Wednesday, May 5, 2010

School leaders say they need a PR firm to help clean up the mess

The AJC is reporting that DCSS has approved $25,000 to hire an outside PR firm to help clean up the public relations mess they have created by years of rubber-stamping the actions of our former superintendent. I say, pay for this yourselves! This will never only be a $25,0000 expenditure - it will take hundreds of thousands to get us through the next few months as the indictments start to fall. Add to this the millions upon millions we have spent and will continue to spend on lawyers and I would wonder if we shouldn't somehow recall the entire board and school administration for malfeasance.

Are they saying that Dale Davis ($101,675.64), Julie Rhame ($116,314.76) and the six other people (totaling $351,266.00) listed under Public Relations in the 2009 salary schedule can't get the job done?! That's over a half million for the in-house PR department! (Before benefits and expenses!)

I have to admit, I'm not exactly a fan of ODE, but David Schutten has redeemed himself somewhat in my eyes for making this comment -

While the cost is small, it doesn’t send the right message to parents and teachers who are worried about cuts in the classroom, said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators.

“Their public relations are disastrous,” he said. “They can hire all the PR people they want, but if the school board members don’t understand how to treat people it will never work. This money is not going to help them operate like responsible, caring adults, so it’s a waste.”

But then Zepora makes this statement -

“The interim superintendent recommended it,” she said. “Our staff is not strong enough to handle these things. Regardless of the cost, there are things needed to run this school system.”

Yeah, Z, they're called "teachers"... Why can you not "get" that? Parents want their children to have a nice day, with a reasonably sized classroom, a clean, safe, disciplined environment and a qualified teacher who is respected enough by leadership to be allowed to teach. These are simple wishes—please grant them.


Anonymous said...

pissing away good teachers so they can spend money on trying to make dcss look good, especially when it will be a disaster next year. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
So bad you have to laugh to keep from crying.

Anonymous said...

Posted this on the EduKalb thread...more relevant here:

This is an example of how fundamentally screwed up things are at the higher levels of DCSS. They don't even know what they have. Rhame is more than capable of handling the PR needs of the system, if she were allowed to do so (Davis, not so much). She and her staff have been handcuffed by Lewis who followed the poor advice of his "yes man" DD and decided early on to ignore the work of Rhame. The board does not know any better because they've been fed bad information. So now, we are going to spend more money for a service that can be performed in house with what is already in place. True, in the past, when the PR dept was headed by a series of educators with no PR experience, this was the case, but not now.

Cerebration said...

I hope you all noticed that our director of curriculum, Gloria Talley is jumping ship this summer. Not a good sign. Now, as we watch the board hack $115 million from the budget, we need a superintendent, a director of curriculum, and an expanded PR staff as we head into the Heery-Mitchell trial as well as possible criminal indictments against a few in leadership role.

Cerebration said...

Well, Rhame is paid more than Davis. (I challenge you to find people in PR firms paid at this rate.) I think this is just one more example of a board that questions nothing - and just rubber-stamps, rubber-stamps, rubber-stamps. I wish just one of them would have said - do your job - you're paid well. If you don't, there are several qualified people willing to take on the task. They have no trouble saying this to teachers.

Anonymous said...

The best PR Z could provide would be to resign.

That's not going to happen. So a second idea is to build a better reputation by doing a better job.

Seriously, my professional experience is that any organization's best path to a good image is basic: honesty & competence.

Anonymous said...

Why are we paying salaries like this for PR when teachers with advanced degrees and years of experience, who work with kids in the classroom, every day, make significantly less?? If these folks aren't doing the job, let them go, and at the very least, slash their salaries.

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

I was also at the DCPC meeting today and having worked in PR for non-profits my entire career I also concur with Dunwoody Mom. A crisis management team will encourage transparency as a long term strategy becuase it helps avoid crisis! Even in for-profit business, high paid PR staff sometime need to be augmented with professional specialists. I was very impressed with Ms. Tyson.

Anonymous said...

I heard from my neighbor that the DCPC was video taped; are they going to post it to the web?

Heard the meeting was really informative from a number of perspectives and wish I could have been there. For those who were there, please give a recap.

Anonymous said...

What I question is the timing for the need of a PR firm. The board didn't have need for one on Pope, Lewis, H-M lawsuit, and more. Yet there's a need now.

Better buckle-up, this can only mean more bad news is on the horizon. The board must already be aware of it, but in their typical fashion isn't sharing anything until they can get a cover story in place so their reelection campaigns won't be damaged.

teachercreature said...

Cere, I couldn't have said it better myself. A good PR firm isn't going to be able to do the main thing that is needed - - Roberts and Crew need to be outta here! In my book, PR = P.raying R.eligiously for this to happen. It's Teacher Appreciation Week, and I'm fortunate that I DO feel appreciated by my students and their parents. I simply want the opportunity to do exactly what Cere says: 'Just TEACH'. Even after 22+ years, with all my heart I believe that what we do every single day in our classrooms is the most important job in the world. "One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." ~Carl Jung Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, everyone. Keep the faith that things will improve for our children and school system if we continue to fight the good fight.

Paula Caldarella said...

The board must already be aware of it, but in their typical fashion isn't sharing anything until they can get a cover story in place so their reelection campaigns won't be damaged.

Might I suggest you attend one of the Parent Council meetings. I thought Ms. Tyson and Jim Redovian were very forthright with their information.

And yes, there could be more bad news on the horizon - Ms. Tyson knows it and the board knows it. Per Ms. Tyson - things that could become Distractions and Controversies:

1. Budget 2011 and 2012
2. DA's investigation
3. CRCT erasure audit - due to state on Friday.
4. Schools Closings/Consolidations.
5. Heery Trial
6. Superintendent Search

1. Budget

Anonymous said...

Video taped? Paid for by tax payer funds?

Who knows how to file an open records request for a copy of the raw video?

I bet Cere could find a way to post that to the web if he wanted to.

Paula Caldarella said...

Oh, good grief.

Anonymous said...

Again, ditto Dunwoody Mom.

Tyson said she was videotaping because she is presenting to the teachers via internet on Friday and wanted to work on her delivery since she admittedly isn't comfortable in this public speaking role. Total cost of videotaping--the hourly salary of the dekalb worker for 2 hours. Perhaps also the cost of the media coach helping her. I'm also okay with that if it means she plans to be more open with us while she is in this role than the previous administration. The raw video has nothing outrageous on it. Everyone was very professional, forthcoming and nothing controversal was said except when I forgot the gentleman's name said the timeline for redistricting would be this September. After several related comments, it was determined he meant beginning in September, but Ms. Tyson said that even made her nervous. All I know is that redistricting without public engagement makes ME nervous! Cobb redistricts something like every 5-7 years without big controversy. They should use Cobb as a model.

Paula Caldarella said...

My work filter does not allow me to sign-in to my blog, but later on I will will post my notes about the meeting over there:

John Heneghan was also at the meeting. I hope he will chime in with his thoughts as well.

Anonymous said...

I would be very cautious about believing the word of the Task Force member about whether the AJC misrepresented their work. It depends on which Task Force member said this. I have a lot of respect in general for their work, which was thankless, uncompensated, and very time-consuming. However, I didn't appreciate being verbally attacked during a meeting break by a Task Force member at a meeting I didn't even speak at! Someone was confused, and everyone has a bad day sometimes. The AJC has done a pretty good job of being even-handed IMHO.

Cerebration said...

I would imagine that the DCPC meeting was pretty much the same as the ELPC meeting - which I posted about here -

I agree that we are probably right now in the lull before the storm, and a PR firm is most likely necessary - some do specialize in these kinds of horrors. I am also, once again disappointed to realize how much we spend on some of our own internal similar positions - really, a half-million for our own PR dept is too much for the "no comment" responses we usually get. I know a lot of people who are plugged in to the system - and very few seem to really know what's going on. Hopefully, these PR consultants will be the types who believe in proactive communication, rather than reactive story-telling.

Paula Caldarella said...

I just returned from the DCPC Meeting and, of course, this came up and I came away agreeing with this expenditure. The entire services of a PR firm are not being utilized, just the aspect of dealing with "crisis management". The board does not feel that there is expertise in this area within DCSS. No teacher will lose their job due to this expenditure - more likely a Central Office employee - or at least that is the impression that I got.

Anonymous said...

If another Central Office employee has to be cut to pay for additional PR services, the cut needs to be made to the existing PR department.

Anonymous said...

Well, check this out:

100 paras are back on board.

Anonymous said...

The greatest PR firm in the world couldn't make these idiots look competent or the these heartless criminals look compassionate.

The mere suggestion that they'd waste a single tax dollar on 'public relations' is repulsive.

Reminds me of the old saying "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig!"

No Duh said...

I'll do Julie Rhame's job for $85,000. I think I made this same offer on this blog months ago. Though I think I was only charging $75,000 then! :-)

Also having come from the PR world, I wonder what kind of PR expertise they think they can get for a mere $25,000. The per hour billing of a true crisis management expert would be more than $200/hour I suspect. The bid proposals will be public correct? I can't think of a reputable PR firm in Atlanta that would be able to help DCSS out of this mess for just $25,000.

And a PR firm can polish up DCSS all it wants, but the minute SCW or ZR open their mouths, months of hard work would be flushed down the drain.

IMHO, the best bang for DCSS' communications bucks would be to create a comprehensive internal communications program that enlisted the voices of the employees and promoted open and honest two-way communication between the school houses and the central office.

If we can get our employees' good will back, by actively engaging them in the process of developing and running our system, we will not have to worry so much about external communications and crisis planning. (Not to say there should be no crisis communications plans, all organizations need crisis plans.)

A REAL PR director/VP/Assist. Superintendent would be the Superintendent's right-hand person and no decision would be made internally or externally without counsel from the PR Executive. He or she would be invited into the highest level meetings and would have the ability to say "no" to the Superintendent and his or her subordinates.

Anonymous said...

PR firms do NOT clean up messes!

PR firms "spin" information (i.e., prevaricate, misrepresent and distort).

PR firms are NOT about transparency. Especially in 'crisis management'. They're about covering up and concealing.

First the Board creates this disaster.

Now the Board wants to hire a PR firm to lead 'damage control' so they can avoid responsibility for the disaster they created. Spending education dollars to protect themselves! OUTRAGEOUS!

Paula Caldarella said...

PR firms do NOT clean up messes!

PR firms "spin" information (i.e., prevaricate, misrepresent and distort).

PR firms are NOT about transparency. Especially in 'crisis management'. They're about covering up and concealing.

I would say you are clueless and insulting those who are in such a profession.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm honest. I'm the president of one of the largest communications firms in Georgia.

And there's no way we could help you school system for $25,000.00 They'd need four times that just to get started.

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with this decision. We can't pay teachers their full salaries and we are going to lose valuable teacher support staff next year. You don't plan a trip to Disney World when you can't pay your mortgage.

Anonymous said...

The way the question was asked challenged Ms. Tyson about why hire a PR company when you have a PR department. Ms. Tyson's response definitely left the impression with the people sitting around me that the PR department was being shrunk/eliminated.

The woman asking the question made reference to Ms. Rhame's high salary, though didn't directly challenge the appropriateness of the salary.

Someone else mentioned that the DeKalb tax digest's drop (so far) is lower than anticipated but there are something like 15,000 appeals so we can expect the decline to be larger than what announced yesterday, but maybe not as large as first anticipated.

Paula Caldarella said...

And there's no way we could help you school system for $25,000.00 They'd need four times that just to get started

But, they are not asking the PR firm to help with everything.

Anonymous said...

Why are we wasting precious energy, time and money worrying about PR when the focus needs to be, 100%, how to preserve and strive to improve the education offered to our kids in DCSS, while respecting and rewarding the educators involved? Ms. Tyson should not be wasting her time and our time even discussing PR and how they are going to go about hiring anyone. Their motives for hiring PR staff are NOT to improve communication with parents, believe me, but are to be sure DCSS admin (including themselves) look as good as possible, given the circumstances. If they were hoping to improve transparency and reporting of facts, they would hire journalists who would cost a lot less.

Cerebration said...

Good news from that AJC article link above, Anon

Budget committee chairman H. Paul Womack said the district’s shortfall is still around $88 million, but the interim superintendent had recommended cutting $115 million to offset any future reductions in revenue.

On Wednesday, board members learned that preliminary reports show the county’s tax digest dropped only 2 percent as opposed to the predicted 7 percent. Those numbers are just preliminary, but show that the budget is not as bad as they initially thought, Womack said.

We must remember - the ACTUAL shortfall is under $90 million. The $115 is a CYA number - in case things get worse (as they usually do with the state). That may be why we can at least postpone the school consolidations and hold off on layoffs for a while. No need to toss everyone - there's always a chance things could go better than predicted!


On the PR front -- keep in mind - we paid nearly a half million dollars to Judge Thelma Moore to "investigate" bullying at Dunaire (she found none and provided no written report). There's no way a PR firm will even be able to begin to tackle the approaching fiasco for less than that. $25,000 is a joke. Maybe that's for the first month...

Paula Caldarella said...

Yes, anonymous, I got that impression as well. Just my opinion, but I think Round 2, i.e., 2012 budget, the BOE is going to look a lot closer at these type of things, i.e., are people really earning their money, do we really need all of this staff. Could be wrong, but that is the impression I came away with.

My meeting notes are now posted and I would appreciate if those that were there can add to or correct what I have written:

Paula Caldarella said...

How do you know what Ms. Tyson's motives are? Have you had a discussion with her? You know, there is an old saying "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

Cere, Lewis paid that money to Judge Moore. The impression I came away with today from just "reading between the lines" is that Lewis ran that ship and few people, BOE included, had much say.

No Duh said...

True that! The RFP will be telling.

Thanks for the support DunMom.

True PR professionals are critical in the planning and execution of an organization's goals. Most people have no idea what goes on in a public relations department before the info hits the news.

Paula Caldarella said...

Oh, and more item. Before Womack left the meeting, he made the announcement that Fran Millar had been able to get an additional $20 million for DCSS from the state. This might be part of that allocation "mess".

Cerebration said...

This is true, DM, however they can't simply decide if people are earning their keep or not - they must hire an outside firm to conduct an audit. This has been tabled, tabled and tabled again. The last one, done under Johnny Brown, is missing in action. It's been neatly tucked away in some closet somewhere most likely. All we have is a synopsis of sorts. These audits should be done at least every 5 years - and they take at least 6 months to conduct. We are way behind the 8 ball on this one.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an planning for and executing an audit should take priority over hiring additional PR.

Anonymous said...

Another priority - hiring a new, highly qualified superintendent!!

Paula Caldarella said...

And a 100 para jobs were added back!!!

Anonymous said...

PR firms do NOT clean up messes!

PR firms "spin" information (i.e., prevaricate, misrepresent and distort).

PR firms are NOT about transparency. Especially in 'crisis management'. They're about covering up and concealing.

Dunwoody Mom:

Respectfully, the above is exactly what a PR firm will have to do to convince concerned parents and tax payers that DCSS is really making a change. Really, just look what has gone on for the past few years and tell me that a magic wand will be waved and everything will be OK. The most effective PR program will be the one that does a whole lot of “spinning” to obscure the past with the same players in place.

Alternatively, I had rather see money spent on the evaluation of management and support personnel and the organizational chart fine tuned. Oh, and the riddance of that handful of poor teachers that are not released once their lack of teaching skills are realized. Ineffective people or duplicate positions need to be shown the door. It is time for some sound planning and swift action. That will get my attention and respect faster than some PR “spin”.

Anyone know who to attribute this quote to?

“If a child gets an effective teacher, he or she is more likely to succeed and grow. But if the youngster lands an ineffective teacher, he or she falls behind.”

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 4:58 pm

I agree. If Dr. Lewis and the BOE had followed the last audit done by Ernst and Young DCSS probably would not be in this financial shape according to some of the posts I've been reading here. Shouldn't it be on the BOE website?

Anonymous said...

It wasn't 20 million for this year.. it was 20 million in the last few years and it is only for facilities, not operations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anon @ 12:11pm.

Julie Rhame is MORE than capable. She was hired to do a job that she's not been able to do...primarily because Dale Davis had Lewis' ear (and the keys to his car). If the district would simply look within, they'd save money. Jim Redovian said it today. He wants qualified employees to be allowed to do their jobs, despite those who want to hold them down or want old-school politics to reign supreme.

His statements gave me hope today. I only hope that the district will look at Rhame & see how qualified she is to guide the district through this...if they LET her.

Anonymous said...

Is Rhame still a member of the school board for City of Decatur? Is this a conflict of interest?

Cerebration said...

I would think that would be a help more than a hindrance.

Anonymous said...

I would say no, since Decatur's in good shape, despite the economy. If anything, it shows that Rhame has business sense...unlike the majority of our board.

Actually, I'm pretty sure it is not a conflict. She wouldn't have applied if it had been. That's how she is.

Anonymous said...

So what is happening with the position being vacated by Gloria Talley? Seems like a critical one to fill with a highly competent person.

No Duh said...

FWIW, Dr. Lewis' daughter is the PR person for the City of Decatur schools. (Or at least she was).

I do think the PR staff that exists has not been allowed to do the jobs they were hired for. If Julie Rhame is a truly trained PR professional (not a former prinicpal), then she should be at Ramona Tyson's side all the time. NOT to spin what Tyson says, but to help put the messages out that need to get out and to help Tyson remain consistent with the message -- whether that is spreading good news, explaining decisions made by Tyson, formulating an internal communications plan, etc.

True PR professionals counsel executives to consider how their decisions will be received by the audiences they are trying to reach -- BEFORE the decisions are cast in stone. True PR professionals influence organizational policy and define the goals of an organization - and then ensure those goals are consistently and accurately portrayed throughout all the audiences.

True PR professionals know how to execute a "mea culpa" that resonates truthfully. And True PR professionals often counsel executives to not pass the buck and offer a "mea culpa."

That is something Lewis would never allow his PR people to help him do. And look where that got him.

I think Ramona Tyson "gets it." The proof will be in the pudding.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of inter-agency agreements with DCSS and Decatur Schools which the board is required to approve. I hope there's no conflict with Rhame.

Anonymous said...

Below is Julie Rhame's Board of Education Member bio on Decatur City School's website - absolutely no mention of her job $116,314 in DCSS ($145,392 with benefits) position.

Exactly what have we taxpayers gotten for Ms. Rhame's public relations expertise? Before the "friends of Julie Rhame" accuse me of being totally crass to challenge a wonderful person like Julie, I don't know her and have no axe to grind. I'm just looking at the bottom line here. I'm just wondering why we're spending $25,000 more on a PR consultant when we are spending so much on Ms. Rhame's salary (way more than a DCSS teacher who has a PdD in physics would ever hope to make), and my understanding is she has many highly paid helpers and we are a PR nightmare. Please forgive me. I guess I'm just clueless and don;t understand what a great job our PR department is doing. Maybe each DCSS PR person is worth more than a Physics teacher with a PhD.

"Ms. Rhame began her tenure on the Board of Education in January 2004, representing District 2. An Atlanta native, she and her husband, Rhett, have lived in the Oakhurst neighborhood for ten years. They have two children, Sydney, who attends Glennwood Academy, and Skylar, who attends Oakhurst Elementary. Ms. Rhame holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. She was Communications Director at Georgia Tech for 11 years and is now president of Short & Sweet Studios."

Look at Decatur City Schools website on their school board members:

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:20 pm

Layers and layers of personnel added onto DCSS. How have we strayed so far from our core business of instructing students?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree- please know that there are other folks in the central office that are more than capable of getting their jobs done if allowed (just like JR). Unfortunately, if you are not related or politically connected to someone... its probable.. you will be one of the 154.5 cut! I am not entirely confident that Tyson or the Board have the foresight or guts to make the appropriate differentiations.

Did anyone ask (today)about the hundreds of folks stressing because they still do not have a contract?

Anonymous said...

You cut my salary, make me take furlough days, and increase the size of my classes,yet you have money for a PR firm to make yourselves look good when it was you all who made yourselves look bad. (I need to take a deep breath here.) OH, I DON'T THINK SO!!!

Anonymous said...

So why is Julie Rhame making $145,392 a year and not doing anything? Does she just go to the Central Office everyday and collect her check? It looks like we taxpayers could just dispense with her services entirely and hire some teachers to instruct our kids. Am I missing something important here?

Anonymous said...

This is to any Miller Grove High School parent or teacher on this blog page.

Make every parent you know aware of the book investigation. we need parents calling the office of the interim superintendent.

1,160 copies of Dr. Simpson's book. we dont have that many copies of books for curriculum.
What 60...100?

Anonymous said...

DCSS needs to manage the school systems money like its their personal money and not for their personal agenda and gain.

If they spent our tax payer dollars like it was money from their bank accounts they would not be so frivilous.

Cerebration said...

Here is the link to the WSB report on the Miller Grove principal -

Also - if you're going to beat up on Rhame, then you must equally beat up on Dale Davis. Davis has been the official spokesperson - the mouthpiece for DCSS - and he has done very little to get information out. For this, he is paid $101,675. Plus - there are SIX other people in that department - totaling $350k in salaries alone. Not sure what they all do. They can't even seem to keep the website updated - or figure out how to publish a monitored blog!

(Gee - maybe they should pay me to make one - anything would be more than I make for doing this blog!)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Cere. I have been trying to find this.

I am a bookkeeper within DCSS. She knew exactly what she was doing.

She made those two purchases for 4,800 on the same day. She kept it under 5,000 to keep it under the radar.

This shows that she knew she was doing something wrong or questionable.

I dont know about high school, but middle schools only order 100-150 copies of books for curriculium.

Books for special reading are bought, but teachers or department heads will submit a request for the books and they order enough for the classes to read, maybe 50-60 copies.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson & Board of Education,

PR firm to help with brush fires:$25 000!

20 minutes after school detention for teachers and school house staff: unspoken contempt!!

Respect teachers and school house staff time: PRICELESS!!!!

You will continue to need PR (and miracles) as long as you keep confusing "teachers and school house staff" with "the students" they teach. You pay teachers---they can give you 50 ways to solve problems for free----But by God, why do you like to use the heavy gloved fist so!!!

Yes--Teachers and school house staff have DETENTION tomorrow. It is only 20 minutes but it starts a full hour after the students have left the building... You don't need PR to figure how your good news or bad news will be received!!

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 8:08 pm

I'm not "beating up" on Julie Rhame (loaded phrase). I'm sure she's a very nice person.

I'm just asking if DCSS taxpayers are getting $145,000+ a year for her PR efforts. I'll ask the same thing about Dale Davis or anyonw else in that department. Someone mentioned her in a blog so I did a little research on her.

Since DCSS is a public relations nightmare, exactly what are we getting for any of our PR Department? And why is there absolutely no mention of her $145,000 a year job on the Decatur Board of Education member website? She lists herself as president of Short & Sweet Studios. Maybe she just got this PR position with DCSS within the last few months. I'm sorry. That just struck me as rather odd.

FYI - you are doing a public service with this blog. No other metro county has anything like this blog. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think this blog is one of the reasons DCSS only lost teacher positions from attrition rather than had teachers fired to balance the budget (Maureen Downey has gotten people pretty fired up too). Consider that Cobb County let 500+ teachers go while they did not let a single administrator go, and they are almost as "fat" as DCSS.

So you are doing a world of good for students and teachers. That said, I would not presume to be able to do what you do every day.

Anonymous said...

Dale Davis is the problem - not Rhame - and everyone in the system knows that if you want something accomplished you go to Rhame to get it done. She's a true professional and a delight to work with. Davis can't write his way out of a paper bag and doesn't even have a college degree. He's an arrogant jerk who got where he is because he's buds with the Dr. Lewis. It's shameful!!

Anonymous said...

$350 K for PR in DCSS. That's around $450,000 in salary and benefits for what?

But I guess they'll all keep their jobs and have a new person to help them.

Anonymous said...

And Rhame has accomplished .....? Why is she making more than Dale Davis? Does he report to her or vice versa?

If she is not allowed to do her job, should she be in her job? Why is she still there collecting her pay?

The same goes for the entire PR Department.

Actually, the same could be said for a great many department at DCSS - MIS and Human Resources among others.

If you are not allowed to do a job, then cut the person loose for gosh sakes and put that money into the budget for students.

I've heard that too many times in DCSS. They're really great employees, but they're allowed to make decisions, implement the program the way it was supposed to be implemented, run that department the way it should be run, do his/her job, and so forth.

Fine, move on, and let the money go for the classroom.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that DCSS has not just contracted the entire PR department out. Wouldn't that be simpler than having these people on staff that are hamstrung because of politics, and we're stuck paying benefits as well?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for screaming but until everyone that was hired during CLewis' reign of terror is gone I do not trust DCSS to do anything right!

Ms. Tyson you said it to parents yourself, you must regain the parents and teachers trust. Well paying a PR firm 25K as well as 351K for in house staff this Dept. should be the first on the chopping block.

Until we get through these tough times we have nothing to promote and can we please take that "premier" moniker of the DCSS logo. We are far from it no mater how many times you guys say it or think it.

Call me skeptical but to ask for 25k for PR is incredibly comical!

What would Ernest Brown do?

Teacher said...

Two points y'all have mentioned that strike me as a teacher as particularly important(beyond the many excellent ones already made):

1. WHAT ABOUT the many teachers who still don't know whether they have jobs next year? Why not tell them NOW?

2. Ms. Talley's job vacancy is a really big deal, because a), as you note, we are now missing both of the top leaders of our school system, and b) in case we lose sight of this in the testing furor, schools teach curricula, and thus, we need a person who's in charge of curriculum.

While everyone is thinking through the needed qualities in a Superintendent, I'd suggest that we also take a good hard look at what the Board and community are looking for in a Curriculum Director (or whatever the title will be). One approach, often taken, is to hire the Super, then let him or her handpick the Curriculum person. Is that good?

Obvious drawback: we're talking more and more delay, while key decisions, like whether to keep all the very time-intensive Talley-esque requirements (i.e., portfolios), won't be made because "we have to see what the new curriculum director will think." Waiting even a few months for direction could have negative consequences on our children's learning, because we are so strapped for time, to do well on all the testing, that we can't even afford time for recess.

Second approach--hire both at the same time, then see if they can work together. We have had quite enough of that with the just-ended staff, where it became apparent as time went on that Ms. Talley was being C-6'ed.

Worth thinking about.

Anonymous said...

My kids have a Science Olympiad party tomorrow, at our school, to celebrate their medals. I will make sure I am somewhere to hear this "Emancipation" excuse me... "Enumerate this" or whatever they call it.

Dale Davis needs to be shown the door. Rhame will be fine, just let her do her job!

Tell me who is going to get this 25K? Another family member trying to start up a PR firm? Where is the RFP? Who is going to make this 25K?

I was at the DCPC meeting. It was unnerving at times. Trust! Ms. Tyson. You said Trust! Can we earn yours? Please? This parent is very nervous about what is about to come knocking on our door as soon as the DA is finished with their investigation. It's going to take more than PR to earn my trust, Ms. Tyson.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for my 9:28 post. I should have proof read it before hitting publish.

I'm angry, tired and disappointed in our BOE. I thank God everyday for our Principal and teachers at our school, who are under incredible pressure trying to educate our children. CRCT's were administered without much pain or malfeasance.

Right now every school, with their staff and PTA need to fend for themselves while the BOE and Central Office work through these tough times.

Remember, 6 months from now we'll be welcoming 5 new BOE members. At least I hope we'll be welcoming 5 new BOE members.

We need change at DCSS and PR is not one of them right now. After we hire a Super, Curriculum Head and whittle away at the bloated central office, Ms. Rhame can announce the new hires and changes at the DCSS. Until this happens my confidence will remain low.

However, thanks to all the teachers and school staffs for hanging in there!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:55 pm

Well, just think how much more teaching will get done without 150 Central Office personnel making up paperwork for teachers to complete. Now, if we could just get 300 or 400 more sliced off that 1,239 figure, maybe our teachers could really have a lot more time to teach our kids.

Anonymous said...

Compared to everything else going on at DCSS, PR is a really low priority item and should be treated as such. I am amazed at the gushing support to keep these folks, at high salaries, while there has been so much animosity on this blog about other Central Office salaries, including those of qualified science teachers at Fernbank Science Center (who work under Central Office and still don't know if they have jobs come July). Lots of super nice, smart, well-educated and hard working peoople in the Central OFfice, who are wondering if they will be employed at DCSS next year.

And the point made about Gloria Talley's position is a great one. That position is a critical one and there seems to be little interest or concern about about to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:59 PM

I think it is very valid to ask why Julie Rhame's CSD BOE bio says nothing about her job with DCSS.

And, while you are asking, why not ask about Ron Ramsey's bio as a state senator? His bio says nothing about his job with DCSS. He takes 40 days each year, apparently with pay, away from his DCSS job, and also collects payment for being a senator for that same period of time. Can you spell "double-dipping"? Wouldn't you think the head of DCSS Internal Affairs should be squeaky clean? In Ramsey's Vote Smart bio he lists his present occupation as "attorney."

IMHO, both Ron Ramsey and Julie Rhame do not list their DCSS jobs because they know that there is a clear conflict of interest.

Frankly, I am wondering if what Ramsey is doing is legal. Otherwise, why would he go to such lengths to repeatedly not tell the whole truth. Ramsey may have his J.D., but he is a full-time, non-attorney employee of DCSS -- double-dipping and collecting pay for 40 days that he is not on the job for DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Scandel List for DCSS

Please let me know if I forgot one:

1.Crawford car purchase for 10,000 less than value
2.Crawford P-card abuse
3.Pat Pope investigation
4.CRCT cheating
5.Crawford memo to embrace cheaters
6.CRCT eraser error
7.Jaheem Herrera cover up
8.Crawford Lewis investigation
9.14 million in legal fees
10.Redan High grade change
11.Frankie Calloway sudden retirement.
12.Ernest Walker ethical conflict
13.MLK grade change
14.SWD music teacher scandel
15.Miller Grove teachers with student scandel (2006)
16.Miller Grove Coach violation with players
17.Football Player violations

Paula Caldarella said...

I was at the DCPC meeting. It was unnerving at times

Just curious, what about the meeting was "unnerving" to you?

Anonymous said...

Julie Rhame is a Senior Director at DCSS so she's one of the higher ups. She's also responsible for DCSS's Educational Access Channel, Channel 24 on Comcast in DeKalb County. Isn't that the channel that broadcasts the BOE meetings?

Anonymous said...

I work for City Schools of Decatur and can tell you that there's nothing unethical about Ms. Rhame being on the school board here. In fact many school board members in this state are also employed by other school districts. I have seen Ms. Rhame recuse herself when there's a vote concerning DeKalb Schools. She's as ethical as they come and very down to earth.

Our board doesn't get paid - they do it as a community service - and all of them have demanding fulltime jobs. We are fortunate to have a great board who leads by example and doesn't micromanage the staff. It's not Ms. Rhame's fault that we haven't updated our website bio on her! If DeKalb had the strong leadership that we do, they wouldn't be in this predicament. It starts at the top!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't anyone love to see DCSS schools run the way Decatur Schools are run? Very lean and far more teachers than admin and support - kind of like the opposite of DCSS. I guess that's why your website hasn't been updated in 3 years. But at least you have an excuse - you guys put your resources into the school. We have a huge MIS department with a fulltime webmaster who by the way is only the go between because the website itself is contracted out to a company, and they still have the DCSS Fast Facts page from 3 years ago.

Cerebration said...

Sorry 8:59 PM, I need to pay more attention to the way I phrase things sometime (my sister tells me this too!)

Also - 10:17 - #12 on your list should be Eugene Walker - not Ernest (Ernest Brown ran against Walker in the last election and sadly, lost.)

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:17 PM

Scandal List

I have some more additions to the list:

18. Ronald Ramsey, head of DCSS Internal Affairs, being paid for 40 days a year that he is not on the job for DCSS while being paid for those same days as a state senator.

19. Per-pupil funds that have mysteriously disappeared. I have evidence here. Just waiting for the FBI to ask for people to come forward.

20. The fake demographer's report on student population. DCSS paid more than $100,000 for a word-for-word cut-and-paste job that cost Fairfax County Schools (VA) "only" $50,000. The same word-for-word "report" surfaced in several other school districts, as well. I have evidence here, too. Just waiting for the FBI to ask people to step forward.

Kim Gokce said...

How's this for 21?

21. Out of district enrollment/admin transfer abuse.

Kim Gokce said...

22. Failure to remove empty buildings from State inventory (how much has this cost us for how long?).

Kim Gokce said...

As for PR, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that any PR firm worth their salt will tell leadership to completely drop the constant use of "Premier DeKalb" ... it's marketing communications 101.

It's like a seafood shop sign that says "Fresh Fish" ... it should just say "Fish" and it better be fresh.

Anonymous said...

Folks in the PR field with decades of experience like Rhame make good money. The average PR salary in the Atlanta area for comparable responsibilities is around $127,000,according to
In terms of school system PR the same holds true. According to the webste, compared to Rhame's $116,000 and Davis' $105,000 salary, Rhame's counterpart in APS makes $157,499, and Davis' counterpart makes $92,408. In Gwinnett the head
PR person makes $142,413 but doesn't manage their TV station. That person makes $101,619. Davis' Gwinnett counterpart makes $79,721. In Fulton, the figures are $135,000 for the PR head and $82,242 for the media person.

Compared to the $350,000 that Dekalb is spending on the PR function, APS spends $727,709 in salaries for 8 people. That doesn't even include their tv area, which is channel 30 and is over $1M to operate each year.

Gwinnett spends $419,723 for its 5 PR people and close to $1M for its tv operation that includes 10 FT employees, some parttime and many contractors. They also don't broadcast their Gwinnett board meetings.

The PR function is necessary for all school districts whether we like it or not since there will always be daily media requests, open records requests, and communications pieces that need to be written. If they are planning to hire assistance for crisis communications, then you know that there must be some big things that are about to blow up even worse than before.

Paula Caldarella said...

Just my opinion here, but I don't believe the DCSS PR department, or at least that part that deals with the media, is doing a good job at all. As Cere pointed out yesterday, DCSS needs to be more proactive rather than reactive with all of the issues going on.

Anonymous said...

Compared to other districts, DCSS does a really poor job of publicizing successes of the system, its teachers and students. Yes, there are successes! This should be the primary responsibility of the PR group. Drop "premier" and the god awful TV station and refocus efforts.

No Duh said...

"Fresh fish"... "Ears pierced, while you wait"

Time to drop the premier. But,that will mean repainting the football fields!!

Anonymous said...

I love the scandal list! When my wife and I discovered the Fairfax, VA demographers report, along with others, and took this to Robert Moseley and Alice Thompson, they laughed at us. Christina Torres of the AJC was given all the proof and she refused to write an article about it. Ms. Torres did however write an article and described the parents that discovered the fraudulent report "vociferous" and gave all the information along with their names to Crawford Lewis. The I team at Fox 5 buried all the information and never reported on all the documents these parents had given them. WSB-TV tried to tell the story, but there was someone in the DCSS that was working directly with the media to cover this up. Could it have been Dale Davis? DD has some tight ties to the media in this town, he worked for a TV station here as a reporter and became the spokeperson for DeKalb Police, before being hired by CLew. Needless to say from that moment on we had lost our voice and felt like the system had totally failed us.

My question to Maureen Downey, who has been great since she is a stakeholder, why have the editors of the AJC allowed Ms. Torres to stay on as the Education beat reporter for DeKalb? She was part of the problem while CLew was Super. The media should have been keeping the Central Office folks honest. Some good reporting would have exposed the fraud that DCSS really was, and this was 4 years ago!

Until I see some resignations from Robert Moseley, Alice Thompson, Dale Davis and the entire Guilroy/Edwards clan, relatives of former board member Francis Edwards, I will NOT trust the DCSS. They have spent our Tax money like drunken pirates.

Ms. Tyson I appreciate your candor but it's clearly time to clean house or we're going to have the same troubles 3 or 4 years down the line, issues that should have been already dealt with months ago.

What would Ernest Brown do?

Cerebration said...

To clarify - we pay over $350,000 for the six people under Rhame and Davis - when you add those two - the total is well over a half-million - plus benefits.

Plus - the people who work the tv station are not included here - Philandrea Guillory (Frances Edward's daughter I believe) works for the station ($114,627.65) with the job title
INFORMATION SERV PERSONNEL" In fact, if you add up everyone under that job title, according to the state salary schedule for 2009, the total is $1,748,053.53 (8 of these people make over $100k, including Philandrea)

Then there are 50 people labeled INFORMATION SERVICES CLERK and they total - $1,704,062.80


The problem is (and ironically, it's a PR problem), the board is setting about to eliminate "points" from the classroom, which means teachers - as well as reducing paras and library clerks. But, they have to increase the PR department due to the out of control behavior and poor decisions of some of our leadership, which has never been questioned by our board.

I think the absolute best thing we can do for positive PR for DeKalb is replace the 5 board members up for reelection this fall.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, it was unnerving since the issues that Ms. Tyson spoke of should have been addressed months ago. The BOE kept kicking the can down the road and ignored the parents doing the work the media should have been doing.

I really appreciate Ms. Tyson's candor, however when you see the scandal list and the refusal of the DCSS and BOE to address some of these issues it has become unnerving. That's all I meant.

There is a lot of work to do but please let's not lose the fact the Ms. Tyson's Dept. MIS grew exponentially and there were a lot of people hired who had little or no experience in MIS. Our school had massive computer problems, it took the parents of one school to expose the fact to Ms. Tyson that one of her employees was hiding out in a school for 6 months after being given a promotion, a 15K raise and he still works for DCSS today. Anywhere else in the private sector this guy would have been fired, even if his mother was a former elected official of the BOE.

I guess that's why it was unnerving. You're right when you say Ms. Tyson has a lot of work to do, but like she said to the DCPC, gaining the trust back of parents will be tough in this atmosphere. They are going to need a lot more than 25K for crisis PR management. What has the DA uncovered?

Paula Caldarella said...

Compared to other districts, DCSS does a really poor job of publicizing successes of the system, its teachers and students. Yes, there are successes

Could not agree more. I am so tired of hearing only the negative stuff about DCSS - there are successes I see them everyday. However, as far as the media is concered, "feel-good, positive" stories don't attract viewers or sell publications. That's why our news is indudated with such negative stories in all facets.

Anonymous said...

I think the absolute best thing we can do for positive PR for DeKalb is replace the 5 board members up for reelection this fall.

teachercreature said...

Hey, No Duh. Don't forget the billboard, "Can't read? Call this number!"

Cerebration said...

I agree as well, DM - and the school system does put out a lot of positive press releases as well as a newsletter called 'Kaleidoscope".

Here's the link to the newest edition -

However, that said, it seems that our own Kim Gokce is the most positive reporter of good news from Cross Keys! Kim - share with us again, the accomplishments of some of the CK students...

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if someone could do some research. I would but I am headed to volunteer at ny kids school this morning.

I seem to remember that Decatur City Schools hired one of Crawford Lewis' family members to work in their PR Dept. Anyone know this person is? Daughter-in-law? I remember seeing this in a report a year or so ago.

Ms. Rhame could you explain how one of CLew's family members gets a job for Decatur City Schools? A system you represent? Too much nepotism using our tax money.

Does anyone else know anything about this? I'm just saying.. If Ms. Rhame can't put her DCSS job on her Decatur City Schools Bio what is she trying to hide? Ms. Rhame is very capable at her job but why no mention of her paying job on her Decatur Bio?

I have friends who work in TV in this town. They are stunned a Services Clerk like Philandrea Guilroy gets paid 6 figures to hrun a cable TV local access channel, while people doing a comparable job at a commercial station in a top 12 market, like Atlanta, make only 75K.

Seems to me, like a previous commenter mentioned before, the PDS Channel 24 could be contracted out for alot less.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:28 am

I know what a school system needs to pay effective PR people. But I agree with Dunwoody Mom. DCSS PR Department is not doing a good job.

You may say that they are not allowed to do their jobs (I've seen that on this blog). Then why not just have a couple of people to "daily media requests, open records requests, and communications pieces that need to be written"? I'm not sure how public relations could get any worse.

Maureen Downey's piece on the Lakeside triplets being valedictorian and two salutatorians was a great piece. Did DCSS's PR department give her that information? They certainly should have.

DCSS is a close in county with many beautiful green communities, easily accessible to the city's playhouses, museums, and restaurants. Due to our extensive surface streets, we are a veritable oasis in a metro traffic nightmare. Top international scientific community members live in DeKalb and work at the Centers for Disease Control. Emory University is another intellectual powerhouse in our midst. Perimeter Center is a crown jewel of the Atlanta business community. Arabia Mountain and Stone Mountain are ideal for family outings. Our commitment to special education, Grady hospital and MARTA shows we are a socially responsible community. We have many caring, dedicated and well educated teachers, and contribute a significant number of students to top notch colleges. Our student population is diverse and international which gives us a distinctly cosmopolitan flare. DCSS parents are involved and determined to break the cycle of poor management of the school system.

My husband and I are 27-year DeKalb residents and retirees. Recently we were so concerned about all the negative press about the school system that we started looking at houses in North Fulton. Just fighting that traffic and seeing the bland environment convinced me what we have here in DeKalb is worth staying and fighting for.

That's why I say our PR department is either incompetent or ineffective. Either way the job is not getting done, and DeKalb is paying the price not just in salary and benefits for this department. It is paying the price in the public's perception of its reputation. That's the biggest price of all.

Anonymous said...

I’ve followed this blog for seasons—since its inception really—in silence, yet in admiration. While I’m always encouraged to see thoughtful dialogue generated, particularly dialogue that works to drum up ideas to improve our students’ education, it always irks me when misinformation is tossed about. If you allow me, I can probably give you some insight on what’s really going on with “PR” –or with Central Office, period. No sugarcoating, I promise.

The past administration was an absolute reign of terror, as someone else mentioned on this blog. That supt ran the district by a cloud of FEAR. If you disagreed with him, wham, you’re demoted or “blacklisted” -never to be utilized or heard from again. For some odd reason, this school system’s employees (central office particularly) operate on prestige: who’s who among the highest paid, the highly positioned, the well dressed and well driven. It’s a soap opera. So if silence and compliance w/foolish policies keep you among the ‘who’s who’ ~ then hell, silence is literally golden. So imagine being “blacklisted”—embarrassing for the ppl who worked so hard and puckered so perfectly to get to central office. Integrity isn’t the norm here. Compliance is commonplace. Even the educated, the once-respected, they don’t buck the system bc Clew had ‘em scared. And to be honest, this was so because he himself was/is insecure. “Wait, you think you know more than me? You dared to challenge me to adopt a new school of thought? You corrected me? You disagree with me? Well, then poof! Goodbye! To the bottom ranks you go. You’re invisible to me now! Anyone else want to try that??” Intimidated by intelligence, he was. Insecure. And guess who else is too? Dale Davis, the old supt’s best pal, golf partner, breakfast bud and certified chauffeur.

If you really want to be investigative, investigate Dale Davis’ credentials. Investigate his starting pay in 2005, which was about $40K and how a former police officer (who supposedly never left a desk job) quickly rose to a pay of $101K being a mouthpiece and a sucky one at that. Bc of his friendship, allowances were made.

A while back, a few wise, more strong employees (now retired or with the state dept of ed) advised the old supt to look a little closely at his pal and notice that DD couldn’t write, couldn’t speak publicly without a script, and didn’t make for good relationships with the local media…Heeding their advice, Julie Rhame is hired and while DD interviewed for that job too, he isn’t given the job and is instead placed under her BUT still is given a $20K raise for being a good sport and promoted from Public Information Officer to Assistant Director of Media & Public Relations.

But JR was like no other. The clothes, the kissykissy face, the hierarchy—she seemed to care less. She seemed to just want to do right by the school system. For her that meant, trying something new like social media platforms (blogging, an informational FBook page, maybe Twitter…merely ideas) market research, brown bag lunch meetings with the media. ::GASP:: Something different?? Something new? You say we need to change? You say we should back off from the ‘premier’ tag? Get thee away! So she’s kicked off of cabinet, banished and out of the loop. Never consulted again.

to be continued...

Anonymous said...


DD is promoted again this time! To Director of Media Relations…He’s on cabinet—JR is not. He’s given the ‘go’ to run the ‘show’ and JR? Well, she just better figure it out and run PDS-TV. So she keeps on trucking…she establishes the electronic Kaleidoscope, new educational programming on PDS-TV and tries to forge fresh relationships with the local media. Her department is technically not PR anymore—it’s Communications (the admins’ decision, not hers). She does a lot of internal communication and even submits PR plans to the administration (which they must just toss) for different initiatives. She works hard, but she’s stifled. She’s trying to break thru a straight jacket.

And just so you know, when she was taken off cabinet and banished that’s when the Jaheem Herrera incident occurred and DD had the reins. Insensitivity. Ignorance. Arrogance. That was DeKalb’s stance—wouldn’t you agree? But what more could you expect from a former police officer with no degree and no sense of how to complete a coherent sentence with subject-verb agreement? Every other media response/incident thereafter DD spearheaded—just him and the old supt…not accepting a peep of counsel from anyone with experience. And the school system has been sliding down its stinky slippery slope of BS ever since.

(to be continued...)
Countless media reps have said they can’t work with him. He’s disrespectful and uses profanity with them and withholds public info ALL the time.

This is a long story, people, and a very sad one….and let’s not even start on the whole PDS-TV debacle. But you are right; DeKalb Schools’ PR is in the pits. The school system just doesn’t understand PR—and is extremely tardy trying to figure it out. They’ve gotta do better. Let’s pray they do.

As far as M.Lewis (old supt’s daughter) who works for Decatur City Schools? The chick was there when JR got there—so no favors done 4her…and word is, she’s just as testy as her daddy.

From my eyes, this is what has taken place over the years. You don’t have to believe me—I just felt compelled to share the truths of which I believe and have experienced first-hand.

Anonymous said...

While reviewing Kaleidoscope, I noticed that there was no link to archived editions. Does anyone know if past issues are accessible?

Just curious if this year’s CKHS star cross country runner or Valedictorian have been featured in a previous issue.

Anonymous said...

Archived issues of the Kaleidoscope can be found here

Anonymous said...

How many folks in DCSS are currently earning 6 figure salaries, and what percentage of these have jobs directly related to educating our kids? One blogger astutely pointed out that a teacher with a PhD in field could only dream of 6 figures (or would need to work for the system for decades to even approach this level). What is wrong with this picture? And why are we surprised that our kids are not receiving a good education??

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @8:45am...ummm, what are you talking about? Dale Davis was NEVER a reporter in this town or anywhere else! What a hoot!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:49

Your are correct.

223 personnel make over $100,00 and account for over $31,000,000 in salary and benefits.

102 principals
1 counselor
2 teachers

That leaves 117 employees for DCSS that are not inside the schoolhouse based. Rather, they are administration and support personnel outside the schoolhouse.

source: State Salary and Travel audit

Anonymous said...

I think for most of these top earners, it's just easier to leave them in place making those salaries rather than having to do the hard work of:
1. Assessing the necessity of their position
2. Assessing comparable salaries in the marketplace for their skills set
3. Cutting employees and/or equalizing salaries with the marketplace

Also, many of these people are friends, have social connections such as fraternity or sorority commonalities, or have helped each other in their career paths.

The way it generally starts is a new program is started or purchased by DCSS's top administrators and the BOE. Then personnel positions are created due to the program started, and people are hired for these positions at hefty salaries. Often these people "know" people in influential positions or know the person running the program or have a personal connection.

The program is eventually discontinued. Rather than disappoint that person, DCSS has always deemed it fair to find another position somewhere within the system to place that person so he/she can retain the same salary.

LOL - Sometimes, small departments are created so a collection of "out of work" personnel from discontinued programs can be placed in there until something more permanent can be found for them. You should see these people with disparate skills sets work together on "make-work". They meet all the time with each other, generate paperwork, and bide their time. Sooner or later, the ad hoc department will be closed, and the members quietly moved into the vast DCSS army of admin and support (8,500 strong).

If a supervisor is lucky, he/she will obtain someone from these personnel moves that make more money than the supervisor. Then the supervisor will have an automatic raise to ensure supervisors always make more than their employees.

This is what is meant when so many bloggers call DCSS the "Family and Friends" program. It's all about relationships and the creation and preservation of a comfortable standard of living. It's a sweet deal for everyone but teachers and students.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:32,
Thank you for your insight! Incredible piece and there needs to be more like you. The only way this situation is going to be solved is through whistle blowers like you. I hope you go to the DA, FBI, AJC(Maureen Downey, she is the only one to trust there) and spill the beans. DeKalb taxpayers need to know this.

In regards to the post about Dale Davis being a reporter, I think the person who posted that was talking about his ties with the media, especially Fox 5. When DD was the Public Information Officer with DeKalb police, I think in his mind he wanted to be a TV reporter. DD loved being on camera, just ask the TV beat reporters in town. I honestly think he thought, in his own mind, that he was an actual reporter for the local TV stations.

I do know he has some very tight ties with some in the media in this town, especially Fox 5 and the AJC. There were a couple of incidents when parents were approached by the I-Team. They were given a lot of documents that showed CLew was way in over his head and feeding the public bold faced lies. After a couple of weeks of communication with the producers from Fox, everything went silent. Then the parents discovered, through a DCSS insider, that CLew knew everything that the parents had given Fox 5.
The insider even made mention that DD most likely had his hands all over this.

CLew and DD did everything they could to silent their critics. Background checks, criminal activity checks and it wouldn't surprise me if Private investigators were hired to tail parents and track their whereabouts. At least now we know why DCSS has such a large police force, did CLew use them as his own Private Investigators? You know, for the safety of the system.. Maybe it was just to cover his own posterior since some parents were getting awfully close to exposing CLew for what he was.

I agree with the insiders perception above, CLew had to keep his critics silent. He was so inept and paranoid time finally caught up with him, especially Pat Pope. Could she still be on the payroll to keep her quiet? What does she know? What's incredibly sad here is that Clew is retired now but DeKalb taxpayers are on the hook for his legal fees, even if DCSS decides to file a suit against CLew.

By the way, here are some more scandal numbers...

23. 100 Black Men of Atlanta being able to operate on McNair High School property, use DCSS equipment to operate their website and produce videos in exchange for a lifetime membership for Clew. Sounds fair doesn't it?

24. DCSS not once talking with DeKalb planning about their 20 year vision project for the county, Zoning and development that would directly effect the size of attendance zones.

25. Having a demographer, from out of state, model a report that was a cut and paste from a system in Fairfax County, VA and that had no reflection of what was actually happening in the county.

I thank God DCSS finally hired a good man as their own demographer. Hopefully, he will remain honest as he was with the task force data.

There are tough times coming our way, Jim Redovian even told parents at the DCPC, that there is no timetable for recruiting a Super or replacing Talley.

Ms. Tyson will have to make some tough cuts and hopefully she will look inside the central office first, before cutting points, paras, music and art.

We need whistle blowers like the one above to expose the real DCSS to the true stakeholders, the DeKalb taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Julie Rhame is a competent and honest professional who is not in a positon to have any impact on DCSS policy. She also serves at no pay on the Decatur school board. She lives in Decatur.

I regret that anyone without an intimate knowledge of how the silos at DCSS work (or do not work) would disparage her.

The idea that any PR firm could help DCSS even for 10 times the 25K is silly. I'd pay 25K just to get the board to keep quiet-that would raise our image a great deal.

Cerebration said...

An even costlier event --

$40K worth of batteries stolen from DeKalb school buses

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:42 pm

"Julie Rhame is a competent and honest professional who is not in a positon to have any impact on DCSS policy. "

I must be missing something here. She has no impact on DCSS PR policy, but she continues to receive $145,000+ from taxpayers in salary and benefits that could go to direct instruction for students. And we are putting science and math teachers feet to the fire if they don't raise student test scores.

Please explain why Julie Rhame is still working for DCSS. That seems like a "jobs program" to me.

Paula Caldarella said...

And it keeps on coming...Cere, this may need its own thread...

"Sloppy paperwork cost DeKalb County schools $25 million dollars last year and almost cost millions more again this year, officials

The mistakes caused the state Department of Education to revoke $11 million in construction funds and temporarily withhold another $14 million, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. DeKalb taxpayers ended up paying for the $14 million in construction projects with sales tax dollars, which could have been used for other purposes.

Further, the district’s rocky relationship with the state almost cost the troubled school system another $27 million this year."

Cerebration said...

Oh my. You are right, DM.

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous 10:32 with that information. I myself have watch dale davis for many years and he should be gone. He never makes any since when he is on the news. His words, we are looking into the matter. If he had to do a one on one interview lord help us. He has a air about him. Since he no longer has to hold the super's coat and open doors for him what will he do know?

Again thank you for your comments i read it two times.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:42,

Yes, you are most definitely missing something. The fact is Ms. Rhame is one of the good ones. As others have pointed out, and they are dead-on accurate by the way, Lewis was the root of the problem, not listening to her or allowing her to have any input. Even so, she and her staff have worked hard to do the best they could with what they were given. This group of people have earned their pay. Now that Lewis is gone, hopefully things will change and you'll see a big difference.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:32 Thank you for all the information. So much of what you said hit home for me. you are correct if you ever question cl or pope/reid you would in up in a back room or sent across the county. I myself have suffer the wrath of him and her. I do know many, many people who have been treated badly because of these people. I thank god every day that i am ok.

Dekalbparent said...

@Kim 1:06am

In my meanderings through the blog archives, I found this from April 19, 2009 recounting the April 17 BOE meeting (

E2) Ms. Pope briefly reviewed the facilities inventory book with the BoE. She identified 10 ‘current and soon to be’ unused properties’ and provided recommendations for each:

1. Tilson ES (Pre-K Academy, serving children as young as 3 months)
2. Forrest Hills ES (single gender)

Well, that didn't happen, so I guess we just leave that one to deteriorate...

3. Open Campus (under evaluation)
4. DSA (under evaluation)

Resolved that one by declaring it full of asbestos - just like all the others of its vintage that we are still putting kids and staff into every day - so we can sit on it and let it deteriorate until the real estate fairies bring some one to pay a bajillion dollars for it...
5. DESA/Hooper Alexander ES (sell or lease)
6. Clarkston Center (sell)
seen any moves toward this in the last year?
7. Freeman A (sell)
8. Freeman B (sell)

good luck with that.
9. Robert Shaw Annex (Trade with county, sell, or lease)
10. Rock Gym (Trade with county, sell, or lease)

Any progress there, folks?

Ms. Pope requested the attorney’s research, acquire, and review all deeds to ensure there are no restrictions. She mentioned DCSS owns a few sites without a building
just a few??
and mentioned the park near Heritage ES as an example. She also acknowledged two other facilities. Heritage is planned for short term use by the Marines
we all know how that turned out, aaaand we have another facility deteriorating before us
and that they have not decided how to use the former Chamblee MS.
which has been left vacant for so long that it is too dangerous to walk into without protective covering, according to a prior post.

Robert Shaw annex is currently being leased by the Health department for $1200/month however there is not a record of the monies being collected. Rock Gym is currently being leased to the City of Stone Mountain for $1/year.
and the beat goes on...

It is expected there will be a complete facility inventory report by June 2009.
There is also a concurrent project to evaluate current facilities and make recommendations for further closure/consolidation. That study is expected to be completed by the end of the 2010 school year
still on the radar?

Dr. Lewis mentioned State Rep. Fran Millar requested he meet with him and other legislators to discuss the reimbursement dollars.
wonder if this meeting ever took place.

Cerebration said...

Good find, DeKalb Parent - thanks for digging that up. Send it to Ms. Tyson and the board.

Anonymous said...

The postings on this blog about everyone's fear of Dr. Lewis could not be more true. You didn't dare challenge him - even if you were a close advisor.

Especially after Callaway was ousted. She and her husband had been promoted beyond their competence level for years as good personal friends of the Superintendent. Their children were hired and promoted as well. When Frankie Callaway was forced to resign it sent a shockwave through the system. Anyone could go at any time if they dared to disagree with the Man.

Crawford Lewis was paranoid throughout his tenure because he knew that he obtained his position by betraying Dr. Brown and working backdoor deals with all the board members. This included promotions for those the board members favored (Pritchett and McGiboney) and for family members of board members (Frances Edwards, Zepora Roberts,).

He spent his entire time as superintendent fearing a similar coup. Dr. Brown was no good either, but that did not change the fact that Lewis had blood on his hands. He may have always been smiling and calling his employees by their first names, but everyone knew what was behind the mask.

Anonymous said...

Most system and media insiders know that Julie Rhame knows her stuff and has been trying for years to put positive changes in place for DeKalb. Dale Davis is an incompetent idiot. Other than driving Lewis's car, holding his coat, guarding the bathroom door when Lewis had to urinate (I'm not kidding) and giving inept statements, he had nothing to offer. Sadly he is not the worst that department has to offer.

That award goes to Philandrea Guillory. This would be Frances Edward's daughter. She can not write a sentence correctly. She is notorious for showing up when she feels like it, submitting poor work, and being difficult to work with. However, as a former BOE member's daughter she is untouchable. Her husband was also promoted after Lewis took over, as the head of the Transportation Department. Together, they make well over $200K a year. Thanks, Mom!

Unfortunately, J. Rhame has been stuck with both Dale Davis and Philandrea Guillory. It's a shame, as Rhame and the rest of the department are excellent.

That department is a perfect example of the rest of central office. A majority of intelligent and devoted workers who may soon lose their jobs and mixed in with hooked up has-beens (or never-weres) who will probably receive contracts. When the ax falls for those 150+, it will have little to do with loyalty to the system or how well they did their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Don't y'all think you should send some of these comments, in "cleaned up" English to Ms. Tyson and the current Board -- perhaps annon. if need be -- just to see, if perhaps -- something just might be able to be accomplished in the "doing the right thing" department with an interim super. and a Ms. Edwards off of the BOE? The whole thing reminds me by the day of a Madoff or other Ponzi scheme.