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Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The School Board Needs To Make Decisions Based On What Is Best For the School System Now in the 21st Century
First - a little history. The courts supervised the desegregation of the DeKalb County school system for over twenty-five years. After the process of desegregation was deemed over, the school district still appears from time to time to be divided over race (Bates & Gagnon, 1996). This can be observed repeatedly by actions of the members of the DeKalb County School Board Members (Smith, 2009).
In 1968, several black high school students from DeKalb County, including Willie Eugene Pitts, and their parents in addition to four white students and their parents decided to file a class action lawsuit against Jim Cherry, the superintendent, and the entire DeKalb County school system. The complaint dealt with the county’s failure to integrate the school system as well as the failure to comply with the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare that was mandatory under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If the DeKalb County School System did not comply with this would result in the elimination of federal funding to the school (Bates & Gagnon, 1996).
In June of 1969, the courts ruled that the DeKalb County school system must be completely desegregated by the start of the school year in the fall of 1969. The court also ordered DeKalb County to redraw the school zones. The school system could not have any all black or all white school districts. All the black schools were closed in DeKalb County School System and over the years many policies and procedures were implemented to encourage integration such as busing, the Minority to Majority (M to M) program, the magnet schools for high achievers and other initiatives. In the early 90’s the Supreme Court allowed the Dekalb County School System to stop busing students and the court later dismissed the mandate due to the fact that the system had become a majority African-American. However, the school district remained largely divided in terms of race (Bates & Gagnon, 1996).
Even today, sadly, the DeKalb County School Board appears to remain largely divided in terms of race. Dr. Speaks read a statement last night indicating that she had been bullied by other board members to vote along racial lines on the issue of contracting a law firm. Dr. Speaks however will not vote on racial lines. Dr. Walker indicated last night also that he sees black and white. He went to an all black high school so apparently race does matter. Don McChesney also read a statement indicating the possibility of ethics being broken in situations like this. (IMO)
The issue was over hiring the most qualified attorney firm and saving the school system a great deal of money. The issue was discussed at a called board meeting last Monday. (On Common Ground News has a good report on the heated discussion). However, some members of the school board wanted the African-American attorney, Alexander and Assoc, who the county has had for many years in the past, which is part of the reason the county has such large bills to start with. The previous attorney’s office could not handle many of the cases so other attorneys were hired. It appeared to also be "warm fuzzies" verses getting the best attorney firm to represent the school system. The two attorney firms that represented us before had conflicts. Womack proposed hiring Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, LLC, a big firm downtown which had 400 lawyers who would do all the school systems work for 1.7 million dollars a year. According to Common Ground, "DeKalb County Superintendent Crawford Lewis, who was charged with negotiating the contracts, returned to the board with a figure of $2.4 million after reviewing bids from both firms. Lewis recommended that $1.5 million go to Sutherland and $900,000 go to Alexander. But Womack said Sutherland would be willing to do all of the work for a flat fee of $1.7 million."
In the end, the votes were not there and Jay recommended that the the two groups get together and see if together they would share it for 1.7 million dollars. The two groups did get together and will do it for 1.7 million dollars. However, there are still many who question if the decision of the group based their decision on race and warm fuzzies and were willing to pay an extra $800,000 just to hire the other attorney on the side.
DeKalb County is home to some of the finest leaders in the state. However, some Dekalb County School Board members continues to be stuck in the past. Could this be due to the age of some of the school board members? Could age not matter at all with other school board members? Could this be just because of the history of the Dekalb County School System? Regardless, should decisions of the Dekalb County School System be based on warm fuzzies and race? What is wrong with the picture here? Regardless of our race, our disability, our religon, should we all in Dekalb County not ban together and do what is best for our children in Dekalb County? For the Dekalb County School System to move into the 21th century do we not need to make decisions based on what is best for the school system now?
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I'm moving a relevant post from the Pope Debacle thread to here - from Anonymous:
Too much of our money is going to lawyers
Anyone notice that with the new contract for legal services, a 'set aside' was given to the incumbent firm? How can you have an open bidding process if it is rigged to automatically give a portion of the business to one firm?
As far as I know, Josey Alexander serves several board members directly. There has been discussion in the past as to her chain of command - does she report only and directly to Dr Lewis or does she serve him, his administration and the board all at once? Many of our board reps seek her advice for matters that I just don't think our tax dollars should be paying for (for example, the recent lawsuit some board members filed against Dr Walker and the Development Authority). Dr Walker should never have been allowed to serve on both boards from the get go - and he had asked Josey Alexander's opinion on this, which I am fairly certain she approved. (And she had subsequently billed the board for her time in their debate on that issue.)
Lawyers have weighed in before on this topic. Shayna Steinfeld (recent past president of the Atlanta Bar) has suggested alternatives that would be more cost effective. But our current board is more interested in serving their own desires than in their fiduciary responsibility.
And you're correct, Ella, the school system is still racially divided and racially motivated in decision-making - even though it's a vast majority African-American.
Sadly, the children at schools like Cross Keys are the ones who suffer and have no voice.
I am furious that the BOE and Crawford lewis are again throwing away tax dollars that should be spent in the classroom.
For every single BOE election from this point on, please make sure you ask every candidate point blank if they are going to choose the best law firm at the best price, or are they going to choose a lawyer by race.
This is unbelievable idiocy like this is still happening.
I remember years ago asking Chip Franzoni why the school system didn't just fight something in court (can't even remember what). He said they should because they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on lawyers. That was apparently in addition to the retainers they pay as part of the process we witnessed in the meeting the other night. It is similar to the way they always have extra expenses in their construction--they tend to have legal issues come up above and beyond what the lawyers were hired for.
I have no problem with lawyers making money, but I know how the billable process works, and it can easily be abused. Judges constantly are reducing lawyers' fees in cases--they ask for more, just on that assumption. The difference is with DCSS, they ask for more and know they will get it.
This is why we needed someone like Shayna on the board, folks--a lot of what they do is dealing with legal issues. These people are not equipped to figure this stuff out.
Ella's report is very, very disappointing. The Board and the school system must make selections to hire the best talent they can afford. Race, sex, age should never be a factor. This applies to legal counsel, accounting and financial professionals, the IT department, etc.
I have practiced law for over 20 years and wondered if the current lawyer could handle all the complex legal issues presented by DCSS. I have no personal experience with her so this is merely a question. If the current lawyer has a specialty, i.e. employment cases or education policy, then it might be acceptable for the system to use her for that particular area. But it is difficult for a solo or small practicioner to have the broad base of expertise that a larger firm can offer.
If Board members or anyone in the administration solicited votes or support based on race the public should know this. I'm thinking a recall is in order.
Kudos for Ms. Speakes for addressing this sensitive area.
The Board retained King & Spalding, a super-expensive, silk-stocking firm, to represent it in a really messy lawsuit against a former contractor. It seemed a bone-headed decision considering that the Board could have hired it's own lawyer, expert and with the resources to advise and represent the Board at a fraction of the cost of K&S's fees.
I'm aware of law firms that make school law their specialty, and they are retained by school systems that have some sense.
I hate to bring it up, but should the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, the same organization that revoked Clayton County's accreditation, get a whiff of what's going on here, then DCSS will go down the same dead-end road. It'll mean cleaning house and starting from scratch, but unfortunately, that's what DCSS needs.
Sounds more and more that we are in deeper and deeper trouble. We need to higher the best group for the job, not who we like the best. It's obvious this person isn't doing a fantastic job, just look at the numerous law suits DCSS has. Warm and fuzzies don't cut it, when it's taking money that could be spent on the kids.
Why isn't DCSS being investigated?
"Why isn't DCSS being investigated?"
Because things were so bad in Clayton it took attention away from all the other systems, especially DeKalb. It amazes me how much the BOE and Crawford Lewis spend on legal representation, without blinking, instead of focusing all resources on the classroom.
That's what happens when a bureaucracy is allowed to fester and expand without any checks & balances. The focus becomes on the machine, and not what the school system is actually here for, the classroom.
You know, I have been reading back in my past reports from board meetings in 2009 and I find that so many items are discussed, discussed and discussed again, only to somehow ride off into the sunset as if they were never a topic on any agenda anywhere. Fruitless is a word that comes to mind when describing the actions of our board of education.
Jan 09 -
One item that REALLY perked up my ears came from Jay Cunningham. He stated that his committee decided to spend the money to buy 1,500 new toilets, 1,500 new sinks and 500 new drinking fountains to be installed in some of the older buildings. (!!!) Best idea of the meeting, in my humble opinion. I hope Tom Keating, "The Bathroom Guy" finds out that someone besides him (and me) cares about working toilets!
Now, what ever became of the toilets? Cross Keys certainly never saw one - did anyone?
Again - from JAN 09 (10 months ago!)
As far as the citizen comments go, I was impressed most with the firm eloquence Jeff Bragg, a teacher at Cross Keys stated his case for showing some immediate support for not only Cross Keys, which was listed as #2 on the SPLOST 3 priorities, but also for the High School of Technology North, scheduled to merge with Cross Keys. However, not one shovel of dirt has been turned nor has one pencil been moved from the HSTN. For shame!
sigh! Well at least Hands on Atlanta and Newell Rubbermaid and over 100 CK students came out with community members and worked to spruce up what they could - go Kim!
And in a March, AJC article, Kristina Torres reports on the actions of Lewis' investigation of Pat Pope:
It may be at least May before we learn the results of an internal review into allegations of irregularities with DeKalb County school construction contracts, according to a spokeswoman with the district attorney’s office.
The school system forwarded the review to the D.A., asking that a few things be looked into and whether a criminal investigation was warranted.
An investigator in the district attorney’s office is juggling the schools review along with several other cases, said D.A. spokeswoman Jada Hudspeth, and it may take until May to complete them all.
Hudspeth declined to give specifics about the schools review. It involves the office of Patricia Pope, the school system’s chief operating officer. In December, school system police officers and information systems employees examined records from Pope’s office.
What is going on here? Is this Crawford Lewis' way to keep Pat Pope in check? Is it payback for Pope not taking one for the team when it came to Crawford's $20,000+ DCSS owned vehicle being sold to him for $5,000?
Hmmmm..., "school system forwarded the review to the D.A". Translation: Crawford Lewis forwarded it to the District Attorney.
Can someone please make sense of this mess?
It has been 11 months since they first ordered her office stormed. Now, the DA says it will take until at least May to let us know of findings. This is really tedious and disheartening. What ever happened to a right to a speedy trial? (Investigation?) How long can someone hold someone else under a cloud of suspicion. The DA's snail's pace itself is criminal, IMO.
How about all of the attention Lewis gave to "shopping" around his grandiose idea of a $100 million Performing School of the Arts?" (Even going so far as to have Pat Pope get drawings made for fundraising! - When she needs to stay focused on the projects at hand!)
Or the Military Academy that went "poof"!
Or the bullying and suicide of a child for which Lewis has paid nearly $400,000 to a retired judge to "investigate" - which I put in quotes because judges, by and large, are not investigators. (Waste!)
Or the constant, irritating bickering over the legal structure of the school system and BOE - should we keep our current counsel or hire and outside firm? This has become a political ploy - not a fiscal discussion. We are literally drowning in legal fees! Our Titanic has hit the iceberg and the board continues to rearrange the deck chairs month after month.
Of course, they do have a hard time paying attention to the issue of the children when they have to spend time, energy and money suing one of their own! One who resided on two conflicting boards (with the legal blessing of the current counsel he is fighting to keep) - the one board actually having the power to take money from the schools! Talk about an obvious conflict of interest!
How about eSis and the debacle of a rollout that resulted in a promotion of Tony Hunter, the person in charge of it?
How about teachers getting their pay cut - no promised step increase - and no matching retirement funds - a long term hit - teachers are leaving DeKalb in droves.
And of course, the one I constantly harp on and sometimes get criticized for - the inequitable spending of the SPLOST tax dollars. We have gorgeous shrines - Taj Mahals - and yet, others sit in crumbling old buildings with stinky plumbing, little in the way of science labs or other supplies and no Smart or Promethian boards in sight.
Add to all of this, new Math, NCLB, AYP transfers, HB 251 transfers and the pressure to pass a voucher transfer... ugh. Public "education" in this state has become a giant hog-tied mess.
I don't know, maybe I'm having a bad week, but the pile-up of nonsense that our board and school system has created is starting to weigh me down.
The school board hired a big firm (I am bad with names) for the majority of their business. However, the problem was that the majority could not let Josey go so they want to pay the new company !.7 million and Josey $800,000 on top of that when Spalding or whomever would do all of the work for 1.7 million. Due to warm fuzzies, race, or friendship the majority of the board was willing to pay an additional 1.7 million. Jay suggested that the two meet and see if they could come up with an agreement to do it all, (including hiring Josey, for 1.7 million). This has happen. We were lucky. However the decision was not based on qualifications or what might be best for the school board but on warm fuzzies, race, or friendship.
Dr. Walker said, "I can see the color of skin." He made it very clear he made his decision on color." Dr. Speakes was very upset. Don was very upset also.
If you did not see the school board meeting please do watch the second half of it.
I do want to say that Chairman Bowen handled the situation well. It was a difficult situation and he was extremely professional. I am sure he had perfer these conversations had stayed behind closed doors. This was embarassing for the school board in my opinion. I think several school board members were embarassed at the situation.
I remember in my orientation Lewis stating something about some saying DeKalb is too black, and some say Dekalb is not black enough.
What I see, is an administration focused on race, relationships, and what's in it for them and NOT THE CHILDREN. All workers in DCSS wouldn't have a job if it weren't for the kids. I am tired of seeing the kids be put last.
Someone has to complete a solid investigation. These internal investigations don't amount to anything. Our kids are loosing out on all levels. Money spent on unnecessary administration, lawyers and law suits, teaching materials that may not be the best choice, computer programs that are not user friendly, apparently toilets and water fountains that no one has seen put into place, and the list could go on. All the while, teachers who care about teaching are leaving our district. Our district has a bad reputation, and our elected officials perpetuate the problem.
No decision should be bases on any other factor than what is best for our children and then our citizens of Dekalb County. Of course Dekalb also needs to care about its employees. However, the school system must be run like a business. We are not an employment service.
We are too top heavy. We need the fat cut at the top.
Let's also not forget that many of out school board members are just as frustrated as many of the readers are.
The Dekalb County School Board has made so much progress in the last year. It has turned the corner. Please do not let issues like this cloud the vision and make many citizens in DeKalb label the school board again. School Board members need to think about the whole board's vision before opening mouths and sticking in feet.
Did Sutherland Asbill and Brennan receive the contract for legal services? If so, this is an excellent law firm.
However, Ella I disagree with your last post. This is very serious and shows the Board has not moved forward.
If this type of intimidation is going on it is illegal and the Board members who use race as a criteria should be removed. Heck, this type of hiring discrimination will subject the system to a charge of reverse discrimination and many of these claims have been successful in recent years. Remember what happened with the Fulton county library case? And how about the DeKalb County recreation department?
My position during the campaign was that DCSS needed in house counsel --the school system needed an in-house legal department that can handle the vast majority of the legal work without resorting to outside lawyers for the price of some salaries. Then, these in-house lawyers would have the duty and authority to review bills for appropriate billing and the ability to "head off" and settle matters before they reach litigation. I dare say that a whole department could be staffed for much less money than the numbers raised in this discussion and approved by the Board. I also believe that our Board Members owe fiduciary duties to our citizens (this is how I saw it anyway) to spend our tax money wisely and appropriately and for the benefit of our children. Kudos and thanks to Dr. Speaks.
" I also believe that our Board Members owe fiduciary duties to our citizens (this is how I saw it anyway) to spend our tax money wisely and appropriately and for the benefit of our children."
But this BOE does not give a flip about its fiduciary duties, and past BOE's did not either. Whether its the monster legal bills or taxpayers paying for hundreds if not thousands of students who don't live in the county. And the topic needs to be brought up again: If a teacher or staff member does not live in DeKalb, his/her chldren should not be allowed to attend a DCSS school. We can't afford it, it's about $12,000 per student. if you don't live in the county and pay the same taxes we do, you do not have the right to send your children into this school system.
I do believe many of the school board members do care. However, several of the school board members do make decisions on race, warm fuzzies, or friendship. To hear Dr. Walker basically admit this was real shocking.
I do also believe our Chairman is excellent and is embarassed by the whole thing. Ms. Speaks is embarassed by the whole thing and will not be bullied into voting for an African American because she is African American. Because of some of the great school board members I do think we do have I do think the possibility is there to do great things. However, race, warm fuzzies, and friendship is not helping.
The decision was made I do believe to go with Sutherland Asbill and Brennan. Of course I am horrible with names. They firm has 400 attorneys. The firm represented Fulton County for years. I will say they do not represent Fulton County now and their does not appear to be the same attitude of administrators. Before the atmosphere was of prevention.
I do think the school board are working together to work through issues. However, it appears that race, friendship, or warm fuzzies has thrown a wrench in the situation. It would appear that individuals were upset by the situation and did voice their opinion which of course did upset Ms. Woods a great deal.
Make sure you watch the school board meeting. I think also the attorney group Weeks was a favorite of one school board member. He wanted Weeks to be the attorney as he was familiar with the group from the past. (IMO) A comment was made about the treatment of Weeks Law Firm by one of the School Board Members. This situation was about warm fuzzies, friendship and maybe race. I do not know, but there may have even been 3 law firms on the table. I was wondering how they did not have a majority vote. The only way I can think of is if one board member wanted the Weeks group and would not go with the big group downtown. Bowen and Speaks wanted the big law firm down town. This is for sure. So you guys figure it out. The group should have been able to swing the vote for the group down. However they could not. I do know warm fuzzies was used to describe the situation by someone I heard speak of it.
We lost the all-important "third Leg" of the government a few years ago. In 2004 a reporter named Jen Sansbury was the DeKalb County Schools beat reporter for the AJC. Jen actually reported---she looked into things, investigated, used the Open Records Act, when needed. But, when she uncovered something that embarrassed the school system, the AJC "offered" to reassign to Rockdale County. She was being demoted. She said "no thanks" and moved on. Jen was always meticulous in her reporting; she never wrote anything that had not been thoroughly checked out.
We need a reporter like that again. Kristina Torres, like many in the media these days, only writes what she's told by county officials. She might as well be an employee of the school system's public information staff. Unfortunate.
And let's all not forget how much money on legal fees Lewis has tossed to the DeKalb taxpayers at large - via the District Attorney. He brought her office in on the Pat Pope investigation sometime after December 2008! She reported in March 09 that her investigation would take until May of 09. Now, according to Atlanta Unfiltered, her investigation is "complex and enormous" and will take until May of 2010 - at least.
I'm betting that this is yet another thing that will simply dissipate - long after hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent.
Also recall that Lewis spent an additional nearly $400,000- beyond all other legal counsel - on a few months of "investigative" services into bullying at Dunaire ES after 5th grader, Jaheem Herrera committed suicide. "Investigative" services - not performed by an investigator or GBI agent - but by a retired judge -only to have her tell taxpayers in the end that she now is exercising "attorney-client privileges" and won't be sharing her findings with the public - as in the people who PAID HER BILL!
I don't know about you guys - but at our house, we work damn hard for our money and I resent so much of it spent on legal fees defending the brass in our school system. Time for a change.
Cere, you're right. Crawford Lewis has no problem throwing away hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tax payer dollars for extra legal services. And most of the time, it's to cover his butt.
Don't ever let Crawford lewis or Marcus Turk whine about lack o funsing at a meeting without challenging them on it. There is plenty of money in the budget, but it's not going into the classroom, or registered school nurses, or music and art teachers. The money is going to pay salaries and benefits to an incredibly bloated DCSS Central Office. It's going to programs and projects that Central office administrators fall in love with, like eSIS, despite protests from principals and teachers.
We have to keep getting the word out to county residents/taxpayers that we could have a lower county school property tax bill, and get beter academics at the same, with better BOE members and a change of administration (and cutting the number of administrators by 50%).
Right on. It requires a bottom-up mentality. What do we as a community deem as necessary in our schools? We need to create that list - qualified teachers with a certain ratio of students, qualified help in the form of parapros and IT personnel, librarians, custodians, food preparers, counselors, nurses with infirmaries, the best, most highly trained principals (with fewer AP's), strict discipline programs, plenty of books and materials, science labs with associated equipment, Promethian or Smart boards, IT training for teachers on the use of the newest technologies, Free time and recess for ESs, music and arts supplies and instruments along with a place to perform and exhibit -- on and on.
Once the list is complete - fund the list. Then staff the administration - and the transportation - with what is leftover - not the other way around.
I remember Dr Lewis at a recent meeting fretting over the cost per teacher - an average $65,000 package - as if it's some kind of burden the system cannot bear. Yet the money seems to flow freely at the top. I thought his fussing about the cost of teachers was very enlightening. I won't forget it.
How can I find out when the BOE meeting is broadcast? I can see today's program listings on the PDS24 page, but can't look further ahead. What do they call it?
It usually takes a few days after the meeting for it to show up in the schedule. What's currently playing online should be what's playing on channel 24, as well.
Please watch Dr. Walker explain how he sees black and white. I cannot believe he would be on my school board and say that. I an embarassed.
I understand that African Americans have been discriminated against. However, I am an individual with a disability and just because I have a disability does not mean I would vote for a person for a disability for a job because he/she had a disability. This would be discrimination. I am sorry I do not understand how public officials can make statements like this.
Don and Pam felt pretty strongly to make comments like they made. However, I think it just did more to separate the school board. I think we do have problems on the school board. However they have kept the problems behind closed doors.
In fact, Ms. Woods said, I know I am suppose to ask these comments ahead of time. However, the staff are not always available. (Not exact wording) Bascially she was sawing the school board meetings appear to be a front of all is good with the school board while behind close doors it must not be so nice. This was my impression.
I got the impress that they were not suppose to do heavy discussion like they did in public. Ms. Woods was indicated that they should do heavy discussion.
See the meeting and see if I am reading the situation wrong.
Ella, were the Board member comments at the end of the meeting, or did they relate to a particular agenda item? (Just trying to figure out if I can skip through the video once it is finally available online.)
It will be on Channel 24 starting at 12 am tonight and will rerun every 6 hours after that.
As I understand, these came as part of the comments at the end - the board members are each always free to make a public statement (under 2 minutes) at the end of the meeting. Is that correct, Ella? I haven't seen it - yet.
It was on at 6, also. Wow. What has been happening in the closed rooms? It makes me even more apprehensive about how much progress can occur this year...
Yes, However, Don made it clear his comments would take over 2 minutes and I think Dr. Speaks did also.
I had already heard the details of the meeting but I heard them from a positive soul on the board. (A Peace Maker)
Actually, the board meeting was boring until about 3/4 of the way through.
If you tape it, make sure you listen to Ernest Brown's comments during the comment section -- when I heard them, I was kind of scratching my head and wondering what he was talking about. Listen to the discussion (towards the beginning) about the absentee policy changes that Dr. Lewis was asking for (the CDC is recommending) in light of H1N1. That should get you frustrated.
Then skip to the end when you can hear their comments.
In the end, this works out, but I am disappointed that the majority of the board caved and ask Dr. Lewis to have Sutherland figure out a piece of "their" pie to give to Ms. Alexander.
It needs to be noted that Sutherland (et all) had many minority attorneys making their presentations.
It is my understanding that both Ms. Speakes and Mr. Bowen received multiple threatening phone calls about this issue -- thus Ms. Speakes needed to address the public.
It saddens me so much to think where we might be today if Ernest Brown had won the Board election instead of Walker.....
I listen to it again this morning. I agree.
Dr. Walker is a very smart educated man. I like him very much as an individual. However, it would appear that his presence on the board has caused some racial issues.
I know for a fact that he believed in political pressure to get African American's jobs. I have to leave it at that. However, this in itself in my opinion is discriminattion today.
I understand where he came from and I also can not imagine how he must feel. But, these attitudes do not move our board in the right directions. It should be about educating our children.
On the other hand as a white person you have to be careful what comments you make on a board like this as to not offend others. I thought Mr. Womacks comments where actually made with excellent taste.
Don's comments were accurate regarding numbers, however it appeared the comments offended one of the school board members. However, he has a right to express how the situation made him feel. He actually appeared to be acused some of the board members of GSBA ethic violations. However, these are Georgia School Board Association Ethics, so there are no consequences for violating them.
Should our school board have an ethic code to go by? Should our state have ethics laws that govern our school boards?
No worries, Ella. SACS has ethics policies and they are following DeKalb closely.
I am really bothered by what is going on with the board but on the other hand, I'm happy the issue has come to the fore. I have always been frustrated at the racially motivated decision-making in our school system. Even going so far as to have our director of internal affairs, Ron Ramsey, who is also a state rep in the GA legislature declare a boycott on the city of Dunwoody citing their desire for citihood as racist. Everything in Georgia is "racist" and it makes for a very tiring place to live.
I had a feeling when Womack and Walker were elected to the board that this might happen. These two have a loooooong history and are both part of the years-long racial divide in our school system. In his previous 12 year stint on the BOE, Womack was heavily involved in the Supreme Court's monitoring of our system's integration all the way to the day he flew his private corporate jet to DC to see the case finally discharged. (It was discharged due to the fact that the system had become a vast majority African-American, but the court did give the system credit for it's efforts to integrate - including M to M busing and the magnet program, which was created to increase integration.)
Walker obviously (from his own recounting at the meeting) has long-held racial bitterness due to his childhood of segregation in south GA. He attended segregated schools in Thomaston, which may have been a very difficult burden to bear, as he still harbors much resentment all these years later. His words to the board included these comments, "I am a very race-conscious person. I know discrimination. I will not lead you to believe that I am race neutral. I see color. I love color. I do see in black and white, but judge me by my actions."
I agree with Ella that Womack's comments were fairly thoughtful. He said, "I rejoined the board to help educate children. I don't care what color they are, black, white, Asian, Hispanic. All parents want the same things for their children. The actions of the board at the meeting regarding the law firm were simple race-baiting. I don't hire a law firm because they're black and female - I judge solely on qualifications"
Don, however, apparently tried to make a similar statement, but I think he crossed a line. He did accuse the board of violating the GA School Board Assn's Code of Ethics. He claimed to be the "oppressed minority" in this situation, and referenced the fact that a "civil rights dinosaur" came to their meetings with the goal of dividing the board and making race an issue. (I assume he was referring to John Evans here, who was at the committee meeting as reported in "On Common Ground", John Evans, said the Sept. 28 board meeting was a “backdoor way” to eliminate the black firm.
“They really had planned to get rid of Alexander,” said Evans, who showed up at the meeting in overhauls and a red shirt.
“Some of them were sitting up there saying they didn’t care anything about diversity. The whole process from the beginning was a process to get rid of that firm. Little by little our strength is being eroded, if we ever had any.”
McChesney's diss of Evans greatly offended Sarah Copeland Wood. She was mortified that a board member would berate a civil rights leader and asked McChesney not to slander him or speak as if he knows what it's like to be her.
However, I would agree with McChesney in his point that "race is not just black and white." I have been stating this all over this blog - our school system has simply flipped the racial discrimination table and now it's the African-Americans who are oppressing the Latinos. Take a look at the board and Lewis' administration - how many Latinos do you see? It's fodder for another federal case, IMO. Our black leaders do not see their own discrimination.
I would also agree with the poster who lamented the fact that Ernest Brown lost to Dr. Walker. If Dr. Walker is the true civil rights activist he says he is he would do as the Rev TD Jakes suggests and "Don't shine when the light isn't on you!" By that I mean - step aside and let someone like Ernest take charge - he's a well-educated, very thoughtful parent who would have been such a terrific board rep - a shining example of the advances African-Americans have made in recent years. Progress that Walker refuses to see.
Mostly, kudos go out to Pam Speaks - for "speaking up" about the fact that she was being pressured into making a race-based decision. That was brave.
Also - big kudos to Tom Bowen, who was a river of peace throughout the debate. When it was his turn to talk, he simply stated that this board has been working through a huge pile of decisions this past year, and now that the "easy" ones have been made, these very difficult ones have come to the table. He encouraged open debate and implored members to "keep the faith". We are very lucky to have Tom leading the board.
To put the money in perspective, this extra expenditure of $800,000 in order to create "racial diversity" is the equivalent to the cost of 12 teachers - including their benefits.
This is the reason we need a local education fund to hold the board and superintendent responsible. For the most part, when a corporation gives a large ($22M from GE) donation to a school system, it actually is administered by an LEF (as in Atlanta) not the school system. Look at Atlanta and Chattanooga to see how successfully their LEF's operate and how much better their boards and superintendents function. Now that's change we can believe in!
John Evans was the first black county commissioner to be elected in DeKalb County. How did he carry himself after that great achievement? He was arrested and convicted of receiving bribes.
He has spent him time out of jail doing everything he can to try to paint a picture of racial divide between North and South DeKalb. Funny, but you'll never see him mention or champion the county's growing Latino population. If he was really intersted in equality, he would be screaming about the conditions of Cross Keys High and Sequoyah Middle.
John Evans is a convicted felon, and has absolutely no credibility...NONE!
Check page 24:
Gene Walker: "but judge me by my actions"
Hey Gene, we did judge you by your actions. You did not step down from the Development Authority when elected to the BOE, despite receiving over $20,000 in campaign donations from the Florida based Sembler Company. And when you were on the Development Authority, you and your felow board members did everything possible to keep the authority's business out of public view.
Interesting Anon - and when you compare it to Walker's $20,000 from Sembler (essentially sealing his ability to beat out Ernest Brown), it causes you to pause.
In 1992, the Untied States Supreme Court resolved this disagreement between the federal circuit courts regarding whether mere acceptance of a corrupt payment by a public official is sufficient to constitute extortion pursuant to the Hobbs Act. In "Evans vs. United States", the defendant, an elected member of the DeKalb County Goergia, Board of Commissioners, was approached by and undercover FBI agent posing as a real estate developer. The agent initiated numerous conversations with Evans and sought his help in an attempt to rezone land for residential purposes. The conversations were secretly recorded by the agent. Eventually, the agent gave Evans $7,000 in cash and a check payable to Evans’ campagn, in the amount of $1,000. Evans reported the check on his state campaign disclosure form but failed to report the receipt of the cash on that form. He also failed to report the cash payment on his federal tax return.
I thought Don was talking to Dr. Walker as a dinasour. I guess I misses this. I thought this was directed at him.
Dr. Walker has been known to try to bully public officials into appointing African Americans in jobs in public places. Because I know this to be true from public officials in the past I assumed it was him. He will twist an arm for a vote now.
Again, it's interpretation, but I thought Dr. Speakes was talking about Dr. Walker in her statement.
I found her statement to be very brave and clear. I had thought highly of her all along (sometimes she and Tom Bowen seemed to be the only grownups at the table), but that statement certainly reinforced it.
Very brave. The man is huge-very intimidating. I don't know if I could stand up to him like she did.
I think Speaks was referring to Walker (and maybe Sarah and Zepora) and I think Don was referring to John Evans as the civil rights dinosaur. My best guesses.
It certainly was strange to have them all suddenly catapult into this very strange, tense conversation. Obviously, it has been brewing for quite a while. Now that it's out in the open, maybe they can start to work on it. We have got to get past race being the point of decision on every issue. I truly believe we wouldn't be having a discussion like this if some others had been elected - this is what the voters asked for. Sad.
What is so sad is that I am left wondering who has our children's best interests at heart?
Sarah Copeilin-Wood and Zepora Roberts are dinosaurs and they don't know it. They are only in office to push their very select agenda's. unfortunately they are both, especially Zepora, close to ex-con John Evans.
Gene Walker is a bully. And guess why he state Democratic Party asked him not to run for state senate again. keep your hand sto yourself, Dr. Walker.
I simply cannot get past the fact that Walker, while on the Development Authority, accepted $20,000 from a developer, Sembler Corp, for his school board campaign. We later find out that he is pushing for a tax break for the Sembler Corp's development near Brookhaven Marta. This involves sacrificing the collection of millions of dollars in - school tax.
Hmmmm. I just can't figure out why that is ok - but Lewis calls in the District Attorney to investigate Pat Pope - which appears will take about 18 months of their time (and more of our county tax dollars!)
Hmmmm. I just can't figure out why that is ok - but Lewis calls in the District Attorney to investigate Pat Pope - which appears will take about 18 months of their time (and more of our county tax dollars!)
I hear there was some shady things going on.
The questions of the bids themself and how the bids are done is a whole thing in itself also. Pam Pope has some leeway on how she takes bids.
Ms. Woods wanted to know where to look at the buses and cars that the county was putting up for sale. She must need a car. Maybe she will get one at a good price this year. Maybe her church needs a bus and her church can get a deal on a bus.
Dr. Walker was asked to resigned from the Development Board by our CEO before he got removed. Our CEO was getting heat and politically he needed Mr. Walker off the Development Board.
Ya know, since our CEO asked Dr. Walker to resign in order to eliminate the messy situation, perhaps we can't anticipate the county working closely with DCSS - too risky to the reputation.
You know, if we actually had some sort of newspaper reporter that would cover these things . . .
It's really pretty pathetic when a man well past middle age is too small to grow past slights, however real, he suffered half a century ago, and continues to hurt children of all races just so he can, in his mind, hurt people who look like the people who long ago hurt him.
The TV stations might like to pick it up.
They like juicy stuff.
Someone should call one of the investigator reporters and have them investigate it. It would be a good investigative reporting story. They might be able to get cuts.
It is a good story. However, I think it is more reason to contact our state representative and request they watch it and request they get some state regulations into place that would make this a state ethical violation and would have to be reported. This is the only way to stop this kind of thing. WE NEED ETHICAL REGULATIONS TO STOP THIS BEHAVIORAL.
DR. WALKER NEEDS TO GO. HE IS MY AT LARGE REPRESENTATIVE. I GUESS I WILL HAVE TO RUN AGAINST HIM MYSELF. I AM NOT AFRAID TO TAKE HIM ON. I HAVE LOST BEFORE AND THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN. THE BEST THING IS THAT SOMEONE OR I BET HIM.
I know a Republican from South County is running again him. I can not think of his name but he is a real nice man. He is a real honest good man and will give Dr. Walker a run for his money in the south side of the county. However, Dr. Walker has deep political roots and has been backed by a big donated in the past.
You are quite the American, Ella! Brava! I love the way you just say, "l guess I'll just have to take him on myself!" You go Ella!
I'd vote for you too Ella!
If you want to run against gene Walker, investigate what got him in trouble when he was a state senator.
I heard he could not keep his hands to himself. (Now this is just what I was told by the old timers who where at the State Capitol)
Does this mean he will beat me up if I run against him? Does this mean he is one of those students who just likes to touch other students? You know I have some processing problems. I do not want to get beat up. (Ha! Ha!)
I do know he is a very smart man who saw some horrible things. However, as a person who has multiple disabilities I also have seen individuals with disabilities discriminated against. I also will fight for their rights and my rights as an individual who is disabled. However, this has nothing to do with using good judgement to vote for the appropriate, most qualified attorney firm. Being black, or disabled has nothing to do with this. This has to do with preferential treatment and discrimation toward the most qualified law firm who had the lowest bid that could do all the work.
This firm also has very qualified African American attorneys. However, the race card was also played because of warm fuzzies. They know her. I do not think it was race along. It may have been about Black owned law firm verses not Black owned law firm though.
Anonymous, thank you for your vote.
However, if I truely do go through with this I know what a challenge it will be to take on Gene Walker.
I know of 2 others now willing to run against him. There may be many.
Of course if there are too many a run off will be in the future and you never know what could happen in a run off either. I would like to see someone run against him and beat him.
Perhaps Earnest Brown will runn against him again. I wonder if part of Dr. Walker's defeating Mr. Brown was simply apathy on the part of some. I know the much larger campaign budget and the long-time friendships had much to do with it, too.
It was a run off, and, historically, voters don't participate well in run offs. Maybe some in the at-large district will recognize that their failure to vote actually cost us all.
Well said, Ella. I think Dr. Walker won because of old name recognition and a big pile of Sembler cash which afforded him the chance to send out mailings (very expensive) and robocalls, etc.
Ernest Brown speaks at the board meetings regularly and he is working hard for kids. Last time he was pleading for the board to build a relationship with county parks and rec to create safe after school programs.
Too bad they're too busy investigating and suing people.
Gene Walker has been known for always used his height and physical bulk to bully and intimidate others, especially women. He's a bully, period. And when a bully intimidates women, he's worse than a coward.
If Pam Speaks was pressured by Walker, maybe there can be a new block of BOE votes, Bowen, Speaks, McChesney, Reodovian and Womack (Womack is really showing his ages these days).
Jay Cunningham is so unpredictable, and so ridiculous at times. The question is, is he smart and self-aware enough to see the pure racial bias of the Walker/Zepora Robert/Sarah Copelin Wood voting block?
P.S. Walker is lucky he was a state senator back when the local press knew of lawmakers indiscretions but looked the other way. Democratic and Republican state rep's and state senators would drive drunk, party with lobbyists, and fool around with office staff and cute lobbyists, all hidden from public view (and their wives and families back home). And a lot of these jokers played the family values card (of the hypocrisy!).
He would be all over the news in today's era for being so grabby-grab with the office ladies.
And remember that it's "Convicted Felon John Evans", not just "John Evans".
Ella suggests contacting TV reporters. How does one do that, unless one is personally acquainted with one? I may be missing the obvious, but the station websites list bios of reporters, but not how to get in touch with them to suggest ideas. There are whistleblower numbers/emails, but if you don't have hard facts, just big questions and observations, that isn't the path to go.
I'd like to post the BOE meetings on Utube, though.
Richard Belcher, on WSB-TV, is a Cross Keys alumnus.
Celebration...you are so way off point on P. Pope. Do you REALLY think the DA investigates someone for months on end if they do not have relevant and CRIMINAL information. She really has you fooled...I am glad you did not win a spot on the board...you are blind and are making some really bad assumptions about the school system and especially P. Pope. And by the way...just because P.Pope states to the Board or to the press that a project is "under budget," does not make it true. She uses moving targets...everyone on the inside knows it. She is a cancer--Lewis knows and lets it continue. NOW ASK WHY???
We'll see. I have no idea why or what the DA is investigating - I'm just amazed that it's taking this long. Mark my words, nothing will come of it except a whole lot of wasted tax dollars. (See: Judge Moore's $400,000 investigation into bullying.)
BTW - I probably didn't win a seat on the board because I didn't run.
I do not believe Mr. Brown will run for district 9 position again. We have had that conversation. I respect Mr. Brown very much and I would support him if he ran for district nine. However, I strongly suspect he may have his eye on another board position that could benifit from a possible change. We do need some changes on the south end of the county so the citizens can get the representation that they deserve.
Thanks, Ella. It is heartening to hear that Mr. Brown is still considering a run for the Board. He would be a needed voice.
Mark Winnie's children are in DeKalb public schools and he has reported on DCSS issues in the past. He might look into this.
I think that Blecker would be good. The next board meeting is Monday night. Well anyone would be good.
I really think we need to be thankful for the great board members we have on the board. We do have some very good board members.
It was Diana Davis of Channel 2 who reported on Cross Keys.
I think Walker only ran for the District 9 seat when it opened up after Womack was already running for the District 4 seat given their decades-long history and animosity. If Womack wasn't in the race, I'm not convinced that Walker would have been their either.
You're probably right, Anon. However, he absolutely trumped a very good (African-American) candidate in the process - and now here he is bringing the race card to the table.
Things really could have been so different if voters had just paid attention. Ernest knows the school system, he's a tech guy so he's very analytical and he cares very much about children's success -- all children. He's open-minded and fair. And because of Gene Walker, we do not have Ernest Brown on our board.
I do think it is important to say again we need to look at all the good things the members of the school system and the school board are getting done right now.
Our Chairman of the Board is superior.
Many of our school board members are working hard and do not vote on the lines of race, religion, or warm fuzzies.
Our school superintendent is working hard to try to make positive changes.
This morning I was reprimanded by someone at a meeting for making a statement that was incorrect.
I do want to correct myself. Mr. Womack was for the most qualified firm that the committee recommended.
However, I did realize that Dr. Walker is not the only one on the board who believes he can use his power as a school member to belittle or be mean to others. In a public place Mr. Womack was ugly and down right mean to me in front of many as he spoke this morning. He made many assumptions about me publically regarding why I ran for school board or would run that he knows nothing about and is dead wrong. However, I realize this is how people of this generation are adjusted to playing ball. My generation plays a little differently. We use the blog.
I like Mr. Womack very much and do think he is a very good school board member. However, I do feel his attitude and his comments made about the indidividuals who blog on this blog was extremely inappropriate. He indicated publically, that the individual who blog on this blog did not know what we were talking about. He indicated that this blog actually does not help the cause of the school system as it just stirs things up.
Again, I am sorry if I said anything wrong regarding the situation. However, if the school board would publically broadcast all its school board meetings on channel 24 that are not closed the public would be more informed. I suspect that the meetings are not public record because the school board does not want us to see them.
However, the other school board meeting where I was told I could watch and get the answers are public record. All we have to do is request them.
I do want to address one comment made publically by Mr. Womack. He indicated some people who run for school board have a hidden agenda. I believe he was talking about me this morning. First of all I am not for sure if I am running for school board. I may. At one time when I got interesting in running years ago like everyone I got interested because of a reason. However, I got interested in running 12 years ago. My interests is strictly providing the best education for our children and for him to indicate anything other than that is just as wrong as it was for me to indicate he did something he did not do.
I do think we on this blog do need to take time to ask our board members what they think before we post things about them. I think that is fair to them.
However, Mr. Womack has no right to think I have any agenda as he does not know me like that. As Mr. Womack said this morning to me, "IF THE SHOE FITS WEAR IT". You cannot get into individual's heads and we can not assume things about them we do not know. If someone wants to know why I am interesting in running for school board he/she should ask me and not assume I have some hidden agenda.
Mr. Womack was very upset this morning about this blog and he definitely made it clear that the people that blog on this blog do not know what they are talking about.
This is a social network, where we discuss issues and give opinions. Some of our opinions are not correct. However, Mr. Womack some of your ideas also may not be correct and that is why we have nine school board members.
Mr. Womack is a fine school board member. However, he is no different than many of us on this blog. We all at times assume things about people that are not true. It is fine for him to do so as he is a school board member and a leader in the community. However, apparently he does not feel our opinions are as worthy as his as he does not like this blog. Apparently many school board members do not like this blog.
I want to clear up another topic dicussed this morning by Mr. Womack. He was so very nice to me in public. I guess this is how he works. It is not ok for the American Americans to be bullies but it is fine for Mr. Womack to publically be a bully to me.
I blog on this blog because I love doing it. I am in school right now so I do not have the chance to do so.
However, Mr. Womack said this morning I was doing it to try to get my name out to run for office. Now, again I am not even totally for sure I will run again. I am thinking about it. However, I also am thinking about other adventures.
Mr. Womack does not know me like this to assume this. Again, it is ok for Mr. Womack to assume this and to make this comment in public about me and then say. "If the shoe fits wear it." Then he is mad at me for indicating something in this blog that was not true about him.
Again, I am sorry that I did this. However, this does not give Mr. Womack the right to try to intimidate, bully me, and say things about me that are not true. If he wants to know any of these things he also can contact me and ask me and not assume things about me that are not true.
As you can see I am a little upset that anyone would try to bully me and be mean to me in public over this webpage. I think this was wrong and inappropriate.
It is not ok for the American Americans to be bullies but it is fine for Mr. Womack to publically be a bully to me.
Mr. Womack is upset about the legal situation and the board members or members of the community (I am not for sure) calling black board members and demanding that vote for the African American Law Firm or that the community will not re-elect them to the school board.
I find it fascinating that Womack reads this blog. I also find it fascinating that he publicly bashes us, when he is free to come here and clear the air if he feels we are wrong on an issue. Come on and chat with us, Womack!
You hang in there, Ella. You have brought much to this blog and your heart is in the right place. Our board should know that there are many board reps across the country who maintain their own blogs to discuss issues with their constituents and keep people informed (of course, they are much younger than Womack and Walker, and as you say, aren't intimidated by this medium.) City council members do so also - in fact, John Heneghan's blog is one of the best, most informative around.
It only takes 5 minutes to set up a blog - wouldn't it be great if our board set one up allowing people to pose questions and have discussions with them? They can be edited, so board members would be free to simply delete comments they find offensive.
Anyone on the board want to take up your own blog? This is America - and the internet is here to stay - so I would suggest you all accept the fact that in this new day, the people have the power to have public online forums like this one -- why not just join in!
Ella.... Please stop kidding yourself. CLew is not a good super... Not even close. I would so vote for you in heart beat if you would only state the obivious. HE STINKS!!!! But you keep saying he is doing a great job, over and over.. Go ask any teacher in the county. There is more dirt out there... Just look. There is more proof on here that he only cares about his back pocket than anything else in the county. We need a business person that knows how to run a billion dollar company to come and run the school system. Let the area super's have the education background and report to the top super.
Only thing he cares about is pushing the blame down the pipe lines to the teachers who do not have a voice.
Here is a little something to dig on. Go look at 80% of the principals and AP's in the county. Go look at the ones that screwed up and were moved up to better paying positions. Then go look and see what Faternity they all belong too........ It is a brother thing.... Faternity Brother that is.
Apparently something on the article is incorrect. I am not for sure if it is the part you changed regarding the comments made in the other newspapers, and the quote you added which Celeb I just noticed. It is fine it is there. But if something is wrong in the quote or any of the section being mean to me and bullying me in public and telling everyone I had a hidden agenda and I was trying to use this blog to get my name out was very unappropriat to say the least.
I do not take being bullied very well.
I do understand the comment regarding age may have upset him. I did not intend this directly at him at all. I think he has done a good job. I have said that on this blog over and over. I only asked a question. I made no statement about age.
As an individual each school board member is just like you and I. It is as a group that they have power to make decisions. I think some of them forget this.
Each person who choices to blog on this site's opinion matters. These are opinions. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we are wrong.
Sometimes we assume things that are wrong. It is wrong for us but apparently if you are a school board member it is ok for you to assume things about others and make public comments about them. I found this extremely interesting.
Well, I wouldn't doubt that there are people who disagree with the reason the Supreme Court dropped the case, however, I have a copy of the decision and it says,
In the extensive record that comprises this case, one fact predominates: remarkable changes in the racial composition of the county presented DCSS and the District Court with a student population in 1986 far different from the one they set out to integrate in 1969. Between 1950 and 1985, DeKalb County grew from 70,000 to 450,000 in total population, but most of the gross increase in student enrollment had occurred by 1969, the relevant starting date for our purposes. Although the public school population experienced only modest changes between 1969 and 1986 (remaining in the low 70,000's), a striking change occurred in the racial proportions of the student population. The school system that the District Court ordered desegregated in 1969 had 5.6% black students; by 1986, the percentage of black students was 47%.
To compound the difficulty of working with these radical demographic changes, the northern and southern parts of the county experienced much different growth patterns. The District Court found that,
[a]s the result of these demographic shifts, the population of the northern half of DeKalb County is now predominantly white, and the southern half of DeKalb County is predominantly black.
App. to Pet. for Cert. 38a. In 1970, there were 7,615 nonwhites living in the northern part of DeKalb County and 11,508 nonwhites in the southern part of the county. By 1980, there were 15,365 nonwhites living in the northern part of the county, and 87,583 nonwhites in the southern part. Most of the growth in the nonwhite population in the southern portion of the county was due to the migration of black persons from the city of Atlanta. Between 1975 and 1980 alone, approximately 64,000 black citizens moved into southern DeKalb County, most of them coming from Atlanta. During the same period, approximately 37,000 white citizens moved out of southern DeKalb County to the surrounding counties. [p476]
DCSS has undertaken only limited remedial actions since the 1976 court order. The number of students participating in the M-to-M program has expanded somewhat, comprising about 6% of the current student population. The district also has adopted magnet programs, but they involve fewer than 1% of the system's students. Doubtless DCSS could have started and expanded its magnet and M-to-M programs more promptly; it could have built and closed schools with a view toward promoting integration of both schools and neighborhoods; redrawn attendance zones; integrated its faculty and administrators; and spent its funds equally. But it did not. DCSS must prove that the measures it actually implemented satisfy its obligation to eliminate the vestiges of de jure segregation originally discovered in 1969, and still found to exist in 1976.
The District Court apparently has concluded that DCSS should be relieved of the responsibility to desegregate because such responsibility would be burdensome. To be sure, changes in demographic patterns aggravated the vestiges of segregation and made it more difficult for DCSS to desegregate. But an integrated school system is no less desirable because it is difficult to achieve, and it is no less a constitutional imperative because that imperative has gone unmet for 38 years.
Although respondents challenged the District Court's causation conclusions in the Court of Appeals, that court did not reach the issue. Accordingly, in addition to the issues the Court suggests be considered in further proceedings, I would remand for the Court of Appeals to review, under the foregoing principles, the District Court's finding that DCSS has met its burden of proving the racially identifiable schools are in no way the result of past segregative action.
I would encourage you all to download your own copy, grab a cup of coffee and read the thing in it's entirety. The race issues in this system in the past are very real, and very painful. They mostly worked their way out due to simple white flight and lots of African-American families moving into south DeKalb.
None of us in this county should base decisions on race. It is about our children. It does not matter about the color of a child, the disability of a child, the religion of a child, or if a child is rich or poor. All we should be worried about is providing our children with the best education possible in the 21st century.
Anonymous, I hear my school board representative tell me he is a good superintendent. I have never sit down and talked to him.
To be fair to him, I cannot make a judgement about him when I really do not know him and I do not have access to what is happening inside the system.
I have to depend on my school repesentative. They tell me he is doing a great job. Now, if I was ever given the opportunity to serve the community my decisions would always be based on data and facts of that data. What does the data tell me?
The Brother thing happens in all situations. This is political also. Who knows who?
If we had a white superintendent then the shoe might be on the other foot.
This type of situation needs to stop in general and individuals need to be hired on qualifications. However, when everything else is equal things like this do play into who gets the job. It depends on who knows who. This happens in every job place.
Everything should be done to make sure that all employees are hired on qualifications.
Now teachers do not have a voice. I am a teacher. I have no voice. I am very aware of this.
I'm hopeful that we are simply caught in a period of time where some people still keep a big toe firmly planted in the past yet many have begun to let go and realize that we really have made great strides in racial equities for African-Americans. Hopefully, one day soon, we won't have a need for the voices that focus on past (and perceived present) racial inequities and we will move forward into the future with a nice mix of PEOPLE - of all kinds, shapes and colors - deciding what is best for CHILDREN. But just at the Jewish people have carried the memories of the Holocaust, we must never forget that we have this history of horrible slavery and discrimination right here in our own country. We must never forget the darkness - but we must move on into the light trusting that most of us have the best interests of everyone at heart.
Anon again. Let me tell you.... I can tell you for fact that your's and mine school rep is believeing the high ups in the school system is telling him. He was talking to Ms. Tyson on the phone one day when school started and she was telling how great eSIS was and how there was no problems with the program. He took it HOOK, LINE, and SINKER... He did not even question it. His reply back to me was. There is no problems, maybe you just do not know how to work the system.
Guess who got to be made to look like a fool.
He is my board rep.
I do not always agree with him. He definitely does not always agree with me. He has made this very clear to me.
However, I can disagree with someone and still do everything in my power to work with them.
I believe Don cares about the kids in this county very much. I know he does. I will defend him on this.
I don't see anything changing with DCSS until someone from another agency or a huge expose happens. School board members need to visit the schools and talk to teachers and students and parents. They need to ask us questions and not take everything that the administration says as gold.
Celebration, you are still just killing me. The race issues in the system did not work out due to white flight and AA's moving into the county. All that has happened is white racism has been replaced with black/African American racism. Beyond race, the District has also placed very unqualified individuals (LEWIS is fine example) in positions that are WAY over their heads. A list of examples??? Sure! G.Bouie and her made up position, Callaway (before she was escorted out of Building A), F. Mitchell (who I have personally heard play the race card in a very unnecessary way/situation), that awful spokesperson for the district, Ralph Simpson, Y. Butler (and her made up position), H. Dunson (what a shady past I hear about with this one), Stanley Pritchett--and I could go on and on. AND this also applies to our BOE members--Smith, Walker, Cunningham are embarrassments. I am not sure Womack has a clue (just look at the bang up job done with the "legal committee") and McChesney comes across as naive and very gullible.
The racism and the stupidity are enough...I haven't even touched on the corruption that is at play (and so many know about it--they fear for their jobs and can't or won't say anything...not publicly anyway).
I am afraid this district is going to have to hit rock bottom before anything will change...and then, there may have been so much damage done that change may not come soon enough if ever at all. Sad, sad situation.
I don't mean to be rude...but folks the administration and the BOE really do not deserve the benefit of the doubt...there have been too many missteps, too many problems, too many poor decisions--WE NEED TO FORCE A DRAMATIC SHIFT AND CHANGE. Throw out the old and let's go get some lead administrators from outside of the District who are proven success stories--no more PE teachers (sorry Ella) as CEO's! Private America would never have such unqualified folks running multimillion dollar organizations...Why should DCSS??
The PE comment is not hurtful. I teach Special Ed. and Science Special Ed. at that. I spend the majority of my day in regular Biology, Physical Science, Health and Chemistry Classrooms. However, to get a degree in PE you have to take some hard classes. I also found the Health & PE teaching exam as the toughest one I took. There are so many sports. It is not nearly as easy as it looks.
However, to use the name Smith, instead of Woods, now that was a little painful. She is a nice lady. However, I do not think we are very much alike.
All I'm saying is that the school system was under a Supreme Court mandate for over 30 years to integrate schools. Some people think the integration took place due to their hard work implementing programs like M to M, etc. However, the courts final decision, although it compliments DeKalb for creatively employing ideas and programs to encourage integration, the case basically became moot due to the fact that the school system had become a majority minority (African-American).
Read the final opinion by Justice Blackmun (joined by Stevens and O'Connor) on the decades-long case here:
The boards over the course of the years of court supervision were charged with the duty to create a "conversion to a unitary, nonracial nondiscriminatory school system."
In it's 1992 appeal, "DCSS claims that it need not remedy the segregation in DeKalb County schools because it was caused by demographic changes for which DCSS has no responsibility. It is not enough, however, for DCSS to establish that demographics exacerbated the problem; it must prove that its own policies did not contribute. [n1] Such contribution can occur in at [p513] least two ways: DCSS may have contributed to the demographic changes themselves, or it may have contributed directly to the racial imbalance in the schools." ...
"The District Court's opinion suggests that it did not examine DCSS' actions in light of the foregoing principles. The court did note that the migration farther into the suburbs was accelerated by "white flight" from black schools and the "blockbusting" of former white neighborhoods. It did not examine, however, whether DCSS might have encouraged that flight by assigning faculty and principals so as to identify some schools as intended respectively for black students or white students. See App. 226-231. Nor did the court consider how the placement of schools, the attendance zone boundaries, or the use of mobile classrooms might have affected residential movement. The court, in my view, failed to consider the many ways DCSS may have contributed to the demographic shifts." ...
"The District Court apparently has concluded that DCSS should be relieved of the responsibility to desegregate because such responsibility would be burdensome. To be sure, changes in demographic patterns aggravated the vestiges of segregation and made it more difficult for DCSS to desegregate. But an integrated school system is no less desirable because it is difficult to achieve, and it is no less a constitutional imperative because that imperative has gone unmet for 38 years."
So you see, basically, the schools became a majority African-American, perhaps due to the fact that DeKalb continued to allow black schools to suffer an inferior education with inferior teachers and mobile classrooms, thus by it's own complacency created the scenario for continued white flight and continued "block busting" until schools racial balance flipped making the case for integration unnecessary.
And this is why, to this day, we still have many black parents worried that their children are suffering an inferior education, which to prove, they need only point to the disparity in test scores.
As far as your other claims regarding racism and ineptness, Anon, please don't just make unsupported accusations here. However, if you have specific facts to support your claims, we'd sure love to hear them.
And yes, District Attorney's investigate people all the time across this country with no prosecutable results.
The judges actually begin their 1992 decision with this sentence,
It is almost 38 years since this Court decided Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). In those 38 years, the students in DeKalb County, Ga., never have attended a desegregated school system even for one day. The majority of "black" students never have attended a school that was not disproportionately black.
All of that said, if you have actual info - here's a note Jim Walls of "Atlanta Unfiltered" posted at the AJC blog to InAtlanta regarding Gwinnett PS (but I would extend this to anyone who has verifiable information on DeKalb as well) -
Feel free to e-mail the details, names, whatever on the wives and friends to me at
I’m gathering string on that very topic.
Watched the board meeting last night to see what the fuss is about. Boy, I really wish I had been at that called meeting.
I agree with Cere that Don was referring to John Evans as the dinosaur (though Walker fits the category, too). Sarah's nearly weepy defense of Evans (a conficted felon) was a classic example of the pig-headedness with which some older black people hold onto "ideals" versus "realities."
I have no doubt that Evans (substitute E. Walker, S. Woods, Z. Roberts) started out an idealistic avenger of civil rights -- the world was a totally different place when he was youthful. But, as his history unfolded, his path changed and he choose to become corrupted by the lure of money and back-door deals (as proven by his convictions in courts of law).
So, followers of avengers must make a decision as some point to cling to the past glory of civil rights struggles or view these avengers as the human beings they are. Once corrupted, the avengers claims to sainthood are tainted at best. Walker wants to be judged by his actions, yet complains when people actually do that.
Woods' love for Evans is so sad you almost have to feel sorry for her. Guess she never heard the phrase, "if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."
It is okay to change one's opinions of old friends and colleagues. Blind faith in people is foolish in my opinion.
Thirty-five years ago I had a big crush on O.J. Simpson. I cheered his emerging movie "career", I even had the number 32 on the back of my school club jersey. I'm not ashamed to admit that. It was the truth. I no longer have those feelings because some things have CHANGED with his circumstances and behaviors. I'll continue to give him props for his stellar football career, but I will not weep in his defense for it. His actions have prevented my continued adulation.
So, Ms. Woods:
"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely." Karen Kaiser Clark
Don was definitely talking about Mr. Evans at the school board meeting and the phone calls to the board members came from someone apparently that indicated that vote black or they will not be re-elected.
This is so sad.
I actually like Mr. Evans very much as a person. I always love talking to him when I see him. He has so much history and so many stories he can tell. He really is an interesting fella.
I see the good in everyone and I do believe individual can make mistakes and can move on from those mistakes. However, this does not look very pretty. I do have to say. It would appear Mr. Evans could be involved.
OF course you can request the tapes to that meeting. As they are public record and they have to be provided. I would like to have one. If anyone gets one I will pay for you to get me one also. Let me know.
Consider this theory. What if -- given the above quotes from the Supreme Court regarding the segregation of DeKalb schools - and given the fact that Paul Womack was deeply involved in 12 of those 38 years of attempted school integration, would it be plausible that the blacks on the board see Womack as a harkening back to those days? Womack thinks he was responsible for integrating the schools, he does not realize that not everyone sees it his way - not everyone thinks of him as the civil rights supporter that he sees in himself. Could they see his return to the board as a return to those days? Could this be why Gene Walker threw in his name in the recent race? Could this be why we suddenly have returned to a heated discussion on race at several meetings?
Can you all imagine how much real work and progress would be getting done if others had been elected in their places? Instead, we have reverted back about 20 years. You got what you asked for, voters of DeKalb.
Regardless of how mean spirited Womack has been to me this week, I believe he wants to educate all students in Dekalb County. However, so does Dr. Walker, Mr. Cunningham, and Ms. Woods.
Mr. Evans also wants what is best for all children in Dekalb County. However he does want to make sure the African American children are taken care of. He wants equality for these children.
I think in reading the final judgements of the Supreme Court you will see that some Supreme Court Justice did still see inequalties in the Dekalb County School System still. However, due to the distribution of its citizens it felt the School System had met its burden of proof.
I do think it is important to read the decision of the Justices opinions. Dekalb County still has improvement according to the courts to make in equalization according to some justice.
No one school board member has the power along to make changes. NO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER CAN BE ELECTED TO THE BOARD AND COME IN ON THEIR WHITE HORSE AND TURN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AROUND.
I also am concerned that some members of the current school board are still micro-managing at the local level. These school board members cut others down for inappropriate votes and then brag throughtout the community that they have had the school supertintendent appoint their principal that the school board member or members in their little group want. This is just as unethical. However, these school board members feel that they can do whatever they want as they are on their white horse to save the school system.
Some school board members spend hours trying to micro-manage the operations of the school system which is the responsibility of the school superintendent. This is unethical and what other school boards got in big trouble for a couple of years ago.
On the other hand we have some of the finest school board members in the state. Our chairman is superior. Ms. Roberts is also such a lady. Ms. Speaks is unbelieveable. Rodovian is also great. I could go on, but I think you can get the picture of how great I believe members of our school board are. Many others are also great. We do have some who may need to clean out their closets and stop throwing stones.
I wish all of them would work together and stop throwning stones at each other. I do not believe the race issue is one sided at all. However, I do not approve of voting for any company based on race. All members should work for the best of the children and put the past in the past. (THAT IS ALL MEMBERS) (TEAMWORK FOR OUR CHILDREN IN DEKALB)
I believe if the shoe fits as a school board member you should wear it and if you are being unethical it needs to change for the benifit of the whole school board, the citizens of Dekalb and the children of Dekalb.
Do not throw stones unless your closet is clean and ethical.
Womack is never going to understand the value and power of a blog. There's a clear generational disconnect. Those who post on this blog are among the most intelligent people in the county, and some of the most tuned in to the needs of this large school system.
I only wish every teacher and in-school staff like librarians and nurses in the system knew about it and posted more often, because the stories they'll tell you about problems caused by poor administrative decisions made by the DCSS Central Office, because whether black or white, in the north, central of south parts of the county, teachers are sick and tired of the Central office. Whether the eSIS debacle, not having school nurses or enough para-pro's, leaking roofs, filthy rest rooms, cockroaches in our schools, or making up jobs out of nowhere for those who play Crawford's game, teachers are begging parents to get more involved. teachers know how many resources and funds are not going into thr classroom.
The main reason why this blog is as popular and talked about as it is, is because it sheds a light onto the school system that has never really had to be accountable to the public. The AJC and local TV stations have never covered the system well. This school system spends over a billion dollars a year when property tax, SPLOST, federal and state dollars, fees and charges, etc., etc. are added up. Yet we have a superintendent who is in his position because he is a master politician, not someone who is qualified to run a billion dollar operation.
I ran into an acquaintance who knows Crawford well, and even though this guy knows nothing about this blog or school system politics, and he joked that Crawford was telling his friends two months before Johnny Brown was officially pushed out that he would be the next superintendent.
When he saw that I was stunned, he said, wait, maybe I shouldn't have said that.
Crawford and other Central Office hire up's manuevered Brown's ouster the second Brown said he was going to cut down the number of Central Office adminsitrators.
I could say conspire but we'll go with manuever for now.
I'm glad the BOE meetings are online, but the meetng video is so poorly administrated by Ron Hunter and his MIS staff, it can't be searched or broken up into easy to find sections of the meeting, it's as if Crawford and Executive Director Ron don't want the public to easily access specific parts of the meeting when Crawford or BOE members make important and controversial statements.
Imagine if Cere and others sould say go to this link, and go the the 45 minute mark of the video and listen to Gene Walker's statement. The vast majority of county residents aren't paying attention to the BOE and Central orrice, but imagine if we could send a specfic link and quote to a few thousand parents. What would the average citizen say about the legal services mess, Pat Pope investigation, BOe members trying to justify the condition of Cross Keys, etc.??
Keep blogging. Keep contacting your BOE members. Keep demanding transparency. Keep telling parents and teachers about this blog. Keep asking for a new Cross Keyes High. Keep demanding clean rest rooms. Keep demanding for a registered school nurse in every school. Keep telling parents and county residents without children about how bloated and top heavy the DCSS Central Office is, and how much they pay in taxes for "Executive Directors" and other former principals in positions for which they have no experience in.
Cere and Ella, we got your back! Womack may not respect this blog and those who post on it, but that reflects directly on him. Keep on keeping on, becasue we are making a difference.
One of the earlier comments about principals and administrators who are in the same fraternity as Crawford is really, really interesting. Would love to see the numbers. Betting its no anomally.
This article is disturbing, as I thought the Ellis administration was turning things around when it came to ethics in the county gov't.
But I'm guessing they're talking about Gene Walker, before he resigned from the DDA, in the quote below.
Meanwhile, a couple of cases have languished since a quorum couldn't be reached at the last meeting, including one involving a member of the county's Development Authority and another involving a member of the Board of Tax Assessors.
Thanks so much for the supportive comment, Anon. We appreciate so much everything you said - especially that you've "got our backs". I agree that this blog has served an important purpose. (I have discovered that Cobb and Gwinnett should create citizen blogs too!) This is the power of the internet - real transparency - real information - at your fingertips. We may not always be spot-on, but many of the people who share here have superior knowledge of the inside of DCSS and others have terrific ideas. We support school nurses, recess and more help for teachers - we call out waste and bloat that are preventing dollars from being spent on these things -- things the parents - the taxpayers want to have our money spent on.
Also - Anon2 (unless you're the same Anon!), thanks for sharing the AJC article about the ethics committee. I meant to post that here after reading it in the paper - it's appalling!!! Our county and school leaders - no matter what they say - do not want transparency. That is perhaps why they have such an issue with this blog.
Now, the board has reached a breaking point. Only three of its seven members have unexpired terms. Two members who continue to serve though their terms have expired both want to leave.
"We're really in a state of crisis right now in terms of ethics in DeKalb County," said Stanley Baum, a member of the board since its inception in 1991. His term expired three years ago, but he keeps going "since they haven't appointed a successor."
Patricia Killingsworth is ready for a break.
She has volunteered on the board since 1998, and she continues to serve though her term expired last year. Even though she's had to miss meetings due to the illness and subsequent death of a family member, the County Commission will not replace her.
"I'm going to remain until I'm replaced," Killingsworth said. "But I'm desperate. I want to go."
One member resigned in 2004, stopped attending meetings and has never been replaced. Another, who's term expired last year, finally stopped attending this summer.
Digging further into that same paper, there is an article about how many Fulton County murder defendants are running around out on bond! One in particular had bond set and then lowered but thankfully he was still unable to make bond -- and who was the judge? Why, Retired Fulton Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore! (before she retired and started her $400,000 investigation into bullying in DeKalb, which she found no evidence of.)
Kicked out of a concert, she plunges to her death
After Charles Martin and Pamela Boyd were kicked out of a Police concert at Philips Arena in November 2007, witnesses saw the two yelling and pointing fingers at each other.
Martin, 29, shoved Boyd, who tumbled down a stairwell, a witness told police. Boyd had reached out for Martin but he stood still and folded his arms, prosecutors said. Martin then ran down to Boyd and was overheard saying, “If you don’t get up, I could go to jail for this.”
Boyd, 44, died five days later from head injuries.
At Martin’s bond hearing in April 2008, Boyd’s brother urged the court to keep Martin behind bars, saying that “one day those bars may open for him, but my sister is never, ever going to climb out of that coffin.”
Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore set bond at $250,000 and later reduced it to $150,000. Martin has yet to post bond and remains in jail.
My problem with Judge Moore's conclusion was not that she found there was no bullying (and I guess we'll never know on what evidence she based that decision) but that she then proceeded to assign the blame for the suicide on the home situation (I bet she had even less evidence for that unnecessary conclusion--it was uncalled for, clearly outside the scope of the investigation, and taints her finding that there was no bullying.
Furthermore, you're right, investigation is not her forte. In fact a judge's duty is to make an unbiased decision based on evidence presented to her by parties that have obtained some of that evidence through their own investigation. To investigate a matter before deciding on it is clearly non-judiciary, and clearly biased. Besides, you think she would have received her fat check if she had found bullying and DCSS at fault?
I think DCSS thought they could throw the name and judicial title out there and expect no criticism just because of such a stellar rep--brilliant, huh?
Too many negatives piling up on DCSS central admin and the BOE. Somethings gotta give!!!
I don't believe Judge Moore blamed the home situation for Jaheem's suicide - she said it could not be discounted as a factor, along with other factors.
These are quotes from "Atlanta Unfiltered" on the subject,
Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore (right), hired by the school district to investigate the Herrera case, reported last month that she found teasing and name-calling, but no sign of bullying before Jaheem took his life.
Now, Moore has signed an extension to her contract with the district. The new deal calls for her to “fully investigate all reported allegations of bullying at Dunaire Elementary School within the last three years.”
Moore will be paid $325 per hour through Oct. 30 under the consulting agreement. The extension was signed June 19.
School officials have repeatedly denied requests filed under the Open Records Act for a copy of Moore’s written report. Her contract requires that she report her findings in writing, but the report is incomplete, Erick Burroughs, a lawyer for the district, said in a letter Friday.
In any event, the letter said, the district will not release Moore’s written findings because they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
August 26, 2009 --
Domestic violence and the death last year of a beloved grandmother may have played a role in the suicide of a DeKalb County fifth-grader, according to an investigative report released Wednesday. ...
But an investigation by retired Fulton County judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore found “no evidence that anyone told administrators or teachers about other students teasing or harassing Jaheem.” A written copy of Moore’s findings, summarized at a May 20 news conference, was made public today. ...
Moore noted that Norman Montgomery Keene, his mother’s “significant other,” had pleaded guilty twice to domestic violence charges. In 2006 in Rockdale County, Bermudez said “he lunged across the kitchen and grabbed her by the throat, shoving her against the east wall.” She told police he hit her with a kitchen chair and kicked her in the throat after she fell to the floor, Moore said, quoting from the original police report.
Keene was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to battery and obstructing a person from making an emergency phone call, Moore said. A decade earlier, she said, Keene pleaded guilty in the Virgin Islands to a gun charge and to beating Bermudez and kicking her in the chest.
Moore also noted that Jaheem was extremely to close to a grandmother who reportedly raised him. After her death in October 2008, she said, a teacher heard Jaheem say he wanted to be buried next to her.
The judge found school officials responded appropriately to two fights involving Jaheem that were reported to them. Two other incidents, one of which involved a schoolmate placing Jaheem in a chokehold, only came to light after the boy’s death, she said.
For this "report" - we have paid nearly $400,000.
But then again, why wasn't Ramsey's office able to conduct the investigation?
DeKalb vows ‘transparent’ probe of bullying response
April 27, 2009 --
DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis today promised a thorough and transparent investigation to see how the system handled bullying complaints that led to the suicide of a Dunaire Elementary student.
Although the system’s investigation is continuing, Lewis said the mother of Jaheem Herrera, 11, clearly had visited Dunaire to complain about bullies harassing her son.
“If she came one time, that should have been sufficient enough for us to respond appropriately and put the protocols in place,” he said.
Lewis said he wants to know how the system responded to Jaheem’s mother, Masika Bermudez: “Did we address the issue as soon as it came to our attention?” DeKalb schools’ Office of Internal Affairs, headed by state Sen. Ron Ramsey, will look into the incident.
"But then again, why wasn't Ramsey's office able to conduct the investigation?"
Because Ron Ramsey and his satff don't do anything of value! Everyone at the central office knows Ron and Crawford have known each other forever, and Ron only steps up and works hard when Crawford asks him to do something for Crawford's own benefit.
You think Ron would ever investigate the amount of non-county students sneaking into our schools? Only if the BOE came down hard on Crawford and asked Ron to get on it.
Ron spends over two months downtown as a state senator. I'm still trying to figure out if Ramsey takes a leave of absence when he's in session. In addition to a small salary as a state senator, Ramsey gets over $120 per day while the senate is in session. If Ramsey isn't on a leave of absence or using vacation days in sentae session, then he's getting paid by taxpayers twice on those days.
If the AJC was a real newspaper, they would have covered this years ago.
What about someone at the county office being escorted from her office?
I cannot believe this. What happen? Did she take the fall for someone?
The Dekalb Ethics Board cannot vote on ethical issues as they do not have enough members. The Commissioners and Ellis have not appointed them or agree on individuals or something like that.
I am echoing Ella--why did they take Frankie Callaway out? I long ago lost track of what exactly she did (she has moved around a lot), but on the list of potentially skeevy employees of DCSS, she wasn't at the top of my list.
I have know this lady for years. watched her children grow up at Lakeside. What a lady?
I also respect her highly.
This must be a horrible mistake. Someone got on the wrong white horse and had to go after the wrong person.
If BOE members are complaining about this blog, it's because they don't like that their decisions and actions are finally being scrutinized by a large audience. Womack has a lot of nerve. he should want more people to take interest in the school system.
Speaking of old farts, McChesney is such a disappointment. All he cares about is Lakeside and Saagmore Hills Elem. If you try to approach him with anything he doesn't fully 100% agree with you, he'll blow you off and and badmouth you and never have any more discussions with you. I had high hopes for him, but he's been a disappointment.
Go to: http://dunwoodynorth.blogspot.com/2009/10/mixed-bag-of-topics-audio-golf-job.html
Click on the link "two minute comment"
Watch this two minute comment from Dr. Eugene "Gene" P. Walker beginning at 1:24:30. (slide the slider at the bottom of the window to reach that point)
As I re-watched the video from the Oct 5 meeting (view it at this link:)
I am impressed with the opening comments by concerned parents and community members who passionately appeal to the board for things like recess, after-school programs, charter schools, construction attention, security, a place for their football team to workout, honors and awards for students and the wonderful scholarship program headed by Sandy Purkett.
It breaks my heart to think that they may be yelling into the wind - as I cannot rid my memory of the day that we were referred to by Mr. Moseley as "Background Noise". You see, as the board proves to us at the closing comments in this same meeting, it seems they are still much too focused on lawyers, power, administrative spending and racism to actually listen to what it is parents, teachers and students need, want and are pleading for at the microphone month after month after month.
"I just want to respond and make a comment about Gene Walker and his philosophy. You may or may not know, I graduated from a colored high school. I'm from Thomaston, Georgia. When I graduated from high school, I had to go to the colored high school, I couldn't go to the high school of my choice, I had to go to the one that dictated where I go based on my race. I am a very, very race-conscious person. I've been black all my life. I shall continue to be black but I will be fair. But I know the power and potency of discrimination. I was born in a discriminated situation. It has affected me. It continues to affect me wherever I see it. So I am race-conscious. I will never, ever lead you to believe that I am race-neutral. I won't say that I don't see color. I see color. I appreciate color. I celebrate color. And I love color. So I don't want nobody to be misguided or to think that Gene Walker is going to try to play the game that he's race-neutral. That he does not see things sometimes in black and white. I do and I ask you to judge me on the basis of my behavior and my actions. And if my actions betray my efforts to try to be fair and honest, call it to my attention and I will listen to you. I just want you to know that I'm a race-conscious person.
-Gene Walker to the DeKalb School Board,
October 5, 2009
"I rejoined the DeKalb Board of Education after a vacation of 16 years. I ran for the board again for only one reason, and that's to educate kids-black, white, Asian, Hispanic. I don't care what race or what color you are, the kids want a quality education. The parents of north DeKalb, south DeKalb and middle DeKalb couldn't care less about race-baiting issues that we debate here on this board. They want the best education for their kids. Race-baiting as we had this past Monday, where we accused one of the outstanding law firms in Atlanta and America of being unethical, and bypassed looking at another law firm, for whatever reason, and retaining them because they are black and female. We are, or should be about providing education. Not based on race or who is qualified - I mean, who is qualified - not the color of their skin and their sex. We have got to rise above it. I heard Dr. Walker. I appreciate where he came from. I came from a segregated community, south Georgia. He's absolutely right about that, you had two schools. That has been years ago. We have a board of education that has six Afro-Americans on it, we have a black president, and we have a black superintendent. This county is 80% Afro-American. They want as we all want, the best education for their kids and I think it's time that that's the thing that we focus on, not who is black and who is white and who is going to get the job."
-Paul Womack to the DeKalb Board of Education,
October 5, 2009
"I would also like to follow what Dr. Speaks and Mr. Womack said. I think they make a lot of sense. And I ask your indulgence Mr. Chairman as my remarks may go overtime, but I will endeavor to finish as quickly as possible.
For the nine months I've been on this board I've seen some amazing things. Many good, and some bad. I've tried to stay focused on the tasks of a responsible school board member while I learn on the job about boardsmanship. What I say now is something I had hoped I would never have to say. The Georgia School Board Association has a suggested Code of Ethics for board members. It says things like do not make decisions based on whether or not they will help you get reelected. It also admonishes boards to not get distracted from its core mission of effectively governing a school system. When we do not follow these concepts, it leads to bad publicity, ineffective leadership and loss of focus. Since I have been on this board, I have noticed this board violates some of these concepts. During our quest to hire legal counsel the worst of our behavior has emerged. Many of us have resorted to playing the race card repeatedly. We have made scurrilous and irresponsible public comments about our new general counsel, Southerlin and Asbill. Some are focused on what is black or white, not right and wrong. Some have defined diversity as only black or white. I respectfully submit that if you do that, you have missed the point. For some to suggest that there is some racial bias being used in choosing our general counsel is nothing short of obfuscation of the facts. Look around you. I am the oppressed minority here! How a school board that is a majority African-American can be on a racist agenda is incomprehensible to me. We have an African-American superintendent, we have a vast majority of our staff African-American, and a student body that is 80% African-American. I dare say, that I see no oppression here. But remember, racism is not confined to a single race. Could it be that a majority of this board is open-minded and they are committed to the responsible governing of the policies of this school system? I've watched the civil rights dinosaurs come to our meetings to divide, coerce and intimidate some of our board members. They have only one agenda - to divide and cloud the issues and center the fight on some imagined racist agenda. Those days are gone. Once again, look around. We have an African-American president. He could not be there if there had been no diversity in the vote. Let me remind you again, diversity is not just black and white. During our legal quest, we have attempted to save the taxpayers in excess of $1 million. We have had those on our board to ignore that fact and suggest we spend much more just so we had an African-American attorney. I would like them to defend that fact to the taxpayers. Let me conclude by saying that I stand ready to work with all my colleagues. My expectation of them and myself is to be prepared, and on time for each meeting, act in the best interest of the school system, work as part of a team, possess integrity and honesty and understand that our nation's strengths include freedom, racial, ethnic and religious diversity and it's commitment to educational excellence and equity for all the children."
-Don McChesney to the DeKalb County School Board,
October 5, 2009
Oh - I forgot to include the speech that started the snowball of speeches --
"Thank you Mr. Chair. I have prepared my statement because the amount of time alloted dictates that I am brief and in my briefness, I want to ensure that my remarks are clear and coherent. I often take the posture when accusatory statements are made, "If the shoe fits, wear it." And if it doesn't, let the accuser have their say and move on. However, I've come to find out you can't always ignore statements that don't apply to you because your silence can be perceived as in agreement. Well, enough is enough and I now must address comments by board members that I consider to be unfair, inaccurate and inflammatory, made most recently last Monday at the board's called meeting regarding the representation for legal counsel for the school district. In response to accusations that some board members were trying to get rid of an African-American law firm, I simply say I sincerely doubt that and I ask in turn, why is race always brought into the equation when you want to emphasize a point? Will the merits of your argument not suffice? Must you resort to emotionalism playing the race card? And, I'm now not speaking to my fellow board members, but to individuals who express concern about me and how I vote on this board. To you I say, if you are concerned that I, as an African-American don't always vote with my fellow African-American board members, well you need to continue to be concerned, because that's not how I conduct business. Will I be bullied into voting a particular way? I think not. I vote on what I consider to be the merits of the issue, always asking the question, "Will the results of my vote be in the best interest of the students and the school district?" Now, I realize I won't always make the correct decision, but when I don't, I will regroup, try to learn from my mistakes and make a better, more informed decision during my next opportunity. In closing, I ask each member of this board to not only dwell on the motives of your fellow board members, but to look within and question your own motives as well. Thanks you."
Pam Speaks, to the DeKalb County School Board,
October 5, 2009
And, rounding out the evening, Sarah Copeland Wood --
"I just want to address we had statements about the board members not doing their job when we come and we ask questions. I think we need to examine why we have this meeting. If we're just gonna all sit here and listen, uh, this is just too much an expense for us to just sit here and listen. There is not all the time a timely response in questions asked and questions may not arise if we haven't heard the presenters. I'm just saying we need to reevaluate why we have these meetings. If we're all just going to sit here and not make any statements and the meetings just roll along. I really think we need to evaluate whether or not we need to have this meeting. If not, then maybe we need to do something else with this time and money. I just don't, um, there's nothing to me as important as first hand verbal information, because what you read sometimes may be the wrong interpretation. And I just think that sometimes we try to get information and it's not timely and sometimes we don't. But I think we owe it to our own self to make a prudent decision on what we're going to vote to at least get as much information that is possible before we vote."
But later, after Don spoke, Sarah responded -
"I am shocked that anybody on this board would sit here and berate our civil right leaders. I don't appreciate it, I think that was out of place for you to do that because they're more than civil rights people that come here and make negative statements about other race. I'm just - I mean I am really shocked. So now, we're critiquing what the community says. These are taxpayers just like you are. And without them, and people like them, we as a race would still be bolted to the bottom of the boat. I'm just saying to you, I don't appreciate that. And however you feel is your business. But you can't speak for me. You can't speak for what it feels like to be me. And I think instead of throwing out racial slurs, which you are talking about not doing, you should be the kind of man that sit there and say, you know I respect your opinion, instead of name-slandering! And that was outright name-slandering."
And now for my rant --
We all need to learn to just take people at face value - as they are - individually. Sweeping generalizations and perceived "hurts" are only going to hinder progress on all fronts. In this county, the race issue is the one, over-riding, pervasive, dominant issue that infiltrates every conversation, every initiative, every event, every dollar - slowing progress. Fear, defensive selfishness and imagined insults rule. Consequently, due to this attention-absorbing infighting the real work - the work of educating each and every child in our care and providing a safe, clean learning environment, gets lost in the cacophony. Children lose. And what they lose, they can never get back.
We need young, fresh, new leadership - in our administration and on our school board. Several of the people currently 'leading' this system are far too invested in their entwined personal histories and personal motivations to ever be able to create a respectable vision for the future of DeKalb's children.
cere, your rant is "right on". Enough about race. Too many children are in need of a quality education and the "adults" on the BOE need to get past their petty quarrels and get to the job at hand.
The bottom line is that both groups cannot deal with not winning the vote. Some members of both groups cannot but it done. The best thing happened in the end which was that both groups with mediation got what they wanted.
The bill has been reduced up to a couple of million dollars. Both law firms are employed. Both law firms are employed for the price of the one law firm.
No, neither group got exactly what they wanted. However, both groups got some of what they wanted.
"This county is 80% Afro-American."
-Paul Womack to the DeKalb Board of Education, October 5, 2009.
Wow, Paul Womack, you don't know your facts. DeKalb is only 53.7% African-American, and if the data really reflected the true amount of Hispanic's instead of the 10.4% the Census Bureau has, the county is probably 50 or 51% African-American.
Now when it comes to the number of African-American DCSS administrators in the crawford lewis administration, 80% is right on Paul Womack.
Extremely nice. We are dealing with real data and real facts. I find that some of the members of the board assume many things instead of looking at data. I am only referring to 1 or 2 school board members.
In fact I think many of the school board members are superior.
However, just the fact that the point is brought up by any board member the color of the superintendent and the individuals in the central office of a school board member may not be so cool.
Diversity at a school brings different, important, and competitively relevant knowledge and perspectives about how to actually complete work, how to design processes, reach goals, frame tasks, create effective teams, communicate ideas, and lead. When a school is diverse, it can grow and improve challenging current strategies, operations, practices, and procedures. Diversity can bring more holistic, fresh and meaningful approaches to work and helps stop the assumption that diversity regulates just too how a person looks or where the person comes from (Jossey-Bass, 2007).
As the above statement indicates diversity is extremely important in any school system. However, this diversity should not be just black and white. Our school system's population is extremely diversed. It would be niced to also see a more diversed administrataive team.
By the way what happen at Pope's home yesterday and her office. The husband indicated guns where pulled. Did someone get arrested? I did not see Pope at the school board meeting Mon. night. Of course I could have missed something. Did anyone else see her. They did take care of a personnal matter. Those personnal matters are all so top secret and they should always be.
Perhaps Womack was trying to say that the DCSS student population is 80% black. He may have misspoken by saying DeKalb County is 80% black.
Personally, I think when a white person (ESPECIALLY an old white guy) says things along the lines of "Oh, get over it, we have a black president and a black superintendent and a whole lot of black students so things are all better and you blacks should appreciate it" - is really, really condescending and stupid.
Just my opinion.
I think the white folks were as much out of line as the black folks. There are other children going to school in Dekalb County besides black and white children. However, by listening to this board you would never be aware of this.
I think the whole situation is sad. I think they all are wrong and it is sad for Dekalb County Schools and our children.
Yeah - ESPECIALLY Don McChesney and Gene Walker -- they are Cross Keys' Board reps -- little do they know how many Hispanics and immigrants they represent...
McChesney and Gene Walker don't know how many Latino's they represent, but more importantly, no one from the BOE cares one iota about Latino students and families in DCSS. If you disagree, show me an example. Just one.
The Fulton County school system actually does a nice job reaching out to Latino's and students and families of diverse ethnic backgrounds. They have parent coordinators in the elementary schools, and they are a huge help in dealing with parents who are Vietnamese, Korean, Somalian, etc.
In DeKalb, it's all about black and white students, and a school system being led by black administrators. If you're Latino, Asian American, etc., you're SOL.
I watched the recordings of the most recent 2 meetings ... ugh! Why can't we all just get along! :)
Folks, I'm 46 and a generation or two behind some of these board members and still I can personally testify to extreme and deep-seated racism in my personal experience.
There's no denying that subtle bigotry still infects our hearts and therefore our body politic. In a way, I think these sort of personal issues are inevitable. What can we do?
I think Don's comments about the ethics violations may be the most useful ones made - if our BoE does not raise and enforce its own standards of ethics, an outside entity should. Personal bigotry or no, let's hold our BoE to ruthless standards of ethics.
At the very least, the participants in this recent mud-slinging contest should be reprimanded - why couldn't they direct their "speeches" to one another in private. This kind of public display is an embarrassment to the BoE and DeKalb and should not be tolerated.
Just thumbing through the Dunwoody High School 2009-2010 directory. Interesting that, according to the addresses in the directory, there are a number of freshman who do not live in the Dunwoody school district. Since Dunwoody was not a receiving school, how did that happen? Administrative transfers?
In-County DCSS employees perhaps?
No. I'm betting ATs. I sat in summer registration a couple of years ago at Dunwoody (I was trying to get my child a transfer and was denied) - and chatted with several students who were transferring on an AT. They said it was no big deal - very simple - they just asked for and received a letter of transfer. One girl, in fact, was registering at Dunwoody as a junior, after having spent her freshman year at Tucker and her sophomore year at Lakeside.
The BOE has allowed and enabled the Superintendent to run roughshod with administrative transfers. It's a major problem, and it has to stop.
AT's should be permitted few and far between. Crawford Lewis has used it for political reasons, such as allowing County Comm. Elaine Boyer to send out of her district to Lakeside.
BOE members themselves have had Lewis issue AT's to assist friends and friends of friends.
AT's are just one more example of a Board of Education that allows poor decision-making from the Superintendent, like Lewis moving principals into positions where they have no prior experience. Or moving directors into "executive director" positions just to pay them a higher salary. It's well past time for the BOE to ask Lewis to retire gracefully.
One of Lewis' former positions in DCSS was the Director of Student Assignment (think that was the title) -- the position that grants ATs.
Is there even a need for "Director" of Student Assignments? DCSS has so many darn made up nonsense positions, like the Director of Student Achievement, etc. These jobs solely exist to build allies in a big bureaucracy. They do nothing positive except take resources away from the classroom.
Would love to see the number of AT's while Johnny Brown was super, and compare them to AT's under Lewis.
Not sure where to post these two bits of information, but certainly applies to school board oversight:
School Lunches: DCSS now mandates that cafeteria staff can no longer provide a cheese sandwich to any student who does not have something to eat from home. Whether a student forgets a lunch or their family has not processed the free/reduced lunch paperwork, they will go hungry.
We are aware that many students in our community qualify for free lunches, but their parents have not completed the paperwork because of language barriers, embarrassment, or even procrastination. We also have students who forget from time to time. In both cases, we are very concerned about the ability of students to focus academically when they're hungry.
Therefore, we are asking our parents to donate power bars and other snacks to teachers to provide them to students they see not eating lunch.
eSis Parent Assistant Test: DCSS recruited a group of parents from each school to pilot the launch of the Parent side of eSis. The results were less than stellar. Most of us completed the initial set-up, but couldn't get approval. A few weeks later, one parent tester finally was approved, but couldn't get through the next layer of the set-up. She sent a message through eSis (which they wanted us to do), but never got a response.
uh oh - that's not encouraging news about eSis.
I will re-post the first half of your comment on the new "announcements" thread.
eSIS is still a disaster, but Ron Hunter was actually promoted from Director of MIS to "Executive Director" of MIS. It pays to be one of Crawford's buddies, because DCSS MIS is an incredibly underperforming division. Some teachers even call them lazy. MIS staff and Ron Hunter have no problem making sure every new school gets sweet new computers, while old schools like Cross Keys and Sequoyah get the out of date leftovers.
Wonder how much of a raise Hunter got.
I actually saw a "new" monitor that was installed at Cross Keys within the last year so that the students could watch Channel 1 (no they never had it before, but I digress). That bulky, old, tan dinosaur of a monitor looked like it had been sitting in a warehouse since 1982.
eSIS is a total disaster!
The school based IT people hate it (they talk about it not being web 2.0 style..what ever that means), the teachers (young and old; computer savy and computer phobic alike) hate it, the parents cannot access it (so they have not had time to hate it yet) and the kids wonder why teachers are walking around with clipboards keeping grades "by hand" and why it takes longer than it used to to "find out my grade" when they ask for it.
This program is a hunk of junk.
Not at all intuitive.
Every process takes way too many clicks and screens to accomplish.
And those clicks had best be done in the correct order...or you will get a screen saying you accomplished your goal, only to find out later..you did not succeed in posting (or whatever you were trying to do). Not kidding!
Who would buy a product like this?
And it is my understanding that DeKalb signed a multi year, big money contract for this trash. So we are stuck with eSIS.
Looks like we're going to be needing "all lawyer hands on deck" in the coming months. What - with the dismissal of Pat Pope - and now, the system joining Gwinnett in suing charter schools - hey - I wish I had a license to practice law...
Charter schools grow but so do legal challenges
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