(Today is May 22, 2011. It is clear that our Board of Education is making no progress in the superintendent search. They did meet Friday in Executive Session but it had been 10 days since they had last met. For whatever reason, they are clearly at a stalemate.)
Attention SCORES parents, Fernbank parents, Bouie Theme School parents, Dunwoody parents, Sagamore parents, Evansdale Parents, Livsey Parents, Flat Rock Parents, McNair Cluster parents, Magnet parents, Avondale parents, etc (Please, please cut and paste this blog post and send it out to your various email lists.)
Do you know that there is a superintendent search on? Do you understand the implications of this search may be far greater and longer lasting than any impact redistricting might have on your child and their education?
I have spoken to several board members and they are hearing virtually nothing from citizens about the stalled superintendent search. Our silence is empowering those board members who refuse to move forward to remain entrenched. They received 1000s of emails about redistricting, they need to receive even more about getting a high qualify, proven leader for our school system.
You can use the link on the right side panel to email the board or here are their email addresses ready to be cut and paste into an email.
Let our board members know what we expect and what this system needs. Let them know that we care about the whole system, not just our tiny little slice. Because if this superintendent search doesn't turn out well, then even our good little pieces might turn bad.
Fernbank's Amy Powers and Marshall Orson were sure vocal when their school was going to be slightly re-districted. Would love to see them step up for the superintendent search.
This board cannot reform itself or the system. It cannot be trusted to hire the next super. The Governor needs to remove the entire board now (should have done it last spring), appoint an interim board of highly qualified outsiders, and let that board bring in a new super to clean house. Without this, we can just expect more of the same. -Swarm of Bees
My understanding is that the Governor can not step in unless and until SACS puts DCSS on probation ... so the first step would be to lobby SACS for probation... SACS did DCSS an enormous disservice by not putting us on probation -- APS is probably in much better shape than DCSS -- the difference is APS has a better BOE with members who are willing to be whistle blowers so more of what's going on is out in the open. DCSS is much more criminal and behind the scenes and without a whistle blower. We need the whistleblower and the probationary status to get the Governor involved.
Sorry, I am just hard pressed to care anymore. We have been in DCSS for 6 years and it just seems like time to give up. Things get worse and worse and people don't care enough to unite and make a difference. Though we did not pursue private for the upcoming year, I plan to see how it starts and then beg for a spot, pay for my child's education and be done with the crap.
Sorry - I give.
Cere, I would love to hear more about the following;
1. What are the major complaints?
2. What we feel should happen to resolve these complaints?
3. How can we as a community step in and demand that the board allow us to help them with the solution of the issues that DCSS is facing?
4. I would like to head up a group a people with a strong voice,and know whats it takes to turn around
our district quickly. Also that's willing to work with Interim Supt Tyson and her assigned staff to make a change until we get a Supt. We can't waste anymore time.
5. I want to work with a group of folk that want to see our district turned around quickly,and that's not afraid to work with Supt. Tyson, Central office staff and the board, in getting a New Supt, and forcing the board to allow the
new auditor for DCSS to conduct a Forensic Internal Audit of the entire operations of DCSS A.S.A.P.
6. Parents have allot of power,when it comes down to education and how a district is ran. We can do it I would be more than willing to meet with everyone that want what's best for ALL students.
7.Let's not get the media involved at this time, I strongly feel that the Community Citzens of Dekalb co can handle this...
8. I strongly feel that there are allot of Christians that are blogers, Please join me in making a difference in DCSS. Together we will stand, But divided we all will fall.
8. Let's not waste anymore time.
9. I would like to meet with a group of Dekalb Co community citzens at the Tucker Library A.S.A.P to work out a plan of action on how we can help save our district. Anyone interested, this is our time to work for our children.
I would like to either start of join a group of South Dekalb parents to mobilize in efforts to find a superintendent and work to get DCSS back on track.
If there is already an active group please let me know. My name is Bernadette Cotton firstname.lastname@example.org
Interesting thing on Twitter - several students have tweeted that the interim principal has held their diplomas because of inappropriate behaviors during the graduation ceremony.
Interim principal of SWD by the way
I give too. I've already made the transition to private for some of my kids. Hoping the system does not fail while the others get through. If not I will home school. Tired of north vs south. Tired of crazy parents, inappropriate behavior should result in holding of diplomas. Sick of kids and parents thinking nothing is wrong with misbehaving. Board spending money trying to stop charter schools and then saying we have no money. They will continue to drive parents away. At least in the private sector they seem to care about educating children. It's worth the sacrifice. Say what you want but DCSS is headed towards trouble. We are not competing against ourselves. When these kids leave and head to college, they will be in for a rude awakening. We are so money driven. Who ever heard of a school system statewide that ranks at the bottom of states changing to Math I, II, and III. these are the things the board she be putting our funds towards. Not trying to stop charter schools. We should be modeling their success. Maybe holding diplomas will send a message that you don't get to the end and act up. Learn some respect. Graduations use to be a great achievement held with dignity and honor. The board is a joke. No whistle blowers and you think we should fight? Why????? So our children can be put on the chopping block? Well once I get my kids through, then I can blow a whistle because I won't play with their education....I would then be like DCSS! They are just playing school!
We don't need to wait until SACS place DCSS on probation in order for DCSS to get in order, that will effect the educators, students greatly if we allow that to happen. Not a wise move, I still say let's get together A.S.A.P
I know that everyone wants the BOE to find a Supt. SACS did give us until Oct 2011 to find one. We need to take our time in finding the right Supt for DCSS.
All do respect,I feel that if we join in the efforts to help Interim Supt. Tyson and her staff as they are working hard to get DCSS on track.
This will help all of the students when they see that the parents and citzens of Dekalb Co are working in unity.
They will also see that parents can work out differences with the School Board and Supt, and staff, without always needing to involve the media, lawyers,just to name a few.
This is an effort for ALL of Dekalb Co Citzens, NOT just North or South. Now isn't the time to be divided, we have allot of work to do on behalf of ALL students in DCSS.
As a part of Interim Supt. Tyson and her staff, promising to be transparent to all citzens of Dekalb Co,in posting all meetings on the web site,and involving the community in the process of business matters.
Moving forward Mrs. Tyson stated to us that DCSS is working hard to rebuild the the trust to parents, educators and the community of which is very important.
I would like to recommend that we strongly inform Interim Supt. Tyson and the Board of Ed to allow the new auditor for DCSS to conduct a Forensic Internal Audit of the entire operations of DCSS A.S.A.P. without any hundurances.
I also strongly feel that we need to get the audit completed first. Secondly, I feel that the community will have a better understanding of things.
We must invite the Board, Interim Supt. Tyson and her selected staff to a meeting with us, once we have our facts and plan together to present to them.
We must give Interim Supt. Tyson and her staff the opportunity to hear us and take action accordingly.
I'm a great organizer of gathering the key folk together and making things happen
My focus is for the students to be assured,that the parents and citzens of Dekalb Co are committed in working hard with Interim Supt.Tyson and her staff. We also want them to know that it is our intent to make sure that DCSS is one of the TOP ten school districts in the country.
I'm a great organizer of gathering the key folk together and making things happen.
P.S I also want to thank all parents and Dekalb Co citzens for
posting all of there concerns. Let's make a difference for the students.
Ms. Tyson is just helping us tread water not move forward. And our head is barely above water. She is clearly not going to dismiss anyone.
A forensic audit would be fabulous. Multiple parents suggested it during public comments, about a year ago and nothing happened. This Board and this central office does exactly what they want too.
They pretend in public to be doing what SACs wants them to do, but behind close doors they are actually behaving worse than the Atlanta board is.
Cere, Let's have faith in ourselves that we "can make a difference! for the sake of our children, educators and community. I still feel that we all should bind together A.S.A,P.; and design a plan of action and present it to the BOE, Interim Supt. Tyson. It just may work THIS time, let's give it a try.
I'm help design the team, who will join me?
RT means well but she can't overcome the profound corruption that surrounds her. When I read posts from parents that call the audit investigation a "witch hunt" and defend the status quo, it tells me there may not be enough insightful parents left to heal the cancer that is DeKalb Schools. As I look around at my kids' good friends, I count 12 who no longer attend DeKalb Schools. Some moved to other counties, some homeschooled and others entered private school. Their parents were active, contributing, supportive boosters of the schools their kids attended. And we have lost their contributions with their departures. And this is only a report from one corner of the neighborhood. In their stead, we have parents who think that getting a handful of kids into Ivy League schools equates with a good educational system. What about the scores of dropouts - the ones whose prospects are so dim they are already crosswise with the law? This system has failed utterly, is far, far worse than APS and parents should be marching on the Palace to take it over.
Jerrie, you have very good ideas. We have tried for over two years to get the board to listen. We created our own "Vision", which we have shared with the board (to which we had nary a reply), ( “Without a vision, the people perish…” ) we have all volunteered at all levels within the system, we have served on Task Force's, Committees, etc. We have campaigned for new leadership on the board. Sad thing is, after all of these years, we have come to the conclusion that this board and this leadership does not want the help or opinions of parents. We are wasting our time with them. They simply need replaced.
Ramona Tyson has done a good job of steering this rudderless ship for a while, but we can't do well with an interim superintendent (one whose only true experience is 2 years teaching business ed and the rest in the technology department), and interim director of teaching and learning, an interim principal etc.
We need a strong new superintendent. Now.
I agree that we need a new superintendent asap. I would add that the new superintendent needs to be able to fire/hire at will without fear of the BOE ending his/her contract because of disagreement over who was fired.
I have heard rumors that people in the Central Office are running scared, and consequently, that little planning is being done for the upcoming school year. This needs to change. If a strong team were in place, then the impetus for a new superintendent would be (a little) less urgent. But, as the upper echelon at the Central Office is NOT a strong team, is NOT used to coordinating efforts to get results, and do NOT truly understand core classroom issues, the urgency of hiring a superintendent to lead DCSS is high indeed. Teachers are told constantly, "you can't teach without a plan." I would add that without a county-wide plan for the upcoming school year, developed by the Central Office in concert with a new superintendent, that DCSS will continue to put out fires, instead of leading its administrators and teachers in striving for excellence for ALL DCSS children and citizens.
I posted this as it's own blog post - it's the most well-stated description of where we are in DCSS I've read. --
Claudia Keenan is spot- on again!
I've mentioned my personal admiration for the education columns written by Claudia Keenan of the Briarcliff Patch.
Claudia Keenan - education historian
Today, Claudia has posted a truly inspired description of DeKalb county schools. Here's a snippet:
Running the schools with superb opacity, our elected officials and administrators share essential information only under duress. Documents appear and disappear at will, and the system’s financial accounting is routinely withheld or obscured.
At least in the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, the crumbs dropped by the children led somewhere. In the dark labyrinth of the DeKalb County School System, there are no trails at all. It’s impossible to follow the money or the ideas.
You just have to read it. Here's the link:
The Pathology of DeKalb County Schools
BTW - what ever happened to the whistleblower hotline? As with everything - things are promised and discussed and reported as new, innovative initiatives that somehow never come to fruition. This policy was voted on last August --- 9 months ago!!! We were supposed to have created a 1-800 whistleblower hotline. We've been waiting all this time to share that number on the blog ---
so far - crickets... it seems to be yet another episode of public promises promptly forgotten.
DeKalb school board protects whistleblowers
The DeKalb County school board is implementing a whistleblower policy, which officials say is the first in the state to prevent retaliation against school employees who report wrongdoing.
I just got off the phone with Donna Edler. She called after reading my email to the Board about hiring a new superintendent as soon as possible. While I may not always agree with Ms. Edler (just as there is no one with whom I always agree), I highly respect the time she took to talk with me about my concerns. She assured me that hiring a new superintendent is of utmost concern. I only hope that this concern is uppermost in the other BOE members' minds. Ms. Edler urged me to stay involved in the process. I am urging everyone to voice their opinions.
How can we trust Tyson? Her own staff lied to her about the old E&Y audit. Her staff claimed they had gone through all the documents when they hadn't. Tyson's staff made her look bad in front of the BOE. Those staffers that lied should be shown the door! But it won't happen. Why? Everyone at the Palace is for the current situation! They are NOT looking for change. They talk a great game but this inner circle of leadership is responsible for the criminal operation that DCSS has become.
My wife and I started uncovering stuff only to be exposed by an AJC reporter who told Crawford Lewis, at the time, who we were and that were uncovering mounds of questionable documents and lies that the old/current regime had done.
Folks everyone is in the tank! Our former board member from 5 years ago told us to follow the money. We did, it got real ugly and thanks to the AJC reporter, for telling Clew who we were and what we were uncovering, Clew and his "security" detail started to unravel our lives. Clew silenced us with threats. I hope the DA doesn't screw up his and Pope's trial, but this is DeKalb County, one of the most crooked, criminal operations that Georgia has today.. Be careful if you speak up in public, there is a staff at DCSS that works on silencing the critics!
Hey,Anon, at 11:51 am,
Send me an email.
Cere, I just wanted to thank all of the bloggers for posting concerns in regards to the issues that DCSS is facing.
I do understand the frustration that all of you have experienced. My goal is to make a difference, and work with DCSS in designing a plan of action that will work for all parties involved.
I'm placing calls now to secure a meeting place for us, so that we all may sit down and share what means so much to us. We need to implement a plan of action to share with DCSS, this can include the pass plans that you all had and felt that it was ignored.
We need everyone that's has concerns of how our district was ran in the pass and how we can move forward. I need for all of you to assist with this plan, I would look forward in having the opportunity to still meet with you all.
We can do this. I have so much faith and trust in the fact that Supt. Tyson and her staff are very interested in listening to us and making the necessary changes as needed A.S.A.P. They just need to hear from us.
It's very obvious to me that we all are here for the well being of the students, teachers and making sure that the dollars are spent correctly. It's also obvious that you all want what's best for ALL of the students of DCSS.
WE must forget the pass memories of how things didn't' work with DCSS, and I feel that we should concentrate on how we can move forward. We must learn to join forces with DC SS now, so when the new Supt comes (He or She) will see unity instead of division. All I ask is to give this plan another chance.
I look forward in working with whomever wants to be apart of the plan in making DCSS a great school district. I'm also excited in being apart of ,bridging the gap between the community and the district. We are devout parents in making sure that DCSS provides our children and adequate public education as they so deserve.
The following are the main topic, of concerns as I understand it:
1. The Hire of a new qualified Supt for DCSS, update of what's happening?
2. That Interim Supt Tyson order an " Internal Operation Forensic Audit immediately. meet with the community citizens and post on line.
3.Rebuilding of trust between the community citizens and DCSS. ( This is a two side effort).
4. The district address the bloated salaries.
5. Hiring process of new employees.
6. The district address the schools that's not making AYP!
7. All students receiving the same education across the County.
8. The curriculum and Instruction, and the permanent hiring of an Duty Supt for Curriculum and Instruction
9. The previous corruption of misappropriation of funds, and what the plan is to recoup the money.
10. Redistricting of the seven schools.
11. How will the district be transparent in regards to explaining the process of how the 6,000 plus students will be routed? The parents want the district leaders to meet with them in the final stage of how this will work.
13. Raising taxes, Millage concerns
14. Gifted programs
15. Special Education
16. Office of Improvement
"Together we will stand, But divided We Will Fall.
There are all these parent Parent and Cluster Councils (Dun/Chamb, Emory/LaVista, etc. Can the leadership of all DeKalb Parent Councils come together as a united front and demand change while providing a roadmap to get there? They obviously all want what is best for the children and are the closest thing to "boots on the ground" the board has. If THIS group of leaders/parents acted as the search committee, we'd get someone really great.
You have a great idea and my wife and I tried it several years ago. but were rebuffed when an AJC reporter showed CLew everything we had uncovered and gave him our names to boot. Good luck with your endeavor.
The BOE, as a whole, is not looking for change. There are two new BOE members who are trying but the majority of the BOE needs the status quo to continue. Ms. Tyson is also one of the problems. She was in a very high place and reported directly to CLew.
Ms. Tyson came to DCPC one year ago and in essence lied to us. She promised transparency, there is less now than back when Clew was King of DCSS. DCSS has pitted the entire county against each other. They are trying to protect their turf using OUR tax dollars.
Since the "Office of Improvement" was established, they spent millions on "coaches" and programs that have had no return on investment. When we asked anything about the office we were rebuffed by the "woman" in charge of Berry's Army. This office has been NO help to the schools. There are more DCSS schools failing today then when the office of "improvement" opened.
Dr. Beasley was hired to take over for Gloria Talley. All he created was more busy work for the teachers. There is a lot less time to teach and whole lot less time to help students that are getting behind. Teachers are too busy filling out forms and answering emails that are so loaded with grammatical errors teachers would give Dr. Beasley a failing grade.
I ask you to be very careful! These folks at DCSS do not want to see change. If they did, don't you think things would be better one year after the CLew's reign of terror came to an end?
One problem, Clew's reign of terror will not end until everyone who was in his inner circle has been fired or told to look for other work. DCSS is doomed until the Palace is cleaned of the former regime!
In fairness, I've been impressed by the amount of info on their long term planning and redistricting that was on the website. Their 1st round on the superintendent was fairly open (until it got a little too open).
Now their facilities plan will be released on Memorial Day and voted on 5 days later, so they seem to be trying to slip that through without notice. But on most things they have been reasonably transparent lately.
There's a lot of distrust within the district regarding your #7. There's been a vocal component who is for giving all students the same education by dragging everyone down to the same low level, who believe anything above average is bad. #7 should mean pulling everyone up and building on excellence. As much as I hate to use APS as a positive example, the sucess of schools like Sarah Smith, Morris Brandon and Morningside seems to be pulling up the neighboring schools as well. And there seems to be an effort to improve the HS and Middle school (soon to be two) serving Smith & Brandon and the other 4 schools in their zone.
Actually, the plan won't be voted on until the middle of June. The period for feedback closes on June 1st, board votes around the 15th of June.
It's so easy to hire a company for redistricting and let them take the heat. Remember it was Dan Drake, who works for DCSS, who came up with basically the same plan as the company, that we had to pay money to. Tyson didn't want to be the messenger. No one at DCSS has an ounce of guts to make the proper decision to right our school system.
I admire your goals Jerrie, but DCSS is NOT interested in changing, it's just the stakeholders and taxpayers that are tired of seeing their money wasted with more schools failing now more than ever.
@ 1:35 - please send me an email - I'd like to know more of your story
@ Jerry - I don't even know how to respond to your list. It's as if you came in at the tail end of Gone With the Wind and said something like, "Why can't they all just get along?" I wish you luck if you choose to "work" with the current leadership. Personally, I have been there. Done that. For years now. And there is NO way that the current leadership will make a single change for the betterment of children.
Also - Ramona Tyson does not want to be the superintendent. Stop wishing so. Stop thinking that she and the current staff suddenly wish to swoop in at the 11th hour and "fix" everything. Ramona Tyson considers her time as interim superintendent to END on July 1. Time is running out.
And the tax is called SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Tax) - its an acronym for a tax the voters of DeKalb agreed to pay. It's an additional penny on the sales tax you pay for every purchase in DeKalb. It will expire in 2012 and the voters will have to approve it for a 4th go round if it is to continue. That, IMHO, is a long shot, given the incredible corruption experienced in the past.
"Splosh" is slang for two things: tea (in England) and something altogether different in the US. Look it up in the Urban Dictionary. It's not something we want to insinuate that we are funding. (LOL)
Good luck with your attempt to work with the current leadership to "fix" everything in the next month. Personally, I will continue to push for sound reason:
HIRE A HIGHLY QUALIFIED, ETHICAL SUPERINTENDENT ASAP.
Here's something we discussed and shared with the board quite some time ago - when we tried to bring the conversation back to Education - rather than construction, redistricting, corruption, legal fees, etc...
DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS
STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS
1. All students have the right to learn from a teacher who deeply understands her subject matter and who deeply cares about each individual student in her classroom.
2. All students have the right to be safe throughout each school day.
3. All students have the right to meet their own physical needs during school hours (e.g. bringing a snack, getting a drink, being allowed to use the restroom, etc.).
4. All students have the right to enjoy an unstructured recess time at least once a day.
5. All students have the right to be taught by someone who is not reading from a script.
6. All students have the right to be assessed based on improvement, not just raw performance.
7. All students have the right to be appropriately challenged across all subjects.
8. All students have the right to have some measure of choice with regard to at least some of the topics they will study and the assignments they will complete.
9. All students have the right to receive cutting-edge instruction and to spend significant in-class time focusing on current technologies.
10. All students have the right to maintain a vibrant life outside school without being burdened with large quantities of homework.
(ADOPTED FROM A MICHIGAN SYSTEM)
Also, FWIW, someone mentioned that they thought the principals being overpaid was incorrect. It isn't. However, it's very difficult to determine since DeKalb is so opaque in sharing such information.
Ernst and Young determined that some principals and assistant principals were overpaid. DCSS should publish the principals and assistant principals' pay schedule like the other systems. I can look at the principals' and AP's salaries for ALL of the other metro systems and compare them because they are published, but not DCSS. No doubt Ernst and Young got the salary schedule information for the non-teaching positions from DCSS Human Resources (of course they have it) and compared it to other metro school systems.
Right now we know what a principal with a Specialist degree and 10 years of credible experience is paid in ALL of the other metro systems by going to their websites, but not in DCSS since they don't publish this information. This is NOT transparency. Wasn't in 2004 - still isn't.
Ps - Had to go back to using IDs to comment. The spam is just too much for me to monitor... sorry.
Heard a rumor yesterday (from someone who would know) that the BOE will not be able to meet the July 1st deadline for hiring a new superintendent unless a miracle occurs. Also heard that the Oct. 1 deadline is more than likely able to be met. I think this is ridiculous. The BOE is not starting from scratch. They should be able to make a decision and hire in 5 weeks. Good grief! Keep the pressure on, everyone.
Well, at least the DeKalb Chamber is pushing the school board! Check out this report from the Tucker Patch:
DeKalb Chamber not ‘Waiting for Superman’ to Leap Into Education Issues
At a screening last week of the Davis Guggenheim 2010 education documentary “Waiting For Superman,” followed by a moderated question-and-answer forum, the business organization opened up an opportunity for the community to weigh in.
Panel participants, moderated by Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Maureen Downey, included DeKalb Technical Institute president Robin Hoffman, Organization of DeKalb Educators president David Schutten, Atkins Engineering regional vice president Douglas Hooker and the Communities in Schools of Georgia co-founder and president Neil Shorthouse.
The screening was sponsored through grant funding from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation, and the event took place at the Rehoboth Baptist Church on Lawrenceville Highway in Tucker. . . .
The panelists also weighed in on the kind of superintendent they hoped DeKalb would find as its next leader, one they hoped would have a “passion for education” and “is not afraid to challenge the status quo.”
To view the panel discussion
Hiring of the new super should speed up now that Bishop Long has settled his suit and will have more time to devote to the DCSS.
oy! Marshall Orson is even gunning for Ramona Tyson to stay on!!! As president of the Emory Lavista Parent Council, he was interviewed about the superintendent search and had this to say --
DeKalb parent Marshall Orson, co-president of the Emory LaVista Parent Council, said Fulton and Cobb county schools, which recently completed successful searches for new superintendents, have attracted the kind of high-profile candidates that DeKalb should be looking for.
Orson said he thinks the board should consider keeping Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson for two years to allow her to implement reforms and offer some stability as the Board of Education prepares to downsize from nine to seven in 2013, as mandated by state law.
Key dates approach in superintendent searches
I DISAGREE! We need a new - strong - experienced leader who understands how to educate young people!!! Tyson is not qualified - she only taught business ed at Lakeside for about 2 years and then went into MIS!
NO - No Tyson -- she has done a decent job of keeping the system afloat - but she should not stay on a minute past June 30!
Oh my! This makes me sick. I keep waiting for Tyson or Beasley to be named the next superintendent. The more time goes on, the more I do believe that this will happen.
Our kids are in the deepest need of help with securing themselves a quality education. It just isn't going to happen in DCSS for a very long time given the current administration.
Thanks for this update.
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