should remain confidential. I think there has been a huge breach of trust, when it comes to confidential matters at DCSS. That's all I'm saying. Who on the BOE can ask for an investigation? Can the public ask for an investigation. Will Richard Belcher ever reveal who his source was?

I understand it's all water under the bridge, however it's hard to trust any one or anything when it comes to the Palace staff at DCSS.

Dekalbparent said...

@Fred,

I understand what you are saying about Tom Bowen having no extra power, but I do think it would have behooved him, as Board Chair, to speak out against the leaks. There is no way the leaks were ethical or merely an administrative issue.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am disappointed in this decision. After "leaks" forced the earlier candidates to withdraw, we were left with one applicant and the Board had been told by SACS that it must have someone by the end of October. We were really left with just this one choice. I agree with Dr. Speaks - we should have had more candidates and better candidates.

I also agree with Don McChesney - the source of those leaks must be determined and presented to the public. Until that is done, we cannot move forward. This Board has not been honest with the citizens of Dekalb County and I hope that SACS is listening.

Finally, I was disappointed that the District 4 representative voted for this candidate. I am hopeful that Paul Womack will choose not to run next year but, if he does, I will not vote for him and will work to insure that he is not re-elected.

Dr. Atkinson had a big job in front of her. She needs to do some of things that Ramona Tyson promised, but failed to do, such as a salary and staff review. SACS'issues with DDCSS were not academic - they were with extremely poor management, corruption, nepotism, and administration. Yes, focus on the children, but they are not the problem. We are paying taxes to support an inept administration that either cannot or will not take any action to clean it up.

Anonymous said...

I may not agree with the decision to hire Dr. Atkinson, but I will support her until she gives me reason to do otherwise. I will also show her respect by addressing her as Dr. Atkinson and Dr. A. I think that it is ashame that some people who post on this blog feel like it is ok to belittle a person because they don't think she is capable. Please give her a chance to do her job. We all know that she has a long hard hill to climb and we don't need to make it more difficult by throwing stones at her before she puts her shoes on. If after she gets an understanding of what needs to be done and makes decisions that prohibit our children from growing and being successful, THEN we as parents must respond. Please give her a chance and be respectful.

Fred said...

@Atlanta Media Guy & DeKalbParent, like many citizens I also wanted to see an investigation of the alleged leak. This is where we rely on the Board to police itself. If a simple majority of Board members did not want to investigate this, it only placed a wider cloud on the collective Board and further frustated citizens.

I said alleged leak because someone mentioned to me that an ORR could have been requested on the contract, even while it was in draft mode. I don't know the particulars if that can be done so perhaps any lawyers reading this could comment. We know ORRs were done for Dr. Atkinson's contract before it was completed because we saw draft listed on it.

Anonymous said...

Anon@5:11
" I will also show her respect by addressing her as Dr. Atkinson and Dr. A."

I meant to say, I will also show her respect by addresssing her as Dr. Atkinson and NOT Dr. A"

Anonymous said...

Title 1 is safe as long as Speaks can continue to support her. She use to work for Speaks when Speaks was Director of Title I and the same misuse of funds were being made. Prior to running for the Board Speaks was a CONSULTANT with Title i under the present Executive Director. Speaks and Lewis are also personal friends!! Just telling it like it is. Good Luck, Dr. Atkinson.. Do what you have to do and reveal any objections to the public.

Ella Smith said...

So they were getting a signing bonus for signing the contract and taking a job in DeKalb County.

Right now that might be a necessary evil due to history. However, I think the spending money is a bit excessive myself.

I wish the best for Dr. Atkinson and her leadership for the school system. She has her work cut out for her. I am disappointed that Dr. Speaks felt that the school superintendent had to look like her. School boards need to be color blind and look at qualifications only. It does not matter if the school superintendent is black, white, yellow, or green for that matter. However, it does matter that every child in DeKalb County is getting the best education that our tax money can provide for them.

I support Dr. Atkinson in her journey ahead and hope positive changes are coming to benefit DeKalb children. This is what truely matters.

DeKalb Mom said...

Ella, Dr. Speaks said the superintendent DIDN'T have to look like her.

I'm wondering if any of the people who were calling Jester and McChesney racists for voting against Atkinson are calling Pam Speaks a racist, too?

Anonymous said...

If you didnt know... there is a definate way to know whether someone is republican or democrat! Their voting record is a sure sign, and if they continuously vote republican then what else should we think? I would love for the school board to be partisan and we wouldn't have republicans representing democratic districts. We can't be nieve to think the school board is non partisan when all the republicans consistently vote together and when one republican (Mr. Womack) decides to vote his conscience he is frowned upon. Mr. Womack's is almost 80 years old and has a lot of school board experience. It says a lot when he decides to vote for Mrs. Atkinson. Is he uninformed? I think not!

South Dekalb Parent said...

In 2003, she joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in Charlotte, N.C., where she was a regional superintendent overseeing 14 middle schools. She then supervised all the regional superintendents for the 127,000-student district that mixes urban, suburban and rural areas. That's nearly three times the size of the Cleveland schools.

In 2008-09, Lorain students exceeded the overall state value-added standard, then met the standard the next two. Results for this school year are not yet available.

In the last measured year, 2009-10, Lorain students met or exceeded the standard in six of 10 individual categories, but were below the standard in four.

Just a few facts. Please feel free to verify! No one is saying she is perfect, but who is? She has shown progress and thats what we need. I think she will do just fine!

Anonymous said...

Clocks ticking....

Hopefully she can do the right thing.

I hope she doesnt give in to this status quo culture.

Cerebration said...

FWIW -- Tony Hunter already announced at the "Triage" meeting that they were going to get iPads for students. This is apparently already in the works. Also, Lacrosse was requested by Dunwoody HS but denied -- until the board was informed that Arabia already had Lacrosse - so they had to allow it at Dunwoody as well. Fencing - not sure about that one....

Anonymous said...

Seems like we should be focusing 100% on improving academics and performance before worrying about starting up lacrosse and fencing, or even Ipads. I am trying to be optimistic but am not liking what I am hearing....

Anonymous said...

She will probably bring that reading program with her as well. If you read her dissertation,you heard about it. She has brought it to every school she worked.

While I believe there is some validity to helping the children "feel" better about learning, themselves and reading specifically, I don't know if we can afford it. According to her, it's an $800/child start up, and that was some time ago. Based on the number of Title 1 elementary schools, using 400 kids/school average, that's an easy $14.4 million dollar program in it's first year. This is before training.

Yes, this should come out of Title 1 funds, but is she going to break it to A.B. that her spending is going to come under some scrutiny? Will she abandon some other programs that are not used or don't work, like the parent resource center, to pay for it? DCSS can't pay for it otherwise.

Cerebration said...

From State Rep Mike Jacobs Newsletter;

As I showed you in one of my previous messages, Dr. Atkinson’s contract contains the following “termination for convenience” clause requiring a vote by three-fourths (3/4) supermajority of the school board in order to terminate her if her performance is sub-par:

“The BOARD, upon a three-fourths (3/4) vote of its members, may at its option unilaterally terminate this Contract for its convenience by giving the SUPERINTENDENT a minimum of ninety (90) days written notice of termination at any time. In the event of such termination, the BOARD shall pay to the SUPERINTENDENT severance pay, either all of the aggregate salary she would have earned under this Contract from the actual date of termination to the termination date set forth in this Contract, or a sum equivalent to twelve (12) months of the annual base salary as stated in Paragraph 4 of this Contract, whichever is less.”

In responding to citizen concerns about this clause, a couple of school board members chose to hide behind a subsequent clause of the contract, the “termination for cause” provision, which reads:

“Termination for cause shall constitute conduct which is seriously prejudicial to the District, including but not limited to, neglect of duty, or breach of contract. Notice of termination for cause shall be given in writing and the SUPERINTENDENT shall be entitled to appear before the BOARD to discuss such causes. If the SUPERINTENDENT chooses to be accompanied by legal counsel at such meeting, if allowed in closed, executive session under applicable law, she shall bear any costs therein involved. Such meeting shall be conducted in closed, executive session unless specifically prohibited by State law. The SUPERINTENDENT shall be provided a written decision describing the results of the meeting.”

The concept of termination for cause is a breeding ground for litigation. It is unclear what, short of a criminal indictment, would constitute a sufficient basis for invoking this provision.

The provision that is most likely to be invoked is the termination for convenience clause, the one with the three-fourths restriction. It is odd for a government entity to contract away its right to take an action by simple majority vote. I’m not 100% convinced that the three-fourths restriction would pass legal muster.

Dr. Atkinson’s contract already includes high compensation, abundant fringe benefits, and an overly generous “golden parachute” if the termination for convenience clause is invoked. If you couple the generosity of these provisions with a three-fourths barrier to termination, the school board has gone too far.

In 2012, the DeKalb school board will shrink from nine to seven members. Right now, all it will take is three of nine board members to keep a lackluster superintendent in place. After the board membership is reduced to seven, just two members can prevent our school system from moving forward.

It’s easy to see how a superintendent and very small minority of school board members can abuse the three-fourths provision. Let’s hope it never comes to that, but the fact that the contract allows this to happen is an unfortunate byproduct of the decisions that have brought Dr. Atkinson to DeKalb.

Passionate... said...

I too will support Dr. Atkinson as our new superintendent.
A heartfelt thank you to Ramona Tyson for an 18 month long interim position. I didn't always agree, but you did keep us "glued" together.
I look forward to DCSS setting the standard for educational excellence.

dundevil said...

I wish her every success. But I am not setting the bar too high. She is starting the school year with the same minor-league, or maybe even Little League, players at the helm.

Rest assured that every one of her actions will be reported to Dr. Walker, SCW and Mr. Cunningham. Maybe even to Zephora. Every effort will be made to maintain the status quo. She has a tough battle to fight. I await her first brush with a BOE family member or other favorite of the administration. If she takes on one of them and succeeds, my estimation of her qualifications and determination to succeed will increase.

Again, good luck to her. But do not yet buy the champagne

Anonymous said...

3/4 of 7 = 5.25 Will it take 5 or 6 BOE members to fire her? Maybe
Dr. Walker can hire one of his law firm friends, at DCSS expense of course, to get an opinion.

That provision must have been written by an DCSS math major graduate.

DeKalb Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Atlanta Media Guy said...

dundevil, you forgot Francine Edwards, she is a former BOE chairperson and she has many family members working in the system and totaled together, they're making a whole lot of money!

Francine Edward's son, didn't show up for his job for 6 months, after receiving a $15,000 raise. He was hiding out at a school. His boss back then was Ramona Tyson. Parents had to expose the ruse to former Asst. Super Debbie Loeb and Dr. Crawford Lewis. You should have heard Ms. Tyson's surprise, when we told her Jamal Edwards had not reported to his new job for 6 months. He still works for the system today! Nice work if you can get it.

Francine has a lot of pull at DCSS. Too much pull for someone who is not working for DCSS or elected to a current post on the BOE. I'm just saying.....

Anonymous said...

Where is Dr. Nooks who ran for school board? Wasn't involved before he ran....hasn't been involved since, not evan at his child's PTA. Sorry about that but South DeKalb voters knew what they were doing and North DeKalb's money didn't stop no show. "What's up wit dat?"

Anonymous said...

I do not know of any other job that you can apply to with one or no references, get a months vacation in advance and a $2,600 spending account.

It sets a bad example for those of us in the classroom who CONTINUE to have our paper artifacts scrutinized Reading logs, essential question etc, etc etc when we are doing the hard work of educating the students with few resources and overcrowded classes. We are always under threat to be written up.

When you look at the job application and you find out there were insufficient reference, typos, and lies it is a definite morale killer for teachers. You cannot keep beating the teachers while the higher ups do not have to live by the same standards and threats.

So, forget about giving Dr. Atkinson a chance. This is not about Dr Atkinson. It's about the same slap in the face way of doing business that DCSS has. Well, it is about Dr. Atkinson I suppose. Sorry Dr. Atkinson but you should not be asking for monthly living expenses, or travel expenses or whatever it is. We need travel money too you know.

Anonymous said...

The taxpayers are going to pay Dr. Atkinson $750.00 per month to DRIVE HER CAR TO WORK! WHAT? Do we pay teachers to drive their cars to work? What kind of taxpayers does the board think we have in Dekalb County? Very few of us have ever made anything close to what we are paying this lady and certainly don't have any perks such a give of 30 days vacation, a $2600 expense account, nor a $750 allowance to drive our car to work. If she doesn't want to drive her car, let her ride the bus - that would be $5.00 per day.

No wonder this school board has zero credibility. I will contribute and work to insure that none of these existing board members, except Jester, returns in November 2011.

Frankly, I would have much preferred to have simply kept Tyson for one more year - at least make her work for that $238,000 per year we are paying her. We are going to elect a new 7-member school board in November 2011 and they should make this decision for a new superintendent.

I feel that Dr. Atkinson was the one and only default candidate and got this job because SACS wanted that done by the end of October and Mr. Bowen supposedly had no other choice.

Also, a 6-3 vote is not very comforting. I hope that I am wrong and that we will see the bloated administrative mess filled with corruption, nepotism, and incompetence cleaned up. However, looking at the board members who pushed this move, I expect that Dr. Atkinson will become a member of the "club", our schools will continue to decline, and our students will continue to be unprepared for the real world.

Anonymous said...

As long as the people continue to elect the likes of Walker, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Bowen, and Womack to the school board, our schools will increasingly fail to meet AYP standards and our children will suffer. How in the world can you say you want a good education for your children and elect these people to the board?

Again, I congratulate and admire those brave souls to got Zepora out.

Ella Smith said...

This vote was not a political vote at all as republicans voted for Dr. Atkinson. It does not matter what political party someone is in wehn electing a school board. I do not see this as the case in this decision at all.

I do not know what Dr. Speak's comment was referring. However, I do know there are some on the board who care a great deal about the color of a person's skin. I think this is sad. I hope we all get behind Dr. Atkinson now he is our school superintendent. We can not change the decision now. I also see that some may be upset because of the color of Dr. Atkinson's skin which bothers me just as much as the possibility that the school superintendent may have had to look like Dr. Speaks.

Cerebration said...

Ella, Dr. Speaks said that the new superintendent did NOT have to look like her. She was probably referring to something that Sarah Copelin-Wood actually said - that they need someone who "looks like us"...

On another note: Tyson also got a monthly expense account ($2,000) and did not have to produce receipts. On top of that, she got a car allowance too - I think hers was only $500-600.

Lewis got these things too - but apparently it wasn't enough - as he had to then use his county-issued P-card for personal travel and expenses. Bad idea - there are already several people in jail for this from Georgia Tech and other places around the state. Why they give out those cards is beyond me - they are far too tempting. But Lewis asked Marcus Turk if he could use the card for his vacation - Turk said NO, even if he paid it back. But he did - and it was paid. At the time, the only person between Lewis and Turk was Turk's boss - Ramona Tyson. Now who signed that expense check? Or did Tyson and Turk throw Lewis to the DA? Stay tuned.... If the judge ever decides to uphold the ruling that Lewis needs to find a new attorney, then the trial can begin. IMHO, the longer this judge waits to make a ruling, the more harm is done to the children of DeKalb County Schools.

Cerebration said...

An interesting aside from this meeting about board behavior and the true depth of the animosity among its members --- Did you know -

Sarah Coplin-Woods, Jay Cunningham and Donna Edler just got up and walked out of the room when Don McChesney was making his statement.

Dr. Walker and Sarah Coplin-Woods, during their statements, made personal attacks on board members who did not agree with them. Sarah said something to the effect of "if you don't agree with us then you need a new job"... (that's not an exact quote, but it's close.)

This is the kind of divisive posturing that continues with this board. We have a couple of bullies who do not play well in the sandbox. This board does not and will never work well together. There are two solutions: For the three who disagree with the selection of Atkinson to quit and allow the rest of the board to replace them with like-minded persons - or to admonish the three who walked out for their rude and childish behavior and insist that they act like adults and listen to someone with an opposing viewpoint from their own. Of course, it would be up to Tom Bowen to insist upon respectable behavior and he has shown us undeniably that no level of bad behavior bothers him -- except when others point out that bad behavior and demand action. Then, Tom complains about those who complain.

DeKalb Mom said...

Cere, I couldn't believe that the walk-out wasn't bigger news. To me, this is beyond ridiculous. I hope someone captured that on video and plays it over and over when voting time comes around.

bu2 said...

This board is predominately run by Democrats and is a total disaster. I don't see how making it partisan and getting rid of Republicans makes it any better. In fact, you would certainly get even more worthless members (from both parties).

Very few school issues split on Republican/Democrat lines.

Anonymous said...

Cere: How on earth do you know what happened during the meeting? Were you present or is Jester and McChesney running off at the mouth again? Ethics?

Jo said...

@ Anonymous, 11:18 AM

"How on Earth do you know ..."

Umm ... perhaps because it was a public vote.

Before you accuse others of "running off at the mouth", you might want to take a look at your own mouth.

BTW -- "Earth" is a proper name and, as such, it is capitalized.

DeKalb Mom said...

@Anon 11:18 Let's see, it could have been Jester, McChesney, or, gee, one of the 150 or so people in attendance as it was a PUBLIC meeting or one of the hundreds of people watching the live stream online. Get educated, Anon.

Cerebration said...

Tom, is that you? Once again criticizing those who point out the bad behavior?

Now, you can just wonder how I know... here's a few possibilities:

I was there.
Someone sent me a video from their iPhone of this behavior.
Several people sent me emails about this behavior.
I heard what Sarah said.

Or, all of the above.

But really, does it matter? It's certainly true, so stop trying to throw off the focus.

Anon said...

I was at the meeting and it is as Cere reported. One by one, Donna, Jay and Sarah got up and walked behind the wall that you see behind them at meetings. They then returned for the vote. It is reported in several news accounts but the media has chosen not to make it an issue - for reasons only the media can explain. Guess they don't want to shine a light on just how ugly the Board behavior is. Also once the vote was taken, Gene Walker collected his things and left and did not stay to listen to Dr. Speaks' point of personal privilege, which BTW was elegant - it is quite sad that her comments are also not being captured by
the media. She spoke of the challenges of the process,
that she created a matrix to evaluate the different
candidates and that race and gender were never a part of
that, that the person did NOT have to look like her. She
went on to say that Dr. Atkinson would have her full
support and would not need to sleep with one eye open
bec. of her. Dr. Speaks offered to share her 39 years of
experience as a teacher and administrator with Dr. Atkinson if it would be desired. Guess the media prefers
to advance the racism issue rather than report that an
African American voted no based on the data. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

bu2

Correction, The Board is majority republican -- Womack, McChesney, Speaks, Jester and Bowen.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:18 =
Please see this posting - it names all three who walked out. So childish...
http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/15349806/de

Cerebration said...

Well thank you Rebekka Schramm and CBS Atlanta.

Cerebration said...

Worse, the AJC fanned the flames by printing untruths about Nancy Jester.

In his article about the meeting, Rich McKay originally said that Nancy Jester sat quietly and then left the meeting at the end without speaking to anyone. This is completely false. Anyone who was there (or you can check the video) heard a lengthy, well-written statement by Jester and saw that she stayed until well after the meeting, chatting with parents. I see that this error has been deleted, with no comment about the mistake, but it does make you wonder if the AJC has some kind of agenda to feed the division already on the board.

SHS said...

Integrity

If you have it, you don't need to have anything else; and if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have.

Atkinson lied on her job application. NO Integrity.

Tyson had to have been aware of and approved, as COO, Lewis' fraudulent use of the p-card, among other things. NO Integrity.

Turk paid for fraudulent charges on Lewis' p-card, even after he allegedly told Lewis he could not use his p-card for personal expenditures. NO Integrity.

Bowen, Womack, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Edler, Walker and Speaks think lying on a job application is "not a dealbreaker." NO Integrity.

Bowen, Womack, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Edler and Walker regularly exhibit rude, ignorant, racist and unprofessional behavior -- wearing it like a badge of honor. NO Integrity.

As far as these people are concerned, the end justifies the means.

When Edler, Copelin-Wood and Cunningham got up and walked out during Don McChesney's remarks ... when Copelin-Wood and Walker engaged in personal attacks on BOE members who had done their due diligence and determined that Atkinson was not qualified to get DCSS out of the ditch ... when Walker left after the vote, rudely ignoring Pam Speaks' point of personal privilege ... they weren't just showing their a$$es to the other BOE members and those present for the vote.

Collectively, the BOE members named above for their rude, ignorant, racist and unprofessional behavior were both thumbing their noses and showing their a$$es at a whole generation of DeKalb students, most of them underserved, poverty-level black students.

After all, Bowen, Womack, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, Edler and Walker are all about winning, not educating. But the losers are not the other BOE members they so obviously despise, but the children they profess to serve.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

I AM NOT SURPRISED by the media shrug!

Maureen Downey, I respect you dearly, but the behavior by a couple of your fellow reporters and/or editors is abhorrent. It makes the public wonder if there is an agenda being run by someone. God knows who and why, but it really makes one wonder.

Is there someone in the media willing to take on the most difficult story to tell, the DCSS Saga, The Past, the Present, the Future? The media has ignored many of the sub plots around the Palace and DCSS. I've been told by a TV producer, "The story is very difficult to tell." That's one thing they have right. It's a difficult story but it needs to be told. Any BOE member should be accountable for their actions, but to NOT report the facts of what really happened, does not give the AJC a shred of credibility.

Ignoring obvious and important facts, that a snub was taking place, when McChesney was speaking, is awful from both sides. I would think SCW would have loved to have her name mentioned, as one who walked off the stage. Isn't this why she made this embarrassing display in the first place?

Cere and others thanks for the update! Nice rocky start for Dr. Atkinson, if you ask me. A rocky start created by the very people who voted for her!

Atlanta Media Guy said...

SHS, love your musings, you're the greatest!

By the way, I am reading more accounts and they do mention the Donna, Sarah, Jay snub of McChesney. Regarding the AJC, it does make one wonder which source gave the writer from the AJC, the bogus information on Jester? Was the writer at the Palace or watching it on PDS-24? He must have had a source.

dundevil said...

The AJC reporters assigned to the DeKalb County and DCSS beats seem to be rapidly cycling through. When they learn enough about one or more of these dysfunctional outfits and start to report what is close to the truth, they are gone. Example, Megan Mateucchi, and I also think the recent reporter April Hunt. There seems to be a new guy on the beat now. Maybe the AJC also has lost all credibility. I cannot understand why it gives DeKalb County and DCSS a pass.


It almost seems as if the AJC is protecting these people. I could point to a number of instances where there was no follow-up.

Anonymous said...

The AJC reporter sat two rows behind me. He came in just after Jester spoke--and since she didn't say anything after what she read, if he filed the story based upon what he saw, it would have been an honest mistake that appears to have been corrected later.

Pam Speaks was eloquent and very moving. Each of the three no votes explained themselves well and pledged that they will obey the rules of good governance, which say that debate is a legitimate duty and should happen before the vote, and after the vote the concept of obedience requires you not to undermine the unitary "will of the board". It depends upon Dr. Atkinson's true character now--but if she attempts to fulfill her word and make meaningful changes, I suspect that the coalition that wants "someone who looks like them" may just find out that looking like them, isn't the same as being like them. If that is the case, she may find that her three "no" votes are her three best backers.

August 30, 2011 4:38 PM

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Anon 4:43, Thanks for the update! He should have asked someone before writing it and posting it. Of course he couldn't write, I arrived late and missed the first 10 minutes of the meeting.

I'll give the reporter the benefit of the doubt, however he needs to make sure if anything happened before he arrived. Everything this BOE is doing is being done under a microscope, like it should be. The stakeholders need to question our elected officials and ask why they would walk out, especially when you know the outcome of the pending vote. Sarah, Jay I'm very disappointed. Donna, I'm not sure why you walked off.

Anonymous said...

One thing that is always very interesting are the pre and post huddles.
Zephora Roberts was very visibly present working the room, and after the meeting Gene Walker and one of the other board members were talking to her (can't remember if it was Sarah or Jay).

With Donna having to have a "retire the debt" event--and with all the beating she has taken. I can certainly see Zephora expecting to run again and beat her.

Anonymous said...

The AJC needs to be more consistent with who covers DCSS. It is almost like they don't want to unbury the secrets!

Anonymous said...

Ok let's be done with hoping the AJC or local news outlets will tell the real story...the messy story...the complicated story that's more than a quick sexy soundbite. It's time to contact National Public Radio. I am sure NPR will tell this story as they tackle stories like this all time. What choice do we have? It's time! I am tied up as a teacher but if anyone on this blog would do a little research and outreach, I think this is a realistic plan. Thank you so much for uncovering so much, sharing so much, and keeping us informed. It's time that we reach a wider audience!!!

Anonymous said...

WABE had a reporter at the meeting.

Do you really think that a radio station run by the Atlanta Public School system is going to do the kind of time-consuming research necessary to uncover something that is part and parcel to many large school systems?

Anonymous said...

http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wabe/news.newsmain/article/1/0/1846395/Atlanta./A.Divided.School.Board.Approves.a.New.Superintendent

Anonymous said...

NPR! Great idea!

Georgia Public Broadcasting, Georgia's statewide public broadcasting network, has established the Southern Regional Education Desk.

If you want coverage for this story, Georgia Public Broadcasting must hear from YOU!

Teya Ryan is the president of Georgia Public Broadcasting. Jon Hoban is vice president for radio. Write them at: tryan@gpb.org and jhoban@gpb.org.

Send them all the information you have. Make it easy for them to launch an investigative series. Ask them to involve NPR.

This is what public broadcasting is all about -- reporting the stories that no one else will tell -- not beholden to corporate, religious and political interests and powerbrokers.

Ella Smith said...

I am so disappointed that anyone walked out why anyone is speaking.

You do not have to agree but you should respect someone enough to listen to what another member of the board has to say.

Anon said...

DCSS is in desperate need of a whistleblower. It has been said before but internal whistle blowers brought down Clayton and ATL. Where is our whistle blower?

We can speculate about things all we want, but we have vitually no hard and fast proof.

Internally, someone does. We need a few brave souls to come share their stories.

Ella Smith said...

while not why-It has been a long day.

Many things may have went on behind closed doors to make this divide in the board that we have no knowledge of.

Cerebration said...

Dunwoody Mom posted these Board of Education ethics rules at the AJC blog - they're obviously unimportant to this group:

Here are a couple of Board Member Code of Ethics Requirements that this Board has ignored:

3. Board members shall work with each other in a spirit of harmony and cooperation even when there are differences of opinion. Board members shall interact with each other in a respectful and professional manner. Disagreements among Board members shall be handled in a professional and non-confrontational manner.

17. Board members shall not disclose to anyone confidential or privileged information, including information discussed and documents distributed during executive session.

DeKalb Mom said...

Does anyone have Mark Elgart's contact info? I want to share the code of ethics violations with him. All I see is an online form that goes to SACS in general.

Anonymous said...

Mark Elgart, SACS President:

Dr. Mark Elgart
President/CEO
AdvancED (SACS/Casi)
9115 Westside Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30009

Telephone: (888) 413-3669
Email: melgart@advanc-ed.org

Anonymous said...

Speaks offers help to Dr. Atkinson. "Hello!" Where did Dr. Atkinson earn her Doctorate and where did Speaks buy hers..on line. Most of her 32 years were spent at lower levels out of the classroom,although,she did teach Special Ed. for a few years. She has never been an Asst. Principal, Principal or in any leadership role in the school house. She was "Queen of Title I", under her friend , Crawford Lewis. She did hire Berry before she retired and didn't miss a paycheck before coming back as a half-time Title I consultant, until she ran for the Board, at Crawford's request. Do you really think, Speaks is going to support Dr.Atkinson in cleaning up the mess she created in Title I? If you're going to be factual be completely factual on all sides. Speaks has had her hand in the cookie jar( point of personal perferance) as many other retirees has ie. Bob Tucker (10 years retired and never missed a paycheck from DCSS).

Anonymous said...

SHS "GET OVER IT", you are not in control. Consider running for the BOE as you are obsessed with some accurate info and much inaccurate info and lots of speculation and inaccuracies. Stop rehashing stuff you have said over & over on this blog. Can you help our system rise again? Can you volunteer in a Title I school in the North or South? You have plenty of time and you are very talented. Please put it to good use. Your expertise in really needed!

Cerebration said...

Funny that Donna Edler was one of those who left the meeting while others spoke.

Check out her interview with the AJC during the campaign. I have to say, I'm disappointed. She did not adhere to her campaign promises in any way.

DeKalb School Board District 7: Three people challenging incumbent Zepora Roberts. See what they have to say.

I would begin to foster an environment of openness/transparency, trust and congeniality. As a board member, I would communicate my understanding of how the board’s actions will impact students, families and other stakeholders. I would demonstrate to the stakeholders an awareness of this sensitive issue with a positive attitude and respectful behavior.

Cerebration said...

She continues,

I recognize that some of the loss of school board credibility and confidence has come from the recent indictments of two top school officials. I also believe that the lack of adequate governance and lack of professional decorum by the school board has contributed to this reality.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering ...

Will Atkinson's 10% tithe to New Birth and Big Eddie be only on her base salary? Or, will it include the expense account that doesn't require receipts and the other financial perks lavished on her by this BOE in her contract?

What will be shown on her 1040? Isn't that what New Birth requires to determine the 10% tithe? But, then there is still that matter of the no-receipt-required expense account. If that is not included on her 1040, it will have to go on a 1099 because, without receipts, won't the IRS consider that to be income? So, does Big Eddie take his cut from that, too?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Anon said...

Did they discuss the terms of the contract at the Monday meeting? Haven't heard much about that but wondering if the final contract is the same as the one originally posted.

A Blue State of Mind said...

Someone in the AJC blog has argued that "Fred" is a the screen name under which several DCSS central admins post their defensive response comments and attacks on other blog members.

One strong connection was made to Audria Berry.

Wonder if this is one of Jenkins' ideas?

I've always felt that Fred was a snide apologist for a corrupt school system.

The AJC blog post makes sense and explains a lot.

DeKalb Mom said...

I am also disappointed in Edler. She hasn't been the breath of fresh air we needed on the board. In fact, I cringe almost every time she speaks. We'd better start figuring out who is going to run against her or else Zepora will get right back in there.

Cerebration said...

Here's the story from the ONLY news source that reported on the 'walk-out'...

Tensions flare as DeKalb approves new superintendent

Posted: Aug 29, 2011 6:22 AM
Updated: Aug 29, 2011 1:00 PM
By Rebekka Schramm - email

DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) -
After a tense exchange of words, DeKalb County's school board voted Monday on a contract to hire Cheryl Atkinson to lead the troubled school system.

With a 6-3 vote, the DeKalb Board of Education officially ratified the contract of Atkinson just before 10:30 a.m.

Dr. Atkinson will begin her service as DeKalb County School District Superintendent on September 15, 2011, with a $275,000 annual salary.

Atkinson is currently superintendent of the Loraine, Ohio, school district, which has a recent history of low test scores and a fraction of the number of DeKalb's students.

Before the vote, the gloves came off.

"Why did we reject candidates with better records? Why?" asked District 1 board member Nancy Jester.

Jester accused other board members of leaking to the news media terms of one candidate's negotiations, causing that candidate to drop out.

"The real losers here were all the children of DeKalb County," said District 2 board member Don McChesney.

"That's absolutely asinine," said Donna Elder, who represents District 7.

Elder walked out of the board room during McChesney's remarks, along with board members Sara Copelin-Wood and Jay Cunningham.

CBS Atlanta News asked board chairman Tom Bowen the tough question: Can the entire school board now truly support the new superintendent?

"It's a very tough decision, a lot of emotion," said Bowen. "As a board member, this is as big a decision as you ever make."

Each of the three dissenting board members pledged to support Atkinson in her new position.

Atkinson attended a meet and greet with parents on Saturday. She pledged to start advanced placement programs in all courses, make ACT and SAT preparations a part of the curriculum, give every high school student a laptop or an iPad and start non-traditional sports programs like fencing and lacrosse.

What did parents think about her plans to give DeKalb a fresh start?

"I am an involved parent," said Jennifer Hatfield. "She will know me, and I will hold her to what she has said she will do."

DeKalb's last permanent superintendent, Crawford Lewis, is awaiting trial on racketeering charges. Also, its school board was under scrutiny from its accrediting agency because of infighting and alleged ethics problems.

Copyright 2011 WGCL-TV. All rights reserved.


Tensions flare as DeKalb approves new superintendent

Anonymous said...

"..give every high school student a laptop or an iPad and start non-traditional sports programs like fencing and lacrosse."

Who will pay for this? When teachers are furloughed again this year ( = pay cut!). And how will Ipads, Lacrosse, or Fencing increase academic performance in DCSS? UGHHH!!!

Cerebration said...

There's a new interview with Dr. Atkinson in the Champion paper --

Recently, education reporter Daniel Beauregard spoke with DeKalb County School System's new superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson about her new position.

What do you enjoy most about being an educator? The ability to positively impact the lives of children; I've always said we're in the life-saving business. So, we have the ability to touch more lives than any medical doctor ever could. That has been my life's work, my passion, and I enjoy it.


Read it here:

Meet the new superintendent: a Q & A session with Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Anon: 11:10 - Pam Speakes, does speak a great game! She is eloquent with her words. I did not vote for her, since I knew she was an insider.

Dr. Atkinson needs to begin a total INDEPENDENT audit, preferably not performed by Ernst & Young, since they seem to lose final copies of reports. Dr. Atkinson should formulate a baseline for her success. INDEPENDENT audits of all divisions at DCSS need to take place NOW!

There has been no measurable improvement since Ms. Berry became leader of the Office of Improvement. It's time she is held accountable for the failings of her Office. It will be interesting to see who will be inside Dr. Atkinson's inner circle.

Big cheers to CBS Atlanta, thanks for telling it like it happened. You need to keep digging.

Anon said...

Dr. Atkinson doesn't see anything that needs to be addressed yet? Did she really say that to Beauregard? Wow...she either hasn't done her research or we are in for more of the same. Both are concerning.

Jo said...

RE: Beauregard's Article in The Champion

"Is there anything that you see in the system that you think needs to be addressed?"

"Not yet, I’ll certainly look at it with greater detail as I come in."

Seriously? Atkinson sees nothing in DCSS that needs to be addressed? Does she read? As predicted, Atkinson will be more of the same.

"Do you support charter schools?"

"I have always been a public school proponent but I also understand...like public schools, there are very good private and charter schools. Then there are some that have the same challenges of being able to meet with student success. So, I think it’s about the right fit for children in the right circumstances."

Hellooooo? Charter schools ARE public schools. It's scary that Atkinson doesn't even know the basics. BTW, by Georgia law, charter schools must be treated no less favorably than traditional public schools. Like that's going to ever happen in DCSS with current management!

Too bad Beauregard did not ask Atkinson about why she sent her sons to private school when she was a public school administrator. (Calvary Academy of the King, run by Calvary Revival Church, part of The Father's House, the nationwide network of churches that tithe to Eddie Long. It's right there in Atkinson's personal bankruptcy papers -- go to www.box.net.) Does she still plan to choose private school -- perhaps New Birth Christian Academy?

The rest of The Champion article is filled with eduspeak babble and the empty promises that have, for far too long, appeased the South DeKalb crowd who keep returning the likes of Tom Bowen, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Jay Cunningham, Gene Walker, Pam Speaks and Donna Edler to the BOE.

Wasting another one, two or three years, "giving Atkinson a chance" when she so clearly is uninformed about DCSS is not acceptable. This is not a science fair project, folks -- not an experiment. For the children who lose these one, two, or three years while Atkinson continues status quo, this is a serious loss. Three to nine graduating classes likely will be lost. Those lost years will never come again for those students.

For efficient management, cost savings, effectiveness and successful education purposes, it is time to split up DCSS and allow South DeKalb to go their own way -- which they seem to so desperately want -- and North DeKalb to do what's best for them. These areas are primarily made up of two very different cultures who perceive education and education management very differently.

Anonymous said...

There is something to be said in favor of placing your children in a school where you are not a teacher. I kept this rule for the entire time my children were in school. When I walked into my children's school, I was a parent. I could ask questions, volunteer my time, and even complain if I wasn't satisfied. As a school employee, I would not have been able to do that.

atl said...

@ Jo
What don't you understand about the Georgia Constitution forbidding the establishment of any new school district?

Per the Georgia Constitution, there will be no North DeKalb School System. Parents from ALL over DeKalb must come together to solve the issue of non-performance on the part of the BOE and DCSS "Upper Management".

Anonymous said...

We can change the state constitution with a legislative amendment for a new school district just like newly created cities.

Dunwoody and Chamblee will soon have their own schools just like Decatur City Schools.

Everybody agree?

atl said...

@ anonymous
"We can change the state constitution with a legislative amendment for a new school district just like newly created cities."

I guess you have no idea what it entails to change the Constitution. Do you think two thirds of the entire Georgia legislature is interested enough in DeKalb County to votie to bring this in front of all of voters in Georgia? And then are the millions of Georgia voters interested in the school system of North DeKalb that they would change the Consitution?

atl said...

@ anonymous
The creation of cities in Georgia did not require a Constitutional amendment (two thirds of the legislature and a majority of the Georgia voters).

No comparison.

Cerebration said...

How did they pass it the first time? The part of the GA Constitution that prohibits the creation of more school districts was an amendment at the time...

Anonymous said...

Jo, Speaks voted against Atkinson and criticized many of her fellow board members afterwords.

Edler is rumored to now be in the same district as SCW. So, she is done regardless. However, I suspect Roberts will be back to run against SCW. They are not friends.

The key is who else may run.

No Duh said...

Donna has really been a disappointment. You know Zepora smells blood in the water.

Bernie, which district are you in? Ready to step up?

Anonymous said...

Anon @10:06 - You mentioned that Edler was now in the same district as SCW, is that due to paring down to 7 or something else? I am in SCW district and I cannot stand the woman. Unfortunately, she has a large base of people (bottom feeders) who she relates to. But, I do think she can be defeated. I don't think many of the south Dekalb parents know exactly how bad things are. However, I am determine to show them. I've had enough. Berny

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration and Jo

I wondered about the "no more independent schools established" clause as well so I did some research. This clause came about in 1 1945 Constitutional amendment (See 1945 Section V - paragraph 1) and was refined in 1983. Legislators were worried about all of the very tiny school districts costing more than larger school districts.

This (July, 1998) excerpt from a Georgia State paper says it very succinctly - "THE STRUCTURE OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN GEORGIA: ECONOMIES OF SCALE AND DETERMINANTS OF CONSOLIDATION".

Interestingly enough according to this paper, consolidation has been done many times in the past with the legislature's blessing. It's the establishing of small school systems that seems to be the concern.

Here is the excerpt:

"The structure of school districts in Georgia and the efficient delivery of public schooling are
important concerns for policy makers in the state of Georgia. In particular, a major concern with
regard to the structure of school districts in Georgia is the small size of some school districts. Many
previous studies have found that it costs more for small school districts to provide the same quality schooling than for larger school districts. This concept is referred to by economists as “economies of scale.” If economies of scale are present in the provision of public elementary and secondary education in Georgia, public funds could possibly be saved by eliminating small school districts and merging them with large neighboring school districts.
Georgia has a school district structure consisting of 159 county-based school districts and 22
municipal or “independent” school districts. This structure of school districts was established by the
state Constitution of 1945 which formed a system of county-wide school districts while prohibiting
the formation of new independent school districts. However, the Constitution did allow certain
existing independent school districts to continue to operate. Over the past three decades the number of independent school districts in Georgia has declined slowly through consolidation, from 35 independent school districts in 1967, to 29 district in 1977, to 27 independent school districts in 1987, to 22 in 1998.

Longstanding legislative concerns about small school district size were incorporated in the
Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) of 1986. The Act gives financial incentives for school districts
to consolidate by offering 100 percent state funding for capital outlays accompanying the voluntary consolidation of two or more school districts. In the decade since QBE was implemented five independent school districts have consolidated with the surrounding county-wide school districts....."

Link to article above - see page iv:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDQQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Faysps.gsu.edu%2Ffrc%2Ffiles%2Freport16.pdf&ei=2_RfTvf4JsS3tgfe68ilCw&usg=AFQjCNE8WuSmBEeQ1ixViMW17kPtyZHerQ&sig2=R9GIzQ_hur6QR6-rX_r0_g

No Duh said...

Berny, all you need is a grassroots base and a paypal account and you could get started on your campaign. You'd be surprised how many people outside of Edler's district gave her money just so she could really campaign against Zepora.

I don't know what the districts are shaping up as, but whether you end up in Edler's or SCW's district, I think you'd make a great candidate against either. So, so disappointed in Donna.

I'm just sayin'....

Cerebration said...

Berny, the new districts will be redrawn for two reasons:

The new legislation limiting the size of school boards to seven (we, of course, have nine).

The Census population shift shows that south DeKalb has lost a serious number of students. The new districts are going to be redrawn according to population - not number of schools. It's still in the preliminary stages, but the Republicans are doing the drawing for the first time in 100 years -- and it's going to be a very different apportionment.

Check out the recent article about this in the AJC -

New districts further polarize

Anonymous said...

The taxpayers are hurting, the teachers are hurting, but Dr. Atkinson sure isn't hurting! This whole thing stinks to high heaven, and as a teacher, I can tell you that I am discouraged, disgusted, and absolutely certain nothing will change at the palace. The reason she was hired is clear; she has no plans to make the changes others have been too cowardly to make.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, another expensive, ineffective program is on the way! And the others have worked so well in this county -RIGHT!

atl said...

@ cerebration
The georgia constitution amendment prohibiting the establishment of any more independent schools in gEorgia was due to the legislature's concern with the multitude of small districts in Georgia.

See article below - page iv:
http://aysps.gsu.edu/frc/files/report16.pdf

This amendment was originally set forth in 1945 - Section V - paragraph 1 and made mor succinct in 1983.

The article points out how many consolidations of smaller school systems into larger one took place. Excellent article that shows the original idea was to encourage the school systems to achieve economies of scales by not creating new small school systems and also by consolidation.

Anonymous said...

Until the districts are ironed out and finalized, Berny can't raise money because she has to file state paperwork to do so and until the new districts are announced, she just has to wait. (But I would expect the announcement any day now.)

However, the key is being out and about in the community (at least those close to where you live at first, because you know they will be in the district you will be running in.) That doesn't cost much.

Business cards are almost free at Vistaprint...

Anonymous said...

atl--the situation on costs has changed. There's a point where corporations gain size with dininishing returns--that can include cost-efficiency. Sure, Decatur may still cost more per student than DeKalb, but the gap is probably shrinking--or at least a city has more control to make drastic stategic changes than a "battleship".
My guess is that DCSS will lose "territory" in several ways, geographicly, students, influence with state house, etc...perfect storm brewing for larger cities via annexation and constitutional amendment allowing cities their own schools.
When Sandy Springs and Dunwoody get their own schools, they will then consolodate for economy of scale--if that's not enough, they'll add Chamblee.
Ten Years--guarantee city school systems are on the hidden docket as we speak.

Anonymous said...

Why does anyone think Donna Edler is in SCW's district? Donna Edler lives in Stone Mountain.

If the number of BOE seats are reduced from 9 to 7 won't this eliminate the 2 at large seats?

Or will there be 5 regular seats and 2 at large seats?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Population shifts will require the districts to be redrawn. Yes, the two larger districts are going away. But the county will be re-divided based on population. (Each district must have roughly the same number of people.)

I don't know where Nooks is. However, it is not uncommon for losing candidates in local races to disappear. He wasn't very involved before he ran, he was new to the area. He would have made a better board member for the system than Cunningham, but clearly you and Cunningham's constituents don't feel the same.

How are things going at Lithonia High School where there are nearly as many students who are zoned for the school at other schools than there are in the school?

Anonymous said...

Spend some time on this page:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/test-scores

And let me know how things are going in Jay's district.

atl said...

@ Anonymous 11:20
I'm just quoting the rationale of the " no more independent school systems" clause from the legislature's perspective.

It does seem that there economies of scale, but if you look at small systems like Marietta and Decatur, there are lower class sizes so there is a higher teacher to admin and support ratio.

In the end you need to look at ROI. It doesn't really matter if the system is large or small if you are getting a good Return on Investment. Your Return is student achievement so is student achievement is low you are by definition getting a poor ROI. The greater your expense for a low return compounds the poor yield.

Daniel said...

Just a thought - if we're only paying $750 a month for Dr. Atkinson's car, we're actually getting a deal. The IRS mileage reimbursement is 55 cents per mile. That's about 1360 miles, and any driving she does after she would reach AIC from her home would be reimbursed, I would hope that she, if she's in the schools, will be driving more than that.