Wednesday, October 14, 2009

GBI Will Assist In Investigation Of Pope's Office

Patricia Pope, who oversees the Dekalb County School System's $466 million construction program, has been under investigation recently. On Tuesday, allegations of irregularities with DeKalb County school construction contracts appeared to intensify as law enforcement officials carried out an investigation at the Tucker offices of the DeKalb County School System Chief Operating Officer. According to local television stations, Mrs. Pope's husband’s office also was searched on Tuesday. According to Mr. Pope, he was met with pulled guns when he apparently got out of the shower on Tuesday morning.

On the morning of Wednesday October 14, 2009, the DeKalb County School Board met in Executive Session. The School Board has decided not to give up their client privilege. Some may question what our school board has to hide from the public? However, a client should never give up this privilege. In this case, the client is the DeKalb County School System. Apparently, Gwen Keys apparently wanted the school board to give up this privilege to see communications between attorneys and school officials.


Ella Smith said...

Good Job School Board!!!! You must protect the school system. Court cases are going on and this information is priviledged.

Paula Caldarella said...

Gwen Keys is just clueless. Since she has a problem putting murderers and rapists behind bars, perhaps she thinks going after officials of a school system will be easier?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom did you ever stop to think that maybe Ms Keys knows the job of investigating the DCSS is overwhelming so she, along with her superiors decided to involve the GBI for assistnace in building a strong case supported by evidence. It's better to be balanced and fair than nothing at all...if nothing is found...great...we all proceed with supporting our children and if something is found then we all proceed with supporting our children....OMO

Paula Caldarella said...

So, when did Gwen decide the investigation in DCSS is "overwhelming"? She "raided" DCSS offices last December. Up until now, NADA, until ANOTHER raid yesterday. Meanwhile, every day we wake up to more murders, robberies and shootings in DeKalb County. The police in DeKalb are frustrated by her inability and unwillingness to take these crimes seriously. But, yet she wants to call in the GBI to help her investigate a school system? Please...

Ella Smith said...

Annoymous, I like Gwen Key. She is a family friend. I wonder what the school official knew and did not know and when they might have know what they knew. (If there is anything) However, the attorney/client priviledge is just that and it is a right.

DeKalb has a great deal of money invested for the citizens in Dekalb in other court cases and if they give up these rights it could affect the rights of those decisions I believe. However, I am not a lawyer. That is my husbands job.

Annonymous are you the Anonymous with the law background. If you are you might enlighten us.

I would suspect if the GBI is assisting that the investigation is being taken seriously. The husband's firm is involved apparently also regarding receiving bids from the school system which is interesting since his wife is the Chief Operating Officer. I would think that would be a conflict of interest as she knows what the low bids coming in are and she would be able to pass this information on I would think. I do not understand how ethical this would be for Mr. Pope to be getting the Dekalb County School System's bids.

Paula Caldarella said...

Has the husband's firm bid on any work since Patricia took over? I know he did while Prichett was at DCSS.

Ella Smith said...

I only know what my father-in-law (ex-senior state judge) and my husband (who is an attorney) say about Gwen Keys. They both speak highly of her.

There are many murders who need put in jail. There are many rapists who need put in jail. I could not agree more.

However, if millions of dollars of tax dollars are not being spent correctly this is a serious crime and also needs to be investigated. It probable is a job for the GBI as we are talking about Tax dollars. I hope that this is not true. I hope this is just a wild goose chase. Ms. Pope appears to be such a class act.

Paula Caldarella said...

Ella, millions of dollars have not even been collected in DeKalb Recorder's court - where is the GBI here? This is money DeKalb County desperately needs. I'm not attacking Ms. Keys personally as I do not know her, these are just observations about how she goes about her job.

Ella Smith said...

I have no idea.

I just know from what was said that his office and it would appear their home was searched from what he said when Mr. Pope discussed his experience on the news channel I saw last night.

He talked about coming out in his towel with pulled guns. He was definitely very upset.

This could have been from before. I have no idea and would not want to speculate. I would hope that he would not be biding on items when his wife was the Chief Operating Officer.

Cerebration said...

I'm confused. What information did the DA want that the school system refused due to attorney-client privilege? Which attorney? The ones investigating the Heery Mitchell case? Josey Alexander? Ron Ramsey? I think that's strange, since it was Dr. Lewis who asked for the investigation - and now he's not cooperating?!! Something is up there.

Also, all of the reports I've seen say that Vince Pope agreed to stop bidding or working on DCSS projects when his wife took the job. At the time, he had already bid or won the bid for Columbia HS and was allowed to finish that project. He hasn't even bid on anything for DCSS since. His TV interview seems very sincere to me.
CBS Atlanta's Exclusive Interview of Vince Pope

They had better be praying they are right, otherwise they have ruined this guy's business and career. They took ALL of his computers - effectively shutting down his ability to get any work done - and casting a huge shadow of doubt on him for all of his clients to wonder about. If they are wrong, I'm sure Vince Pope will sue the pants off of the school system.

Cerebration said...

Rightfully so.

Anonymous said...

Celebration...can he sue the DCSS if his wife is still COO??? BTW there were other jobs that he was given without bids per Mr. Pope's statement he submitted to Atlanta Unfiltered, maybe that's where the confusion kicks in..who knows...

Cerebration said...

I'm with you, Dunwoody Mom. Why didn't the DA go in guns drawn to the people's homes who ripped off the recorders court for hundreds of thousands of dollars? What would possess them to bring guns to the Pope's home at all? Especially, when as you say, we have actual murderers out on bond roaming the streets awaiting trial - trials the DA should be preparing for.

Check out the fun community service sentences for criminals

No wonder crime is rampant in DeKalb County

This may ultimately have more to do with the bonds forged between graduates of "Leadership DeKalb" than about actual crimes and who actually committed them.

Anonymous said...

bonds forged between graduates of "Leadership DeKalb" what is this Celebration?

Cerebration said...

No, Anon...that was in reference to the Columbia HS project - below is the clip from "Atlanta Unfiltered" on the subject -

Footnote: This may well be totally unrelated, but State Auditor Russell Hinton sent out copies of the school district’s FY 2008 financial statements a couple weeks ago. The statements note that Pope’s husband, architect Vincent Pope, holds contracts with DeKalb County schools for several construction contracts, some of which were not subject to competitive bidding. The contracts were signed before Patricia Pope became COO. In FY2008, DeKalb schools paid $528,361 to Pope’s firm.
Vincent Pope, who also goes by Anthony, has posted a comment on this item, which you can also read below:

Let me add some clarity to part of this issue. First, Vincent Pope only holds ONE contract with DCSS for Columbia High School. This contract was obtained in 2004 prior to Ms. Pope working for the school system. The contract was extended to complete the renovations @ Columbia in 2008 for SPLOST 3 deferred work. This was not bidded due to the fact that we where already working on the campus and it was a continuation of the work being done. A similar contract extension was given to Milton Pate Architects and R. L. Brown Architects. No illegal maneuvering here.

Anonymous said...

thanks celebration...I'll read the story

Ella Smith said...

I do agree that murders and rapist is more of a health threat.

When I saw Mr. Pope's interview I felt very sorry for him.

I cannot imagine something like that happening.

The school system cannot give away their rights according to my husband. That would be a very bad decision.

This is all real strange. I notice some of the best administrators we have missing lately and now this.

However, in educator irregularities in money is a sure way to get fired in education.

Cerebration said...

Unfortunately, the Friends and Family Plan extends to very high places in this county.

Let's see - go to the Leadership DeKalb website and check out the classes of 1988 (Zepora Roberts), 1989 (Brad Bryant), 1990 (Frances Edwards), 1991 (Eddie Moody), 1994 (Crawford Lewis), 1996 (Burrell Ellis, Bebe Joyner), 1998 (Philandrea Guillory), 1999 (Gwen Keyes Fleming, Terry Morris), 2001 (Elizabeth Andrews, Lynn Grant, Bob Moseley), 2002 (Stan Pritchett, Marcus Turk), 2006 (Cassandra Anderson-Littlejohn, Garry McGiboney, Alice Thompson)

Cerebration said...

Leadership DeKalb has been enlightening and educational. I’ve learned so much about the community, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to network with community leaders. I highly recommend it.
David Moody '08
President, C.D. Moody Construction Co.

and I even think I saw Sonja Alexander in the 2008 photos...

I'm just saying - Leadership DeKalb is like a fraternity or a family - and I hope it's not clouding the DAs ability to see clearly...

Cerebration said...

Moody Construction has built much more for DeKalb schools -- check out their portfolio

DeKalb Alternative School (DCSS)
Evan Mills Elementary School (DCSS Lithonia)
Lakeside High School (DCSS)
McNair Cluster Elementary School (DCSS)
McNair High School (DCSS)
Oak View Elementary School (DCSS)
Scottsdale Child Development Center (building is owned by DCSS)
Stephenson High School (DCSS)
Woodson Elementary School (DCSS)

Cerebration said...

And never let us forget that it was Eugene Walker who sponsored Dr. Lewis into the Commerce Club...

tight relationships -- very tight relationships in DCSS

Ella Smith said...

I think we will have to wait and see. I hope it is all smoke and mirrow and nothing ever comes of it. I think Ms. Pope appears to be a class act.

I still wonder why Dr. Lewis turned this over to Ms. Keys for an investigation.

I think we could assume this was the legal advise of the school system or school board attorneys.

I still feel the school system did the right thing to protect the taxpayers of Dekalb.

I will make no comments regarding police officers pulling their guns. I feel sorry for Ms. Pope's husband. I cannot imagine.

Paula Caldarella said...

Drawing guns in a private home in a non-violent situation? Way over the top - seems like an intimidation factor to me. I don't know, something about all of this just does not seem right.

Ella Smith said...

Sounds like the police officers were shocked by Mr. Pope coming out of the bathroom or something like that.

The situation was strange. I did feel sorry for the guy.

Anonymous said...

A few observations:

1) All law enforcement officers are armed when they execute a search warrant and some may have weapons drawn. GBI, FBI, local cops- this is standard practice because they don't know if the person on the other side of the door is armed. This is usually the case whether they are investigating white collar or blue collar crimes. think Enron, Health South, Bernie Maddow...

2) I'm surprised at all the bloggers who have complained daily about the BOE and DCSS wasting money and now are complaining about a public servant investigating possible bid rigging. Hopefully the GBI will have more resources to analyze data and documents than the DA's office. Could be sour grapes- could be something there. I think we all just have to let this run its course.

3) Attorney client privilege exists to allow clients to have confidential communications with their attorneys. Client controls privilege and only client can waive it. It is a very complex issue in some situations.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the GBI was called in to get "space" between DA And Dr. Lewis because of Leadership DeKalb ties. Just a thought.

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, Thanks for your insight. My husband said the same thing about. He indicated this is something that should seldom by waived.

I do agree also that the investigation should occur if there are doubts.

I think that it is also important for the Popes. I cannot imagine what this has done to them.

I know Ms. Pope is sharp and the Dekalb County School System appears to be lucky to have her in their employment. This is just my opinion. However, everyone has an opinion and sometimes our opinions are correct and sometimes they are wrong.

Cerebration said...

Like I keep saying, time will tell. I'm just frustrated by how much time this has actually taken and if there ends up being nothing to it, then we're really going to be in a mess.

If you're going to endeavor to "investigate" - then dad gum it - get 'er done! This dragging things out for close to a year and holding a cloud over a high-level employee and by association, the whole school system is really harmful.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing is a complete and utter disaster. More really bad press for the entire school system. Crawford Lewis sure has a knack for big time scandals that garner the media attention. Whether the Jaheem suicide, the child killed in front of the elementary school where the principal asked the county for a traffic light, Lewis never addressing the $20,000 sembler donation to Elaine Boyer's booster club, the Gene Walker and Sembler fiasco, the pack of students from the Alternative High School who tried to storm Decatur High, the Marine school at Heritage, Cross Keys on TV and the AJC for its decripit facilities, and now the Pat Pope situation.

What a mess. Someone is going to lose their job for this. If Pope rigged bids, she's finished. But if it turns out there is nothing there, the BOE has no choice but to fire Crawford Lewis. A superintendent of a school system can't ask the Da to investigate the Chief Operating Officer of that school system unless he has irrefutable proof that a crime has been committed. If there is nothing there, Lewis' credibility is gone forever, and the BOE has no choice but to can him. Crazy, crazy, crazy stuff.

Anonymous said...

While I hate to see what is happening to Pat Pope, if an allegation is brought to the superintendent about possible improprieties, he has an obligation to investigate it, whether he personally believes it or not. Something of this magnitude should be done by an outside investigator rather than internally.

Several bloggers touched on this earlier that Pat brought a new level of professionalism to the district and there are/were many employees at the Sam Moss Center that we just collecting a pay check. There are moles throughout the district who are loyal to past superintendents and are more interested in protecting their turf (and paycheck) than anything else.

Could you imagine that some things are being done because that's the way we've always done it rather than doing it because it is the right thing to do? Hopefully this investigation will bring some of the moles out into the light and we can see them for what they really are.

I should point out that a majority of the employees of the district are good, hard working people that want to do the right thing. Unfortunately you have some that seek to undermine them, the district, and the taxpayers.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'm surprised at all the bloggers who have complained daily about the BOE and DCSS wasting money and now are complaining about a public servant investigating possible bid rigging

Not complaining about it, just how it has been handled by the DA's office - very poorly IMO. If you're going to investigate - do it. Don't take steps in December of 2008, then tell the public you really have not had to time to deal with it and then 10 months later go guns a blazin' into someone's home to make a point 0 whatever that point it - I don't know.

Ella Smith said...

I totally agree that Dr. Lewis has an obligation as School Super to report any irregularities. He could lose his lincense as an educator if he does not. This is an ethical thing for him to do. He should not be the one to investigate it inside the school system.

I agree:

While I hate to see what is happening to Pat Pope, if an allegation is brought to the superintendent about possible improprieties, he has an obligation to investigate it, whether he personally believes it or not. Something of this magnitude should be done by an outside investigator rather than internally.

Paula Caldarella said...

I agree, Ella, Lewis did the right thing in turning the investigation over to the DA. If not, the "coverup" term would be used.
From what I've seen Pat Pope has a done a good job in getting most of the projects in on time and at or near budget, so I hope there is nothing to this investigation. If she ruffles a few feathers or insists people actually work to get it done, so be it.

No Duh said...

Anon 12:51 -- and don't forget the answer erasing Principals and APs who were embraced by Dr. Lewis as his family!

If the Popes are guilty of -- whatever -- they are the smoothest criminals I've ever seen. On that clip Cere posted Vince looked perplexed, miffed -- not defensive at all. And for Pat to continue working in that environment when I'm sure she is highly employable elsewhere says she is either sure of her innocence or has balls of steel.

With all the computers, blueprints, etc. gone -- I guess there's no hope at all that LHS -- or any other project -- will move forward. Will the rest come to a grinding halt? Can anyone at Sam Moss take over to move things forward? Where is Pat?

Sorry if I'm being dense. Whose client is DCSS? The DA's? Are you saying we aren't hearing details from the DA because DCSS -- as is their privilege -- is asking the DA not to release details? Aren't DA proceedings public record? Sorry, I'm confused.

Paula Caldarella said...

I would think, hope, that plans, blueprints, etc., were located on a central host or other computers, not just Patricia Pope's. I know that my employer insists that company documents be stored out on our company's LAN.

Anonymous said...

P. Pope should have been suspended with pay as soon as the BOE brought in the DA. Since she was not, she was allowed the authority to run both construction and operations with mixed results. She used the "reduction-in-force" as a way to eliminate from the payroll highly qualified and loyal managers who had been with DCSS over 25 years. Who approved all the changes in personnel? Dr. Lewis or the BOE or both? Valuable personnel were let go while positions were filled with former principles with no experience in operations or maintenance. It seams that the issue of job discrimination should be added to the laundry list against her, Lewis and the BOE.

Paula Caldarella said...

Suspended for what reason? She has not been charged with anything. And knowing how corrupt (see: Heery debacle) the department was, perhaps housecleaning was called for?

Cerebration said...

I highly doubt that Pat Pope, with all of her years of experience in heavy construction, would put former principals in construction and maintenance management jobs to appease them - or anyone. She needs people under her who can manage construction - we didn't have that with Stan Pritchett and we all know what happened to millions of dollars under his watch -- wasted. But for some reason, people think Pritchett hung the moon...

Cerebration said...

This little report I found on Ella's school blog perked up my ears - it seemed like such an innocuous investigation at first...

Contracts Reviews Investigation into Pat Pope's Office Allegations Are Finally Sent to the District Attorney's Office For Review

The results finally of the allegations of irregularities with DeKalb County School’s construction contracts, in Pat Pope’s office, have finally been forwarded, to the district attorney’s office. The school system forwarded this review to the district attorney’s office and requested that “a few things” to be looked into, to make sure a criminal investigation was not necessary. The school system would not cite specifics because the investigation was still open and ongoing.

This story was mentioned in the Community Briefs in the Metro Atlanta Journal Constitution on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2009."

Paula Caldarella said...

Is this wording significant? Everything I read is an investigation into Pat Pope's "office". Perhaps this investigation is not just centered on her, but also previous goings-on in her office prior to her arrival? I don't know this all seems odd to me.

fedupindcss said...

Was Moody the company that did Lakeside's air conditioning? Because it is terrible--they leak, are loud enough to drown out teachers, and the belts break.

Here is what is strange about this whole investigation: in the past it has seemed that DCSS, when they encounter an employee who is dirty, just gets them to pay them back and then allows them to quit. They virtually never prosecute. I mean, how many bookkeepers have they audited, no results of the audit are announced, and then suddenly they are gone?

And on the other side, how many DCSS employees can folks on this blog point to as incompetent or worse, who not only stay but get promoted? What is it about them that gets them insulated from this sort of investigation?

Anonymous said...

If there is one single thing we can do to improve DCSS, it is to ask your BOE members to hire firms to do forensic audits, facilities audits and personnel audits, and make all the reports public. The number of managers and administrators has increased dramatically despite an enrollment that is static if not slightly decreasing. Some departments have budgets that increase and increase, like Tony Hunter's MIS, but there are no metrics to gauge performance.

The BOE has to have some seperation from the administration. We need audits!!!

Cerebration said...

I think that's what Dr. Brown was doing - he had all of the jobs audited and tested to see if people were actually doing the job they were labeled and being paid to do (many weren't)... We all know what happened to Dr. Brown.

Anonymous said...

The DCSS website has no phone or contact information on any employees at Sam Moss in charge of Plant Services. It only shows Transportation and Fleet. I wonder why? Check it's not there, then find out who are really in charge and where they came from....nuff said.

Paula Caldarella said...

Sorry, I don't get why this is important, though I'm open to being enlightend.

Anonymous said...

These are taxpayer paid positions, and their names and contact info. should be listed online for public view. An org chart like this would be nice:

Let's face the facts, as parents, taxpayers and voters, we allowed DCSS to build up a huge Central Office and underperforming Sam Moss Center. We didn't demand accountability, we didn't demand audits and performance reviews. So DCSS built up a monster bureaucracy of high paid administrators and too many managers, and still nothing gets done.

Our BOE has always had a "see no evil" view. There is absolutely no accountability. And now you have the No. 1 DCSS employee having the No. 2 DCSS employee investigated by the DA and Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Just an imaginable embarassment for the school system.

Paula Caldarella said...

So, you think all taxpayer-funded employees should have their names and numbers posted? Is there an on-line directory for the State of Georgia employees? I know there is not for Federal Government employees - my aunt works for the Feds and trying to get her number is impossible.

btw, you can find employee email address informatio via the DCSS website.

Anonymous said...

School systems should publish the contact info for key administrative staff because taxpayers should be calling them, NOT board members, to get answers and information. One huge problem that this county has is that it is impossible to know who to contact for an issue so people just end up calling their board members and this leads to micro-management by the board.

Cerebration said...

Interesting argument. I would say that certain people (managers of departments) should be easier to find online. If teachers, counselors and staff emails have to be listed on school websites, why not the guy who is responsible for the pot hole in the bus turn off?

FWIW -- I notice on the agenda for the called board meeting, Pat Pope is not presenting the construction contract - so here's a name to add to your file, since as Anon pointed out, you won't be able to find it on your own -

1. Stoneview Elementary School Kitchen Renovation Contract Award
Presented by: Mr. Steven Donahue, Executive Director, Plant Services

Motion by: ________________
Seconded by: ________________
Vote: _____________

Paula Caldarella said...

As I said email information is available. IMO, that should be the first mode of contact anyway.

Cerebration said...

And then there's the rest of the agenda -

It is requested that the DeKalb Board of Education adjourn the October 16, 2009 called
meeting to executive session to discuss a personnel and legal matters.

Motion by: ________________
Seconded by: _________________
Vote: ____________

Cerebration said...

BTW - for the people who would like access to the construction budgets and contracts - you can find pretty much anything you might be looking for by starting here -

or for school budgets go here -

Anonymous said...

To Anon2:07, if you go to the various department pages, you can see staffer along with either their email address or phone number. In the Operations Department, only Pat Pope's name is listed with her contact information which suggests she may want inquiries to go through her office. No problem with her office serving as a clearing house unless you know who you want to speak with. In that case, one would probably have that contact information. Many of the project managers willingly provide that information.

Sounds like your supposition is much ado about nothing.....

Anonymous said...

Of course there is no reason to list every phone number and e-mail address for Sam Moss Center staff, but there should definitely be an org chart with names of managers, the amount of staff in each division, etc. I would love to compare a current org chart with one from ten or fifteen years ago.

If you remember back two years ago, there was an abomination of a mess with some school HVAC systems. There was no regularly scheduled maintenance, no preventative maintenance, no cleaning out of ductwork, etc. Some schools has visible mold and mildew coming out of their HVAC systems, some had broken ductwork. Speak to any HVAC engineer, and they'll let you know that THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN.

Not just were the students and staff getting horrble air quality, expensive HVAC equipment was not reaching its full life span, and the systems were using more electricity than needed if they were properly maintained.

DCSS has three of four full-timers just for HVAC. Even with 145 DCSS facilities, three or four full-timers is enough to inspect and perform preventative maintenance on all DCSS HVAC systems, and if they need to, they can contract out big jobs.

We need org charts with manager names to hold staff accountable in situations such as this. Poor air quality affects learning and absenteeism. Poorly maintained HVAC systems costs taxpayer money for this expensive equipment and utility costs. These units should last 15 years, not five or ten, if you agressively take care of it the right way.

It ain't that hard to be on top of stuff, and Sam Moss isn't, whether grounds maintainance, roofing and gutters, HVAC, etc.

Anonymous said...

Steven Donahue is the former middle school principle from Peachtree Middle School. He was named Executive Director of Plant Services a few months after the reduction-in-force when managers with 25 years or more of experience were dismissed. The HVAC department had hired a Mep Manager who did wonders at my school and others...he spent an entire half day with me reviewing our upcoming renovation needs. I think he was part of the reduction-in-force because he was so recently hired...The best were let go and we have the left-overs.

Paula Caldarella said...

Yeah, I don't understand the Steve Donahue move at all.

Cerebration said...

So, you are all not kidding. The guy who is now in charge of Plant Services is a former MS PRINCIPAL?!!! I can tell you without a doubt - this could not possibly be Pat Pope's choice. She knows construction and respects construction people - there are plenty of people available with years of experience for a job like this - she wouldn't put an educator in a job like this any more than I would expect Lewis to put the HVAC guy in the classroom!

Anonymous said...

Pat Pope is not as clean as you think.... She was in charge of SPLOST under Halford... Some forget this. When Stan Pritchett was about to get fired for taking "kick backs".. He jumped ship and went to CAU before they could get anything on him. Halford knew he was retiring and did not hire anyone for that position. Pat and a few others took over...

When Johnny Brown was hired. He fired Pat Pope because of the the conflict of interest that could happen...

Crawford Lewis hires her back to the COO position this time. In the meantime... With the understanding that she hire Henry Lewis (you got it Crawford's cousin, if I am correct). Well... Mr. Lewis got caught doing the nasty with his secrectary in his office and Pat wanted to fire him. CLew would not have this to a family member.... So he moves Henry to Memorial Drive.. I am sure with a nice pay raise and has sent the lynch mob after Pat.

More to come later....

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI employees are instructed not to give direct numbers of staff in Building B or Executive Director's offices or their coordinators and are reprimanded and intimidated routinely about this breach of "protocol."

Moreover, as we continue to dive head first into more spending with Pat Pope, the Sam Moss Center, Heery Int'l, Jaheem and every other lawsuit we don't have press on, where is the money that is currently being diverted from teacher retirement? Where is the interest on the money going? Where is the GBI for that (employers must contribute to Soc. Security or another plan - they can not just arbitrarily not contribute to either - DeKalb went to court in the 70's just for that ruling.)Teachers and students are getting the shaft in every way imaginable and our police force is holding people up in showers based on an investigation that is going the way of all others ---straight to the bank of taxpayers.

Ella Smith said...

I have heard there has been a great deal of loving going on for a long time around the central office staff so if this is true I would not think this would be considered an offense to fire someone over. Now I never believe rumors I hear. However, I have also always heard that many times where there is smoke there could be fire.

No Duh said...

Are we sure this isn't just the story line of NBC's new sitcom:
"Central Office" ?

Ella Smith said...

It is. How did you figure out what I was talking about. You caught on to my joke. I am proud of you, as this would never truly happen..

Ella Smith said...

I actually listen to some bus drivers give me the gossip of all gossip of the central office not long ago. I had heard most of it before. However, some of it did shock me. When they heard I had run for school board they thought for some reason I needed to know all the juicy gossip. I certainly hope none of it is true. I feel sure it is absolutely not. It is just a soap opera story.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Anon 5:37.

Sounds like I'm quoting the bible there!

Taking teachers' retirement contributions (paid in lieu of the Social Security that's not taken out of teachers' checks by DCSS) is so much more injurious to teachers in that it reduces future retirement and investment income.

With furloughs teachers would have gotten the days off, with short term (I hope) reductions in pay that could have actually put teachers in a lower tax bracket so they're not paying as much income tax.

Teachers are not having SS taken out, nor is DCSS paying contributions to retirement in lieu of lost SS credits. There oughta be a law--but alas, there's some kind of regulatory loophole here.

This is BS!!! Ask any teacher who has a furlough--the reduction in pay hurts temporarily, but the day off is wonderful.

In the eyes of DCSS admin, teachers are the runts, the underlings, the budget-inconveniencers, the scapegoats for poor achievement, and the America's Choice teaching drones who are easy targets for fake budget cuts (DCCS just redistributed the money taken from teachers to the benefit of the top-heavy central admin!)

I would discourage any new teachers or veteran teachers looking for jobs from seeking employment with DCSS.

A change's gotta come!

Cerebration said...

Anons 5:25, 5:27 and 7:33 - you all just are blowing my mind! I truly had no idea that Pat Pope worked for DCSS before! Is that really true??? I have to double check this somehow. And the cousin doing the 'nasty' - aaaaak! And the insight as to the fact that the teachers are not getting anything contributed to their retirements at the moment is horrible!!! No Duh, you are so right -- this has truly become a sit-com -- either that or a Shakespearian tragedy!

Paula Caldarella said...

Then why did the teachers "union" okay DeKalb's plan and blast the school systems that insisted on furloughs?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Anon 5:25 here. A member of my close family works in Sam Moss for over 20 years. They were there when Pope was in Charge of Splost spending under Halford.

As... doing the "nasty" is true too.

Paula Caldarella said...

Someone asked for an organization chart:

Cerebration said...

wow -- I did find out there's a Harold M. Lewis making $101K a year as plant operations director - nice!

Ella Smith said...

This soap opera stuff is interesting tonight.

The agreement that the Dekalb Teachers Union worked out with the school system I thought was sad. The furloughs would have been more benificial to the teachers I thought. The administration did promise to put the money back in when they could afford to. However, what if they can never afford to.

fedupindcss said...

Dunwoody Mom--because they aren't really a union, since you can't be one when you don't even believe in collective bargaining.

I am not sure why we are all so surprised by the cronyism on display here. We all know that DCSS has been a jobs program. See: Frances Edwards & family. You all know you have your own examples. Please share.

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

oh, ooops! Did I delete that last post? Why, yes. Sorry, anon. If you would like to re-post without the name-calling and the personal bashing, feel free.

Folks, FWIW, I've said many times that no, I am not on the payroll (if you only knew how ordinary I really am), and no, I am not an attorney. I'm just a frustrated person who used to chat with people about school issues at - and the bloggers there encouraged me to start this blog. It has grown into something very popular because first, DeKalb schools never quite stop handing out fodder for us to discuss and two, there are so many other frustrated parents, teachers and others who just want good schools for our kids and we're tired of being taken for a ride.

We do our best to get to the bottom of things here - and we welcome comments and input from just about everyone. But please, pay attention to our only two rules on the home page,

RULE #1: This is a conversation, not a writing contest, so we don't correct grammar, spelling or any other typo - we all know what we meant to say!

RULE #2: Be nice. No profanity. No name-calling. Make your point tactfully.

Thanks so much --

-"Cere" - (not on anyone's payroll, not a lawyer, not a cheerleader, not even a DCSS parent anymore - hurrah!)

Cerebration said...

ps, it was bound to happen, but I've decided to start moderating the comments for a while. Seems the subject is bringing up a lot of heated remarks.

Hope you'll all keep the comments coming. I'll try to approve them as fast as I can.

Cerebration said...

I will, however, repost the relevant portions of anon's deleted post - without the accusations and personal name-calling...

She (Pope) and Crawford were in on the car deal together...she was lined up to buy her old surplus explorer for a reduced rate after Crawford's car deal (she just had to wait until the service center fixed it up after a wreck). She was going to buy it and give it to her niece--who she also set up with internships over the summer (even after she laid off real employees).

There are a lot of lies and efforts to hide past indiscretions going on right now. The Board is not "fully cooperating" with the DA--if they were, why wouldn't you let your attorney's talk about what they know about Pat Pope.

Gwen Keys has done nothing wrong...she is doing her job as an officer of the court. She is of the upmost moral standard. This is not the case of Pope or Lewis. They are scheming... they are trying to hide something. The truth will come out.

You guys need to be fair. The DA Office is doing their job--in spite of the lies and non-cooperation it is getting from the DCSS. Why would Crawford ask for an investigation and then pull back..., because he never expected it to go this far. He underestimated the DA. That is his mistake. That is Pat Pope's mistake.

The DA is doing the right thing...they will (or already have) uncover the criminal acts of Pope, her husband, that other contractor and Lewis. Show some support and cheer on our public servants who are actually doing their jobs and keep their oaths.

Anonymous said...

"Harold M. Lewis making $101K a year as plant operations director"

Can anyone verify that Harold is related to Crawford? Please, please Crawford isn't that blatant to give his cousin a job with over $100k per year. Does Harold have a college degree in a related field? Did he has any experience in plant operations before DCSS?

This system is out of control at the top. Teachers and some principals are doing nice things, like the Cross Keys principal. But the Central Office and Sam Moss Center are going to make SACS come in and look hard at our accreditation.

Anonymous said...

Ah, there's really no such thing as a teacher's union in Georgia. Our state's historical animosity towards unions has made it difficult for any public employees' union to effectively organize and made it impossible to engage in collective bargaining. Even if the local Dekalb chapter of GAE objected to the end of retirement contributions, they have absolutely NO bargaining power. DCSS doesn't even have to listen to their objections.

DCSS, in it's current incarnation, could not survive in a state with a strong teachers' union.

Anyone looked at a DCSS teacher contract? All of the obligations and responsibilities fall on the teachers, the only obligation DCSS has is to pay the teacher and decide whether or not to award a contract to the teacher for the next contract term. It's really a joke of a contract.

Paula Caldarella said...

Then why the delay in the DA's office from last December until now? I'm sorry, something just does not pass the "smell test" as they say.

Paula Caldarella said...

Also, for your own sake, when you post on a blog you are never really anonymous. If you will recall a recent case where a blogger was charged with making false accusations and slandering an individual. The courts ordered Google (I believe) to provide the identify of this person. So, anonymous, you better be sure of the statements you make.

Ella Smith said...


However, the rights of the school board client priviledge also could affect other big cases going on which we have invested millions of dollars. To give up such a right is a big decision and even it may look like it would be the right thing to do on the surface it may really not be.

I think Gwen Key will investigate the situation to the best of her ability. To get a search warrant to go into the husband's business and the home I thought was interesting also.

I have heard many rumors from within the organization. Of course they are just rumors.

I want to continue to believe the best of everyone. If we do have corruption in our school system then I do want it cleaned up. However, our school system does not need this kind of attention which could take attention off the goal of educating our children.

Cerebration said...

I agree, Ella and as a result, we need to cut back on randomly posting rumors, etc, here -- when we really just don't know anything.

So far, we have bits of information that we know are true, some that have a thread of truth and some coming out of left field -- based on what we all know - which is not very much in the big scheme of things.

When the DA, guns drawn, stormed Vince Pope at home as he was getting showered in the morning, it got a bit scary to me. Therefore, I am very glad the GBI is now involved and am hopeful the investigation will get to the bottom of what has been happening --- no matter where it ends.

(BTW - if you have been a registered user and front page publisher like Ella, your posts will automatically go right up, no need for moderating your comments.)

Anonymous said...

If you go to the DCSS web site and click on Community Net (left side of the top blue bar) and then on telecommunications then you get the DCSS phone book. The drop down includes buildings a, b and Sam Moss Center. I usually email these people because if they are out fixing the AC in one of the 154 locations in 254 square miles they can't be there to answer the phone. DCSS uses an online system to request service and the requester can track the response and priority. Oh, and did I say that according to the SPLOST survey over 25 of those 154 locations needed entirely new HVAC units? Those get more maintenance until the sales tax produces the revenue to replace them (each replacement takes 6 to 2 years depending on the building. I know these sounds like a long time but sometimes we have to remove the ceiling and the lighting to replace the HVAC. I suggest your study this link

Parents aren't the only ones who get frustrated. There are some people here who are doing the best they can for our students. We work with what you give us. We believe that people who complain want to improve the system and we assume good faith-meanwhile we take abuse as incompetents and cronies.

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed, Pat Pope replaced Stan Pritchett on SPLOST II - here is the link to the Forensic Audit where that is stated:

I am still reading the audit.

(from DeKalb Parent)

Cerebration said...

Here's what it the undated cover letter written by Dr. Lewis releasing the June 1, 2006 SPLOST II forensic audit says about Pat Pope -

Last October, we hired Patricia Pope as Chief Operating Officer, which includes responsibility for construction program oversight. She has been involved in more than $5 billion in construction projects over 26 years with The Lathrop Company, Skanska USA and Manhattan Construction Company. Projects in which she participated include Philips Arena, The Omni Hotel and The Federal Reserve Bank, just to name a few. We are very pleased with the leadership that she is providing; in fact, many of the recommendations in the forensic audit have already been implemented, even before the audit began.

Further down in the report we find --

DCSS designated Dr. Stanley Pritchett as the Associate Superintendent of Business
Affairs and Plant Services in 1996. In this capacity, Dr. Pritchett served as the DCSS
representative in charge of both the SPLOST I and SPLOST II programs until October 2005, at
which time he was replaced by Mrs. Patricia Pope.

Dr. Pritchett was the DCSS interface with
HM, and was also responsible for the recommendations to the Superintendent with respect to A/E selection and, in conjunction with HM, for the selection of contractors to perform the
various school construction projects. Dr. Pritchett and HM were responsible for making recommendations to the Board relating to project selection and prioritization. HM has been the
PM since January 1998.

During the performance of SPLOST II, DCSS had the following Superintendents of the School System:

Dr. James Hallford, from the start of SPLOST II to June 30,2002

> Dr. Johnny Brown , from July 1,2002 to October 4,2004

> Dr. Crawford Lewis, from October 5,2004 to the present

Approximately twenty five major Contractors and twenty one Architect and or Engineering firms have received contracts for work on the SPLOST II Program,

As a note, if you are wondering what some of the acronyms mean, I do know that NA is Needs Assessments, AL is Above the Line and BL is Below the Line (referring to an imaginary line of projects drawn according to their priority.)

Cerebration said...

I just don't see anything about Pat Pope having worked for the school system before Lewis hired her in Oct. 05. Looks like she was out working in the commercial construction industry up until Lewis hired her to replace Pritchett.

No Duh said...

When the teachers agreed to take the retirement cuts instead of the furloughs I was stunned. I could not believe how short-sighted they were.

Sorry teachers, but if you let your association/union negotiate that for you, you have hired fools to manage your finances.

No Duh said...

Cere -- say it ain't so! You're censoring ME? I've posted front page before :(

Cerebration said...

That's weird, no duh, you have the same privileges as Ella -- no worries - this is just until we get beyond this contentious topic... I'll keep you "posted"!

Cerebration said...

Also - if anyone would like to send something for me to view or edit and then post for you anonymously - send it to me via email -

Anonymous said...

Just a point of clarification - teachers did not "let" the organization "negotiate" on our behalf. We were blindsided by the announcement without recourse regarding our retirement. We are not that foolish but we also obviously are not that respected either. Shutten and ODE let DCSS rob teachers to help pay for America's choice, bigger admin salaries etc -- INDEFINITELY!!!

Cerebration said...

I am not a teacher, so I could be wrong, but I don't think that ODE or anyone else is actually a union - but they do try to represent teacher's perspectives and teachers pay some kind of membership dues. Then again, administrators can join the group also. That said, if they endorsed this plan, they did not serve teachers well at all. A furlough is a one-time hit. Missing retirement contributions can impact you for the rest of your life (just ask Clark Howard!)

If I were a teacher, I might consider checking out MACE - those guys are all about teachers. The lady from ODE is much too meek and mild - she is like a kindergarten teacher. I think I'd go with the big boys -- Lewis and Josey can't stand Dr. JOhn Trotter and MACE - and that may be an indication of their power.

Paula Caldarella said...

cere, be careful, very careful of promoting John Trotter...per a friend of mine that teaches in Gwinnett.

Cerebration said...

You know, I've heard that, but really, something needs to be done for teachers in GA. I think it would be interesting to do some kind of study comparing the success of schools in states that have teacher's unions vs states that don't. I'm not certain, but I have a feeling that the unionized states have better performing schools (ie: the profession of teaching is attracting more highly qualified people due to the better pay/benefits and representation) -- ??

Just a theory. I hate seeing out teachers take it on the nose like they have so far this year. Admin staff took a 2% pay cut supposedly - but when you make over $100k, that's not very painful.

Anonymous said...

Cere... I will tell you... Do not endorse John Trotter in any way.... I worked in Clayton County when he got who he wanted on the school board to be his puppet... He is the MAIN reason that Clayton County got into the mess it is today.

Ella Smith said...

A guy actually did the negotiations for the teachers Union in Dekalb.

The teachers did not vote on this. The agreement was made without any agreement with the teachers. I heard Dr. Lewis promise to give the teacher's back the money when the school sytem could afford to. However, again what if the school system never has this money ahead. This was a very poor decision. However, the furloughs have had long consequences as we still have not got caught up from not having our work days in Fulton.

Anonymous said...

There's very little about the present DCSS administration that I like, including the new going on line Monday night that will allow central office MIS to monitor that is snoop or pull up the screen of every (yes every) computer in DeKalb County schools teachers, administrators, and students. Wouldn't mind if it was to real time monitor the inadequacies of eSIS, but we all know it is born of paranoia and a desire to snoop.

Heard yesterday that Woodward Elementary ws given 30 days to fix a sewage problem or DeKalb Watershed management was going to close the school. But they forgot to e-mail a press release to Kristina Torres.

Actually in their defense, DeKalb is still paying into the Teacher Retirement System(the south's version of Social Security) same as always. The payment they postponed? cancelled? was a supplemental retirement fund they paid into like fidelity etc.

Here's an excerpt of the announcement "During an emergency called Board of Education meeting today, the Board voted to temporarily suspend the Board-sponsored retirement plan from August 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010 for all employees who participate in the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) retirement plan. Contributions to TRS will continue as normal. This action provides sufficient reductions to offset the 3% cut to state funding and the equivalent of three days pay. Additionally, this action makes funds available in the event an additional reduction takes place after December 31, 2009. The DeKalb County Board of Education is one of only a few school districts in Georgia that provides an additional retirement resource beyond TRS.~ The temporary suspension of the Board-sponsored contribution is the least disruptive solution, generates enough reduction to offset the cuts to state revenue, and allows all employees to maintain the same level of take home pay."

Cerebration said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Anon. Teachers - make up the difference with your own contributions to a private Roth IRA or a regular IRA - since as Clark Howard tells us, a gap in contributions now, can cost thousands down the line in retirement. If you think about it, you can make your own retirement contribution, which effectively changes your personal cut-back to one of current income - not future retirement savings. This is one action taken by the board that you have the power to change on your own.

Anonymous said...

The Pat Pope/Crawford Lewis situation seems right out of the Clayton County/SACS accreditation drama. DCSS and Crawford are lucky that the AJC doesn't have any columnists any more and they don't even really do editorials any more. The Champion never says anything negative about the DeKalb gov't or school system as they receive the bulk of their advertising from them. The DeKalb Neighbor does a decent job of basic county news coverage, but they don't have a columnist or do local editorials. Local TV news have the attention span of a gnat, so while they covered the DA's raiding of Pope's office and home, local TV will not follow up on it.
Even the GoDeKalb blog faded away.

So this blog is the only place for county residents to discuss and question the going-on of a bilion dollar taxpayer funded entity. The BOE members and DCSS Central Office administrators who complain about this blog are pretty darn lucky their is only one outlet that is calling them out.

This Pat Pope investigation is a clear example of a school administration that is spiralling out of control. With a BOE that never asks any questions, nothing is really going to change. The Crawford Lewis will continue to bungle (eSIS!) and spend more and more of our taxpayer money on non-classroom spending, like Ron Hunter's ridiculous promotion from MIS Director to Executive Director, and Yvonne Butler's even more astounding new Executive Director promotion to a new made up job when she has no formal experience in Health & Wellness. We may have the worst school system administration in the state right now.

Anonymous said...

However, instead of contributing to Social Securtiy the School Board contributes to the IRA or whatever it is called. Currently this money is not being put into this account for those teachers instead of taking furlough days if I understand correctly what is happening. Now the school system would never be able not to be able to pay social security benifits for one year to employees. However, this appears to be an ok solution. To start with I did not understand this was what was going on. Now I do believe this is what is going on. I do believe the school system does believe that they at sometime will return this money to the teachers. However, what about the teachers close to retirement. What if they never have the money?

My concern is that this was social security money (My understanding) that was not being paid into the teachers IRAs. Teachers in Dekalb will never get a Social Security check or receive a social security check of their husband's or wife's due to the way this is handled.

I did talk to a senator this morning from Dekalb who hears their is something big coming down from the investigation of Pope and the Dekalb County School System.
I guess we will have to wait and see and not start any rumors which may not be true.

Cerebration said...

Which state senator - Ron Ramsey?

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow signing back in. Interesting info all around.
Leadership Dekalb's grads reads more like a rogue's gallery then a training group for involved citizens.
I'm not up enough on Pope to comment yet, but I didn't realize Pritchett went back to before SPLOST actually started building.
Knowing that 'Ol Stan was in from the get go until when Pope took over a few years back changes
things quite a bit in my past research.
Cere- Might you or one of the posters be able to list all of the
NEW schools constructed during Pritchett's tenure as head of construction? See if the acreage for each school is readily available, as it will prove relevant in a later posting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Oh, No!!!!!! Celeb This is Ella. See how well I hide my identity.

Actually, I need a little help girl. Maybe I can buy you some coffee this week-end.

Anonymous said...

I heard that there is alot more that could be coming and it may not be pretty. My source was not Ramsey at all.

Girl, you know I do not give out my sources. I have many and I keep all of them top secret.

However, I hope this is all smoke and mirrors for our school system. However, I do respect Ms. Keys. I think she wants to do the right thing and clean up corruption. I think she is trying to do a good jog. However, there are some problems in Dekalb.

Cerebration said...

Well, let's see Sonof (nice to see that you're back) - SPLOST 2 projects -- new construction. (BTW, SPLOST 2 projects were about 98% complete at the end of 2008).

New Oakvale(view?) ES (ES "C") ($15m) ($ 5,090,904.00 reimbursed by GA DOE) (17 acres)

New Miller Grove HS built in 2005 ($34m+) ($11,736,585.00 reimbursed by GA DOE) (48.8 acres)

New Arabia HS built in 2009 ($50m+) ($12,319,918.00 reimbursed by GA DOE!) (80 acres next to Davidson-Arabia Mountain National Nature Preserve.

McNair Cluster ES ($15m+) (I don't know the details -- anyone?)

Stone Mt MS built in 2006 ($25m) ($ 8,901,312.00 reimbursed by GA DOE) (39.1 acres)

The new Tucker MS built in 2004. ($20m+) ($ 7,716,193.00 reimbursed by GA DOE) (14.5 acres)

The new Chamblee MS built in 2006 ($17m) ($ 6,887,328.00 reimbursed by GA DOE) (14.5 acres)

New Mt Industrial Center (we owned this property) ($16m+)

Then there's Dunwoody ES which was a land trade with GA Perimeter College (DCSS gave the college our High School of Technology North and they gave us land down the street to build Dunwoody ES) (No reimbursement from the State)

And FWIW -- MLK High school was built in 2001 (SPLOST 1???) and it sits on 131.8 acres

Lithonia HS was also built in 2001 (SPLOST 1???) and sits on 40 acres


Then, SPLOST 2 projects that were reno's, additions or new buildings such as auditoriums, (not HVAC or roofing projects) but no land expansion include:

Peachtree MS ($23m+) ($ 7,894,320.00 reimbursed by GA DOE)

Tucker HS demo and rebuild ($53m+)

Columbia HS renovation ($13m+) (seriously over budget) ($ 1,765,948.00 reimbursed by GA DOE)

Towers HS renovation/auditorium, etc (seriously over budget) ($20m+)

SW DeKalb HS renovation($21m+) - they have just been approved for another $20m or so for a performing arts center with SPLOST 3 funding.

Stephenson HS reno ($6m)

Lithonia MS Conversion ($8m)

McNair Discovery Learning Center ($ 5,249,995.00 reimbursed by GA DOE)

McNair HS renovation ($22m+)

Rowland ES reno ($4m)

Hightower ES reno ($3m)

Coralwood ES reno ($2.7m)


Those are the pricier projects - there are many others that were not so glamorous like roofing, HVAC, etc. Total SPLOST 2 spending to Feb 2009 is a whopping $ 484,244,962. (Revenue collected via the penny SPLOST 2 sales tax: $ 524,215,723)

Anonymous said...

Teachers in Georgia are not unionized!
There is no one organization that all teachers belong to, and some teachers do not belong to any professional organization. There is no voting on issues, no negoations with the county and no collective bargaining.
Teachers who do belong to GAE or PAGE generally do so for the legal coverage and advice available. (Remember even good teachers can be accused of things they did not do!)
Please stop blaming the teachers or these “unions” for the fast one Dekalb County pulled on the teachers regarding the retirement money.
Please stop the persistent rumor that there is such a thing as teacher unions n Georgia.

Cerebration said...

Thanks, Anon. I really didn't think we had inferred that ODE and other groups are unions - but let me be clear - no -- teachers in Georgia are not unionized. (Neither are many other professions which is why so many businesses are relocating south.) But there are these "teachers professional organizations" and they are supposed to advocate for teachers, and teachers pay membership dues to belong. They don't seem to be very effective though.

Also - regarding construction -- I wish to re-post the schedule regarding who worked in DCSS overseeing construction - and when -- this is from the SPLOST 2 Audit:

DCSS designated Dr. Stanley Pritchett as the Associate Superintendent of Business
Affairs and Plant Services in 1996. In this capacity, Dr. Pritchett served as the DCSS
representative in charge of both the SPLOST I and SPLOST II programs until October 2005, at
which time he was replaced by Mrs. Patricia Pope.

Cerebration said...

Q: Where was Pat Pope working between 1996 and October, 2005? I think it was in the corporate construction world. She was involved in building Philips Arena - I don't think that building is too old.

No Duh said...

The Organization of DeKalb Educators (ODE) is an affiliate of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) and an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA).

The GAE's website highlights:
"Legal Services

It's our job to watch out for your rights 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 365 days a year. Even when you’re on summer vacation. And if you ever have a problem, we’ll be there to defend you ASAP.

Did you know that the Georgia Association of Educators is the only organization in Georgia that automatically gives you free legal representation? We’re also the only organization for educators in Georgia that will automatically fund your legal defense.

GAE’s legal services department has certainly won our share of victories—on behalf of our members. So far, we’ve dealt with unfair dismissal, non-renewal and termination, contract disputes, civil rights, and constitutional claims—to name a few.

Trust us. If something ever happens to you, you’ll want GAE on your side. No matter what, we’ll defend and protect you whenever you need us and whatever you need us for.

That’s something no other organization in the state can claim or promise.

The Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) is the only organization that automatically defends members and provides $1 million
in liability insurance per occurrence.

With nearly 40,000 members and growing across Georgia, GAE is the oldest and most powerful organization in the state representing public school employees

All About GAE

The Georgia Association of Educators (or GAE, for short) is a professional organization for public education professionals.

At our heart, GAE is a grassroots organization. Our strength comes from the dedication and involvement of our members. At last count, there are more than 40,000 GAE members across the state. Every one of those voices count in this organization—yours will, too. You see, GAE exists for you.

As an organization, we believe that public educators are the faces on education’s front line. We exist to support, protect, and strengthen those who nurture Georgia’s children. After all, our educational program can be only as good as our educators. For us, standing up for education means standing up for public educators. That’s who we are as an organization. That’s what we believe. And that’s why we exist."

Additionally, GAE has a huge lobbying network that stays on top of state (NEA does national) legistration that could impact educators' pocketbooks or daily teaching methods/standards.

So, a membership in GAE is basically a fee to hold a group of lawyers on retainer should you ever be challenged by a parent or your school system (what am I saying!!? School systems don't challenge their teachers -- they move them around or promote them!)

Sure, GAE does put on seminars for teachers to "better" themselves. I wonder whether these seminars are mostly attended by active teachers or mostly unemployed teachers. The teachers I know don't have the disposable income to attend seminars and complain so much about how much personal time their job already takes that I believe few of them would voluntarily spend another minute in a seminar about their craft.

Too bad not all professionals are able to pay a yearly fee for guaranteed legal service and defense -- regardless of guilt!!

Cerebration said...

Interesting! So I went to their website to download the membership application (very confusing!!) - from what I can tell these are the dues for a full-time teacher (I think you pay for GAE and NEA --

Active Professional Full-time AC-1-100 $162.00

Active Certified Full-time* AC-1-100 $270.00

At any rate -- even if you just pay for GAE - that's $270 a year - times 40,000 members = $10,800,000.


Cerebration said...

You would think that with a $10 million operating budget, they could update their website a little more regularly. There is no news or info at all on the decision to stop making retirement contributions, but there is a report about the decision not to pay STEP increases in 08-09.

In fact - their latest "News Flash" is dated last July.

ODE News Flash

Call for Delegate Nominees for the National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly
July 1-6, 2009 San Diego, CA

We anticipate ODE will be authorized to send thirty (30) Delegates to be authorized by the NEA. An election for Delegates to the 2009 NEA RA will take place in late February if necessary.

Anonymous said...

"SW DeKalb HS renovation($21m+) - they have just been approved for another $20m or so for a performing arts center with SPLOST 3 funding."

Remember that the SW DeKalb project was originally budgeted for $9 million, and eventually went so much over budget it eventually costs taxpayers 421 million. The BOE allowed a project to go $12 million dollars over budget. But hey. it's not there money, why should they worry?

Who was the architect on this well over budget project? Robert L. Brown. Leadership DeKalb alum. Former Grady Hospital Board chair and member during the height of scandal and malfeasance at Grady, like their $300 million bond project in 1993 that was never completed (there are actually unfinished floors). And somehow, our DeKalb Delegation state senators and state representatives (most of whom are leadership DeKalb alumni), which include DCSS head of Internal Affairs and State Sen. Ron Ramsey, somehow voted for Robert L. Brown to be the DeKalb rep on the State Transportation Board, the most powerful unelected position in Georgia. Despite Brown's utter failure as a grady board member.

But Robert Brown is a Leadership DeKalb alum. He'll continue to get contracts from DCSS. of course, He's buddies with Crawford Lewis.

So even if Pat Pope is pushed out, SPLOST projects will go millions of dollars over budget. And freinds of Crawford and the BOE will get big contracts. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow pestering Cere
with one more request (thanks for the SPLOST 2 postings).
I'd like the SPLOST 1 new buildings and their acreage, also

Anonymous said...

How about all this property bought in SW Dekalb? Who was the owner of the properties? The Department of Education eventually paid for some of these projects.

Who owned the property that the school system bought to build the schools?

Who bought up the property and sold it to the school system when they were aware the school system was going to build schools in the area. Who had insider information to do this? That would be interesting to do a little investigation work. I would not be suprise as to what someone might find out and who was involved in the deals.

Cerebration said...

Just backtracking for a minute. Here's one of the first news reports on this issue. As you can see, in about 4-6 weeks, we will be coming up on a year-long investigation.

Top DeKalb school official under ‘review’

Computers seized from chief operating officer Patricia Pope’s office

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, December 04, 2008

A top official of the DeKalb County school system is facing an “internal review” over allegations of irregularities in school contracts, according to individuals close to the school system.

The review involves the office of Patricia Pope, the chief operating officer of the DeKalb system. This week, school system police officers and information systems employees confiscated computers from

Pope’s office, according to a person who spoke to someone who was there.

Officials also interviewed several operations employees who work under Pope.

No announcement of the review has been made. Superintendent Crawford Lewis, reached by phone Thursday, confirmed in general that a review is being done but said it involves a personnel matter. He would not say who or what is being looked at, adding that “until I have all of the facts, it would be inappropriate to make any comments.”
Pope, reached at her office Thursday, referred questions to the system’s spokesman, Dale Davis. Davis cited the review as a personnel matter and declined comment.

Lewis said the review “is ongoing” and that he hopes to “know something more” next week.
Lewis hired Pope in late 2005 as part of an administrative reorganization of the system’s construction program, about which independent auditors had previously cited problems including delays and probable overpayments for work.

An industry veteran, Pope in the years since has earned praise both from Lewis and community members for turning around the construction program and tackling several new initiatives, including “going green” with environmentally friendly practices.

Anonymous said...

I still think the property would be interesting to look into.

Some interesting people bought up a great deal of land in this area and then turned and sold it and have made killings all around the school sites down south.

Leadership Dekalb Folks are on the list also of property buyer. It is interesting who you know and what they know which can help you get ahead in the world of business. Dekalb County Schools is a big business.

Dekalbparent said...

Where is all this property in relation to former CEO Jones' property. He purchased a sizeable piece that may border the Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve shortly before the county announced that it was purchasing property for the preserve.

I always found that interesting.

Anonymous said...

Trotter's a maniac--google.

Anonymous said...

Agreed that Trotter is BAD NEWS. I know quite a few Clayton County folk, and Trotter and his hand picked BOE members were a major factor in the SACS loss of accreditation. DeKalb teachers: Stay far away from this clown.

Cerebration said...

Well, it seems like the "nays" have it against Trotter. Let's see, what else can teachers do to get themselves some good representation?

Cerebration said...

Sonof, I don't have info on SPLOST 1 - at least I can't seem to find much. My recollection is that the money went for gymnasiums for ESs. SPLOST 2 is available because it was audited - SPLOST 1 was under the public radar. There are people who were on the SPLOST task force or something like that - I think Zepora was even a member. Maybe one of them can give us a SPLOST 1 history.

Anonymous said...

Trotter shows up and real estate goes down.
Cox Spews shows up and real estate goes down.
Who does Trotter work for? Who has Cox always worked for?

The key (as in "keystone") is always the attorneys.

Anonymous said...

Lewis or Pope will not be around a year from now--different reasons.

Lewis won't be scathed by the investigation (publicly anyway)--but he's a liability to the South River Boys....he'll be rewarded for his Pritchett was.

Pope will be the focus of the investigation no matter thet there is stuff about Lewis.

Cerebration said...

Let's see if we can replace several board members as well - maybe we can finally create a new day in DCSS!

Anonymous said...

Bottom line:
Gwen Keys good or bad doesn't matter. She's not well versed enough with all of the Rackets--and the connections between them. GBI is ALWAYS called in to "limit" the info to be placed into record.

Anonymous said...

"We" are not replacing anyone. The Commerce Club (rackets/Cox/land speculators' lawyers) is.

It will served them to give "us" the credit tho. You'll start seeing AJC articles quoting this blog and laying Lewis/Pope's fate at our feet.

That's what they did with Sembler/Briarcliff and Wayne Hill giving up his Beltline dreams. They gave the activists the credit when their enemies (Cousins/Cox) handles the whole thing.

Cerebration said...

If they put in people who actually put the children and education first, then I don't give a fig who gets the credit. It's short-sighted to rob our education coffers for personal gain. If we don't educate our citizens, the whole economy goes in the tank anyway because we just can't carry so many low-achievers. (See above article on cheating...)

fedupindcss said...

Years ago a principal told me that DCSS teachers don't have a union in the true sense because they approached their work in a manner that was a holdover from years past--that they were "nice ladies" who did not make waves. I would imagine that concept is gone by now.

The teachers in the northeast have serious unions. They go on strike when they have a grievance, usually after a lengthy period of attempted contract negotiation. Most issues there, such as class size, length of day, etc. are the result of those negotiations, not a bunch of yahoos sitting at the Gold Dome who pull education theory out of their you-know-what. And guess what--the students there out-perform ours.

There are certainly issues with the teachers unions, such as protection of substandard teachers, but DCSS does that regardless. Someone (not Trotter) needs to whip up the troops.

Anonymous said...

Back to Patricia Pope, does anyone know if she is on paid leave? Is this matter drags on and on, it will definitely set back some of the SPLOST II projects.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Aren't real unions illegal in Georgia? I thought that Georgia was one step below even right-to-work states in terms of labor law. . .

Cerebration said...

I stated at the beginning of this whole debacle that Lakeside, Dunwoody, Chamblee and Cross Keys may not see their SPLOST projects come to fruition for a looooong, long time. This whole thing is going to be a major -- expensive -- distraction.

Anonymous said...

If Pat Pope isn't formally charged, or if she is charged and found innocent at trial, she is so going to sue Crawford and the BOE

Anonymous said...

Lawyer (ex-school board member) and land deals in the South end.
(Definite inside knowledge)

Cerebration said...

Hate to bring it up, but you all may remember that "Karl with a K" White ran for school board this past election. Karl - is married to Javoyne Hicks - Asst. DA and good friend of Gwen Keys'.

Don't know what made me think about that... just a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Pope is gone.....

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Pope has a bad rep and not liked by many who have deal with her. I found out she was fired at Manhattan Construction Company and hated at Skanska USA. I know an employee that works at DCSS and they mention that 98% of the people who work for her don't like her. She fires or laid off good employees all the time. They said she even asked that employees don't talk to her if they see her in the hall. Also if you send information or documents for her review it takes forever and you might get it back with a simple question mark or slash on it. I guess she doesn't like anytype of of paper trail on her. She might have known this was coming and has tried to cover here tracts as best as possible. My friend said finding dirty on her is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. They said she might even be bi-polar or a slight crazy in her demeanor. After hearing all the DCSS gossip, I think she may be recieving some bad karma back from the way she treats people and handles business. And I even heard a rumor that Mr. Moody and Mr. Pope are best of friends and he even hooked Pat and Tony up.

Cerebration said...

Those are certainly interesting comments anon, but they are also rumors and gossip. She may not have been warm and fuzzy, but from where I sit, she certainly got the job done. (We'll see if Lakeside, Cross Keys, Dunwoody and Chamblee ever get their projects done now.)

I don't trust rumors that include suggestions of being bi-polar. This has also been said about me. I'm not bipolar, but even so, I think it's really rude to toss statements around like that. It's very hurtful to people who really do suffer from that disease.

Dekalbparent said...

I can corroborate the "don't talk to me" aspect of Mrs. Pope's personality.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:48- they won't find anything on Pat Pope because there is nothing. She is being railroaded. There is no way they have turned up new evidence that would merit her firing this quickly. Her replacement had already been selected before she was let go- if there was any plan it was on Lewis' part.

There seems to be a pattern of people who aren't afraid to speak the truth being labeled "bi-polar".

Anonymous said...

If and when Pat Pope sues Crawford and the BOE, I hope all of Crawford's nonsense comes to light.

It is ultimately our faults as residents/parents/taxpayers that the BOE and Crawford Lewis administration had so badly spent SPLOST money over the years. We paid much closer attention to the copunty government, even though the school system budget and SPLOST tax money are in the hundreds of millions.

This blog is a huge help. We need to be more vigilant with how Lewis, Marcus Turk, the BOE and those handling the SPLOST projects spend our hard earned tax money for our children. I don't trust Crawford Lewis at all.

Anonymous said...

I can attest to the fact that Pope definitely handled her business. Bringing in former principals was not her own doing - her hand was forced by Dr. Lewis. Sam Moss and the Construction projects are now going to hell in a hand basket. She held people accountable for doing their jobs and those who didn't were let go.

Anonymous said...

Word is: Larry Jester of Plant Services is out as of today.