Once again, Mrs. Tyson and DCSS BOE: It is unacceptable -- and against U. S. Department of Education Non-Regulatory Guidance -- to send AYP transfers to Chamblee Charter High School.
Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS) is, in fact, the result of a grassroots community effort. I know because I chaired the committee that converted Chamblee High School to Chamblee Charter High School. CCHS is a charter school that always has more students wanting to enroll than there are non-resident area seats. That is especially true this year because of construction on CCHS's campus; classroom/trailer space is at a premium. There is always a lottery for available seats at CCHS. This lottery is required by the U.S. Department of Education. Please note: “SEAs or LEAs may not require a charter school to alter its admissions process for [the purpose of admitting AYP transfer students].”, CCHS is not a “choice” school.
Quite frankly, if any child lost out in the lottery to attend CCHS, but AYP transfers -- most of whom are African-American in a majority African-American county -- were allowed to “cut in line” because DCSS administrators and BOE members -- most of whom also are African-American -- are too inept and too racist to do their jobs, the U. S. Attorney should be considering a lawsuit for violation of civil rights, racial discrimination and refusal to follow U. S. Department of Education guidelines. It will be interesting to see if Sally Yates has the guts to do that.
But I digress …
I wrote you about this last year. I did not expect to have to repeat this letter. Nothing has changed with the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines. And do not be confused by the term, “non-regulatory.” DCSS still must follow these U.S. Department of Education guidelines. They are not merely suggestions.
Then there is overcrowding to consider. Experienced, successful, professional educators and actively involved parents know that overcrowding has a proven negative effect on our students’ education. For more than 25 years, we have known, “Probably the greatest single discouragement to better instruction is the overcrowded classroom.” (Karp)
To paraphrase Walter Karp, quoted above, “What makes these conditions [at CCHS and elsewhere in DCSS] appalling is that they are quite unnecessary. The [DeKalb County School System is] top-heavy with administrators and rife with sinecures. Large numbers of teachers scarcely ever set foot in a classroom, being occupied instead as grade advisers, career counselors, coordinators, [coaches] and supervisors.”
Last year's AYP “transfers” into the CCHS “annex” should not be attending CCHS this year (unless they cared enough to enter the lottery and win a space), nor should their test scores and graduation rate have been calculated with CCHS’s test scores and graduation rate -- causing CCHS to not meet AYP for the first time ever.
Common sense says that Title I high school students who are academically deficient do not suddenly get up to grade level through osmosis. They have been too far behind for too long. These students absolutely require one-on-one tutoring. And, yet, if they take a school transfer, these Title I academically deficient students lose federally funded tutoring. The only thing they get in return is a lengthy commute to school. (Where do you explain this to parents?) These students are still academically deficient, they are running out of time to catch up, their days start far earlier and end far later because of transportation issues, they have limited opportunity to make new friends and participate in extracurricular activities and, chances are, these students will make up most of the drop-out statistics. (Graduation Rate is the second AYP indicator following Academic Performance.)
You have other choices allowed by No Child Left Behind besides transfers (which have been proven ineffective) that will better serve academically deficient high school students. For example:
1) A virtual school may be among the schools to which an eligible student may transfer, so long as that school is a public elementary or secondary school (as defined by the SEA) and has not been identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. If the “virtual school” is not operated by the LEA, the LEA could enter into a cooperative agreement with the school so that its students can enroll.
It’s time to get our money’s worth out of the DeKalb Online Academy (DOLA). If that doesn’t suit you, then there is always the Georgia Virtual School – also paid for by our tax dollars.
2) The NCLB statute does not address whether non-Title I schools that miss AYP for two or more years may be offered as transfer options. Accordingly, an SEA may adopt a policy governing the use of non-Title I schools that have missed AYP for two or more years as choice options. 
What is the Georgia Department of Education’s policy on this? (I asked you this same question last year, but did not receive a response from you. This year I am asking the question under Georgia's Open Records Act, requesting copies of the correspondence between DCSS and the GaDOE concerning the use of non-Title I schools that have not made AYP for two or more years as receiving schools. You have the option to provide this information at no cost, so I am asking for that, also.)
In addition to the choices listed above, here are some other U. S. Department of Education-approved options:
3) Creating new, distinct schools with separate faculty within the physical sites of schools identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.
4) Encouraging the creation of new charter schools within the LEA.
DCSS and the BOE just turned down two perfectly acceptable charter schools because the schools had not yet identified their facilities. Seriously. How can you justify that when DCSS has a number of vacant facilities that, by Georgia law, must be offered to charter schools for use at no charge?
5) Easing capacity by initiating inter-district choice programs with neighboring LEAs or by establishing programs through which local private schools can absorb some of the LEA’s students.
Have you seriously considered the above options? If so, please explain in detail why they are not being used in DCSS. I will publish your response, word-for-word. (Please note, I offered to publish your response when I presented the same options last year and asked if they were being considered by DCSS or if not, why not. There was no response from you. This year I am asking the question under Georgia's Open Records Act, requesting DCSS internal correspondence on the options named above. You have the option to provide this information at no cost, so I am asking for that, also.)
What you are doing may meet the letter of the NCLB law, but it does not meet the intent of NCLB. Because you will not address the challenges and correct the problems in schools not making AYP, you and the rest of Crawford Lewis’ overpaid, under-talented cronies are consigning DeKalb County’s students (especially its substantial, mostly African-American, Title I student population) to a bleak future.
If white DCSS administrators and BOE members were enriching themselves on the backs of mostly African-American Title I students ... if white DCSS administrators and BOE members were repeatedly shuffling academically deficient African-American Title I students from school to school with no regard to proactively and effectively educating these students ... if white DCSS administrators and BOE members were methodically creating an underclass of African American Title I students in the same manner as the current African-American administrators and BOE members are doing ... the African-American community in DeKalb County would be up in arms and screaming racism. Per Walt Kelly and Pogo, “We have met the enemy ... and he is us.”
What you are doing with regard to AYP transfers and Chamblee Charter High School may not be legally criminal -- Sally Yates, what say you? -- but it is morally repugnant and indefensible.
 No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance] ; January 14, 2009; Page 19
 No Child Left Behind: Charter Schools Program, Title V, Part B, Non-Regulatory Guidance
 Why Johnny Can’t Think: The Politics of Bad Schooling, Walter Karp, Harper’s Magazine, June 1985, pages 69-73
 Why Johnny Can’t Think: The Politics of Bad Schooling, Walter Karp, Harper’s Magazine, June 1985
 No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance; January 14, 2009; Pages 18-19
 No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance; January 14, 2009; Pages 19-20
 No Child Left Behind: Public School Choice, Non-Regulatory Guidance; January 14, 2009; Pages 20-21
FYI: the annex students did not cause Chamblee to miss AYP. AYP is calculated from 11th graders' test scores and 12th graders' grad rates. The annex students were 9th graders.
While the federal guidelines do not address the non-Title 1 school issue, the state's regs do. As stated at several of the Choice meetings a couple of weeks ago, GA does not allow any school that is in Needs improvement to be a receiving school.
Ms. Spruill, per the Georgia Department of Education, charter schools may not waive any aspect of the federal NCLB law.
This year's rising senior class at Chamblee includes a significant number of students that came in their freshman year as NCLB transfers. I can't speak to how well this group of students has performed at Chamblee, but it would be interesting to know as a group if student transfers are more successful at their new schools.
Also, it just seems nuts to overburden a school that is going to be torn down.
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