Monday, August 10, 2009

Well, how did the 'first day' back go?

It's just unbelievable that it's back to school time already. I was so enjoying the easy-going traffic. Let us know your "first day back" stories -- how was it letting your kindergartner go off for the first time? Your new to middle or high-schooler? What kinds of welcoming tactics did your teachers and schools employ? What did your child have to say when they arrived home? How was lunch? And how did the buses do? We'd love to hear your stories!


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Paula Caldarella said...

As is our usual 1st day back routine, we arrived a little early at Peachtree MS in order check out my child's locker and get all of her supplies arranged in the locker. However, we were met at the door and told that everyone had to go to the gym. I hope they gave the student's time to get their lockers setup.

I guess new principal, no rules.

DNC said...

Holy horror! The number of schedules that were WRONG turned out to be a very high percentage. At PCMS, we had 6th graders who thought they had a schedule, had walked the schedule, and were handed an entirely new schedule/new team/new teachers this morning. DHS handed out new schedules left and right this morning. It's astonishing to me that Dr. Lewis demands so much from students and delivers so little in terms of organization and communication. What a debacle.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom - I was one of the parent volunteers greeting all students in the cafeteria and gym. The students were given lots of time to go to their lockers and spent a longer period with their homeroom teachers while they were prepared for the day. The new principal doesn't have new rules - we had a ridiculously flawed software system and messed up schedules to straighten out. So we were very hands-on with the students. I promise we smiled, hugged, guided, and helped as much as possible : ).

Anonymous said...

Wondering how many non-county residents are enrolled this year? 1500? 2000?

Anonymous said...

At the elementary school, it was unbelievable how many parents brought their kids to school late, and how many parked in the handicapped parking spaces with handicapped tags. Rude, thoughtless parents starting the year out right.

Anonymous said...

without handicapped parking tags

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody High School students are still sitting in home rooms waiting for schedules. They have had no classes today.

Cerebration said...

Oh my! Those poor kids spent the whole day in their homeroom?!! What on earth?!!!

Anonymous said...

70+ middle school kids in ISS for 3+ hours for clothing issues, including 1st-day 6th graders, so no classes. High school students sitting in homeroom all day because they don't have schedules, so no classes. An entire class of elementary students with no classroom assignment. A new software system that DOESN'T WORK.

Seems to me that the powers that be . . . aren't. If this was my company's CEO, he'd be fired.

Cerebration said...

I truly didn't realize what an impact this software would have. I would have preferred that they send out a calling post telling kids to stay home. I guess they wanted credit for a school day - however - it doesn't appear as if much learning went on. I feel really bad for those kids - sitting around is torture.

Steve Barton said...

Only an observation from a neighbor, but the traffic back-up at end-of-day at the new Dunwoody Elementary looked like a real problem. It totally blocked eastbound traffic on Womack Road for a long time, 40 to 60 minutes. Will need some tweaking.

No Duh said...

DunMom, my 7th grader would definitely NOT want me to walk her into school and help her arrange her locker. And, I consider us pretty close.

I hope you and your daughter stay that close -- sounds like you have a very special relationship that you should cherish!

Not sure how HMS went, daughter not home yet.

5th grader came off the bus saying he had already taken a test! Good for the teachers!

themommy said...

Latest version of what I heard is that the system crashed sometime yesterday, so nothing could be printed etc.

Looks like it hit many/all the secondary schools in the system.

Dear Parents/Guardian,

The DeKalb Board of Education purchased new
master schedule builder software called eSIS.
We have been assured that eventually this system
will make us more efficient in the schedule
building process and give us access to other
helpful functions as well. . . one stop shopping
so to speak.

Today, however, in many DCSS middle and high schools
eSIS was not very user friendly as many of us
experienced scheduling problems and errors...our
worst nightmare for the first day of school.

We are hopeful that with the direct assistance of
our Management Information System (MIS), our
scheduling glitches will be corrected by morning,
and all CMS students will have an accurate schedule.
We plan to work into the night to make that happen.
Thank you for your patience as we work
through this process.


Cynthia Jackson
Chamblee Middle School
3601 Sexton Woods Drive
Chamblee, GA 30341
Office: 678-874-8202
Fax: 678-874-8210
Cynthia_ G_

Unknown said...

Since it is 4:51 and our PCMS student is not home yet, I would have to say the first day is not going well. The office at Peachtree said the buses left at 4:35. Not a great first day at the new school.

No Duh said...

Three students hit by car at Henderson Mill and Mercer University. One in critical according to 5 oclock news. Assuming HMS walkers. No details other than short news report. Other two students went to hospital with minor injuries. Need prayers.

Cerebration said...

Oh how awful. Thanks for letting us know - I pray these children are ok.

Anonymous said...

Why weren't the schedules printed last week or earlier? Why weren't the schedules e-mailed to parents?

Why do we even pay the horrible school system's IT staff? They are a big joke!

Cerebration said...

From WSB --

3 Teens Hit By SUV
Posted: 4:56 pm EDT August 10, 2009
Updated: 5:15 pm EDT August 10, 2009

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- Police said three teenagers were hit by a SUV while walking home from Henderson Middle School Monday afternoon.
Police said the SUV apparently jumped the curb and hit the three teens who were walking on the sidewalk on Henderson Mill Road at Mercer University Drive. Officials said they did not know what caused the vehicle to lose control.
for the story -

Paula Caldarella said...

Yes, the students were in homeroom all day at Dunwoody High School. She received a new schedule today, but it is missing a first period class.

My other child had an uneventful day at Peachtree, but there were students with either no schedules or partial schedules.

dunwoody parent said...

First day of 6th grade at PCMS was a nightmare. My daughter was both excited and nervous for her 1st day of school. We picked out an outfit last night that was in complete compliance to the dress code. At 8:10 this morning, she was grabbed in the hallway and told that her skirt was too short (it was definitely well within the standards given to us by PCMS at registration). She was then told that she would be put in in school suspension. She had to go sit in a classroom and was not allowed to call me until 11:30. I was 30 minutes away from home and did not get to the school until 12:00. I brought her a pair of jeans to put on and then I was told that they were inappropriate because they had stiching on the back pocket. She was beyond humilated and very bravely fought off her tears. I was treated very rudely by every member of the staff that I encountered. I do not know if she will ever want to step foot in this school again and I don't know if we will make her.

Paula Caldarella said...

Dunwoody Parent, reminder that the PCMS dress code is different than the county's. Designs are not allowed on the clothing.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Parent isn't talking about designs. The school staff was putting kids in ISS for simple stitching on jeans. That's not contrary to PCMS dress code and a complete misinterpretation of the rules. The principal is having a staff meeting right now to reeducate the staff. You can't change a kid's first impression, but I hope at least tomorrow will be far more welcoming and kind.

Paula Caldarella said...

I've had kids at PCMS for 5 years. Stitching on jeans IS and has been a violation of the PCMS dress code. Please refer to the PCMS Dress Code.

Paula Caldarella said...

However, putting them in ISS first day was uncalled for - I imagine that is what the meeting was about.

dunwoody parent said...

As I stated earlier, my daughter was not put in ISS for her jeans in the first place. It was for "inappropriate" skirt length which I actually measured to be 1 and 1/2 inches above the knees (the PCMS dress code states that it should not be more than 3 inches above the knee). Then when I brought her jeans to wear I was told they were not appropriate because of stiching on the back pocket. There was NO design just stiching. Clearly things were taken too far.

Anonymous said...

Me, too - at PCMS 5 years. I totally support our dress code and appreciate its limitations. But the dress code does not show pictures nor does it prohibit simple stitching. Come on . . .we shouldn't be splitting hairs on seams. Nor should PCMS staff be over the top on subtle v's and swirls on pockets.

Above all, a 6th grader, on her first day of school, should not be left feeling like a pariah. Kindness rules. Or it should.

The problem with Dr. Lewis' draconian approach to enforcement is that it doesn't include reason. An 11 year old child wearing a flounced skirt TO THE KNEES or a new pair of jeans with A LITTLE SCROLL needs to be in class. Not in ISS for 3 hours.

Paula Caldarella said...

If you do not want the rules applied, so then, where do you draw the line?

People complain when DCSS does not apply the rules and then when they do apply the rules, complaints occur.

Anonymous said...

The rules need to be applied. But reason would suggest that the first day of school, when schedules are unavailable, wrong, or changed, and when new students are worried enough about where they need to be, is not the best time to attack students about dress code. I am a strong advocate of the PCMS dress code. I am not in favor of the way the dress code was enforced today. Interestingly, DHS has opted to enforce the dress code AFTER meetings with the students to warn them of the consequences. A better strategy, I think.

Finally, it's a bit smug to say to new parents that "you shoulda known." We have language barriers, technology barriers, and experience barriers. A first-day warning would have been kinder. By week 2, I have no patience with parents who don't pay attention and let their kids wear whatever.

The bottom line - draconian is nearly always bad.

Anonymous said...

What a great frist day? DHS kids sittng in home room all day. What a great way to start the year. Schedules, no schedules, a wasted day. Maybe we need to start a week later if the County can not have everything up and running.

What went on with PCMS was just horrible! Kids told they were in violation of the dress code, left in ISS for 3 hours only to be told that nothing was actually wrong with their dress. This happened to 6th graders who are already nervous about their first day at a newschool. Shame on Dekalb County and Crawford Lewis for having this type of system in action for the first day of school. It would be helpful if you had people who knew what they were looking for in the dress code!!!! On top of that the staff waited 3 hours before calling the parent.

I feel so bad for those children who were unjustly singled out, who now are embarrassed, and who missed a half a day of class. What a great memory for your first day of 6th grade! or any grade!

Paula Caldarella said...

And yes, I agree compassion was in order here and I am disappointed that none was shown here.

My daughter wore jeans with a "tear" at the knee. She was not put in ISS, but told they did not adhere to the Dress Code.

Paula Caldarella said...

And here is hoping the DHS student wearing the "My name is GANGSTA" t-shirt was told in no certain terms that she was in violation. In fact, with that shirt, I would have immediately called the parent and told them to bring a more appropriate shirt.

Anonymous said...

Holy moley! Yeah, I saw several boys with their underwear shining between belt and shirt. If DHS doesn't enforce, I'm going to howl "No Fair!"

dunwoody parent said...

So it was apparently selective enforcement of the dress code and for the last time....MY DAUGHTERS ORIGINAL OUTIFT WAS IN COMPLETE COMPLIANCE WITH THE DRESS CODE GIVEN TO ME AT REGISTRATION!!!!

Paula Caldarella said...

I just received this email from DHS:

The DeKalb County School System's New Student Information System (eSIS) is a comprehensive system, however, in the midst of this transition we experienced challenges with our schedules and teacher assignments. We issued schedules to all of our students this afternoon knowing that we will have to make corrections to some of the schedules. We are working diligently to make certain that all students have their schedules corrected. Students were instructed to copy their schedules in their agenda planners, to discuss their schedules with their parents and to make the corrections on the schedule print out they received this afternoon. They can turn them in during homeroom tomorrow morning. The students are to follow the schedules that we issued today until the corrections/adjustments are made and transferred electronically. The Assistant Principal, Mrs. Watts, and the entire Counseling staff will be working specifically on schedule corrections and adjustments tomorrow.

Oh, and the construction on the Career Tech addition at DHS is slated to start fall/winter - only a year late.

Paula Caldarella said...

dunwoody parent, I would make your feelings know to your daughter's counselor. If no response, then I would certainly contact the new principal.

One Fed Up Insider said...

I am glad that we are all talking about the dress code. I am not so concerned about that one.

One that really has me concerned is the fact that my 4 year old passed out today as he got off the bus.

The students sat on the bus for over 40 minutes without the bus moving. Guys come on... I am not a rocket scientist out there but dang it's hot outside.

The reason that my child stayed on the bus is because all the busses were not there yet. Am I the only on that thinks that is stupid. If the bus is loaded send it on.

When he got off the bus, his clothes were soaked and he just passed out before we could get to him.

When we got home we checked the weather system that we have at the house... At 3:25.. the temp outside was 94 degress with a heat index of 105.

Totally uncalled for DCSS. TOTALLY...

I am sorry but if The CEO of DELTA, COKE, or UPS ran their company like CLew runs his. He would be gone by 5 o'clock. It is about time parents started demanding the resignation of CLew and company.

I remember sitting at the meeting on Friday and CLew stating that you should not beleive the things that are said in the media, or what you read... IF you do maybe teaching is not for you and this is the time to think about a career change. YES.. I am thinking hard about it. One because "building A and building B" can't pull their way out of a wet paper bag with a hole already in it. and TWO.... I need another job so that I can send my kids to private school.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

fyi: No schedules at Henderson Middle -- we don't know yet whether our 7th grader is in French or Spanish (he selected Spanish in the spring but a number of choosers of Spanish generally default to French by virtue of the numbers who sign up for Spanish). I think he believes he'll have foreign language 1st period and those who don't have French or Spanish will have ELT this period. He rotated out of homeroom after the first 2 hours of paperwork and visited with his other core teachers, I believe, but can't be positive, in the order in which he will have the classes and went to lunch during math, which seems to be when he'll have lunch. He had band and the band director had a roster with all of last year's kids on it and the new additions on a separate list (he's on the addition list having shifted from chorus to band after school let out in May). That's all I know for now -- I haven't quite figured out what they did for their other connections class today -- he'd have health/PE or an elective but he's not talking about going to one of those so perhaps that was during the 2 hour homeroom but then he wouldn't have had band. I haven't heard much about the dress code at HMS. The accident after school looks pretty bad and involved a very distracted driver from the photos posted at I really hope the kids are going to be okay. Prayers being sent out to their families....

On a different note, can't understand why DCSS would take down the working Parent Portal/Scheduling system before the new one was working. Great Tip of the week -- make sure your kids (particularly MS & HS) keep hard copies of graded items to make sure everything is entered right once it's up and running since everyone will probably be scrambling to get things in.

Cerebration said...

wow - bad stories all around - I am so sorry everyone. Especially to you insider - your child could have died and that is not an overstatement. If you had left him in your car that long - DFCS would be after you. I'm so glad he's ok. And this is also an example of why my children were always equipped with a cell phone. If I had gotten a call that my child had been on a bus waiting to depart for over a half-hour - I would have driven over to the school and pulled him off. (That's an example of why they don't like me so much...)

And how weird - this uneven enforcement of a "dress code" which reads --

􀂾 Students are expected to follow all school rules governing safety in specialized programs that may require the wearing of protective clothing, safety glasses, or other similar requirements.

􀂾 Clothing or jewelry that disrupts the educational process or endangers the health or safety of other students, staff or visitors is prohibited.

􀂾 The wearing of clothing, insignia, symbols, or adornments worn or carried on or about a student which promote gangs, the use of controlled substances, drugs, alcohol, or tobacco is prohibited.

􀂾 The wearing of clothing which shows offensive and/or vulgar words, pictures, diagrams, drawings, or includes words or phrases of a violent nature, a disruptive nature, a sexual nature, or words or phrases that are derogatory regarding a person’s ethnic background, color, race, national origin, religious belief, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited.

􀂾 The wearing of pants below the waist line, bare midriffs, halter tops/tank tops, tops/blouses revealing cleavage, short shorts, net/see through garments, flip-flops, between-the-toe shoes without heels, bedroom shoes, or other footwear that interferes with freedom of movement and dresses, pants, or skirts with high splits is prohibited. Note: Students/Parents are urged to review local school handbooks for any additional requirements related to student dress.

I'm sorry - but if the Dunwoody community and PCMS have decided that they are going to punish students for such horrible infractions as having stitching on the pockets of their jeans - I'm afraid I would move. That is a sign of a community out of control, IMO. And why did they let your daughter go - with her torn jeans, DunwoodyMom? Are you plugged in and others are not? Honestly, do you feel the rules were applied fairly here? I sure don't.

The rules were intended to cut down on baggy pants, tops that reveal cleavage and bedroom attire - not to make students into some kind of societal conformists. I'm appalled at PCMS and their - yes - draconian treatment of their students. Isn't the world bigger than this? My lord –

And while I'm on a roll - you very much can believe what you read/hear in the news. Those reporters research, dig and interview to get their information - Lewis is wrong. Most of what I see/hear reported on the news, I pretty much know to be true.

Dekalbparent said...

Druid Hills had no A/C in about half the rooms in the building. There is no A/C in the cafeteria (where tomorrows opening PTSA meeting is to be held), but they are holding PE in the cafeteria (during lunches)because the gym is still closed. Today they were playing Duck Duck Goose. The auditorium doors are posted "Do Not Enter by Order of the Fire Marshal". Few if any of the computers work, and teachers have no class rosters. Only a few of the homerooms had locker assignments, so most of the kids have no locker and are carrying their life's possessions and all newly issued books in their backpacks. No one knows who got which book because the scanner (probably tied into eSys) does not work.

My student shared her homeroom funnies: "After we were there for a little while, a teacher came by and said to send anyone with schedule problems to room 123. Then she came by a few minutes later and said send them to room 124 because room 123 was full. Then she came by and said to send them to room 125 because 123 and 124 are full..." My student thought it was pretty funny...

Al told, she had a fine day.

Cerebration said...

I dig those DHHS kids -- I love duck, duck goose! Good for them for "going with the flow" -- any issues with dress codes or was the staff reasonable...

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, the dress code at PCMS (Charter) is not draconian. The interpretation and enforcement of it today was significantly impacted by Dr. Lewis' dictates and threats to teachers - enforce the rules or else (not sure what "else"). Read the charter, which is posted on the website. Basically, it's solid polos and PCMS spirit shirts with solid jeans, shorts, and skirts. The problem is not the dress code. The problem is the way DCSS and the staff handled it.

PCMS is a great school. The parents are not out of control. One bad day does not mean new and prospective parents need to move away. My son's private school was far more political and rigid and snarky than PCMS could ever be (or wants to be). We work hard to create a positive learning environment for a very diverse student body. 179 days of the year, things go pretty smoothly. But, just like real life, bad things happen to really great kids (and parents).

And you've taken this to a very personal level . . . which I thought we wanted to avoid!

Paula Caldarella said...

cere, Peachtree, as a Charter school, has always had a dress code that is stricter than the DCSS dress code. Plain bottoms with no adornments have been the requirements since the school became a charter school. My daughter's jean were not torn, just a little worn at the knees, but that was my responsibility to make sure her jeans were appropriate and I did not. I take responsibility for this.

And no, I don't think the dress code was properly applied but, perhaps with a new administration, things were not as smooth as they should have been. Hopefully, things will be better tomorrow.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cerebration said...

I'm sorry - I meant to emphasize that the treatment of the students was draconian - considering their offense - stitching on the jeans and such. And then some who got no punishment at all was ... odd. I don't mean to be personal, but the PMCS dress code rules and punishment seem a bit out of order. Heck, the nuns back in the 60's were more laid back with us kids.

I guess what you guys are telling me is that some schools have taken the published dress code and elevated the requirements to something even more to their liking and then severely punished students for "violations" - and then blamed the punishment on Dr. Lewis. I gotta credit the guy here --- he really is all about getting rid of baggy pants, underwear on display, cleavage-revelation, insulting and gang insignia and safe shoes. That's it.

andi said...

Thankfully there are no schedule issues in kindergarten. I hope everyone has a better day tomorrow.

My son had fun and looks forward to going back. I think he fell asleep as soon as I left his room.

Cerebration said...

oh - Kindergarten -- oh happy day! Enjoy those early years - they really zip by -- thanks for the happy note, andi!

Anonymous said...

did anyone watch the board meeting?

Here's hoping someone can report on Lewis' report about the first day of school.

And for a quick laugh, many students at DHS are showing Chinese II on their schedule. Imagine their surprise, since they never took Chinese I.

Anonymous said...

One Fed Up Insider, please make an issue about this. I am very aware of the health implications with youngsters and dehydration, heat stroke, heat episodes, etc.

This could have been a tragedy. You need to make a big stink about this, and even contact the media. Your child could have been hospitalized or worse.

I've been in this county for a long time, and this is by far the worst school opening day I've experienced. But Crawford Lewis will tell the school board everything went well and any parent complaining about it is "out of control". And the board will believe him no questions asked. The scheduling software issue alone is a huge catastrophe.

Paula Caldarella said...

Gee, I never knew they taught Chinese at DHS!! :)

Anonymous said...

That's hilarious! My DHS student decided to take today's neverending homeroom as a gift - no classes, no homework, and another "first day of school" tomorrow with nothing but syllabus readings and citing of class expectations.

Unless, of course, DCSS decides to start all over and distribute yet another round of schedules.

Knock on wood!

Cerebration said...

oh dang -- I forgot about the board meeting -- anybody tune in? I'd love to hear the report about eSIS on opening day. Actually, these computer problems were foreseeable - the an AP I met was having trouble with the system last Thursday. It really shouldn't have been a surprise today -- and lo - no back up plan. Yikes.

Cerebration said...

As far as the dress code goes -- I don't think PCMS folks understand that the punishments are meant for offenders who violate the dress code published by the county (baggy pants, gang art, cleavage, etc.) It's not necessary to apply the same tough punishment to students who violate more stringent rules that are far beyond the rest of the system. If I were a teacher or principal at PCMC, I would not take the edict to punish in the same way as is intended for some more loose, high school environments. It's just not apples to apples.

For example, once at Shamrock MS, the principal, Mr. Davis called in a mom for her child's very, very, very short skirt. And guess what -- the mom showed up in a matching skirt! That's the kind of dress code Lewis is after. Not PCMS plain jane jeans policy... I'm sure Lewis couldn't care less about stitching.

fedupindcss said...

Story out of Lakeside is that a lot (that is, most) of the students are in the wrong level placements. Classes that are supposed to be Accelerated are half General, and no one is able to sort them out (the kids don't know, and their parents are probably thrilled). Meanwhile, the Accelerated students are a bit taken aback by the classroom situation, but can't switch because that is considered a "teacher" switch and not allowed.

Then there are the kids who have multiple classes scheduled for the same period, with no available options to move to because the school cut back on classes (it was deemed "wasteful to the taxpayers"). They will not be allowed to take online classes because there is no one to "supervise" them.

This will no doubt be spun as a success, however, because the kids actually had schedules.

Cerebration said...

In fact, here's a link to
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – STUDENT DRESS CODE - they address the fact that some schools have created their own dress code.

Anonymous said...

All went smoothly at Chamblee CHS.

Dekalbparent said...

I failed to make clear that the Duck, Duck, Goose being played in the cafeteria at Druid Hills WAS the PE class - held during lunch - with the PE teacher closely shadowing all players to make sure nobody broke away!

As I heard it, a student of my kid's acquaintance was gigged for a too-short skirt. No ISS, instead was directed to call her mother for long pants to be delivered. I said to my student "Call her mom, on a cell phone she is not allowed to be using???" My student said the teacher said the girl had "telepathically communicated with her mother" because she certainly cannot have TEXTED her...

My kid had a good time today.

Cerebration said...

Very good tales from the first day at DHHS - I like the old-fashioned, light-hearted way your child rolls with the flow - and the teachers seem to be very balanced and fair to the kids... all good stuff.

Ella Smith said...

All interesting.

My son said there were many flip flops at Lakeside and the students were warned.

I am sorry but I do not have a problem with flip flops. I also do not have a problem with holes in pants when they are appropriately placed and you cannot see skin. In fact all fashion jeans today have worn places on them. It is the fashion.

I do have a problem with underwear showing. I would have a problem with holes in pants if they were high up and you could see underwear or skin.

I think it will be interesting to see the dress code enforced. My son's has some real expensive pants that Judge Smith and Granny Smith purchased for him and they do have worn places. The jeans cost way over $100.00. I did not buy them. My son feels the jeans are exceptable. I actually do also. I hope we do not have a battle. I am not a very nice person to get into a fight with. Of course the school system already knows this about me.

The dress code says nothing about worn places on clothes. The dress code also says nothing about holes in clothes. I have already address this with the county administration. Now they may feel a hole in pants at the knee is vulgar but I do believe they would have a hard time in court defending this.

I do support a dress code. However I do think we have went a little bit overboard with the flip-flops. Kids go to school to get an education. As long as they are dressed in an appropriate manner I do not think it is a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Agree with earlier poster. Understand all went smoothly at Chamblee High School. Most students have correct schedules. However, reports are that classes are very large- 35 to 40 students -in math, languages and science.

I recall Gov. Perdue may have issued some order that changed the maximum class size. Does anyone know what the max size is for a high school class in DCSS this year?

themommy said...

High school class sizes weren't affected because they had never been reduced.

One of the reported hiccups with eSIS is that students were being entered in classes (on class roles) and then not appearing.

I know of a middle school child whose name didn't appear on over half the roles of the classes that appeared on his schedule. Lucky for him, there was room for him in all the classes.

I think high school classes can be as large as 35 but not in the sciences (maybe math too) where the maximum is 32.

Changes will have to be made but not until FTE count day in October, so the schools have a while to iron out class size problems.

themommy said...

I need to clarify the statement about changes -- schools have until the first Tuesday in October to get class sizes in order, but most will start working on it immediately.

The challenge, of course, is if teachers need to be moved around. Then that seems to take longer than just hiring a teacher. Last year, was a nightmare. The system let schools hang onto unearned teachers until the very last minute so class reorganizations occurred at the very last minute.

Dekalbparent said...

@Ella - You are right, the flip-flop issue seems to be a big one. Here's what I don't understand: shoes that go between the toes are allowed if they have a back. What sort of sandal is that? If you tied a string to the back of your flip-flops would they be legal?

The jeans thing, too. Many of the jeans in the stores have "worn" areas - it's hard to find stylish ones that don't. The admin is going to need to issue guidelines regarding the difference between "worn" and holes, and where holes are OK and where they are not. Personally, I think "worn" anywhere is OK, as long as it isn't a hole.

Sagging, underwear showing, low-cut tops that show more than an inch of cleavage, shorts/skirts that a girl can't bend over to 100 degree angle without flashing, offensive or suggestive slogans, accessories that can be used to hurt someone - all these seem self-evident.

I hope the dress code thing settles out into common sense (yesterday's short skirt at DHHS was ignored by three out of the four teachers - only last period teacher required the student to "telepathically communicate" to get the pants.

It still p*$$es me off that the teachers are held responsible for a kid's attire.

No Duh said...

Still trying to figure out how CHS had schedules ready and most of the other high schools/middle schools did not. Did CHS staff manually make the schedules? Did they have special help from eSiS staff? Do they have more/better computer experts on staff? Anon 11:36 any insight?

Also, how did things go in other high schools? How were things at SWD, Avondale, DSA?

Cerebration said...

Read Dr. Lewis' report on the first day of school, 2009 - according to him - all was great! I see a lot of photos of happy kids -- enjoying their first day.

Anonymous said...

No special assistance that I am aware of at CHS. The counselors trained on the new system and seem to be able to use it as far as making changes and registering/scheduling new students.

Most students selected courses and preliminary schedules (sans teachers assignments) were generated last spring on the old system. But I thought all high schools do that.

Paula Caldarella said...

Most students selected courses and preliminary schedules (sans teachers assignments) were generated last spring on the old system. But I thought all high schools do that.

Courses were selected in the spring, but not schedules. The problems arose, or at least what I was told, was when the data was transferred from the AS400 to the new system.

Anyway, here's to a better second day of school!!

Cerebration said...

The uniforms at Arabia look really great in Dr. Lewis' report -- and their projected enrollment is better than I expected -- good news!

Arabia Mountain HS
580 - 9th
390 - 10th
199 - 11th
0 -12th
0 - SE
1,169 - total

Paula Caldarella said...

I noticed Mr. Hepstintall, PCMS principal, out in front of the school this morning talking with several parents. Hopefully, Dunwoody Parent was able to grab his ear!!

Cerebration said...

It seems as if the problems arose only due to computer melt-downs with scheduling and uneven enforcement of dress codes. Hopefully these will come in line this week and we can get on with it uneventfully!

Good news - the child that was critically injured in the Henderson MS accident has been upgraded and looks like he will be ok. The poor lady who caused the accident (64 year old grandmother) is so upset.

themommy said...

I think the system crashes were local -- ie it wasn't some giant server at DCSS that crashed, but rather servers at either individual schools or servers that only held certain schools data.

Alse, Cere please remember that projections don't actually equal enrollment -- time will tell on actual enrollment at Arabia Mountain.

Kim Gokce said...

Cross Keys HS had no particular problems with eSIS or students schedules. Late arrivals today still have to get their schedules cleared up but otherwise seems like smooth sailing. Dress code, too, has not been an issue so far.

My personal feeling is that the attempt is admirable but doomed to fail - too many exceptions to manage and too many kids and parents willing to challenge and win fights over the code.

I've said it before but the only dress code that ultimately can be enforced is one based on core uniforms - short of that, losing battle imho. I'm pretty sure it is not a good use all the time and attention of the system leadership and faculty.

Cerebration said...

You probably don't remember this Kim, but we went down this road 6 or 7 years ago with Johnny Brown. Some schools attempted to implement actual uniforms (my kid was at Kittredge at the time, and I spent $150 on KMS shirts and khaki pants in August). By January, after the break, the whole thing had fizzled out. Much ado about nothing. There are parents who would still try to implement actual uniforms in public schools, but I'm not entirely sure you can legally do that - especially if it's not a magnet.

My bet is that we'll follow the same path this time. The current board thinks it will be different - as they are all behind it - but I still don't hold out hope. I do agree that the baggy pants, low cut shirts and short skirts need to be managed. But this "uniform" policy is anything but uniform - each school has a different set of standards and a different outlook on discipline.

Cerebration said...

Interesting data from Goals 2007-10 Dr. Lewis' State of the System PPT - -- so much of which needs our attention.

State Discipline Report
•82 percent of the student discipline incidents included in the report to the state are “minor”but disruptive (class tardies, use of cell phones, profanity, etc.)
•We are still waging a “war”against drugs, alcohol, student-to-student fighting, and weapons (over 90 percent of the weapons brought to school come from the student’s home or the home of a relative).

Premier DeKalb and
Persistently Dangerous Schools
•Since the inception of this mandate, no DeKalb Schoolshave been labeled “persistently dangerous.”
•DeKalb continues to work collaboratively with various district departments and with numerous community agencies to proactively promote “consistently safe schools.”

Premier DeKalb and
Persistently Dangerous Schools
•Since the inception of this mandate, no DeKalb Schoolshave been labeled “persistently dangerous.”
•DeKalb continues to work collaboratively with various district departments and with numerous community agencies to proactively promote “consistently safe schools.”

The section on school choice has this to say:

•Increase student achievement
•Promote diversity
•Provide alternative modes of instruction
•Focus on developing specific talents and skills
•Balance enrollments

Paula Caldarella said...

My child just informed me that her teacher said skinny jeans were not allowed.

Sorry, but neither the PCMS Dress Code nor the DCSS dress code prohibits skinny jeans.

This is getting ridiculous.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

First day at school at St. Pius:
Students greeted warmly by teachers and staff, hugs and "how was your summer" all around. No uniform infractions because they have few options (and life is pleasant every morning, no clothes tosses on the floor as discards for the day).

Early dismissal to go and home and finish summer reading or relax, since full day begins tomorrow at 8 a.m.

Sorry, if it sounds like I'm gloating. Our 4 kids were in DCSS from 1991-2007 and had enough after 2007 at Lakeside. It's a pleasure to be entering the second year in an environment where teachers want to teach, coach challenge and at the same time accomodate young people.

Anonymous said...

My oldest came home from HS. After a rough 1st day, she go in the car with a smile on her on her face. She likes her teachers. Shared lunch with friends she had not seen all summer. She did not even care that she was loaded down with homework!!!!

Mary Kay, I hope you are not insinuating that our teachers in DCSS do not care to teach.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

No, on the contrary, and I should have said "teachers who are given the tools to teach, coach and challenge - and the support that they need to do the job they are hired to do." I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

Our kids have had many excellent teachers, coaches and administrators in DCSS schools, but they are so burdened with the bureaucracy. Here, not so much. It's still there, but it isn't the big cloud that DCSS (and other public systems) share.

Kim Gokce said...

" ... it isn't the big cloud that DCSS (and other public systems) share."

took the words out of my mouth ... though a late comer to the watching DCSS, I have quickly realized that there is a big difference between running a school and running a "system."

All of our area private schools benefit from flat organizations and nimbleness that implies. In the long run, DCSS and other large public systems have to devise a way for schools to be run as schools.

Sounds ridiculously simple, but I honestly think that is the end game and should be the focus of the strategic planning. We have to empower our schools or we'll never come close to independent schools.

This is not an indictment of our facultlies, but rather "the system."

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

Absolutely true, Kim. We have been griping for years about the size of this school system and the one size fits all approach that out of necessity becomes the status quo. Sort of like the jet setting on the tarmac in Minnesota the other day. Bureaucratic red tape always trumps common sense.

My husband and I have always been enormous supporters of DCSS specifically and public schools in general, believing that until safety and security became an issue, our kids could learn in any environment. Unfortunately, trying to affect change as a parent - with proven credibility and influence as a positive force - proved to be fruitless. We had to move on.

Anonymous said...

Reality check. My child's specific teachers have more impact on him/her than Dr. Lewis' ridiculous/incompetent management. I've been in private and public schools. The worst teacher my son ever had was a private school Kindergarten teacher whose classroom management was too rigid for his learning style. The headmaster told me "that's the way it is - you can always leave." When we had a difficult teacher in middle school, the principal said, "we can't make a change for every student." Same message.

I think every parent has to choose the best educational environment for each child. DCSS is a disaster. My kids' DCSS-employed teachers are phenomenal. As long as that's the case, I'm happy where they are.

Ella Smith said...

Mary Kay there are so many parents who have experienced what you have experienced. I am sorry you experienced this at Lakeside. My son is a sophomore at Lakeside.

I was shocked to see Northsprings dress code extremely specific today as I review it with my advisement class. For instance:

Skirts/Short: no more than eight inches about the knee

Holes in Pants: Not above the knee.

No more than 10 mommy notes per semester regarding being sick for any reason.

No headdress which included combs in head/religous reasons had to be aproved by the principal

These are just examples but I was impressed to see specific details as to what is and what is not exceptable. Our students can wear flip flops.

I do think the Dekalb County School System needs to be more specific on short skirts/shorts to enforce the rule. Different people think different things. Skinny girls get by with short skirts and shorts. Overweight girls normally do not. Girls with big chests get in trouble for low cut tops while girls who do not large chests can wear low cut tops.

I also think uniforms is the only way to have a dress code and enforce it. I do think the school system may have problems with the dress code because of the wording. I think they needed some students on the committee and some young at heart teachers to understand the fad and understand fashions currently. JUST MY OPINION.

fedupindcss said...

Ella--your last comments about cleavage made me realize how much of the dress code is directed at girls. Boys can't wear baggy pants or flip flops, but their clothing issues are for the most part directed at weaponry or gang related clothing. The rules on girls are almost all related to sexuality (except those darned flip flops). I once heard a BOE member rail for ten full minutes about those "hooch dancers" in the halls at one of her schools. However, those same girls are then allowed to trot out in cheerleading/dance team/flag uniforms that are way worse than anything they wear to school.

My husband said that if the system is trying to rescue their poor young men from the spectre of being forced to ogle scantily clad teenage girls, he was there to tell them that they would still ogle if they were wearing burlap sacks.

Anonymous said...

Good news with regards to the students from Henderson Middle School!! Glad they are going to be okay.

And Mary Kay, you wanted to be able to "affect change" and you went to St. Pius? A school that cannot make a decision without the okay from the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so maybe the verdict is still out for the 4th / 5th grade school in Dunwoody - AKA Dunwoody Elementary. However, I am pleased to report that my daughter loves her teachers. She is excited to be back at school and no sentiments make a mom happier. Congrats to Johnathon Clark and a very enthusiastic staff at DE. I may have my beef with DCSS ( unequal distribution of limited resources with magnet schools and obscenely low admission requirements ) but , as least we are off to a really positive start at DE.

Cerebration said...

People - I gotta jump in here for MaryKay. She's not kidding or overstating the facts when she says that she and her husband were highly involved for many years - in PTAs and otherwise. Sadly, in reality, there have been many issues come up at Lakeside within the last 4-5 years that have torn that school community apart. And yes, there are some teachers who have become too powerful and too difficult in the chaos - and need to go. It will take years to rebuild the school 'culture' - I hope Joe Reed is allowed to stay long enough to work out the issues.

But Ella - eight inches about the knee??? Wow - on some girls, I hate to imagine where that is!

Actually, I was with my son registering for classes at college - and I though to myself - there are only about 3 people in this room who would pass the DCSS dress code. No one would pass the PCMS dress code. Flip flops were everywhere!

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

Thanks Cere for the props.

You know, Anonymous, there's a point where you stop trying to affect change on a sinking boat; that's why we left Lakeside and DCSS.

I frankly don't give a flip about affecting change at St. Pius, I want to get my youngest child an outstanding education without any more drama, and that's happening at Pius. As a Catholic (a non-devout cradle Catholic who doesn't agree with all Church teaching/rules and a non-Catholic husband, with kids who have been raised in the Church but make their own choices about religion as they have gotten older) I'd much rather have them pray daily and debate abortion and euthanasia than have to deal with DCSS's bureaucratic garbage.

It's not perfect, but I've got a different perspective. I've got one son graduated from Georgia Tech (started law school yesterday), two more at GT, and a daughter who is excelling at math and science and engaged - not what was happening at Henderson Middle or anticipated for LHS. Our first two sons left LHS with a great foundation and experience, our 3rd sons was mediocre- at best. Ah, the Wayne Chelf & Company era.

I sincerely hope that Joe Reed can dig in his heels and challenge C. Lew and the board hangers-onners to put LHS on the right track again. I'm strongly committed to the community and we need our schools to be successful.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb School of the Arts is great...still very strict on the dress code and cell phone policy, but they actually move your child to a class that is more suited to their needs/skill level when THEY notice the discrepancy--you don't even have to complain (or pray, hallelujah!!) Imagine that! Minor scheduling issues today, and, of course, construction isn't complete so some issues, but...great spirit, great cooperation, and great school community.

themommy said...

Dear Parents,

While our scheduling issues were partially resolved today, at 4:30 p.m.
we continue to have some students with incorrect schedules.

A middle school master schedule groups students homogeneously. As a
result, they travel together throughout the day to their core classes
(ELA, math, science, social studies, etc.). Today, students traveled with
their instructional groups through the day from core subject to core
subject based upon a rotation the teachers were given. If their schedule
had errors for PE/Connections, then they reported to personnel to have
that schedule corrected. While this is a tedious process, it works, and it
is the only system we have at the moment. We need one more day to
work through scheduling issues; consequently, students will travel on
the same rotation they did on their teams today.

By Thursday, all students should have a schedule that is error free.
I communicate the most with the schools in our area (Sequoyah,
Henderson, Peachtree, and, of course, Chamblee Charter High),
and they are experiencing the same problems and reportedly working
through them in a similar fashion.

I know that this has been a rough start to the 2009-2010 school year
and is certainly not one I would have chosen for Chamblee Middle
School. As I talked to students throughout the day, the comments
were the same. . . "It was better today, Ms. Jackson." I assured them
that it would be even better tomorrow. You have such awesome kids.
Thank you for the opportunity to work with them.

Thank you again for your patience as we spend one more day working
through these scheduling issues. Please feel free to call or email me any
comments, concerns, or questions you might have.
I am here to serve you and your children in any way I can.


Cynthia Jackson
Chamblee Middle School
3601 Sexton Woods Drive
Chamblee, GA 30341
Office: 678-874-8202
Fax: 678-874-8210
Cynthia_ G_

themommy said...

Ok but on the system website, it says that only 10 percent of students' schedules are impacted. I am guessing they are including the 50,000 plus elementary school students who don't really have schedules!


The Information Systems department is working with the local schools around the clock to resolve all open issues with student schedules. The scheduling issues affect less than 10% of the student population. Information will be posted on the website to update the parent community on a periodic basis with the intent to resolve all major scheduling issues by Friday, August 14, 2009.

Cerebration said...

Really good, honest communication from the Chamblee MS principal, Ms. Jackson -- kudos to her! People really like, appreciate and respect honesty!!

Somebody may want to give her a bottle of Tylenol -- poor thing!

Anonymous said...

At Lakeside today, the media center was full of kids who had "holes" in their schedules. They had been sent there by teachers who did not have them on their rosters (but they showed up) or they showed up for a class when the teacher listed had planning period. Or they were found roaming the halls with no place to go. They were sent in batches to the API, to try to sort it out. The counseling suite was filled with seniors who had dutifully shown up to get schedule changes as noted in the e-mail from the PTA. However, all they could do was drop off a form, because in reality the only cases counseling was handling were those with no classes, too many classes, or STT/Joint enrollment disasters. The main problem for seniors appears to be the fact that too many classes of "only one" section were scheduled for the same periods. For example, there are a huge number of kids who apparently did try to take AP Lit, only to find out they had it the same time as advanced band, newspaper, yearbook, etc. Rumor is that only about 20% of the band students were in the correct section, same for orchestra and chorus. Many of the STT kids are also scheduled for biology and, for some reason, percussion. Several parents called to complain that the buses were not getting their kids to school on time. They have them at the stop based on the transportation schedule, but it has not been redone to coordinate with the new, earlier start time at LHS.

Anonymous said...

The new ESIS system was rushed through without thorough training of personnel or training people and then moving them to other schools. Proactive communication to the parents about problems would save DCSS alot of phone calls. Our community parents showed their best side and did not get mad with the staff!

Paula Caldarella said...

DeKalb School of the Arts is great...still very strict on the dress code and cell phone policy, but they actually move your child to a class that is more suited to their needs/skill level when THEY notice the discrepancy--you don't even have to complain (or pray, hallelujah!!) Imagine that.

It should be an easy task for the DSA administration - they only have 300 students to worry about.

Paula Caldarella said...

And what of Fulton County's plan to add 11 minutes to the school day to shorten the school year by a week?

Anonymous said...

I think it's ironic that DCSS demands students, teachers, and parents meet an array of expectations, from dress code to AYP, yet fails to meet the most basic expectations of their constiuency - good management, well maintained facilities, and clear communication. Dr. Lewis and Company is one of the worst "operations" in Georgia.

No Duh said...

Hopefully, CMS principal won't get fired for all that honesty!

No Duh said...

Below is a converted from pdf. flyer for a workshop to help elementary parents better understand the math curriculum and prepare them to help their children understand math concepts. The workshop teacher is a fantastic instructor and math wiz(you can believe her bio at the bottom). Tells you how to sign up at the bottom. In case you are interested...

How to Help Your Child Succeed in Math

a workshop for parents of PreK—5th graders

August 22, 2009 9 a.m. to noon

Location: 3304 Henderson Mill Road, Atlanta, 30341

Cost: $40 in advance; $50 at the door.

. Are you not sure how to help your child with
math homework?
. Are you confused when your child adds left to
. Do you need to know what a proof drawing

Come to this hands-on workshop and learn!

Make the Most Out of the New Curriculum

In 2007-2008, DeKalb County School System
adopted a new mathematics curriculum called
Math Expressions. Created for grades K-5, this
research-based curriculum has been shown to
increase students’ understanding, confidence,
and proficiency in math, when fully
implemented with the cooperation of teachers,
administrators, and parents.

Come and find out how you can help your child
succeed with this new approach!

Using Math Manipulatives

. What are they?
. Why do students need them?
. Which ones should you have at home?
. How do you use them?
. Where can you get them?
. How can you make them at home?

Presented By:

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Dr. Waller has taught math, computer
science, and engineering to students from
pre-school to post-graduate. She
integrates her knowledge of learning style
preferences, cognitive development, and
the affective domain into every workshop.

She has conducted teaching enrichment
workshops for parents, K-12 teachers,
graduate students, and college faculty for
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effective teaching, gender and diversity in
engineering, and research methodology.
She has won several prestigious national
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Register at

Call 404-933-1068 for more information.

Anon South Side said... children actually had a great day. My Chamblee student needed a change in schedule and that happened on yesterday so we're off and running. I have two that have not started yet and will start next week. My middle schooler had a great day as well.

I am so sorry to hear all the bad experiences and I am delighted that we had a few great stories like mine.

It's been a while since I've been on here and I probably won't get back but I do get a lot of great information here. Cere....keep up the good work.

fedupindcss said...

Did anyone see this on the DCSS website?


The Information Systems department is working with the local schools around the clock to resolve all open issues with student schedules. The scheduling issues affect less than 10% of the student population. Information will be posted on the website to update the parent community on a periodic basis with the intent to resolve all major scheduling issues by Friday, August 14, 2009.

So 10% is around 10,000 kids, actually an astonishingly high failure rate. And obviously all their parents blog here.


Attention Dunwoody-area parents!

My name is Brent Adams and I am a reporter with the Dunwoody Crier. After reading your comments, I want to write an article on these issues. Since I cannot contact many of you, please e-mail me or call me. Thank you!

Brent Adams

Paula Caldarella said...

I'll pass Brent. I've never known The Crier to be fair or accurate in its reporting.

Anonymous said...

No, thanks, Crier. I concur with Dunwoody Mom.


Fair enough.

If anyone else in the Dunwoody area would like to give me their experiences with the dress code or scheduling conflicts, please contact me. Thank you.

Brent Adams

Kelly T. said...

When I went to my children's schools for registration day, Columbia Elementary and Columbia Middle schools, the teachers and administrators already knew that the new computer system was not working properly.

Both schools prepared for the problem as proactively as possible. They used an old-fashioned method...paper and pen to track the student's tentative schedules.

The administrators at both schools shared with the parents that the first day of school might be problematic due to the computer system being down. They asked the parents to arrive early and to be ready for anything.

Overall, everything went very well in spite of modern technology not being very modern nor technological. Kudos to the teachers, staff members, and administrators at Columbia Elementary and Columbia Middle schools.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the principal of HMS for coming up with a system that allowed the students to change classes every day this week even without schedules. Her hard work and leadership made the best of a situation that has been stressful to say the least. All parents need to know that the administration and teachers were ready the first day, but the county was not.

Cerebration said...

I'd be careful about giving out kudos to a principal that you like. If she's deemed "highly effective" your will lose her to a school that fails AYP.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point, Cerebration. It happens all too often. When a school works hard to achieve, it should be rewarded by being allowed to keep its leader.

Pattie Baker said...

Has everyone checked to make sure their elementary-school-aged children are getting daily outdoors recess?

Don't assume they are.

Anonymous said...

I hope this Crier article will be more balanced than most.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom and Anon 1:09, Okay, so what specifically is the issue with the Crier ? I was pleased that they had the courage to post the editorial comment on KMS and am willing to chat with him on the overwhelming disservice that the high achiever network does to all DCSS students. Even though most parents just don't seem to get it..... ( Can't figure that one out !) So, pass on your wisdom before I make that call.

Julie said...


What do you mean by the high achiever netork?

Anonymous said...

Julie, I am speaking specifically of the administration of the DCSS magnet schools that are a financial drain for every student in DCSS who either doesn't qualify or doesn't get a golden ticket in their wonka bar. The recent editorial comment in the crier was almost 100 % accurate regarding the injustices of this system. I am amazed that more parents don't find it to be a travesty ?

Cerebration said...

What happened to the bus schedule for magnets? Are we still doing the hubs? Are we picking up kids from their area schools or near their homes for magnets?

I wonder, because I think DCSS has made a big error in moving Open Campus out to the new St Mt facility. That's the middle of nowhere! Apparently, kids have to somehow get to the Kensington Marta station to pick up a DCSS bus to OC. This can take between one and two hours!! Each way!!! If the kid is not lucky enough to have a car, then they either spend several hours a day riding buses and trains - or just forget it.

I predict a decline in enrollment in Open Campus unless this is remedied.

BTW --- how are kids getting to Arabia? Do we provide hub buses for them? I'm thinking we still have big transportation issues.

Anonymous said...

The Open Campus MUST be located close to a MARTA station. There is plenty of space around the Kensington station. Locating it where it is now is going to get a student killed trying to cross any of the bust roads in that location.

Anonymous said...

Yes bus transportation is available for Arabia students. One bus waits at Stephenson High they request the students are on the bus around 6:20, the bus leaves around 7:10....they said they don't want to be late. Transportation is still at satellite locations.

Paula Caldarella said...

anon 1028 - The Crier did not display "courage" in printing Shari's letter. Dick Williams has absolutely NO problem in writing or printing an article that is critical of DCSS and its schools.
I have no doubt that any article that would appear in The Crier would be one-sided, inaccurate and, most likely full of "untruths".

Yes, Shari's editorial was awesome and her thoughts sum up what many, many parents feel. Crawford Lewis is not responsible for the Magnet travesty, but he certainly can end it.

Anonymous said...

There are never any articles critical of private schools (probably because public schools live with their slips hanging out all the time). While we're all decrying the horrible management of our schools, it's a DCSS issue. The students and teachers in Dunwoody public schools are worthy of coverage for an amazing array of achievements. Not that you'd know that reading the Crier. I like the way the Sandy Springs Reporter covers education, spotlighting students in every issue, with a fair mix of public and private schools.

Cerebration said...

Anon, apparently you have missed the many comments we make here on the accomplishments of so many DCSS students and the dedication of so many of our teachers. Our issues are almost always with the administration and the leadership at the top.

And I think if someone has an issue with their private school, the deal is that they make their statement with their money -- they take it elsewhere. As much as we tout "choice" in DCSS, there really aren't many options for most students - especially now that transportation has become almost unavailable.

Paula Caldarella said...

I agree anon, with your comment on the Sandy Springs reporter. I have both that and the Brookhaven Reporter "bookmarked". I wish we could get a "Dunwoody Reporter".

Cere, I think anon was referring to the fact that "The Crier" rarely carries any of the achievements of our local Dunwoody public schools. But, hey, if you want to know all the happenings at Marist, The Crier is for you!!!

Cerebration said...

Really? That's too bad. The small community I come from in the midwest is a lot like Dunwoody (about half the size though) and the weekly paper highlights all kinds of events - public and private. There isn't hardly a week that goes by that one of my nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts - or especially my dad - aren't in that paper. They're all in there for good community news -- however, the paper also reports all traffic offenses and crimes - by name too. So you have to watch your p's and q's...

Paula Caldarella said...

Sadly, cere, the editor has his own agenda and it is reflected in the content of The Crier. For example, The Crier has no problem highlighing the foibles of Jill Chambers (and rightly so), but I do not recall ever reading any information about Elaine Boyer's ethics "issues". Heck, I would even know about Elaine's issues if not for the information from GoDekalb a while back. So, I doubt few, if any, in Dunwoody are aware of her ties to Sembler and her interference at Lakeside.

Cerebration said...

Which is, perhaps, why she chooses to send her children to Lakeside, rather than a school in her district (comprised of her voters). No one at Lakeside lives in her district - we can't vote her out of office.

BTW - the cheerleading fund and its $20,000 from Sembler set up by the Boyers has disbanded - with an assurance from administrators that the money has been accounted for, however, no public documents to prove that are available. (This is a booster club at a public high school!)

Paula Caldarella said...

In its constitution, each booster club will have procedures for an annual financial accounting audit. The principal and the
booster club members will receive from the booster club, a written copy of the booster club’s annual financial report, as well as, a
financial report to be submitted, at a minimum, on a quarterly basis. The superintendent may order, at any time, that the booster club’s financial records be audited, at the school district expense, by an independent accounting firm or accountant designated by the superintendent.

Anonymous said...

"No one at Lakeside lives in her district" - Not true.
And what if her opponent is less appealing?

Sight Edman said...

Dunwoody Mom said...
"Sadly, cere, the editor has his own agenda and it is reflected in the content of The Crier."

How true. I have had letters publish that were critical of "shrill jill" and smart-growth that didn't include schools, but when I wrote concerning the potential close ties between a city councilman and CH2M Hill or suggested that GaPower franchise fees are little more than a new tax, I got an email from the "editor" in defense. Very biased--I refer to it as the Dunwoody Fan Magazine.

Of course this is all off-topic.

fedupindcss said...

I may be wrong, but I think the Boyer children are out of Lakeside. One graduated, and I believe even Elaine got fed up and sent the other one to private school. No confirmation of this, though.

Cerebration said...


And, I stand corrected, anon. Some of the people bordering I-285 who attend Lakeside live in her district -- all 12 of them.

I have no respect for those who work "for the people" and then circumvent the rules that apply to everyone else. Many in DCSS do this. Johnny Brown's daughter attended Lakeside among others out of district.

Paula Caldarella said...

Both of Elaine's daughter's attended Lakeside last year. In fact, a picture of Elaine and her daughter (who won a diving award, I believe) was in The Crier. Surprise, Surprise!!

Anonymous said...

Please don't belittle "all 12" of us. I have noticed a strong bias in this blog toward redistricting Evansdale and Pleasantdale to Tucker, and now apparently Henderson Mill doesn't really belong to Lakeside either. With all the issues in DCSS, the least we can do is stand together.

Cerebration said...

Sorry anon. It just really looks like most of Lakeside belongs to Jeff Rader the way I read the map... But you do have to wonder why someone thinks they're entitled to choose whatever school they wish, when others are told no. The Administrative Transfer letters are abused all the time -- it's pretty sickening. Especially since Lakeside has to put 22 trailers to accommodate everyone. In-district kids are having to deal with trailers because of the transfers basically.

Tucker surely won't have this problem after the new building opens. The last number I saw for Tucker was under 1200 - and I'm told that the new building will hold 1600. Don't tell me that you don't think some redistricting will occur?

It's not that we're biased against anyone -- we're just tired of the crowding... it's unreasonable.

fedupindcss said...

DM: Both the Boyers were there last year, but what I heard was the younger would not be there this year.

If anyone is interested, I also heard that there will be a meeting tonight at LHS about their addition. It might be interesting beyond just LHS, since so many project schedules seem to be impacted by last minute changes to other projects. Not sure if Pat Pope will be there, but it would be reasonable to assume so.

Anonymous said...

Much of Henderson Mill and I think all of Evansdale and Pleasantdale are in commission district 1 according to that map, which was the best I could find. So are those schools themselves and Henderson Middle. But perhaps folks at the other end of the high school attendance area feel that the eastern elementaries feed "their" school with "too many apartment dwellers?"

Yes, I am very worried about the impact of redistricting. I am worried that motivated kids from Evansdale and Pleasantdale will have a significantly harder time getting what they need at Tucker than kids from Sagamore do at Druid Hills.

Cerebration said...

Huh? Apartment dwellers? Who said anything about that??? I'm just saying that Lakeside is jammed - and "some" people (actually lots of them) continue to get special permission transfers to attend HS there. It's beyond ridiculous. The new Tucker HS will have room - lots of it. That's my point, period. Well, that and the fact that Elaine Boyer thinks she should be allowed to just pick and choose a school because of who she is... and bring her special $20,000 from Sembler for her cheerleaders along with her. The whole deal is just shady. And yes, I would like to see if someone wouldn't mind asking for the cheerleading booster club to please produce the records regarding where the money went.

And - as I now see from your map, yes, a good bit of Lakeside's attendance zone is in her district -- but not her own home - she lives no where near Lakeside (Smokerise - is that Stone Mt HS?). It's that aura of entitlement that sticks in my craw... and selfishness - $20,000 would have gone a long way toward something to benefit the whole school instead of a select few cheerleaders.

Who brought her up, anyway? I thought I had gotten over that issue... better get back on my meds.

ps - what do you mean by this, anon,
"I am worried that motivated kids from Evansdale and Pleasantdale will have a significantly harder time getting what they need at Tucker than kids from Sagamore do at Druid Hills."

I think Tucker is a pretty good school - they were on that famous Newsweek list, weren't they? Plus - much better football than Lakeside. People I know who have children at Tucker just love it.

Paula Caldarella said...

Sorry, cere, 'twas I who brought Elaine Boyer. No more.....

Anonymous said...

Reassured to hear that your friends love Tucker; I must have talked to the wrong friends. My mind is open.

Cerebration said...

Notice of Board Retreat -- good topics!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009
10:00 AM

Doubletree Hotel Atlanta NE Atlanta/Northlake
Chardonnay Room
4156 LaVista Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30084

By: Attorney Edith Primm, Executive Director, The Justice Center of Atlanta, Inc.
Mrs. Sherelle Matthews, Senior Trainer, The Justice Center of Atlanta, Inc.

Training Topics:

• Board of Education Members
• Superintendent
Team Building

Roundtable Discussion Topics:
• Accountability for Students' Academic Success, Low Test Results, AYP, etc.
• Reporting to the Board - Format Preferred
• Mathematical Instruction System-wide, to include, The Mathematical Plan

No Duh said...

Now, now let's not start throwing each other under the bus.

Cere is right, Tucker HS is a better HS than people might think. There is a community feel to it that Lakeside seems to be slowly losing (as parents inside and outside LHS throw each other under the bus), the IB program seems to be very popular, and the sports programs are competitive (always a good way to make students gel with each other). Not to mention its principal seems to be able to keep his job.

If the schools that currently feed into LHS didn't feed into it, LHS would be underutilized. There simply aren't enough students at "in the backyard Oak Grove" and "down the street Hawthorne" and "totally screwed up by Terri Morris Sagamore Hills" and "almost as close to Tucker HS as LHS Briarlake" to fill it.

So, the folks in the hood should just hold their noses and thank their lucky stars that Evansdale brings mostly cream of the crop students into their community and that Pleasantdale brings diversity and opportunities for growth.

Pleasantdale Elementary educates ALL of the children from the apartments along Pleasantdale Road. Therefore, HMS and LHS educate them, as well. It really reminds me of the python in Florida that tried to eat the alligator.

It makes complete sense -- now that THS is expanding -- to divide Pleasantdale Road in the middle, sending the eastern half to TMS/THS and the western half to HMS/LHS. The eastern half elementary students could perhaps be aborbed by Livsey, Brockett, Idlewood? and the western half would remain at Pleasantdale.

This might also help Pleasantdale Elementary come out from under the weight of having an overwhelming number of Spanish speaking students -- providing the neigbhorhood residents incentive to come back to their school and stop asking for admin transfers.

And, as had been pointed out ad naseum on this blog site -- we would all fit just fine in LHS if the administration would get a backbone and stop allowing admin transfers and out of county cheaters to come in the back door.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

That's the first I've heard about Henderson Mill redistricting - where did that come from?

Anonymous said...

No, no, no, I am so sorry that I inadvertently started a rumor about Henderson Mill redistricting. Cere said nobody from Lakeside was in Boyer's district, and I disagreed saying that Henderson Mill, Pleasantdale, and Evansdale were, and there was a little back-and-forth, and I also brought emotion into it wrongly in pointing out that people on the blog support moving Pleasantdale and Evansdale to Tucker, then improperly speculated about prejudices held by people in the other half of the district. That is all. Sorry. We all are very emotionally bound up in local school issues. Too much, sometimes.

Cerebration said...

Right on, anonymous -- it's heck to care, isn't it??!

Everyone here is here out of emotion -- when our kids are involved, it's emotional. This is the business that Dr Lewis, his staff and the BOE are in... they have to take into account the emotion of the parents. We're talking about our childrens' futures here. It's not like they're trying to sell us vacuum cleaners.

No worries, everyone. We're all good here!

Shayna said...

I had lunch today with an old friend/law school classmate and former collegue who is Cobb -- in speaking about schools, he mentioned that Cobb doesn't have these "issues" that we have in DCSS. My response: If you have leadership that respects neighborhood schools and makes people prove up residency (okay, I understand exceptions in those cases where kids safety is personally at risk due to some individualized incident -- but that isn't everyone) and you keep principals in place at schools to develop leadership (even re-instate the principal leadership/training classes that DCSS had up until Dr. Brown eliminated them, we could develop strong leadership at our schools, we could minimize transiencey and then have all of our schools be strong schools with strong communities and neighbrohoods. The constant inflow/outflow throughout the county leades to massive overcrowding and resentment at the "good" schools (many of the "good" schools don't really live up to their reputations) and there are some quiet "shining" schools that folks sometimes don't pay much attention to because they are leaving. If everyone paid closer attention to home schools, and less attention to transfers and magnets and charters and other options throughout the sytems, we might be a whole lot better off. Then there's the whole idea that DCSS is much too enormous to function effciently. But that's a different column.

Cerebration said...

Right on. The school system is waaaaay too big and unmanageable and consequently wasteful. They bleed money... case in point - $10 million to DSA (286 students) -- so far - $0 to Cross Keys (900 students).

Break it up. 4-6 separate districts where the Area Superintendents function as superintendents. The Superintendent functions as a CEO - envisioning the future, planning curriculum and cutting edge techniques - and overseeing the countywide programs -- which should only consist of a math/science/high achiever magnet, a Vocational/Tech school and an Open Campus for at-risk students and adults working on a GED. And maybe - oh, maybe a school of the arts - IF they can get more than a few hundred interested students! The CEO should also keep a tight reign on the budget -- no waste!!

Someone else can oversee "special" programs for special ed and juvenile, etc...

Just like a corporate structure. It's proven to work.

Anonymous said...

I agree in principal with Shayna's community school concept. Having kids transported (whether by parents or DCSS) all over this huge county is not a long term solution. It is costly and hinders the goal of building schools with consistent parent and community support.

But isn't part of the issue the fact that there could be some communities where there is just not enough community support to turn around a school on its own?

There is $5 billion (yes, billion) dollars of federal money to turn around failing schools. A lot of this is Title I money. I have been a bit suspicious of the federal DOE push to close failing schools and replace them with charter schools, but frankly DCSS isn't doing very good on its own. Perhaps it is time that C. Lewis took the fed handout and tried something different- using the money to let KIPP or another entity turn around some of these schools. But they should not be "choice" schools because that defeats the purpose of having a neighborhood school.

just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I had lunch today with an old friend/law school classmate and former collegue who is Cobb -- in speaking about schools, he mentioned that Cobb doesn't have these "issues" that we have in DCSS

Peruse the the link below...sound familiar?

Cerebration said...

Guess they'll have to start at CobbSchoolWatch!!

Say, Anon - you are on to something!! That could be an excellent idea for Cross Keys to pursue. Charter - with Federal $$$... They fit the bill - lots of minority and immigrant population - and about 80+% F&R lunch. I wonder how they would go about getting identified?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:43 a.m.

Very good information. If you can't access the link, it is an article referencing how Cobb county quietly eliminated the ITBS (Iowa) test in 8th grade-it is now given in 7th grade. Traditionally, all the metro schools gave the ITBS in fall 8th grade. While the ITBS and CRCT measure different types of achievement, the ITBS is a nationally normed test. Some feel that the test was moved so that parents/ public would not see that students can "Meet expectations" on the 8th grade CRCT test (and be promoted) but be below 50%tile on a nationally normed test.

We blogged on the fact that there were no 8th grade ITBS scores reported on the DCSS website earlier this summer. I personally asked why but got no response. Could this be the answer? If we truly want to know how our middle schools are performing, it makes little sense to give the ITBS at the beginning of the 7th grade.

Are Cox and the state DOE behind this change in ITBS testing years?

Cerebration said...

Excellent points, Anonymous.

This jumped out at me in the article --

Other cuts Sanderson has proposed include:

* Eliminating the 56 key team positions that were recently created to report to Associate Superintendent Dr. Steve Constantino, for a savings of $4.7 million.

Isn't it amazing -- they created 56 positions that they soon find out they can live without. Sometimes, a bad economy is good - in that it sheds light on the outrageous spending of public money. If they had been fiscally responsible all along - that would have showed when it came time to make cuts - they would be more difficult and impactful. (Same thing applies to DCSS.)

Paula Caldarella said...

cere, you're on to something!! A Cobb County School Watch would be good. I believe the Cobb BOE has been in trouble several times for violating the open meeting laws.

Paula Caldarella said...

DCSS eliminated the ITBS for 8th graders effective the 2009-2009 school year.

I'll have to check the GA BOE website, but I believe the state only pays for 1 ITBS test in Middle School. Maybe 7th grade was chosen because 8th graders take the PSAT? I don't know - just guessing.

Anonymous said...

Here is my question about the board retreat.... WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS? I bet the room was not donated. I bet they are going to have a catered (sp?) lunch and snacks.

How can they do this with so many beautiful facilities that are FREE in the county. Also, they can bring their own lunch. Show that they really care about their employees and cut their cost.

How can they spend extra money when they are supposedly BROKE?

Yes I know my spelling is probably bad but hard to type on this Iphone.

Cerebration said...

No Duh, you are correct in your statements above (well, except for the fact that Briarlake is way closer to Lakeside than Tucker -- it's almost walkable). But think about it this way --

If DCSS continues to send hundreds of AYP and Admin transfers to Lakeside, creating an over-crowding problem (and Cross Keys is testament to the fact that the BOE "creates" its own "problems" when they have ulterior motives) - don't you think it's feasible that their "solution" would be to redistrict some of the locals into Tucker? The last time we attempted to figure out how many students attend LHS from outside the attendance zone, we estimated 300-500. It's hard to tell - really hard. Evansdale, etc, could effectively get bumped from Lakeside due to the transfers taking up the seats.

Sorry - I'm just getting better and better and seeing how they think... "Issues" are so often manufactured in order to substantiate plans already in the pipeline.

Cerebration said...

I hear you Anonymous!! Gee - didn't we just spend MILLIONS of SPLOST 3 dollars renovating brand new gorgeous office spaces for the administration and the board? Heck, they even have an auditorium out there! (And so many others still don't.) Seems like there would be some way to hold an all-day retreat out at the new, shiny Stone Mt facility. There's even a cafeteria there for lunch!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10... whatever the last 2 digits are... Parents... STOP complaining behind closed doors and take it to your board members. You can not beleive how bad the top heavy admins.. have the snookered. TRUST ME on that one. I have seen it.

It is time for CLEW to GO!!!!! Get someone in there with business sense... Not a lifer educator. They do not how to spend money wisely. Start the emails. Someone will have to listen or lose their job when the election comes. I know my board member is tired of hearing from me... But with no back up.. My rants are useless.

More to come.

Anonymous said...

The problems with schedules was ridulous. Assistant Principals for instruction were trained in the spring but it was a rush job with no practical application. Then they had to complete summer school and enjoy a vacation, much deserved. Then they are expected to complete the scheduling with no real support.

Initially requests for help went unheard. No one else could assist. Rights were granted only to API. The principal and other assistant principals were not granted access. Scheduling building has to be a team effort and everyone pulls together to complete it and account for every child's needs.Then counselors were trained 2 weeks before schools and on one day.

The hotline is always busy and you can't leave a message. If you do succeed in leaving a message, no one calls you back.To get assistance, you could go down to the center on Lawrenceville HWY but then that took assisant principals out of the building on the first week of school.

Then the system is so complicated, you don't even realize the questions to ask for help with and then you find out 3 days of hard work were fruitless and has to be undone or redone entirely. Very frustrating, and you have to keep a smile at all times and lie about the issues really going on that this was all handled with little thought.

I am glad Chamblee MS admitted it being a problem. It WAS a problem everywhere. Large numbers of kids were sitting in the media center at Chamblee High. I know because I have a son there and saw them. Schools were smart in handwriting schedules so they did not have to sit in gyms, cafes or media centers.

Why wasn't this program piloted in some schools first and get the kinks worked out? Try asking for a copy of your child's transcript or a list of students who made As and Bs last year for a recognition program and see if the assisant principal can get you that data.

Changing a schedule is so tedious, you have to change one schedule at a time and then it still takes several steps to complete one schedule. We want to give every child the perfect schedule, but DCSS training and support makes it very hard. YOu just want to cry because of the frustration from teachers, kids and parents asking you for correct schedules. There has got to be a way to make this process easier.

Just wait until 2nd semester begins, and we will go through this all over again, because staff can't worry about 2nd semester at this point, they are working quickly on 1st semester. The principals do not have access or the other assisant principals and that is unacceptable. Thank goodness we did not get that riduculous email from building A stating it is mandatory for al kids to have schedules on the first day. What a joke! Who brought this program to DCSS. Is it being used anywhere in the US? Georgia?

Dress code-all teachers and administrators are held accountable for addressing this issue and a directive was sent out stating it will be a part of the end of year evaluation.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

I've been assured that I will have no problems getting trancripts for my senior for college applications... that should be coming off the same system, so here's hoping for the best for him and all his peers applying to college over the next few months --I have unofficial copies of his transcript but colleges want official sealed versions from the high school. I would also like to know who made how much money selling the new system to the county? From my perspective (limited, I assure you) Parent Portal was awesome. I even told folks this at the county level, in public. My kids checked Parent Portal. I checked Parent Portal. We found mistakes in Parent Portal -- one time a 100 was entered as a 10 and it was the difference between and A and a B in a semester grade. Another time, a teacher entered a grade as a 75 and then dropped it to a 60 6 weeks later, and I had proof of the late change and could address it. Teachers had to be responsible for grade entry and not all of them liked that. The new system now gives some of them an "out" -- they don't have to grade on a timely basis and enter into the system on a timely basis because it's not up and running and no one can see that they're not doing it properly. I've been reminding my 7th grader to keep a section in each notebook with graded papers so we can make sure that everything is entered properly once it is up and running and teachers start scrambling to do the data entry (even the ones who really care and want to do it timely and properly will have to scramble once it comes back on line). There will be errors in entry and it will impact grades. The kids won't know where they stand so they won't know what they need to be doing if they aren't getting graded papers back on a timely basis and paying attention and parents won't be able to complete a "double check" (either with or without their knowledge). You can't help your child get their act together and work to figure out what a teacher is looking for if the papers aren't coming back and aren't being reviewed on a timely basis. I found at LHS that my eldest was not being given rubrics (particulaly in English) and learned that he wasn't very good at "playing the game" (girls at this age are, apparantly better at figuring out what teachers want and giving it to them, boys can be more stubborn about it). The computer system being down will compound the problems. Just my opinion.

Cerebration said...

Interesting, Anonymous. If your AP was trained in the spring, what took them so long to get the system up and running? Couldn't they have spent the summer doing test runs? Why wait until the week before school starts?

Oh - maybe summer just isn't long enough -- but that's another discussion!

Cerebration said...

the other Anon - you are correct. People need to make sure that they are expressing their concerns to their board reps - they can't read your mind.

Here's their info - available at the DCSS website -

Thomas E. Bowen
591 Gateway Point
Stone Mountain, GA 30086
Home: 404-392-1621
Fax: 770-897-5733
District 6
Term: 2009-2012

Zepora Roberts
1616 Cobbs Creek Lane
Decatur, GA 30032
Home: 404-284-7314
Fax: 404-288-0284
District 7
Term 2007-2010

Jim Redovian
1789 Corners Court
Atlanta, GA 30338
Home: 404-392-2593
Fax: 770-351-0001
District 1
Term: 2007-2010

Don McChesney
1388 Council Bluff Drive
Atlanta, GA 30345
Hm# 404-664-2458
Fax# 404.634.6421
Term: 2009-2012
District #2

Sarah Copelin-Wood
1970 Mark Trail
Decatur, Georgia 30032
Home: 404-371-1490
Fax: 404-377-5661
District 3
Term: 2007-2010

H. Paul Womack, Jr.
2809 Woodland Park Drive
Atlanta, GA 30345
Hm# 404.325.5821
Fax# 404.325.9233
Term: 2009-2012
District #4

Jesse "Jay" Cunningham, Jr.
4970 Burling Mill Drive
Lithonia, GA 30038
Home: 404.392.3091
Fax: 770-322-8118
District 5
Term: 2007-2010

Dr. Pamela Speaks
5700 Bahia Mar Circle
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
Hm# 770.493.4805
Fax# 770.939.2667
Term: 2009-2012
District #8

Eugene P. Walker
Post Office Box 674
Lithonia, GA 30058
Home: 404-593-5095
Fax: 678-518-0526
District 9
Term: 2008-2010


As you can see, Sarah Copeland-Wood, Zepora Roberts, Jim Redovian, Jay Cunningham and Eugene Walker are both up for re-election in 2010.

Think about who you might like to represent you in those districts. Support a candidate. Get involved!

fedupindcss said...

The old system was accessible to the principal, all APs, and the head counselor. I ran into a head counselor three weeks before school started who was extremely frustrated that they had been cut out of the loop. Said they were making backups off the old system for kids in joint enrollment, since most of them were scheduled already.

DCSS, and many other school systems, has a history of the occasional kickback from vendors on such items as textbooks, sports equipment, etc. I would imagine software purchases have the same potential.

I know there is a bidding process, but I am not sure when the discussion occurred at a board meeting regarding this system. Can anyone with that knowledge track it down?

Anonymous said...

I have read many times but I have never commented. I must comment now least AP's, Counselors and Teachers are blamed. The system Esis System was shut down for periods during the summer. School based staff was not able to access it. There were staff members willing to work during the summer. There were staff members that came in and attempted to get on the system. I know sometimes this blog may bash school based people, but there are many people that have tried very hard in the schools to use the system. The Help Desk is overwhelmed. Some people working on the desk are not able to answer questions. From the outside, it is not as easy as it looks,

Dekalbparent said...

I found the Board meeting where the new system was recommended:

The links at the bottom show details

Dekalbparent said...

Ironically, perhaps, AAL came out on top because of Ability To Execute.

Dekalbparent said...

AAL Solutions is headquartered in Burlington, Ontario.

Management page:

Anonymous said...

I found an interesting paper regarding an apparently older version of this application. The Milwaukee Public Schools purchased eSIS in the fall of the 1997-98 school year. Apparently the change from the MPS's legacy system to eSIS was plagued with problems, including "customer satisfaction issues that affected the implementation and lead to a perception of less
functionality." Then, in 2003, "[t]he Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Audit Department engaged IBM to perform a third party audit of
the MPS eSIS application and implementation." IBM's report can be found at:

It sounds as if MPS's rollout was conducted just as ours was. The IBM report included specific suggestions to be followed to prevent these kinds of problems. I wonder if anyone at DCSS read this report? I betcha not.

Anonymous said...

Yes one AP was trained and a lot of them were transferred to new schools with all of the movement going on. Some of them were promoted and were told they could not leave until the schedule was built for their previous school, but time flew by and they had to lead their new schools. The new AP who took their place attended a one day training on a program that was not already up and running and did not have any practical experience prior to being thrown into it. Then they had to stop and do summer school, conferences with students who needed to be retained, etc. They deserve the much needed break during July, but they also came back the last week for a leadership conference. Many did work, but no one was prepared for the large numbers of challenges that came with this system. A one day training is not going to help. The other APs wanted to help and definitely the principals wanted to help. They decided then to let counselors get trained and some of them had a one day training and they then had a hard time coming back doing the major task of scheduling with no one to call when help was needed. One AP cried over the frustration of it all. The principal had to tell the AP and counselors 'sorry I can't help you, but it needs to be done. So those dedicated APs and counselors had to work long hours and if you work after hours, there is definitely no one answering a help desk call to assist you. Why wasn't it piloted somewhere first and the kinks worked out. I know I needed a transcript and not one person has responded yet that they recieved that specific training.

Anonymous said...

I am a Tucker Parent and strongly advocate that parents get involved with their parent councils to advocate these issues. Many board members use this as an effective tool to hear about the issues within the community. As for Lakeside busting at the seams, Tucker is too! This year Tucker Middle is busting at the seams again. We have people on waiting lists wanting to get in. Numerous people come in with affadavits stating they are living with someone. Are we able to disprove it, No! Tucker Middle consistently makes AYP even though we have two Title 1 schools, Idlewood and Brockett feed into us. Also Midvale Elementary is host two apartment complexes and an extended stay motel but continually does well. I have heard it said from faculty at TMS that these students are some of the most well-rounded kids that come to the school. If we want our community schools to do well, fight for them and quit busing them all over!

fedupindcss said...

Anon 5:48--

Of course DCSS didn't perform due diligence on the history of the system or the company. This is the same DCSS that hired an HR head who had a criminal record, presents applicants to school councils for interviews with no background info save the interviewee's own resume, and implements any curriculum gimmick they hear about at a conference.

I honestly think the worst issue here isn't the scheduling snafus, but the fact that the kids are going to have to wait and then learn a new portal system to monitor their grades. Lots of them did this themselves and it was a good discipline for them.

Anonymous said...

"implements any curriculum gimmick they hear about at a conference."

Great comment and it's totally true. Is it Gloria Talley or Crwaford who is so easily swayed by any new curriculum fad?

I'd love to see a list of any DCSS purchases for such items, what services outside vendors are providing, and how many consultants are still on board.

I'm still steaming about all the retired Central Office scammers/double-dippers, who were allowed to stay on with nice consultant pay while receiving a sweet retirement package.

Under the Crawford lewis administration, their sure is a lot of ancilliary spending.

Paula Caldarella said...

but the fact that the kids are going to have to wait and then learn a new portal system to monitor their grades

Oh, come on now. How difficult is it for a child to log-in and point and click?

Cerebration said...

Ms. Ramona Tyson, Associate Superintendent, Management Information Systems, 678-676-1134

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Ms. Ramona Tyson, Associate Superintendent, Management Information Systems

Requested Action
It is recommended that the Board of Education award RFP 8-11 Student Information System (SIS) to Administrative Assistants Ltd. (AAL) as the lowest responsible, responsive bid. Year 1 through Year 5 costs are as follows:

Year 1: $1,047,050.00

Year 2: $1,257,110.00

Year 3: $ 619,964.00

Year 4: $ 564,350.00

Year 5: $ 574,305.00

Total: $4,062,779.00

Anonymous said...

If you go to the DCSS website, they updated the message to say that all students had schedules by the end of Friday and this week they will work on adjusting schedules.

Here is my concern: My son is in high school and he said that students kept being added to classes. Now many of the core classes are way over 40 students. State max size is 32. Students are standing or sitting on the floor; not enough books, etc.
And these are NOT students who are new to the school-they are all students who completed schedule requests last spring.

I foresee another week of chaos because the counselors and APs will have to use the same system to try and schedule additional classes, if there are sufficient teachers to teach them.

What a screw up!

Paula Caldarella said...

From what I heard from last Monday's BOE meeting, DCSS will be spending the weekend purging the roles of students that were enrolled but did not show up for the first week of school. At this time, the schools will then start the process of balancing out classes.

Anonymous said...

HIstorically at Lakeside, 3 weeks into the school year, the scheudles under the old system were always changed for a number of kids for "balancing" purposes to get all of the classes under state mandated class sizes before the October FTE count (if the classes exceed state mandated limits, DCSS loses money for those classes). Therefore, lots and lots of high school kids, many of them freshmen, had their schedules shifted under the old system 3 weeks into the term. One can only begin to imagine what this might look like this year... the only difference is that this year it appears that there are fewer "surprise" transfers at the school (cp last year's 400 "surprise" transfers at the start of school when only 135 were expected).

Anonymous said...

Many kids at Lakeside, especially freshmen, are sitting in classes of 50 or more. Some of it may be the economy, as fewer people go to private. Some may be there because not enough sections were created (and now we get to hire leftover teachers). But like Tucker, we have a lot of people who have affidavits saying they "live" with people in the district. And you would be amazed how many of these kids are not from poorer families desperate to get a good education for their kids--many of them live in large houses in less expensive parts of Dekalb, and just don't want to pay to trade up.

Oh, and lots "live" with their grandparents, as their parents went to Lakeside in the 70s and feel entitled to have their progeny attend (without the nuisance of buying a house or renting an apartment). Oddly, this latter group complains the loudest at class overcrowding. They are hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Of course classes are over and they are incorrect. Core classes may get fixed soon, but connections may take longer. There are kids who have never touched an instrument sitting in yearlong band classes. The classes are all over because the county wanted to say every child had a schedule, so we put them wherever, now the health teacher is in a reg classroom with 45 kids and is begging for help. We just moved a few next door since she had some chairs next to the computers in the back of the class, but at least we can say "every child had a schedule". We even hand wrote some that are not even in the computer yet, but at least they have them. If a kid chose to skip, he is not on anyone's roster.

Anonymous said...

I just heard the counselor and AP may be ill and not come to work. Oh no, new schedules were supposed to be given out today. They are the only ones who can do it. Another day of telling kids-just go where you went last week. Kids will then text their parents (never mind the cell phone policy) and parents will call and we can only tell them we are working as hard as we can. We really hate this too and wish it was better. Apologies to our students and parents.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned this blog and I must say there are many interesting comments. I wanted to chime in regarding some of the first week challenges with the new computer system.

I should say I’m in IT and have worked with several colleges that have implemented new SIS’s (Banner by Sunguard primarily). Trust me, when you move from a legacy system to a new one, you will have some challenges. Hopefully the challenges are short term as I understand this system have significantly more functionality than the older system. If this helps the district operats more efficiently while providing more information, that should determine whether this was a worthwhile investment.

For large procurements like this, organizations typically engage one of the national analyst organizations (Gartner, Forrestor, or Ventana Research) to help with the evaluation process. Yes, this is an additional expense but it provides an independent assessment of software products an organization is evaluating. Would anyone know if our school system uses one of these firms? It is worth asking as that should provide a higher level of confidence with the selection of this vendor. I personally can not see our school system spending that much money without seeking independent outside consultation.

Not knowing the full situation, someone earlier touched on the probable cause of the problems encountered. If Assistant Principals were trained in the spring, it is possible that some of those trained may have been transferred over the summer. If there were not backups trained at a school impacted by transfers, you would have problems. Compound that with some employees being off during parts of the summer, you probably have the perfect storm of problems. I would bet that schools that did not lose Assistant Principals during the transfers probably did not have problems. No one mentioned if backups were trained for each school. That is a reasonable question to ask also. If none were trained, I would think the MIS staff is reconsidering how many ‘trained’ employees exist at each school.

One question to also ask, where the school system would be if they did not purchase a new software program. I understand there are always problems during the first week with scheduling, mostly due to late registrations and some students not showing up. Are these typical problems that are magnified due to a new system? Again, I’ve seen this at the collegiate level and things normally calm down by the second week. Again, there usually is some short term pain but ultimately everyone realizes significant benefits going forward.

Here’s hoping the worst is behind us with the new system! Great blog also!

Cerebration said...

Good comments, Anonymous - thanks. And welcome!

Below is info from the school system about the new eSIS vs the old system --

II. Current Reality
• The current AS400 SIS custom-developed and internally supported package consists of eight Core Applications (Enrollment/Withdrawal; Scheduling; Discipline; Attendance; Grade History / Graduation Planner; Standardized Testing; State and Federal reporting; Textbook)
• There is no consistent look and feel across the applications. The majority of the applications are 5250 green-screen technology with a scattering of web-based applications.
• Even though historical data is stored within the current SIS, the users do not have the functionality to retrieve data prior to the current year.
• The lack of an integrated Reporting Tool requires all report requests to come through the SIS department.
• No Master Schedule builder application is available, requiring the high and middle schools to manually build their master schedule utilizing scheduling boards.
• The current SIS package requires the input of a student number with every occurrence of data retrieval, making transition from application to application difficult and not user-friendly.

Cerebration said...

And now --

III. Benefits of Implementing a New SIS
• Web-based, Graphical User Interface (GUI) application with a consistent look and feel. The point and click functionality and ease of use should reduce training hours and user error and increase productivity and efficiency.
• School Interoperability Framework (SIF) compliance will enhance data sharing between the SIS and other applications.
• Registration application supports Central Registration with ability to input the parent information once and attach it to each student. The functionality to attach siblings together will increase efficiency within current processes such as Magnet/Theme Lottery.
• An automated master schedule builder application will enhance scheduling productivity and accuracy.
• A structured, process-driven, and intuitive scheduler would improve schoolhouse productivity and accuracy of student schedules.
• Instant messaging and timely alerts among all district-wide roles, including parents and teachers, will result in improved real-time data information exchange.
• More comprehensive, fully integrated, district-wide Parent Portal would result in increased parent-teacher communication and parent involvement.
• Support of district-wide standard course weightings.
• Online help, tutorials and supporting documentation will increase user training accessibility and improve professional development.
• Powerful, robust and user friendly reporting system will empower users to retrieve information based on authorized access at an “on demand” basis.

One Fed Up Insider said...

The only thing that I am hoping for tomorrow is to go in and be able to do my job. It is very hard and frustrating not knowing who is suppose to be in your class and knowing how to teach each class. This is really draining my morale.

The only thing keeping me going is you guys out there and how supportive you have been this whole time.

I know I do not say this enough but thanks for being here to listen.

Kim Gokce said...

I have avoided turning this into an "IT Governance" process discussion but the now that it's on the table I have to through in my 2 cents.

As Anonymous pointed out above, any time a "legacy" system is ripped out there will be pain. This pain comes about because there are always activities and processes that the old system managed that were never documented and the project delivery team were never aware of ... until last week.

That being said, I do think it is a project failure to have so poorly prepared the end users of the system for the inevitable rough launch. Also, while I can see that the long-term benefits of a more modern and integrated system justify the effort, it is critical that such large projects be implemented after an organization has reviewed, optimized, and then documented their existing processes. Deploying a shiny, brand new system on top of highly manual, fragmented and undocumented processes ... not so smooth.

While schedules may get worked in with a week or so, there will be similar tremors in DCSS in other functional areas if no process documentation was developed as part of the new system project plan.

For now, pity the folks at the bottom the hill because it all rolls down during these type of system launches.

Cerebration said...

I'm glad that we make you feel a little bit better insider! I think that this blog, since it deals in the truth, does serve as a place for those to check in and make sure that they are not "dreaming" up issues - the school system's PR machine would have the world believing that it's all "smooth sailing"!! But trying to cover up, by propagating untruths and belittling the difficult issues creates fear and mistrust. Straightforward, truthful discussion can actually create peace and trust.

I hope next week is a big improvement.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Joe

Lakeside High School
A Word From Principal Joe Reed

The first day of school always begins with a little trepidation. The new scheduling software increased our worries as changes our teachers and Ms. Mosley made seemed to be lost in cyberspace overnight. As I reviewed scheduling summaries Sunday, August 9th, I knew we'd have some problems Monday morning but nothing prepared me for the sight of over three hundred students without complete schedules waiting in the cafeteria after homeroom on the first day of school.

As the week progressed, Ms. Mosley, Ms. McIntosh, Ms. Bloom, Ms. McKinney, Ms. McTyre, Mr. Fenner, Mr. Banderas and Ms. Casey met with students one at a time to address their schedule problems while continuing to work with dozens of newly registered students. Some students had somehow been withdrawn. Some ninth graders had never been enrolled. Most students in this group were missing one or two classes for reasons still not clear.

As I watched our progress over the week and saw the crowd in the library slowly diminish, I began to marvel at the behavior of our students and faculty. Rather than behave in an unruly manner students engaged in quiet conversation as they waited for their turn. Whenever I had an announcement to make I never had to ask for their attention more than once. In some cases students suggested possible solutions to course conflicts and we considered all of them and implemented several. One student who called my boss didn't do it for himself but for his classmates who were still missing a class or two after three days of school. I enjoyed meeting him later and I appreciate his concern for his fellow students.

I also watched teachers work together with their department chairs and assistant principals to help move students to their correct classes and accommodate classes that were seriously overcrowded. I don't remember hearing a complaint. I do recall encouraging smiles and the extra efforts to house the additional students who were attending their classes.

I met or spoke with a number of parents during this past week. In each case, parents reasonably wanted to know our plans for dealing with the situation. They appreciated the progress we were making and understood that correcting schedules and balancing class sizes might impact their son or daughter. The possibility of an additional teacher in one or two subjects may add to the changes that will be forthcoming.

By Friday I fully realized that I had had an opportunity to understand the true character of our students, staff and parents. If all had gone well Monday it certainly would have been an easier week, but I wouldn't have had the privilege of witnessing the best qualities of patience, extra effort and altruism that were so evident throughout this first week of school. I am indeed fortunate to be the principal of Lakeside High School.

Joe Reed

Cerebration said...

Excellent community letter from the new principal at Lakeside! I applaud his honesty and his timely communication. That is the way to win friends and influence people!

Anonymous said...


Take a few weeks with the "opening"--then a few more weeks developing a relationship with "bosses".

Then, DEAL WITH The Transfer (and capacity) Issue, especially those from other counties.

Also, if a bunch of people live with grendparents, at least document that as a separate category and compare to averages around the metro, state and Nation.
Then you have something that can be taken to the press--along with a school system that doesn't use "capacity" figures for enforcement.

The law says,..."as long as the school is not at capacity"--so the trick will be getting the crooks that you work for to document a "capacity" figure and adopt a policy that says the figure actually means something.

Anonymous said...

"Policy"--did you say policy?
That's the school board--forget it.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the over-whelming majority of posters choose this blog for conversation about how we can make sure DCSS students get the best education they can. Most will also give DCSS credit when credit due.

However, there seem to be a few posters who honestly just have an anti-DCSS agenda. Their only contribution is to bash, but offer no constructive conversation. But, they are easy to spot.

Cerebration said...

Anonymous -- You're correct about the capacity issue for Administrative transfers and the new state law enabling transfers within the school system, however, the NCLB (AYP) transfers have no link to capacity. They won't allow you to use that as a reason to not accept AYP transfers. In fact, they suggest adding trailers, transferring building funds from a failing school to a passing one in order to take on transfers or even creating a satellite campus of a school - located on another school's property. I believe DeKalb has utilized all of these. That's why Lakeside is getting an addition - we have to take on the NCLB (AYP) transfers regardless. This is an issue to take up with your U.S. reps and senators (Hank Johnson, John Lewis, John Linder, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson, etc.).

And yes, we do have people who contribute to this blog who may seem "anti-DCSS", but they speak the truth and have no where else to share their knowledge. If you haven't had a bad experience in DCSS, you might not understand their level of frustration. It takes an ability to walk in someone else's shoes to not see it as venting or 'bashing'.

Besides, DCSS has a website full of only good news about the system - it's called

We, however, are called DeKalb School Watch - and that's what we do - because we believe that the leaders in the system need to be monitored and 'watched' - therefore, we report everything - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Sight Edman said...

Anonymous said...
"...there seem to be a few posters who honestly just have an anti-DCSS agenda...But, they are easy to spot."

Not when they're all called "Anonymous".

As for being "anti-DCSS", so what's to like?

My view is a bit broader. US public schools are the largest entitlement program on the planet for parents, teachers, administrators, and any peripheral business/industry that can force its way to the public trough. IT seems to be the latest big pig. But we make up for the high cost and gross inefficiencies with the some of the worst performance in a country that has fallen and continues to fall behind its peers.

But for those who believe this Titanic disaster can still be bailed out with teaspoons, I did provide a punch-down list posted on an earlier topic.

Anonymous said...

Ken sure is opinionated, but his opinions are just that. There are some fine public school sytems in every state. Right here in the area, Gwinnett and Decatur run school systems with solid academics while practicing smart financial controls. Even the City of Atlanta has a greatly improved school system.

Unfortunately, the DeKalb County School System is a big, bloated mess of waste, cronyism, nepotism, shday contracts and more. DCSS gives Ken and public school "haters" plenty of valid ammunition.

No Duh said...

"if a bunch of people live with grendparents, at least document that as a separate category and compare to averages around the metro, state and Nation"

That is a great idea. But, DCSS does not make decisions for our schools/students based on quantifiable data. They make decisions based on politics and kick-backs.

However, most of the people in the school houses are fantastic, caring educators, counselors, and administrators. Their hands are so incredibly bound by the fear-driven leadership from above it would make you cry.

Sarah Smith elementary (one of the best in the nation) is an APS. The district parents got so fed up with cheaters that the parents started following cars home and I think even hiring private investigators to do the same. They nailed them! Boom, you're out-a-there!

So, who has a few free afternoons? :)

Paula Caldarella said...

The former assistant principal at Atherton has received her termination papers:

Local officials have moved to fire a DeKalb County assistant principal caught in a statewide test cheating scandal, indicating the allegations against Doretha Alexander make her unfit for a job.

Anonymous said...

AJC posted late article on NCLB transfers. Article says that DCSS closed the "annexes" for Redan and SW due to lack of interest and the 74 students will be absorbed into the main campuses. But I am confused because at the end of the article its says that 457 students "requested" NCLB transfers. What happened to the rest? Are they at their home schools? Are they going to Technology South and Stephenson? CCHS and Redan were only slated to receive 50 students each.

Or have some parents resorted to "Plan B" - "my child is living with his grandparents?"

One Fed Up Insider said...

Here is what I find very funny...

My husband wrote our school board rep last week... He stated in his letter that he is a financial man and is always looking for a good investment. He stated when my wife started working for DCSS 10 years ago things were rocky but the job got done.

Now that he has three quarters of his family in DCSS he knows when the deal is bad. The stock is sinking fast than his 401K and he feels like it is time either 1) look at someone else to run DCSS or 2) time for the family to sell the house and move to a better distict. Now fortune 500 company is run this way and DCSS should not either.

Do you know that it has been 4 days and still no response from our DCSS board rep. Can't wait till they run again next year. Won't see our vote.

Cerebration said...

Regarding uniforms: This is from the AJC blog -

In one of the largest studies on the effects of school uniforms, sociologists David Brunsma and Kerry Rockquemore concluded that uniforms have no direct effect on substance use, behavioral problems or attendance and may actually hurt academic achievement.

Something to think about.

Kim Gokce said...

The uniform thingy just makes me giggle. There's no empirical evidence I know of that wearing a suit can increase your chances of "winning" in an interview or a competitive sales assignment. There's no empirical evidence I know of that a sports team with matching jerseys performs better than those with a hodge-podge of jerseys.

But in both these cases it is a well-established convention to have a standard "uniform" or acceptable dress if for no other reason than we can tell who is on "our team" or so we have a sense of "belonging." If there were ever a group that needs to feel like they belong, it would be our young people.

I really don't have a concern that the dress code policy will make or break the underpinnings of pedagogy and discipline in DCSS-land. I just like the way an actual uniform, no matter how simple, makes them all look like they belong together and is a constant reminder of that fact. Group hug! :)

Sight Edman said...

Someone hiding behind anonymous said...

``Ken and public school "haters"''

I don't "hate" public schools--that's a word I reserve for very few things and government incompetence, even socialistic entitlements, don't rise to that level.

However, I am a taxpayer (personal and business) who supports this failed system so I am watching. I never drank the koolaide and I lost my rose colored glasses so I can't look at this any way but objectively. And by all objective measures public schools in Georgia are abject failures at educating.

Yet they persist with general public approval. The only rational explanation is that the general public has needs outside of education that these schools meet. I guess that's why it's called public school not public education.

Anonymous said...

"And by all objective measures public schools in Georgia are abject failures at educating."

OK, Ken Thompson, how about listing some of these "objective measures"? Let's compare private vs. public schools. Let's see the "objective measures" you seem to swear by.

The best elementary school in the state, one of the best in the country, is just across the county line, Atlanta's Morningside Elementary. Possibly the best middle schools in the state is Atlanta's Inman Middle, also just over the county line. These two schools are better than the elem's and middle's at Woodward, Padeia and Westminster. Even those those schools have outrageous tutions. Even though those schools do not have to educate children from all socio-economic backgrounds.

"Yet they persist with general public approval. The only rational explanation is that the general public has needs outside of education that these schools meet."

Maybe according to your rationale. But they "persist with general public approval" because we have some pretty darn good public schools, like Lakeside and Chamblee. Ken Thompson's the sky is falling outlook just doesn't jibe with reality.

Yes, the DCSS Cental Office is wasteful, bloated, full of nepotism, etc. But despite questionable, never take the blame leadership, we still have some fine public schools in DeKalb. we have some good principals and productive teachers.

Ken Thompson's "failed system" is just something he sees. C'mon Ken, spend some time in our schools. His reality and opinion are a whole lot different than the actual reality.

Cerebration said...

This is a note sent to us via email from a DCSS teacher to share with the community at large --

Dear Parents...

I am so sorry that I could not teach you child today. We had to have our attendance posted by 5:00 today so the county could drop the no shows. Well for us, the teacher eSIS does not work. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes to load a page, sometimes it takes 40 or more, that is if eSIS comes up at all or does not freeze the whole computer. I teach 5 classes a day times the 6 days that I have not posted classes because it is my job to educate, not wait on the computer to work. So since I do not want a letter of reprimand in my file I am giving your student a free day to text, listen to Ipods or study so the I can justify all the jobs in the central office with their big salaries, renovated office space and NEW COMPUTERS that support eSIS.

Paula Caldarella said...

Gotta say, cere, that was very unprofessional of the teacher. I understand frustrations, I deal with that each day in my job, but there are adult ways of handling frustrations. This teacher's email was out of line.

Paula Caldarella said...

And by all objective measures public schools in Georgia are abject failures at educating."

I'm sure that is just ludicrous statement. The State of Georgia has some top universities in Georgia Tech and UGA which are overwhelming full of Georgia public school students. So, please such statements are offensive to those public school students who worked hard to get where they are.

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