Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The latest sources of transparency from DCSS

Good news! I have found several new sources of solid, interesting and relevant information coming from DCSS. First, kudos to Ramona Tyson and her staff for posting so much information about the search for the new superintendent. Go to the home page of the school system's website and click on the Superintendent Search at the top. You will find a whole host of information, along with the original questions, the original video of the forum and citizen commentary after the public interviews.

Additionally, Nancy Jester's new website is fast becoming a nice repository of important information. As Nancy shares in her newsletter, she has posted details about the new staffing formula (STAR). I will post a picture of that chart below, but to access Nancy's website, click here. The files are located in her blog.

Click to enlarge

Nancy also has new documents posted about the Chamblee HS construction project. You can access this info by clicking here.

One item of importance mentioned in Nancy's newsletter is this statement,

"As you know, the Georgia Legislature has considered various pieces of legislation that impact the DeKalb BOE. As the legislative session proceeded, a letter was sent to the DeKalb delegation that opposed the various bills that were under consideration. I have received numerous inquiries about this letter and my position. I did not approve, review or sign this letter. My signature is a digital image that is used on proclamations, etc. I have expressed my concern about this letter to the Board Chair."

(FWIW, Nancy then gives her own, very cogent reasons why she personally does not agree with the legislation.)

I'm very glad to know that Nancy did not participate in sending 'the letter', but I am greatly distressed that our board chair thinks it's perfectly acceptable to compose and create a letter with a strong opinion on a controversial topic, and then electronically paste in each member's signature and send it to the head of the DeKalb delegation – implying solidarity on the issue. (Click here to read the original post on the letter.) This is the same board chair who last year, assured Sarah Copelin-Wood that her comments against the Citizen's Planning Task Force and attempted strong-arming in their decisions would be swept under the rug.

Below are two emails from the exchange between Tom Bowen (chair) and Sarah Copelin-Wood, discussing her meddling in the hard work of the Citizen's Planning Task Force last year. (Click here for details in the original post.)  Although it seems like old news, these emails are hard proof that our board chair is far more concerned about public perception than about the truth. Oddly, Tom and others cited the Task Force's inconsistent opinions as a reason to dismiss their findings – even as they were aware that the inconsistency was due to a board member's strong pressure.


----- Original Message -----

From: bowent7522@... Tuesday, May 04, 2010 4:58:28 PM

Subject: Re: Your Reference To Me In Article In AJC


I was asked the status and I said the board had not had any time to discuss it given all we had going on with the budget and other things.

My preference is to not take it on at all and let it go away. It will be a bunch of he said, she said. Only thing we could do is add to the policy on citizen committees but that would just attract more attention.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


- Original Message ----

From: bowent7522@... Tuesday, May 04, 2010 5:32:27 PM

Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Your Reference To Me In Article In AJC


No investigation and nor do I want one. Especially now that we changed the plan with the four schools and we aren't going to use the findings anyway.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Add to this his recent decision to send a personal letter with all nine electronic signatures on a subject important to his own political aspirations, and we have a chair who thinks he can manipulate perception. That is just plain wrong.


Cerebration said...

FWIW, I'm sure you've all heard that Fulton has narrowed their search to one final candidate:

Fulton will offer school chief job to Charlotte leader

Anon said...

Fulton is making DeKalb look good.

Ms. Jester needs to make a far bigger stink about this "fake signature" issue. If she is truly concerned about the future of our school system, this is a necessary battle. Bowen will do absolutely nothing and it appears that Jester, perhaps because it is in her own best interest, won't even make a public stink.

This is why we keep sliding under SACs radar, because no one within the system, either employee or board member, is willing to be a whistleblower. This is why SACs goes easier on DeKalb than Atlanta or Clayton.

Jo Newman Russler said...

I, too, believe that we must not let this fraudulent (and that is what it is) letter with forged (and that is what they are) forged signatures go unchallenged. I do not know what is worse, Tom Bowen thinking it's okay, or Tom Bowen knowing it's not okay and doing it anyway. Suggestions for best way to proceed? This MUST be addressed. So too DCSS' stonewalling on Sandy Spruill's Open Records request (on behalf of us ALL)regaring the Ernst and Young audit.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Nancy has taken a lot on since being elected. She is very accessible and she tells you exactly how she feels. She is committed to this job. I hope someone brings up the signature issue during the next public comments. This is how we can get it on record.

Folks, it will take time to turn DCSS around and I think Nancy wants to do the same thing. At least now I can feel comfortable that someone has the taxpayers best interest at heart. She has kids in the system!

Nancy, don't let Tom get away with this. This is wrong and it's time Tom starts apologizing, on the record.

Gayle said...

Nancy may know that arguing with Tom Bowen may not sit well with SACs who does not want to see dissension within the BOE. Perhaps Bowen figured on this as he signed her name to a document she did not support.

Anon said...

I wonder which other board members didn't want their names signed, if any.

It is up to Jester to make a stink about this.

Public comment marginally goes into the record.

SHS said...

Tom Bowen has, in fact, knowingly committed fraud. Bowen has known this since he received the letter from Nancy Jester near the end of March. It is almost mid-April. This time, a mealy-mouthed, insincere, forced apology will not do.

Also, Bowen's action certainly begs the questions:

(1)How many other instances of fraud while on the BOE can be attributed to Tom Bowen?

(2)Does Tom Bowen's propensity to knowingly commit fraud and "sweep things under the rug" have anything to do with DCSS's and the BOE's stonewalling about the Ernst & Young salary study?

(3) Tyson reports to the BOE. All Bowen and the BOE have to do is to tell Tyson to produce the requested documents. But they won't. Why?

As former COO (with the head of finance reporting to her) and as current interim superintendent, Tyson has a legal responsibility and a fiduciary obligation (http://sos.georgia.gov/archives/who_are_we/rims/default.htm) to safeguard DCSS documents such as the costly Ernst & Young salary study.

Jo Ann, who would be the appropriate legal entity to contact regarding the fraud knowingly perpetrated by Tom Bowen?

Joseph Hunt said...

I saw the link today and was concerned about the excessive communication with Arthur Culver. One document has DCSS letter head and is entitled: Superintendent Entry Plan. It is apparently his proposal, but his putting under a DCSS letterhead is very misleading.

What are other bloggers' takes on this?

Joseph Hunt said...

and furthermore, maybe I'm paranoid, but could all this spam be coming from someone who wants to "chill" access to this blog?

Cerebration said...

No, the spam is things like "nice blog, click here for free thesis writing" or ads for viagra, etc. Google is finally admitting that they are having a very hard time controlling it. Even the fact that you have to type in characters doesn't help. So, for now, just make up an ID and go with it. You'll still be anonymous. You just won't fall into the spam trap.

Anon said...

Lots of blogs are having these spam problems.

As to the Culver documents, I am impressed with the efforts he went to.

I suspect an announcement is coming soon.

Cerebration said...

Frightening warning from the private schools on internet predators - please share with your children --

April 13, 2011

Dear Parents,

We recently have become aware of a predator targeting male students in the Atlanta area via the internet. As a precaution, we and several of our sister schools are sharing this information with our communities.

It has been reported that young males who are on social networking sites (e.g., Facebook) believe they are communicating with an age-appropriate female. The female convinces the boy to remove his clothing on camera. After the boy does this, she tells the boy that if he refuses do it again, it will be shared with his friends at school. The boy is then blackmailed into doing this on other occasions.

Federal authorities are investigating this situation, but the perpetrator remains unidentified. Please discuss this situation with your children as soon as possible and let your child know that if this happened to him, he is not alone. Also, please stress that it is very important to be vigilant and that your child should be wary of contacts from unknown people.

We have contacted J. Tom Morgan, who is a former DeKalb County District Attorney and child abuse prosecutor, now in private practice. Mr. Morgan has interviewed some of the victims involved in this matter, and has offered to interview any victim from our schools pro bono. Mr. Morgan’s telephone number is 404-687-1002. Mr. Morgan’s conversations with the child will be kept confidential, and he cannot reveal the content of such conversations to anyone without the consent of the child and the parent.

SWinDekalb said...

@ A Blue State of Mind 4/12 8:33

I feel that all the communications from Mr. Culver indicate his level of interest in the position. That he is inquiring about a Georgia certificate, providing a significant number of references and even submitting an entry plan, tells me that he is serious and to me is an idication that he is about business.

I wonder if these are things that were requested or if he was being proactive in providing it. I also wonder if anything similar has been received from the other finalists (and just has not been published to the site). If not, should we perceive that as an indication of their lack of interest in the position?

Ella Smith said...

I can understand why individually each school board may be against the change in the number of school board members. However, I think in the long run this is what is best for our school system. I am sure their are personal feelings of losing positions on the board and if it might be their own position that might go but this is not about what is best for any one of the school board members but what is best for the children and citizens of Dekalb County.

I think the school board may be more functional with 7 members.

Leo said...

SB 79 passes reducing the size of our school board:


Unknown said...

Check out the AJC for the story; Gloria Davis just pulled her name from consideration for super...

Gayle said...

AJC story - Gloria Davis dropping out:

Gayle said...

Also on Downey's AJC Get Schooled blog:

No Duh said...

Under the heading of transparency, though not about the superintendent search...

I've just heard that DCSS intends to hold the magnet lottery in PRIVATE this year. That they are claiming other districts do it this way.

Anyone know anything about this? Sounds about as illegal as can be IMHO...

Anon said...

I thought I read that on the application/packet and I thought I misunderstood.

But read it here for yourself..


The pages aren't numbered, but if you go to the page entitled
DeKalb County School System
School Choice Programs
Lottery Dates

and scroll to the bottom, this is what it says...

All lottery sessions will be held internally at the DeKalb County Board of Education.
Alternate Lottery dates for additional seats will be held internally on June 15, 2011, July 15, 2011 and August 3, 2011 at the DeKalb County Board of Education.
NEW:Students selected for any School Choice Program must register at the local school choice site by July 15, 2011 or the seat will be declined and offered to the next eligible applicant on the waiting list.
Please see individual school/program descriptions for school locations and telephone numbers.

Dekalbparent said...

Jeez, Louise! Why bother doing it behind closed doors - I watched cheating at an open drawing of the lottery several years ago: the people drawing names put a handful of entries on top of the rest, which had already been placed in the cage. They then started the lottery drawing, pulling from the top, WITHOUT EVER TURNING THE HANDLE ON THE CAGE!

I looked around me, not sure if I was seeing what I thought I saw. Other people were staring at the cage with incredulous looks, too.

The gave it a turn when they were drawing second round.

If they feel they can get away with doing it in front of people, why bother to close the doors? (Unless they think we may be getting smarter.)