Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A New Superintendent -- What are we looking for?


I attended the first of the public input meetings last night at Peachtree Middle. While attendance was low, I feel very strongly that the attendees did a good job speaking on the concerns of parents and taxpayers in DeKalb County.

If you can't attend the meeting at Columbia tomorrow, please take a moment to fill out the survey online. It is here:

The representatives from Ray and Associates asked three questions:

1. We are a recruiting firm. Why should a candidate be interested in both this job and relocating to your community?
2. What are the qualities you are looking for in a superintendent?
3. What are the critical issues in DeKalb?

They also went over the process of hiring a superintendent.

  • Board approves the criteria. It sounds like there will be a called board meeting on December 17th for this purpose.
  • Ray and Associates recruit nationwide.
  • Applications are accepted. A deadline is set.
  • Candidates are narrowed based on criteria.
  • Those candidates who best meet criteria are screened. References are checked, background checks done, etc.
  • Board is given files of most likely and asked to narrow it down.
  • Interviews are conducted.
  • Most of the time, top several candidates are revealed and introduced to the community. This is at the Board's discretion, but I actually think it is part of the GA Sunshine law.
The process of checking references sounds very thorough. They go through multiple layers and also ask candidates to provide the names of people who have disagreed with them. They check with many types of people from janitors to PTA members. They also note that they know that good candidates can have people who don't like them.

Ray and Associates is very aware of how easy it is for everyone to check on the candidates. They know that once names are released that not only will people be googling but also calling their Aunt's sister's boyfriend's cousin who lives in the community where the candidate is currently working.

The consultants also made it clear that this search will ultimately reflect on them and that they want it to be a successful placement. While DeKalb is a large diverse system, they gave several examples of smaller diverse systems where they have successfully recruited new superintendents. It is also interesting to me that they recruited John Covington for the Kansas City Missouri school superintendent job. This is the system that closed half of their schools when DCSS was struggling to close just a few.

Remember to do the survey if you can't attend the meeting.

The most important job for the DeKalb School Board right now is to hire a new superintendent. The Board of Education and Ray and Associates, the firm the Board has hired to lead the search, are looking for public input.

There are two public meetings scheduled.

Peachtree Middle School at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 7, 2010
• Columbia High School at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 9, 2010

From an article about the search process in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I found this description of what Ray and Associates planned for the public meetings there.

"What we want to do is discuss the timeline for the search with the community to ask some specific questions that would help us in developing a profile for the search and then to ask you to complete a short survey," said Alvin Johnson, regional director for Ray & Associates."

In Ann Arbor at least, the survey was posted online after the meetings. I hope that it will be in DeKalb as well.

In looking at the flier that has been developed for the position in Ann Arbor, I find that these are most of the criteria that I would like to see in a new superintendent in DeKalb.

Position Profile – AAPS Superintendent

The Ann Arbor Public Schools seeks a superintendent who…
  • Inspires trust, has high levels of self-confidence and optimism, and models high
  • standards of integrity and personal performance.
  • Possesses the leadership skills required to respond to the challenges presented
  • by an ethnically and culturally diverse community.
  • Possesses the ability to enhance student performance, especially in identifying
  • and closing or narrowing the gaps in student achievement.
  • Is a strong communicator -- speaking, listening and writing, as well as a person
  • who is willing to listen to input but is a decision-maker.

AAPS Achievement

  • Is strongly committed to a “student first” philosophy in all decisions.
  • Possesses excellent people skills and presents a positive image of the district.
  • Has experience in management of district resources and knowledge of sound fiscal procedures.
  • Has knowledge of emerging research and best practice in the area of curriculum/instructional design and practice.
  • Has demonstrated strong leadership skills in previous positions.
  • Is able to build consensus and commitment among individuals and groups with emphasis on parental involvement.
  • Is able to delegate authority appropriately while maintaining accountability.

What are your priorities for a new superintendent? I would add

  • Is able to recruit and retain the highest level of professions from the teacher level up.

My greatest concern about the process is that the public get to meet the final three or more candidates. This is what GA law says:
At least fourteen (14) calendar days prior the meeting at which final action or a vote is to be taken for a university president, school superintendent, or other similar executive, the public agency making such decision shall release all documents which came into its possession in connection with the three or more finalists for the position. Prior to the release of these documents, the public agency making the decision may allow a finalist to decline being considered further for the position rather than have documents pertaining to her or him released. In that event, the public agency shall release the documents of the next most qualified person under consideration who does not decline the position.
When Dr. Brown was hired, this process was not followed. He did come and meet with DeKalb parents before he was officially hired, because of the 14 day rule. Another candidate, from a suburb of DC, withdrew before the finalists were announced.

I think it is important that the stakeholders be able to compare and contrast the top three or more candidates. Let us see who the Board is picking from and perhaps give some input on what we view as a candidate's strengths and weaknesses.


Cerebration said...

Grerat post, the mommy. I hope everyone will attend these meetings. There is nothing more important.

We have two older posts on this subject you may want to re-read as well before attending or voicing your opinions -

What are we looking for in a superintendent?

What Kind of Superintendent Do We Need?

Cerebration said...

To quote from one of the posts -

I found a very interesting job description from a school system in Ohio that was advertising for a superintendent at "Education Week" online. Here are some of their requirements:


Shows evidence of demonstrated ability to collaborate with other school districts and/or agencies in planning and implementing programs for students

Is an accessible, good listener who functions as a team player and shares decision-making with staff when appropriate

Supports staff development and encourages professional growth

Effectively mediates and accommodates different perspectives

Creates an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect

Successfully manages media coverage

Closely supervises budget development and expenditures

Demonstrates expertise in curriculum and instruction

Willingly assumes a lead role in decision-making while keeping the Board informed

Relates well to a variety of community groups

Anonymous said...

We don't want a BS artist...One that uses gimmicks to create make believe success!

By the way, when Gov Perdue and others speak of higher achievements in state scores, do they take out the contributions of the schools they accuse of cheating? I think not. They take credit for the high scores on one hand and make political grandstanding with the other.

Anonymous said...

"By the way, when Gov Perdue and others speak of higher achievements in state scores, do they take out the contributions of the schools they accuse of cheating? I think not. They take credit for the high scores on one hand and make political grandstanding with the other. "

Excellent point!!

Anonymous said...

This won't happen, but I'd like to recommend all interviews for the super position be conducted "blind"--no name given, no in-person meeting, no photograph.
And if you can't figure out why I'd suggest that, you're not paying attention. :)

Anonymous said...

I have been wondering if the state was going to recalculate scores once the cheating stuff is resolved.

Awards are given to schools in the ___ percentage of all schools in the state. That means that those that had substantial cheating probably knocked other schools off the list.

Anonymous said...

We don't need a sorcerer's apprentice!!

We want a straight shooter.

Kim Gokce said...

References, references, references ... anyone with any work history whatsoever can have their recruiter massage a resume to meet the requisition. Anyone with any work history at this level can BS their way through a press conference, through a public meeting, and in front of a Board - so they will certainly do well in friendly interviews.

What I want it references; lots of references. References from former Board members who may have hired this individual in the past, references from former associates in administrative roles, references from elected officials from local municipalities contained in the leader's district, references from teachers in systems managed, references from parents. References; lots of references ...

I have experience in hiring and there is NO substitute for voluminous and consistent references and testimonials. I'm not talking about a nice list of nice provided by the candidate - I'm talking about making phone calls and getting candid, off-the-record assessments. References; lots of references.

Kim Gokce said...

Now that I'm pontificating about it, I think the leaders on this blog should form an actual working committee to do just that - check references.

Even if we don't organize, I'm sure that some individuals will find some dirt on some candidates or will pick favorites from behind an Anonymous account. But I really think it is feasible for a group of those with publishing rights (known individuals) to come together on this important question and do a professional job of it.

Nothing fancy, just make the phone calls and record the findings ...

themommy said...


We can check references -- presuming they release more than one name. That isn't hard to do.

The problem is that I would think that anyone qualified for this position would have both their fans and their detractors. How do we know how to weigh each of their opinions?

Anonymous said...

If you were a strong, ethical, very skilled leader, would you take a job and not be allowed to be in charge?
Will our BOE allow anyone to lead? Even if we get someone with exceptional skills and qualities, that person will not remain. He or she will stay until they can find another option. Unless this person is treated with respect by our BOE and allowed to be the decision maker for the schools, will anything change? We are not the only Metro System looking for a superintendent.

I worry about our system. The conditions of our schools impact so many things. A few years ago when DeKalb was in the midst of turmoil, a member of my family moved to Atlanta. DeKalb was not even a consideration. With the income and education level to have options, her family settled in another area, based on the schools. The drive was longer for them. They had to make some hard choices. But, children cause you to do that. I feel we all want the best for all children. But, we still have to take the steps to care for our own. DeKalb has so much to offer. The last few years we have spent so much time trying not to drown.
How many major companies will we attract without a strong school system? Will we be able to encourage parents to trust our schools?
When it is all said and done, will our BOE allow this person or any person to lead?

Anonymous said...

Kim is right--lots of genuine references.

And sure, everyone has detractors--the best principals I know have "haters" on their staffs. They tend to be the ones who step up to speak out. That's why you talk to a lot of people who might not ordinarily respond to a survey. And a variety of people-not just folks who reported to the super, but parents, others in the community. Anyone worth hiring will have left an overall postive impression.

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to change the process by which the super is selected? I know (s)he would still report to the BOE, but is there some way for him to at least not start out being beholden to them?

Anonymous said...

"And a variety of people-not just folks who reported to the super, but parents, others in the community. Anyone worth hiring will have left an overall postive impression."

I think you are right about this, and you can often get a sense about how the school system functions by reviewing local media. Depending on how strong the newspapers are in a community, you might be able to get more than a sense.

Do you think we need someone very strong willed?

Anonymous said...

Kim is so right. It is hard to be a strong leader and not have people dislike you. Our former principal let staff do whatever, and I mean whatever. Not come to school, come late, not turn in lesson plans. A syllabus, what was a syllabus? You didn't have to call parents. We didn't even have Parent Conference Night. The school was dirty. The principal we have now holds us accountable. We must have the best kept school in the entire school system. We have to work for the good of the students. The educational environment is so much better. But, we have so many complainers on our staff. That does not bother her. She just keeps on demanding the right thing for students.
I am pretty sure we are going to lose her soon. She is bright and has other options. Kim is right. You cannot be a strong leader and have people say all good things about you.

Kim Gokce said...


On the point of a strong leader and the types of references they will get, I think that a strong leader in a difficult situation will naturally have many critics. The key for me isn't whether or not references are all positive but rather the nature of the references. A negative commentary can actually leave a positive impression for me depending on the tone and content of the negative comments.

Is this a good or bad reference comment:

"I would never recommend Kim Gokce for superintendent of anything larger than a one-room school house! He is never happy unless he gets his way. Also, he was terrible with community relations. He routinely ignored parents and our concerns. During the last round of attendance line adjustments he completely ignored our neighborhood PTA's request for a meeting to discuss attendance lines in our area. It was as if he was more concerned about numbers on a page than our children's future."

How about this one:

"Kim Gokce is an example of a true leader in education. His vision and leadership transformed the delivery of education forever for our community. His ability to show leadership in the area of curriculum development, administrative accountability, and operational excellence. He would be an irreplaceable asset to any school system."

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 6:42a "Do you think we need someone very strong willed?"

That is a very interesting question ... I don't think I would say I'm looking for "strong willed" as much as simply "determined." I know that sounds like the same thing but here's what I mean ...

To me, someone who is "strong willed" will stick to one side of an argument in spite of available alternatives. A "determined" person will stick to objectives and will adapt to any argument or alternative as long as it does not undermined objectives.

Another way of saying it is I prefer someone dedicated to right outcomes rather than winning arguments.

Cerebration said...

I don't know how you measure this, but I'd like someone with wisdom. Someone with vast experience in how to educate all kinds of children along with a curious mind to the future. Someone who can listen to the cacophony of all of the random (often loud) input from all corners of the county, go out and gather his or her own input from places with no voice, process it all along with as much available knowledge as possible, and then following their own inner voice, do the right thing for children.

Anonymous said...

I want someone that is such a great leader that people would be willing to work for him or her for free, because it would be such a great experience.

This way, he or she can attract the very top talent out there. DCSS is far to large a system to think that one person can turn it around by themselves.

Anonymous said...

@Kim 10:19,

I would try to discard the sarcasm in the first statement put it in the "things to consider" category. Do lots of other parents say the same thing? If so--look into it further. Determine whether this is a pattern. If no--set the comment aside as one person's (perhaps misinformed) anger.

The second, to me, is meaningless.

@anon 9:22--Let's hope that those who evaluate the new super can see that type of negativity for what it is. Please let's find people who are that capable.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 11:21

Precisely how I would take both of the comments. For me, it is important that our decision makers take the time to dig a little deeper than provided endorsements. I have to believe that at least a few Board members are capable of this type of independent inquiry.

In any case, I believe this blogs' contributors owe it to the community to attempt to do the same thing independently. Let's see what candidate names come up - I don't want to see character assassination but I do want to see some realism that only private discussions can bring out.

I'm willing to do some research on names and can be completely discreet. Any feedback I can gather would be completely protected and anonymous and I would never publish anything slanderous or uncorroborated.

Dekalbparent said...

@Kim -

I will do whatever I can to contribute. I am good at research and, because I process information more slowly than the average bear, I can be a pretty objective reporter.

I'll think about what I find and put report first, my opinions later.

Anonymous said...

Be faster then a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. Be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
(Super Boy Scout)

But most importantly, he/she must be approved by the administration and the Bishop.

Welcome to the feel-good charrette. I am sure that you all will have perfectly valid requirements and express them eloquently.

What are the odds on Dr. Beasley?

Kim Gokce said...

I think there is about a zero percent change for Dr. Beasley to be considered seriously. The Board understands that the new superintendent must be an "outsider."

Kim Gokce said...


We have the beginnings of a team! I really think we can make a positive difference if we get names and in time to do some digging. Again, I'm convinced that resourceful individuals can pick up the phone and do some buck reporter work that could be very, very insightful background information for judging candidates.

One Fed Up Insider said...


This is one time that I have to disagree with you. Jim Redovian was the ONLY board member that publicly came out and stated that we needed look outside the school system for a superintendent.

Also, Jim was the only one that publicly stated that he would not hire from in the inside...

NO OTHER BOARD MEMBER has stated anything publicly.

I have said this once and I will say it again. Dr. Beasley has Paul Womack's vote. Womack thinks that he is doing an awesome job because Beasley blames the teachers for the problems in the school system. Womack has even stated that teachers are the problem publicly..... McChesney, Speaks, Woods, and Walker will follow. Beasley has the votes as of right now.

Parents need to get vocal again.

Or we are all doomed.

Anonymous said...

@ One Fed Up Insider

Kim is probably right that:
"The Board understands that the new superintendent must be an "outsider."

Certainly SACS understands this even it the BOE doesn't. Dr. Beasley has never been a superintendent of even a smaller school system. The idea that he would be made superintendent over Ms. Tyson (who is tainted from her association with Lewis fairly or unfairly) who is his present boss is ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Tyson has repeatedly said she doesn't want the job, or I believe the majority of the board will be handing it to her on a silver platter.

Redovian has been the one consistent voice for an outsider.

To me the number one criteria should be the amount of experience the applicants have. But when they were hiring the search firms, several board members asked What If type questions that led you to believe that they were interested in someone inside.

Scary -- yes!

Anonymous said...

Have to agreee with One Fed Up Insider and Anon 6:43!

Redovian was the only one that didn't vote for Beasley to be Superintendent of Teaching and Learning despite the public outcry for the BOE to hire outsiders! That was one of their first chances to show us they were listening and things would be different and they blew it! And he was Ms. Tyson's recommendation!

Tyson says she doesn't want the job. A really good outsider is going to cost big bucks! Not sure that will jive with Womack's or Jester's budget ideas so the less expensive insider may look pretty good...besides, they will say he came from Texas - that he isn't an insider!

Anonymous said...

No one has mentioned that the community received less than a week's notice about these superintendent community meetings and there are only 2 of them! Crazy month to ask parents to stop what they are doing and attend...and most schools have their holiday programs this week since next week is exams. Hope someone will go and report back to us!

Could it be they don't really want stakeholders to show up? Naw...must just be our paranoia talking!

Anonymous said...

I am very worried that Womack won't be willing to pay the money that we will probably need to pay to get the right person.

For the Ann Arbor job, the salary is expected to be in the range of $245,000 plus comprehensive benefits. This system has less than 17,000 students. That is about the salary that Dr. Lewis was making.

Anonymous said...

The notice or lack of notice issue is a concern. However, work cannot stop in December simply because it is a busy time.

This process needs to begin. If the search firm were to write a job description with no public input, can you imagine the outcry.

Anonymous said...

Parents/taxpayers need to be writing SACS with concerns about the process of choosing a superintendent, particularly if they are concerned that the next superintendent will be picked from Lewis's Cabinet.

Regional Headquarters:
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
Phone:(404) 679-4500
Fax: (404) 679-455

Council on Accreditation and School Improvement:
Commissions on Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Schools
Phone: (888) 413-3669

Mark Elgart
President of SACS
Phone: (888) 413-3669

Here is a guide to call or email your state representatives:
1. Go to this website:

2. Type the 9-digits of your zip code (hyphen between the 5 digit code and the 4 digit code - e.g. 30033-5786) in the search box at the top of the page to the right of Find the Candidates. Your representatives will be displayed.

3. Click on the name of the representative you want to contact, and you will be taken to his/her information page.

4. On the right hand side of the page, mid-way down, you will see the email and phone number of your representative.

Anonymous said...

Crawford Lewis was making $287,991

Compare what other metro superintendents make:
Fred Sanderson - Cobb County - $224,494
Beverly Hall - APS - $389,314
Buster Evans - Forsyth - $178,698
Alvin Wilbanks - Fulton - $387,934

Some of these systems are smaller and some are larger. I think we can afford to pay someone who is topnotch.

Of course it would be great to get all new BOE members (with the exception of Jester and Edler) since they are tainted by their enthusiastic support of both Lewis and Pope. I hope the ones that have all those friends and relatives placed in non-teaching positions in DCSS do not look for someone just to support their friends and family.

Anonymous said...

Womack was a great supporter of Lewis. It makes sense that he would think highly of Lewis's "Cabinet".

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 9:26
You must be Beasley or Moseley! Sounds like one of their lame DCSS excuses! How many businesses or organizations do you know that would plan something this important on such short notice?

You're right. Everything can't come to a halt in December but less than a week's notice for something this important when the system has known they needed to hire a superintendent for the past how many months?? Do you really think lots of folks will turn out this week? Likely most parents that care and are involved will be attending their kids' school holiday events, helping students get ready for exams, getting homes ready for Christmas or celebrating Hanukkah that ends Thursday!

If they want public input right away, they could start with an online questionnaire and plan community meetings in early January.

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry, but don't they expect students to continue studying and taking exams through December up until the break - which is the end of the semester?

Insider said...

Great Op-Ed piece from Michelle Rhee

Anonymous said...

Can't we just clone Michelle Rhee and hire her as Superintendent?

Anonymous said...

If Dr. B is chosen as the Super it will be pitchfork time at the Palace! I bet we'll find Mooooseley at the gates with his hot tub of oil ready to spill it on any stakeholder who is against his precious job.


Michelle Rhee is headed to Florida. She is working on the Governor Elects transition team and the insiders in Tallahassee say she has been selected to be the new State of Florida Education Director.

Dr. B is a sham and if he is selected, DCSS is doomed! Dr. B is not an outsider!

We now have 3 systems in the metro area looking for new Supers. How do we think this is going to turn out?

Anonymous said...

The good news is that Cobb BoE has always said they would probably pick an insider. So they aren't really competing with us -- or rather we aren't competing with them.

Atlanta on the other hand is a different story. That is the high value and high visibility job. DeKalb, though larger, is no where that someone can make a name for themselves as we are just a suburb in Metro Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

Anyone planning to go to the community meeting tonight? Can't go - kid's school concert. Hope someone will report back to us what you hear/learn about the search and the input that was given!

Cerebration said...

I do hope many of you will attend this evening's meeting and/or the one on Thursday at Columbia HS.

Also, this info arrived in the mailbox. I'll add it to the calendar as well as share it here. Please pass this on, seating is limited though.

Dear Parents:

Quality Care for Children will host a FREE parenting class offered by the Family Nurturing Center of Georgia. The class is called: Live, Love, and Laugh: A fun filled workshop full of family friendly activities that promote play and the importance of laughter in a family. This workshop promotes strong bonds and open relationships that can serve as a protective factor for families.

It will be held on January 13, 2010.
7:00 -8:00 pm.
Quality Care for Children
50 Executive Park South, Suite 5015, Atlanta, GA 30329
(Near I-85 and North Druid Hills Road)

Also, you'll get:
Training materials
Certificate of participation
An opportunity to meet and network with other parents.

To attend, please RSVP to Roger Sullivan at Space is limited to the first 30 parents. An email reminder will be sent prior to the training. CHILD CARE NOT PROVIDED.

Thank you,

Parent Services & Training Team

Anonymous said...

Any update on the community meeting tonight at Peachtree? Please share what you learned if you were able to attend (or what you've heard from those that went.)

Anonymous said...

there's a book called Acceptance by David Marcus (it's on the college admissions process) and it follows this terrific college counselor in a Long Island, lower middle class high school (Oyster Bay) who gets his kids into top notch colleges with the support of what sounds like a really dynamite school superintendent -- the district sounds very diverse -- maybe we should look into this superintendent....I know this is a bit of a rabbit trail but give it a go... the book is actually a terrific read....

M G said...

There were approximately 20 people in attendance. We were asked 3 questions, I didn't write the exact wording down, but here's the gist of them.

1. What about the district or DeKalb County would make it attractive to someone considering applying for the position?

2. What criteria should be considered when hiring a Superintendent? This was the bulk of the meeting.

3. What are the main issues facing the district?

The discussion lasted until almost 8:45. At the end, we were all asked to fill out the survey that is available on the website.

The website says the survey is available until noon on Tuesday, December 14th. There is a place on the survey for participants to enter their own comments.

The search firm seemed very professional, but I was concerned that they reiterated more than once that they work for the board.

There will be a board meeting (called meeting, I guess) next Friday, December 17 for the board to be given the information from the community meetings and surveys.

We were told the board has not had discussions or made decisions concerning the criteria that will be used to evaluate applicants or if more than one finalist will be brought in and presented to the community.

I left my notes in the car, so if I find something different there, I'll re-post later.

M G said...

Anon 10:47

Oops, I forgot.

The search firm did say we could suggest names of people we thought they should contact concerning the position.

They also mentioned blogs, so they may read your comment, but you could also complete the survey and make the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Only 20 people at Peachtree Middle for this??!! A survey that ends next Tuesday that the public doesn't even know about yet? Did they say how they plan to get word out about the survey? And a summary of the input to the BOE on the 17th? You've got to be kidding.

Same old, same old...

Anonymous said...

20 people at Peachtree tonight.. shame on DCSS. With all the Holiday stuff going on, school concerts, and the fact that my wife and I only found out about this meeting a week ago, we were not able to attend.

It was two months ago that I projected this would happen. Vision 2020, Charettes, Run-offs, PTA Meetings, Redistricting surveys and the assessments would all take place during the busiest time for stakeholders. DCSS and the old Clew bunch is cramming everything into a 6 week period throughout the holidays. Doesn't seem too transparent to me.

This Super search and public meetings should have started and taken place months ago, instead the entire future of our system will be based on a small percentage of stakeholders input. I guarantee you this was done purposely. What are these folks trying to hide?

I can't wait for the new board members to be sworn in so they can start asking tough questions of this DCSS bunch.

Dr. B is a fraud, all you have to do is ask the folks in Texas, where he worked before he came back here. We need someone completely new so we can move forward with fresh ideas and with someone who'll remove this Clew bunch who seems to think they are Gods gift to education.

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

The "old Clew bunch" is not running the Super search. It is being done by a professional search firm - but you knew that and just needed to criticize because that is all some of you do.

If you could not attend the meeting just complete the on-line survey. Sheesh...

Anonymous said...

Hey DM, the post you mention never said that "the old Clew Bunch" was running the search. However, the poster seems to be upset this process did not begin sooner. I know I am. Clew was officially out in April. Why did it take until now to get moving on the Super search?

Plus, I bet that Tyson and the "crew" had spoken with the professional search company and most likely helped develop and approve the time table. Once again DM, you seem to be upset about things people say here, but you always read something more into the comments than what the posters have actually said.

Anonymous said...

I participated in the online survey and I know there are several of us that would have loved to been a part of a conversation regarding what DCSS should have in a Super.

I spent a lot of time at the Palace and my child's school for the meetings regarding QSCB. With all the things going on at schools, as the Holidays approach, my family asked that I not spend another night at a meeting until after the New Year.

I seem to remember when Clew was working on his weak consolidation and redistricting plan several years ago, the most important meetings were taking place during the run-up to the holidays.

I think if DCSS had been a bit more proactive on the Super search we could have been much further along than we are now and maybe more people could have been involved in the conversation. Online surveys are great, but I think sitting in a room with stakeholders and actually hearing their concerns and discussing them is the best process for making informed decisions.

I'm glad the process is moving forward, but like the previous poster said, I'm just a little taxed by the timing of all these meetings bunched up over the past few weeks.

Paula Caldarella said...

If we want a Super in place before the start of next school year - I would hope that we all do, so that we can move forward - then these timelines have to be accelerated.
This process cannot be dragged out, it must move along at a fast pace. There are always going to be conflicts, you cannot make everyone happy.

Whine, if you want to, but it is critical to our children's future that we have legitimate, qualified Super in place before August 1st.

Paula Caldarella said...

Hey DM, the post you mention never said that "the old Clew Bunch" was running the search

I beg to differ..From the poster:

It was two months ago that I projected this would happen. Vision 2020, Charettes, Run-offs, PTA Meetings, Redistricting surveys and the assessments would all take place during the busiest time for stakeholders. DCSS and the old Clew bunch is cramming everything into a 6 week period throughout the holidays.

These are not run by the "Clew bundh", but the consulting firm.

themommy said...

Ray and Associates made it clear that it is the board who is their employer.

They mention that they will have discussions with the board.

Nothing they said gave me any impression that they are working at all with the current staff.

In fact, given that the Board handled the search for the search firm on their own, I am thinking that the Board is driving this car.

Cerebration said...

The AJC brings us a very interesting report on the fact that we now have THREE metro school districts searching for a superintendent!

CEO or school chief? Meet today's superintendent

Paula Caldarella said...

DCSS has qualified and professional firms in place for the Superintendent Search and the 2020 Vision Plan. Both of these firms have made it part of their mantra to have significant stake-holder input and STILL people find a reason to complain. I don't get it...

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

How about a supt. who won't condone cheating? Remember when the ridiculous Crawford lewis spent out a system-wide letter of support for criminals (then principal) James Berry and (then assistant principa) Doretha Alexander!!

Last year, a DeKalb County principal and assistant principal were swept up in a groundbreaking audit by the state that included an “erasure analysis” of student answer sheets. In the subsequent scandal, officials found that tests had been tampered with at three other elementary schools besides DeKalb’s Atherton Elementary School, including those in Atlanta and Fulton and Glynn counties.

After Principal James Berry and Assistant Principal Doretha Alexander confessed that they changed students’ answers so that they passed, DeKalb authorities charged both with falsifying a state document, a felony that carries a potential two- to 10-year prison term.

Berry pleaded guilty to that charge last December. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $1,000 fine. Alexander completed 40 hours of community service at a local food bank and faced no further action.

Anonymous said...

DM, I'm just disappointed that it took the BOARD so long to get this Super search rolling. That's all! I'm happy it's moving now, I just wish the timetable was not so crammed with so many vital decisions that have to be made.

Another concern is this rumor running around that Womack and 4 other BOE members have already decided on Dr. Beasley. I HOPE this is just another lousy rumor, but when you hear this from different sources inside the Palace it's cause for concern.

I hope the search is run properly and above board and NOT just a ploy to show the public that the BOE searched and all they could find is Dr. B.

We need change at the top of the DCSS, total change! If you think I'm whining about the process, I am! Transparency is not an attribute this BOE or Clew's Bunch has cared about in the past. I hope they have changed and we find the right person who can clean out the Palace and put the students and teachers first, not friends and family members.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the Board and Central Office spell out exactly what a Superintendent has authority to do. Can they do massive reorganizations, fire non-performers, unilaterally make pay adjustments to assure salaries match responsbilities, etc.
If a Superintendent is limited in any of these areas, I have doubts as to whether even the best person in the job can make the substantial changes that are needed.

Paula Caldarella said...

I do agree it took the board too long to start the process and it appears it was only done so by the SACS "suggestion", but, now that it is started, we must get on with the business of getting a new Superintendent sooner than later.

Anonymous said...

Accelerated timelines can be a recipe for disaster. Would I like a Super in place by next year? Sure, who wouldn't. But we need total transparency from this BOE and Clew's bunch, whether we're speaking about perks for teachers and employees, SACS accreditation RENEWAL, budgets, ethics policies, consolidation, redistricting or a new Super.

There is a lot on DCSS' plate, let's not forget there are 2 major trials on the docket too, Heery Mitchell and Lewis/Pope, these will be a huge distraction for staff and the BOE, since the media will be keying in on these. DCSS can not afford anymore mistakes when it comes to decisions that will effect the future of OUR school system.

Paula Caldarella said...

And waiting is also a receipe for disaster - the school system is just moving in flux and that is not acceptable at all.

The Heery-Mitchell trial is well over a year away and who knows when the Lewis/Pope trial will begin. These, in and of themselves, have no bearing on the running of the school system anyway.

Anonymous said...

I disagree DM, these trials, whenever they are, will be huge distraction for the system.

I never said to wait, all I said is let's not rush all the decisions to the point that mistakes happen. That's all!

Paula Caldarella said...

I did not say the trials won't be huge distractions, but the running of the school system won't be affected by them. In fact, a new Super and any new personnel he/she brings in will have no connection to either trial. Perhaps we will get lucky and most of the individuals involved in the trial will be former DCSS employees? Could we get that lucky?

Anonymous said...

DM, I hope you're right and we're lucky! I have some suggestions on who some former DCSS staff should be, but we'll let the prosecutors decide! I have lot's of popcorn, it will be fun and at the same time real sad to watch.

Paula Caldarella said...

Will Lewis and Pope try to point the finger at each other? My guess is yes - NOW that will be "popcorn moments" I would love to see - LOL.

Anonymous said...

Now that Nancy Jester (just because she was a blogger before the election) would chime in and say something. We have had several key discussions here on this blog recently and she has been quiet. She will be the one voting on a new super. What are her thoughts and ideas. Granted she does not have enough votes to override Womack and company.

Is she going to like the rest of the board members. Get on the board then close their ears to the people that voted them in.

Anonymous said...

Jester will not close her ears. I'm pretty sure I saw her at the meeting Monday, which seemed to never end. I had to leave before the action items were voted on, so I was unable to talk to Nancy.

If you have a questions for Nancy, send her an email or call her, her contact info is at her website. She has returned every call and answered every email I have ever sent to her.

She expressed during the campaign that DeKalb needed a Super from the outside and with no ties to DCSS and the current leadership.

Anonymous said...

@ DM,
I have to agree with Anon 11:00; Yes, you are each right that time is of the essence but DCSS messed up by dragging their feet getting a search firm in place. Their delay in that process is, however, no reason to continue making mistakes by rushing through the stakeholder input and continuing to cloud their effort for transparency, if in fact, the BOE really wants to be transparent. When they tried to rush through policies for SACS, everyone called them out. Why the "about face" now? You know the saying: "Haste makes waste" and we can't afford that!

Let's say 20 folks show up at Columbia too...40 people turn out in a system of 98,000 students - that speaks volumes about the short notice and timing (based on charrette attendance). It is hardly a valid sampling - a researcher would never use such a sample to prove anything!

What message might that poor turnout send to the search firm - that no one really cares about the superintendent - is that the message we want them to get? They may think we are an easy target on which they can unload a candidate.

Yes, an online survey is available but no one knows about it and it closes next Tuesday. In addition, as a previous poster said, an online survey (while allowing some input) is nothing like a face to face conversation with the search firm. And we need to hear from the silent voices: often ones that can't get to meetings due to lack of transportation so need time to work that out, those that have no computer, those that speak no English, etc.

As for the trials: they will be a huge distraction if for no other reason than lots of staff will be called to testify..when they get back to the Palace, everyone will want to hear what happened...the "talk" will be enough to distract from the work of the system. And the staff we want gone? I suspect the attorneys want them kept on staff until after the trial.

Anonymous said...

I hope Jester and Edler are speaking to their soon-to-be fellow Board members and telling them they need to have more community meetings in January! They are each still "one of us" - surely Jester would be vocal about this if she were still campaigning!

Was she at the meeting at Peachtree last night?

Anonymous said...

Nancy Jester had been extremely responsive to means well. Never an email goes unanswered. What's really encouraging is that Donna Edler got 72% of the vote in District 7. Now that's a mandate for change. She has a terrific finance background. It will be interesting to see how she responds to DCSS budget woes.

Paula Caldarella said...

So, would like a process like Gwinnett schools where parents and stakeholders have NO say AT ALL - the school board makes ALL of the decisions without regard to parents wishes?

You cannot have it both ways - decide which way you want to go.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom
think by and large parents in Gwinnett are pleased with their children's progress. More schools continue to have high achievement even as they become more diverse and lower income.

I think if DeKalb parents could count on the consistency and student progress all over the county, they would not be so vocal or active. Gwinnett can ignore parents only because the vast majoriy of the parents are pretty pleased with their return on investment.

pscexb said...

Anon 12:08 said,

Yes, an online survey is available but no one knows about it and it closes next Tuesday. In addition, as a previous poster said, an online survey (while allowing some input) is nothing like a face to face conversation with the search firm. And we need to hear from the silent voices: often ones that can't get to meetings due to lack of transportation so need time to work that out, those that have no computer, those that speak no English, etc.

I consider the participants in this blog to be very engaged. I got an email from Commissioner Elect Stan Watson about the meetings and it included hyperlinks to the general information and survey. Why not ask the elected officials in your area to send a similar email to their lists? They could also encourage people to send emails to their Board members for consideration if they'd like to include something outside of what the survey provides. I agree that face to face discussions are the preferred method but sometimes that is not possible for everyone. The alternatives at least allow an opportunity for more voices to be heard and opinions considered.

Food for thought, if they offered participation via LiveMeeting or some other type of online meeting system, would that be viable? True, the only ones that could participate would be those that have internet access. It could provide the opportunity for more to participate from the comfort of their home. Would this disenfranchise those that don't have internet access? Trying to think outside the box.....

Paula Caldarella said...

You either want an Superintendent search with stakeholder input or you want the Board to do this on their own.

Which do you want????

My personal opinion? DCSS has gone overboard with all of this public input. From the old Nike saying "Just do it".

Cerebration said...

I want a superintendent who supports great teachers like this one --

Dunwoody High School’s languages teacher Clarissa Adams-Fletcher has been named the 2011 national teacher of the year by the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Dunwoody High language teacher wins national award

We are blessed with some very excellent teachers in DeKalb. We need to encourage and support them and find more like them.

DCSS Teacher said...

@Dunwoody Mom--it wasn't just Nike, it was also Jack Bauer on "24" who said "Just do it! And he managed to get a lot done!

I think it's imperative that the next Super have solid academic credentials. This isn't snobbery--it's because the person has to command real respect from talented and well-educated teachers, community members, peers at his/her own professional level--and, maybe most important, students, too. Kids need a role model, and role models should be in open view all the way up tjhe authority pyramid.

Also, having academic credentials, besides being valuable in themselves (at least sometimes!) shows that the person has taken education seriously and worked hard to overcome obstacles. AND, having someone of stature in this regard could help upgrade Georgia's image nationally, which is pretty poor right now.

Also important, perhaps goes without saying--the Super should have absolutely NO ties with the current administrative staff. He or she should have demonstrated the ability to turn around a difficult professional situation, like a school system or organization that began to improve under his/her direction.

Also--the ability to express him/herself clearly, in good English, and in a way that models good communication skills, is critically important. This is an area where Ms. Tyson is a bit weak: when we are herded together for an eLuminate session, much of our time is spent poking the person next to us and saying, "Huh? WHAT did she say?"

Paula Caldarella said...

I think it's imperative that the next Super have solid academic credentials. This isn't snobbery--it's because the person has to command real respect from talented and well-educated teachers, community members, peers at his/her own professional level--and, maybe most important, students, too. Kids need a role model, and role models should be in open view all the way up tjhe authority pyramid.

I agree. This move to hire "CEO's" over school systems - see just crazy - in my view anyway.

Paula Caldarella said...

Both of my children have been blessed to have Ms. Adams (as they call her) as a teacher.

PolitiMom said...

I was at the meeting last night but had to leave before it was over. Didn't see it mentioned but everyone should know that Pam Speaks was the only board member present. Disappointed about the turnout but not surprised based on time of year. Also wonder if people aren't turning out becuase they know it won't matter. I want to believe that our voices will count, but they reiterated so many times that the BOARD is running the search that it seemed like they are already setting us up for business as usual. As a firm policy, Ray & Associates should require their client boards to attend these community meetings so instead of reading (or not reading) a report of the top characteristics we want, they will actually be forced to listen. Pam Speaks got an earful last night. Hopefully she will take that with her.

Nancy Jester said...

Hello Bloggers!
My schedule didn't permit me to attend the meeting at PCMS. If you have comments for me regarding the meeting or the Superintendent search I would love to hear them! Please email them to me at

Also to address a previous blogger's concern: During the campaign I tried to only comment when I was addressed specifically in a thread. I wanted to be respectful of Cerebration and the blog as a forum for the community. I'm sure I don't catch all references to me so everyone should feel free to contact me directly.

--Nancy Jester

Anonymous said...

Unless there are citizens who want an insider for superintendent, by insider I mean someone who works or has worked for DCSS and who has a Phd from an online college and who goes to New Birth, I think the audience last night did a good job of sharing common concerns and perspectives.

Having 200 people there wouldn't have really made a difference. In fact, I think the quality of the people there and their level of knowledge made them a really good audience.

themommy said...

What message might that poor turnout send to the search firm - that no one really cares about the superintendent - is that the message we want them to get? They may think we are an easy target on which they can unload a candidate.

Several speakers last night were critical of the timing of the meeting and most made it clear that if the meeting had been held at a different time, there would have been far more people there.

It is clear that Ray and Associates takes this search very seriously. This is their reputation and their only business. We are one of the 20 largest school systems in the country. What happens to them if they mess it up? Not good.

Now, I am concerned about them finding interested candidates that are qualified. I wish I had this question last night, how confident are you that you can find candidates?

Cerebration said...

Funnily enough, in my conversations with people, lots of folks thought this was another charrette and didn't pay attention as they has already attended one. I think the board is trying to do so many things at once that people don't realize these are totally different goals.

One Goal - REDISTRICTING - this is what the charrettes were about and what the company MGT of America has been hired to research and make recommendations.

Another Goal - HIRE A NEW SUPERINTENDENT - This process has just begun with the hiring of Ray & Associates as the "headhunter" for the board. They will find candidates, interview them and make recommendations to the board. Many members of the board have already stated that they want to see the qualifications of ALL candidates, not just the ones culled by Ray.

A Third Goal - Maintain SACS accreditation. SACS will begin visiting schools in January and doing the research necessary to endorse and continue the school system's accreditation.


There are two very big legal distractions. One civil and one (well, two) criminal.

The civil case is the case involving Heery Mitchell construction contractors. HM sued DCSS for $1.5 million for breach of contract and unpaid services. The school system is countersuing for somewhere between $85-120 million. We have already spent in the neighborhood of $15 million on this case.

The criminal cases are separate cases against Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope (also two more against Vincent Pope, Pat's husband and Cointa Moody, Pat's secretary) for all kinds of RICO charges having to do with misuse of construction funds.

Neither one of these lawsuits will take up as much of the board's attention as they did before they went into the judicial system, however, the board must approve the legal expenditures for the HM case and I think this is something they should think long and hard about cutting their losses on. (JMHO)

At any rate - hope this clarifies the "goings on" in DCSS... Our board is very busy! And I must say, I do think that they are trying to work toward resolving these goals and have put aside much of their former differences. SACS was very helpful in maintaining their focus.

Anonymous said...

the mommy,
Thanks for sharing that those attending last night made it clear that a different time would have yielded more stakeholders - glad they heard that! Did Ray and Associates say anything about who chose the dates and the short notice - is it your sense that it was Ray and Associates or DCSS (it does have Bob Moseley qualities about it!)

Anonymous said...

DCSS Board of Ed member Sarah Copelin-Wood’s daughter, Thomakia Copelin,
a DCSS employee, in a little trouble (and it’s a felony). A normal DCSS employee be suspended without pay. But the daughter of a long standing BOE member? Nope.

Offense Date

Charge Level / Code and Description

Filing Date

DOB: 08-MAY-74
SPN: X0405631
BOOKING DATE: 28-JAN-10 01:23 PM
RELEASE DATE: 29-JAN-10 03:37 PM

Anonymous said...

Bob Moseley qualities indeed! How can we ever get rid of this guy? His fingers are in everything and how could he NOT know what Pope and Clew were up to?

The same goes for Dr. Alice Thompson, what did she know and why didn't she do anything about it? These two folks are still with the system and I wonder how these two had no idea what was going on right under their noses.

Hopefully the new Super will ask these two to exit the Palace forever! If not, maybe we can lock them up together, they sure do seem to enjoy each others company.

themommy said...

Anon 10:20 PM

The people that said more folks would have attended didn't phrase it in the form of a question. In other words, no one asked why tonight.

My impression remains that the Board Of Education is the manager of this process and that system officials have little to do with this process. No top lieutenants were in attendance.

pscexb said...

themommy is absolutely correct when she said,

My impression remains that the Board Of Education is the manager of this process and that system officials have little to do with this process.

This is one of the primary responsibilities of the Board, hiring the superintendent. The superintendent is the ONLY school system employee that directly reports to the Board.

Some of you might recall a Board meeting this fall when the staff offered to assist with the screening process for the superintendent search firm. I recall Mr. Womack clearly stating that this selection process is the FULL responsibility of the Board and he had no plans to abdicate that responsibility. Several Board members agreed with him after he made that statement.

I say this because of a few mistatements earlier. Staff has NO involvement with the process for selecting their future boss. This process is owned by and will be driven by the Board. Staff may help with logistical matters or providing requested information however that will be the extent of their involvement.

No Duh said...

Oh. So it's just this BOE selecting the future leader of our schools. I feel much better. LOL

Anonymous said...

Totally hear and agree that the BOE is in charge of the superintendent selection. But...I can not fathom that Ray and Associates (who is new on the scene and doesn't know yet fully understand the dynamics and what does/doesn't work here yet) and the BOE picked these nights without consulting any central office staff...someone had to pick the schools where they would be held, pick dates and check the system calendar to be sure they weren't conflicting with other system wide events, make sure the schools didn't have other events planned on those dates, communicate with the schools about space and equipment needs (and of course the SRO's availability) so the schools would be set up, send the info out system wide to principals, etc; advertise via the news sources (well sort of)...

The Board members and an outside firm would not be able to do those some central office staff had to facilitate the event... could it be Moseley??

Anonymous said...

@ pscexb:
"Staff may help with logistical matters or providing requested information however that will be the extent of their involvement." logistics (as in publicity, short notice, the busiest month of the year, Hannukah, school holiday concerts, etc.....) are driven by the central office staff that few here seem to trust and many here seem to feel are incompetent to do their jobs...go figure...

pscexb said...

Anon 2:58, I think you misinterpreted what assisting with logistics means. The entire superintendent search/hire process is driven 100% by the Board. If a Board member asks a staff member to secure a building for public engagement sessions, that's all the staff member will do. They don't own the who, what, where, when, or why of this process at any point. They would merely be responding to the request of their boss's bosses.

Anonymous said...

Stan Watson, Zepora Roberts, Pamela Speaks, Willie Mosley attended the meeting last night at Columbia High School. The participants said they didn't want a candidate from Georgia, period. The majority of the audience consisted of DCSS employees, mostly educators.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report on the Columbia HS community meeting Anon 2:18.

"The majority of the audience consisted of DCSS employees, mostly educators." Sad that the parent, student, community, and business leader turnout has been so poor but what did they expect? How many people would you say attended? Did our newly elected BOE members attend?

Cerebration said...

I would imagine that many of these employees are also parents and citizens/taxpayers of DeKalb. Their opinions should be important.

pscexb said...

I attended the Superintendent Search meeting at Columbia. It was difficult to find the meeting location initially. The lit, larger parking lot is near the auditorium and gym. The meeting was held in the cafeteria, which is located on the other side of the building. Thanks should go to the ROTC students that helped direct everyone to the right location. Donna Elder also stopped by albeit for a short time. I would say there were between 40-50 people there.

One parent asked to see the breakdown of those in attendance. Probably over half were school system employees, many with children in the district. Someone commented about their disappointment that more people were not there. The facilitators did say they have conducted sessions with legislators, commissioners, PTA groups, and other constituencies. They pointed out that while they have gotten a lot of input, citizens could help by participating in the online survey. Another citizen pointed out that several schools in the area were having holiday programs that night so considering the circumstances, it was a good turnout.

The format was the same as described by those that attended the Peachtree session. Interesting comments were made by those in attendance. Responding to one comment, the facilitators pointed out they have had success in placing ‘non traditional/hybrid’ candidates in school districts. They mentioned the Broad Academy as a training site for candidates that may have a background in the corporate world or military in addition to education. They pointed to Cindy Loe, current superintendent in Fulton County as one of Broad Academy’s graduates.

One facilitator commented that the following are the top three criteria shared so far by citizens.
1) The superintendent should not have an affiliation with the school district.
2)They should be a strong people person that can make changes
3)They should be accessible to people, a critical component for rebuilding credibility.

The facilitators reminded everyone that the Board will make the final decision on who the next superintendent will be. They indicated they will be presenting their initial findings to the Board on Friday, December 17 at 10:00. They distributed the same survey that can be found online and asked everyone to select their top ten preferences. I believe I heard them say they would also share the raw data collected so citizens could see the rankings of choices.

Anonymous said...

As a parent, I would like to see Yvonne Sanders Butler be included in the superintendent search.

momofthree said...

A question left by a blogger about the status of the superintendent search prompted me to email Mr. Bowen and ask. His response was:

Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2011 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: Status of Superintendent Search

The anticipated timeline would have the final candidates emerging at the end of March. Interviews are also expected in late March. After that there will be negotiations which are harder to put a time frame on. They could go quickly or could be protracted. New Superintendent would be hired and working no later than June 30th but, depending on the candidate’s particular sitiation, could be much, much earlier.